"Where Russia is, religious freedom comes to an end," Ukraine's spiritual leaders address the UN Security Council
The document emphasizes that the war has brought believers "tremendous suffering, and the freedom of people, their religious beliefs have actually become the primary target of the Russian occupiers." In eleven months, they destroyed or looted more than 270 churches and religious buildings, killed and tortured dozens of clergy to death.
"Wherever Russia goes, religious freedom ends," the leaders of Churches and religious organizations in Ukraine note.
Address of the heads of Churches and religious organizations to the participants of the UN Security Council meeting on January 17, 2023
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
We, representatives of religious organizations of Ukraine, appeal to you on behalf of millions of our faithful who pray, work and defend the most valuable gift of God – life on our land, the rights of people and their dignity under Russian rockets and shells.
The war brought these people enormous suffering, and the freedom of people and their religious beliefs became almost the first target of the Russian invaders. In eleven months, they destroyed or desecrated more than 270 churches and sacred structures, killed and tortured dozens of clergy. Wherever Russia comes, religious freedom comes to an end. Wherever Russia is, "wrong" Orthodox Christians are tortured, Catholics are bullied, Muslims are imprisoned for unimaginable terms, even in Soviet times, for their religious beliefs, Protestants are forced to flee abroad from imminent repression, and Jehovah's Witnesses are persecuted.
Therefore, our faithful are fighting at the front, among other things, for Ukraine to continue to remain a country where in the entire history of its independent existence, not a single house of worship has been closed, where everyone has the right to believe in what they consider worthy of faith, where religious minorities feel as comfortable as churches that unite millions of believers. Where, after all, religious persecutors from many countries have always found shelter, and Ukraine's achievements in the field of freedom of conscience are recognized all over the world.
We take this opportunity to appeal to the international community to hear our appeal: the greatest thing nations can do to assert freedom of conscience in Ukraine is to help Ukrainians stand up to the Russian invasion, which brings death, slavery, darkness and religious oppression.
o Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All-Ukraine, His Beatitude Epifaniy
o His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Head of the UGCC, Supreme Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych
o Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Union Of Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches Valery Antonyuk
o Mufti of the Religious Administration of the Muslims of Crimea Aider Rustemov
o Mufti of the Religious Administration of the Muslims of Ukraine "Umma" Murat Suleymanov
o Ruling Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kyiv Zhytomyr Vitaliy Kryvytsky
o President of the Ukrainian Union Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church Stanislav Nosov, President of the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine, Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine Yakov Dov Bleich