UOC (MP) community in Donetsk region moves to Kyiv Patriarchate
On the Defender's Day, October 14, in the city of Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region,a parish community with their temple moved under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate. Clergymen of Horlivka and Slovyansk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) argue that it was a forced capture and a direct violation of the statute.
The history of the new parish began in 2011, when businessman and deputy of Donetsk Regional State Administration Yuri Shapran decided to support construction of the church, reports the website of Horlivka and Slovyansk Diocese of the UOC (MP). Then he turned to Bishop Mytrofan of Horlivka and Slovyansk asking to support his initiative. On March 25, the same year the new statute of the community was registered, and the land for the construction of the temple was allocated (city council decision as of March29).
When the construction was almost completed, in 2014, its initiator Shapran decided to transfer the community under the jurisdiction of the UOC Kyiv Patriarchate, which was supported by the parish council. According to the UOC (MP)diocese, he changed the council board at his own discretion, presenting himself and his friends as the church community.
The official statement the UOC (MP) contains address to the new bishop of the community on behalf of the UOC-KP: “I would like to ask a question to Archbishop Serhiy of Donetsk and Mariupol who performed worship in Kostyantynivka today: Do his actions mean that the abandoned temples of the UOC Kyiv Patriarchate on uncontrolled Ukraine territory automatically have become our property, or is it necessary to keep the commandments “You shall not steal” and You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor? "
Instead, Archbishop Serhiy (Horobtsov) of Donetsk and Mariupol of the UOC-KP in the commentary to RISU said that first he learned of the desire to move about a year and a half ago. According to him, he was contacted by representatives of the entire community, who wanted to move under his jurisdiction because of the behavior of the UOC (MP) clergymen. The hierarch stressed that it was for the first time that the parish expressed willingness to be in the Kyiv Patriarchate and not in the Moscow Patriarchate in this region.
“Representatives of the Parish Council and faithful were outraged by the actions of clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). In particular, they knew that ministers from Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Kostyantynivka took up arms and accompanied the DPR fighters not only as chaplains. It is clear from the message of Bishop Mytrofan that he threatened us, asking about parishes on the occupied territories. However, we have not abandoned our faithful, once a week we always perform worship. The issue is that some priests left because of threats of physical violence and harassment. And Bishop Mytrofan preached in churches for the “Russian world” and against the Ukrainian state,” the archbishop stressed.
Representatives of the parish turned for advice to UOC-KP Patriarch Filaret and referred to the law “On freedom of conscience and religion,” which states that religious community can decide for themselves where the church and the community belong. The first service in the community of the Meeting of the Lord was held on the feast of the Protection Veil and the Defender’s Day with the participation of military personnel. In addition, the lower church was consecrated in honor of Virgin Mary.
“... The question arises: why today, relying on military force under the guise of patriotism, can anyone make iniquity? Or we will see for ourselves in the court proceedings that Ukraine is a state of law, where the law is the same for everyone?”goes the official statement of the UOC (MP) Diocese.
Archbishop Serhiy says that Kostyantynivka residents approached and told him that they had waited for a new church for a long time, and especially the UOC-KP. Similarly, the military came to the service so there was an opportunity to greet them. Therefore, according to him, no people were forced to attend the worship to prove the magnitude of the parish.