UOC-MP Already Considers Itself Lawful Owner of Pochayiv Monastery
Vasyl Horbal, a deputy of the Party of Regions, who was the author of Bill 9690 On Restitution of Objects of Cultural Heritage to Religious Organizations registered on January 12, 2012, assured that the bill has a good chance of being passed by the Parliament. Horbal said this at a press conference “Will the Pochayiv Monastery be returned to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church?” on February 24, reported Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
The event was also attended by the Superior of the Pochayiv Monastery, Archbishop Volodymyr (Moroz) of Pochayiv of UOC-MP, the press secretary of the head of the UOC-MP, Protopriest Heorhii Kovalenko, and the soloist of the Karamazov Brothers rock band, Oleh Karamazov. They unanimously stated that the return of the Pochayiv Monastery and Kremenets Monastery of the UOC-MP is the restoration of historical justice.
Horbal stated that the Cabinet of Ministers received an instruction to settle the issue of the transfer of the objects in Kremenets District, the Women’s Monastery of Epiphany of Ternopil Eparchy and Pochayiv Monastery to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and objects in Kyiv to the Kyiv Cave Monastery without the right of alienation and change of intended purposes of use thereof. The deputy assured that there are good prospects for the bill. According to him, the list of objects of cultural heritage can even be enlarged as it is referred to by representatives of other religious organizations who also raise the question regarding the return to the religious organizations of the religious buildings confiscated under the Soviet regime.
Archbsihop Volodymyr (Moroz) of Pochayiv of the UOC-MP noted that after the collapse of the USSR, religious buildings were returned to all denominations except the UOC-MP. Therefore, he calls the return of the Pochayiv Monastery to his denomination is the restoration of historical justice.
“In Ternopil Oblast, as of January 1, 2003, 669 churches were returned to the UGCC, of which 264 are monuments of historical significance. Wooden monuments of historical and cultural significance, such as the Cathedral of St. Greorge, Monastery of St. Onufrii, Cathedral of Transfiguration, Church of St. Andrew and a number of other churches and buildings, were transferred to the Greek Catholic community in Lviv. Nobody disputed it or held any public hearings. At the same time, the buildings of the Laura [editor: Pochayiv Monastery] were included in the Kremenets-Pochayiv State Historic and Architectural Reserve, from which it managed to secede in 2003 with God’s help,” said the superior of the Pochayiv Monastery.
The press secretary of the head of UOC-MP, Protopriest Heorhii Kovalenko reminded that all over the world, church property has been in the ownership of the community and the church for a long time and that the UOC has not been granted the status of a legal person so far. The soloist of the Karamazov Brothers group, Oleh Karamazov, said that he is ashamed to participate in a discussion regarding the return of the Pochayiv Monastery to the church as church property should belong to the church.
As RISU reported earlier, Bill 9690 provoked many discussions in the society. For instance, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), stated that the procedure of the return of church property in Ukraine should be conducted very carefully, without showing favoritism with respect to any denomination.
“As for the transfer of religious buildings to the ownership of any denomination, as I said repeatedly, one should not do it showing favoritism to any denomination, for both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church were harmed by the Communist regime,” stated Patriarch Sviatoslav.
According to him the transfer of church buildings should be carried out transparently and with taking into account the interests of all the denominations.
Patriarch Filaret of UOC-Kyivan Patriarchate is also against the bill. He even forwarded a letter to President Yanukovych expressing his concern about the possible privatization by Moscow of the Ukrainian shrines, the Kyiv Cave and Pochayiv Monasteries. He warned Ukraine’s president that approval of the bill may result in deterioration of interdenominational relations.
The bill also provoked discontent of the movement Ukrainian Shrines to the Ukrainian People.