Kyivan Orthodox Church Stands Up For Its Rights

12.02.2002, 18:45
On 11 February 2002, about three hundred activists of the regional oppositional youth committee “For the Truth” picketed the Odesa mayor’s office. They were criticizing municipal authorities for their contemptuous attitude towards the idea of Ukrainian statehood. In one of the demands, the committee voiced serious concern over the deplorable state of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) in Odesa.

The national church, which the UOC-KP calls itself, is in much poorer condition than the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Ihor Stoliarov, a radio “Svoboda” correspondent who on 11 February 2002 reported the news to RISU, asked Bishop Paisii of Odesa and Baltiia (UOC-KP) to comment on the state of affairs in the UOC-KP. According to Bishop Paisii, the UOC-KP owns four buildings in Odesa. The only church building is the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ, which is in great need of repair. “Such conditions are in stark contrast to those of the Moscow Church [Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate], which uses administrative resources, establishes commercial and ideological organizations and has the opportunity to publish newspapers because of the support it receives from local authorities,” asserts Bishop Paisii. “99.9 per cent of all church buildings," he continues, "belong to the Moscow Patriarchate.” Bishop Paisii believes that the preferential attitude of the Odesa authorities to the Moscow Patriarchate is explained by the support the current mayor, Ruslan Bodelan, received from it during the previous municipal elections. The day before the picket took place, the bishop was asked by the city administration to dissuade the youth from conducting the protest. “How can a bishop prevent youth from protecting their native Church?” said the bishop with surprise. “We must fight this ‘inertia’, which still exists even today, of returning to the Moscow Church and being foreigners on our native land,” Bishop Paisii asserted.