OCU Synod: We insist on international condemnation of the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Kirill

OCU Synod: We insist on international condemnation of the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Kirill - фото 1
On March 7th, in Kyiv, another meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine) took place. All members of the Synod participated in the meeting.

This was reported by the website of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

he Holy Synod heard the report of Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine on numerous violations by Russian occupiers of the right to freedom of conscience in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, on their systematic religious persecutions, and the necessity of further public and legislative response to the destructive and immoral interaction of Russian religious organizations with the Kremlin's terrorist regime.

In connection with this, the Synod approved the text of a public Statement.

We present the full text of the document:

“The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine) affirms that the Russian state, which temporarily occupied part of Ukraine's territory as a result of armed aggression, is responsible for systematically violating fundamental human rights and freedoms on the occupied territories, including the effective disregard of the right to freedom of conscience and religion. The refusal of Ukrainian clergy and believers who found themselves under occupation to cooperate with the Russian authorities, to comply with their unlawful demands, results in the prohibition of the activities of religious organizations, persecution, and terror against clergy and active members of communities, including abduction, arrests, torture, and other acts of physical and psychological violence, imprisonment, deportation.

The murder of Archpriest Stepan Yaroslavovych Podolchak, the parish priest of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the town of Kalanchak, Skadovsk district, Kherson region, by Russian occupiers, who tortured him to death, has deeply saddened our hearts. On February 13, 2024, he was abducted from his residence by the occupiers, and on February 15, his wife was summoned to identify his body. Representatives of the occupying authorities had repeatedly terrorized the priest and the community, demanding their allegiance to the jurisdiction of the Russian Patriarchate.

Numerous acts of terror, intimidation, persecution, torture, or threats of torture, and other forms of systematic violations of human rights in the occupied territories are committed by Russian occupiers not only against the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and members of their families, and active community members. Practically all clergy and believers of Ukrainian religious communities who do not publicly approve of the Russian occupation of Ukrainian lands are subjected to them. This is stated by representatives of Ukrainian Catholic communities of the Eastern and Latin rites, Protestant and evangelical associations, and Muslim and Jewish communities. These facts are documented by independent human rights organizations, including the Institute for Religious Freedom (Kyiv).

As part of the policy of systematic suppression of religious freedom in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian lands by the Russian state, there is a forced decision to change the jurisdiction of Orthodox religious communities and include them directly into the structures of the Russian Orthodox Church with direct subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate, rather than the Metropolis in Kyiv, headed by Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovsky). Similar practices of forced inclusion of Ukrainian religious communities and associations in Russian religious structures are also carried out in relation to other denominations.

The Moscow Patriarchate and its leader, personally, Kirill (Vladimir Gundiayev), are complicit in Russian terror and religious persecution in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. They systematically publicly support, approve, bless, encourage, and justify the aggressive policies of the Kremlin regime, and Russian military crimes on Ukrainian soil. Actually, the structure of the Moscow Patriarchate, along with other leading religious bodies in Russia, has become an integral part of the state apparatus, fully reliant on the Russian authorities, and obediently carrying out their criminal directives.

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine continues to emphasize the necessity for broad international, religious, societal, and governmental condemnation. This condemnation targets both the practice of full integration of major Russian religious associations into the structure of the Kremlin dictatorship and their encouragement and justification of the crimes of this terrorist regime, as well as the individuals directly responsible. Kirill (Volodymyr Gundyaev), the current head of the Russian Orthodox Church, should be subject to international sanctions, condemnation, and removal from the patriarchal throne. The Moscow Patriarchate should face the same international condemnation for aiding the crimes of the Russian state as the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa was condemned for supporting the criminal apartheid system in that country, and as German denominations were condemned for supporting and justifying the Nazi regime.

Taking all this into account, and considering the undeniable fact that the main religious associations in the Russian state are de facto fully integrated into the system of Russian totalitarian rule, both at the level of their leadership structures and personally by their leaders, and are carrying out its criminal policies both within the country and beyond its borders, including supporting Russian military aggression against Ukraine, encouraging and justifying it, it is the moral duty of believers and religious communities in Ukraine to completely rid themselves of any subordination to these Russian de facto state structures. This primarily concerns the subordination of Ukrainian Orthodox communities to the structure of the Russian Orthodox Church. Further subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate constitutes moral complicity in its sins and crimes, causing harm to both the Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian people.

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine calls on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to promptly adopt draft law No. 8371 in its second reading and in its entirety, and for the President of Ukraine to sign it.

May God, the Great and Only One, protect Ukraine!

Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine
Metropolitan Makariy of Lviv
Metropolitan Symeon of Vinnytsia and Bar
Metropolitan Andriy of Halych
Metropolitan Dymytry of Lviv and Sokal
Metropolitan Ioan of Cherkasy and Chyhyryn
Archbishop Agapit of Vyshhorod
Bishop Kyrylo of Uzhgorod and Khust
Bishop Sava of Donetsk and Sloviansk
Bishop Nykodym of Kherson and Tavria
Bishop Theognost of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna
Bishop Anthony of Chernihiv and Nizhyn