UOC (MP) claims not to have transferred property of Crimean Diocese to ROC
On March 11, the UOC (MP) held a press conference regarding the destiny of the UOC (MP) dioceses in Crimea. As a result of the TV-story, which was released on March 8 by1 + 1channel, the scandal regarding re-registration of Crimean dioceses of the UOC (MP) and their alleged subordination to the ROC is gaining more momentum. Therefore, the UOC (MP) decided to present its vision of events, says RISU reporter Iryna Ryndych.
Participating in the press-conference were Head of the Synodal Information Department of the UOC Bishop Klyment (Vecheria), Head of the Legal Department of the UOC (MP) Archpriest Oleksandr Bakhov and Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC (MP) Archpriest Mykola Danylevych.
Chairman of the Synodal Information Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) Bishop Klyment noted that the said storyhad upset and offended many believers. According to him, it presented a very biased information on the Crimean dioceses of the UOC (MP) and made serious allegation regarding the head of UOC (MP), and the UOC (MP) on the whole, as the largest religious community in Ukraine.
“The question concerned three Crimean dioceses that are in canonical jurisdiction of the UOC (MP), or more exactly, their legal support, legal registration in the present situation of the Crimean Peninsula. In particular, the story referred to a document of unknown origin contains no signs of registration or signature. It was presented as the Statute regulating Crimean diocese,” said the bishop.
“Regarding this lie and in connection with the fact that this story had no data and no facts that would be true, the UOC (MP) states that the Holy Synod of the UOC (MP) had never adopted any documents or statutory provisions, altering the canonical subordination of the dioceses located on the peninsula of Crimea,” he said.
It was noted that Simferopol, Feodosia and Dzhankoy Dioceses have the same status as other diocese located in mainland Ukraine. These dioceses are in full authority of the UOC (MP), headed by Metropolitan Ukraine Onufriy.
Regarding the information on the registration of the new statute, changing legal subordination of the Crimean dioceses, Bishop Klyment said that he did not know the origin of such documents or texts. “I cannot call these text documents, because they have no evidence of registration and were not signed by anyone,” he said.
“I’m holding in my hands the statutes approved by the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), which were adopted by the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), namely the Statutes of the Dioceses of Simferopol and Feodosia,” said Bishop Klyment. According to him, these statutes are clear provisions that indicate that Sevastopol and Feodosiya dioceses are in canonical subordination UOC (MP), whose administrative center is the Kyiv Metropolis.
The bishop stressed the fact that not only religious organizations but also legal entities have to re-register their statutory documentation. Therefore, it is a problem of all religious organizations that are on the Crimean peninsula. They have to go through re-registration to be able to operate in the future and look after the thousands of believers who are on the peninsula.
“For that end, the UOC (MP) adopted a new version of the Statutes for Crimean dioceses that have not altered in any way the canonical subordination of the Crimean dioceses to the Kyiv Metropolis. Instead, some religious organizations, the Catholic Church, many Protestant organizations, representatives of Muslim organizations have altered not only the legal but also their religious center,” he pointed out.
It was stated, however, that there was evidence from open sources that the head of the Crimean diocese of the UOC-KP said he would change registration documents in accordance with those requirements, which are now in force on the peninsula, and that representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church were interviewed and told that they would legalize their activities in Crimea registering new documents, according to the legislation of the Russian Federation.
“We know that the bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, who patronizes Crimean parishes, said the Vatican had talks with the Russian Federation concerning the existence of their parishes in Crimea. As a result of these negotiations, an agreement was reached under which all Roman Catholic parishes in Crimea will be in the Vatican’s jurisdiction,” said Bishop Klyment. He also noted that due to these circumstances today the UOC (MP) in the Crimea peninsula had remained the only example of administrative subordination to mainland Ukraine.
Head of the Legal Department of the UOC (MP) Archpriest Oleksandr Bakhov noted that the legal department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) conducted an analysis of the text, which was the basis for 1 + 1 TV channel’s story. In particular, he commented on the issues of subordination of the dioceses, management and disposal of property of the dioceses.
He also matched the text published by journalists and the Statute adopted by the Holy Synod of the UOC (MP). Here are a few points that have been commented:
“P.3 of the Statute, published by journalists:
- The Diocese operates under the jurisdiction of the ROC in accordance with the Statute of the ROC.
“P. 3 of the statute adopted by the Holy Synod of the UOC on June 19, 2014:
- The Diocese operates according to the regulations on governance of the UOC (MP) and the decisions of local councils, the Council of Bishops and of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and the instruction of the Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine.
P.17 of the Statute, published by journalists:
- The Statute of the diocese, its amendments shall be approved by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
P.17 of the Statute adopted by the Holy Synod of the UOC on June 19, 2014:
- The Statute of the diocese, its amendments shall be adopted by Holy Synod of the UOC (MP) and approved by the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine
P.19 of the Statute, published by journalists:
- The highest governing body of the diocese is the Bishops’ Council of the ROC, and in the period between the meetings of the Bishops’ Council it shall be governed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
P.19 of the Statute adopted by the Holy Synod of the UOC on June 19, 2014:
- The highest governing body of the diocese is the diocesan assembly led by the diocesan bishop, in the period between the diocesan assemblies it shall be governed by the Diocesan Council headed by the diocesan bishop, in compliance with the Statute of the UOC.
P.37 of the Statute, published by journalists:
Regarding the disposal of assets
- The Diocese shall donate funds for the Church need in accordance with the rules provided by the Holy Synod of the ROC.
P.38 of the Statute adopted by the Holy Synod of the UOC on June 19, 2014:
- The Diocese shall make financial contributions to the budget of the UOC (MP) to the extent determined by the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).»
Archpriest Alexander Bakhov added that the text that was used in the story of 1 + 1 TV-Channel was dated December 3, 2014. The Statute adopted by the Holy Synod, was approved on June 19, 2014.
Deputy Head of the Department for External Relations of the UOC (MP) Archpriest Mykolai Danylevych reiterated that the UOC (MP) did not surrender its dioceses and their property to the ROC. “Our statutes do not provide for the transfer of property to the ROC, neither do they provide cash payments to Moscow. All the rights of Crimean dioceses remain in the UOC (MP), Crimean bishops are elected and appointed by the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate),” he added.
Being asked where one can learn about the adopted Statute in more detail, the UOC (MP) said that the statute of a diocese is a legal document and cannot be disclosed. If anyone needs more information about the content of the statute, he shall submit a formal application.
At the end of the press conference it was stressed that none of the Crimean dioceses of the UOC (MP) had been reregistered, and only Simferopol diocese received confirmation that it had been registered but had not received any documents.