Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Who knew church persecution by the state would be unpopular?

Ukraine has a history of church persecutions dating back a while. Even if you just go back to the Soviet period, we find the Orthodox Church and especially the Greek Catholic Church subject to great pressure (torture, imprisonment, execution). Legion are the stories of priests hiding under floorboards, curling themselves into tight balls in car trunks, and rushing from sanctuary house to sanctuary house under cover of darkness to avoid being arrested. So who knew that anything that even remotely looks like maltreatment of a religious body in Ukraine would occasion bad press? It's a complete surprise.

Moscow, December 13 (Interfax) - The Moscow Patriarchate has described sanctions imposed on the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as repressions for a profession of faith.

"Sanctions against citizens of one's own country are a practice which, mildly speaking, raises questions from a legal viewpoint in itself, but in this case, clergymen are persecuted by the secular authorities. Moreover, for activities directly linked to their church ministry. It is evidently repressions for a profession of faith," Russian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoyda said on his Telegram channel on Tuesday.

Ukrainian authorities recently imposed sanctions for five years against a number of prominent figures of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who they believe are pro-Russian. Among them are seven clergymen, including Metropolitan Antony of Borispol and Brovary, manager of affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Panteleimon of Lugansk and Alchevsk, Metropolitan Luka of Zaporozhye and Melitopol, and Metropolitan Melety of Chernovtsy and Bukovina.

Legoyda said he is confident that the sanctions would not intimidate the clergymen subjected to them. Especially given that the majority of the imposed bans are "openly absurd and insignificant for members of the clergy," for instance, the blocking of trade operations, a ban on the withdrawal of capital outside the country and handover of technologies, and a ban on operations with security transactions, he said.

"At the same time, regardless of how absurd these sanctions are, it does not change the most important thing that Ukraine is already de facto returning to persecutions for faith which were repeatedly condemned by everyone. It is currently simply a political order to reformat public consciousness, cynical and godless in nature. The creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, an artificially constructed pocket 'church', was the first step on this path," Legoyda said.


  1. So the mouth of, Putin, upset about Ukraine's investigations of treason during an unprovoked war, and you're comparing these investigations to what the Soviets did to faithful believers during the Soviet Yoke?

    I must be misreading something, 'cause this is super cringe...

  2. Exactly. Beyond cringe...disgraceful.

  3. I suspect the UOC is not very happy with this press release.... thanks but no thanks....

  4. No Fr Gregory. I suspect that that UOC is trying it's hardest to separate it's self from MP. Its political survival hinges on this. Having the MP defending it hurts them.

  5. Who knew allowing a church to be captured by a political ideology would be bad for that church?

    Cf. Russian Orthodox Church pre-October 1917, post-Russian Civil War in the USSR, in exile abroad, and again in Putin's neo-Tsarist one-party oligarchy.

    See also Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: "It seems to me, and I am deeply convinced of this, that the Church should never speak from a position of power. It should not be one power among others operating in one state or another; it should be, if you will, just as powerless as God, Who does not use force; Who only beckons us, opening up the beauty and truth of things without imposing them; Who is like our conscience, telling us the truth while leaving us free either to listen to truth and beauty or to reject them. It seems to me that the Church should be precisely like that; if the Church should gain the position of a powerful organization, one with the ability to coerce or direct events, then there will always be the risk that it will want to wield power; but as soon as the Church begins to wield power, it will lose its deepest essence: the love of God and an
    understanding of those whom it is called to save, not to destroy and remake." (,%20The%20Authority%20of%20the%20Powerless%20Church.pdf)

  6. There are undoubtedly good and faithful clergy in the UOC (MP), and I feel very badly for them. But the reality is that the Russian Orthodox Church has become a de-facto government department for a fascist dictatorship that is waging an unprovoked and cruel war on one of its neighbors. And there is little doubt that Moscow's Ukrainian affiliate has its share of Russian intelligence agents and secret police in its ranks. War is an ugly and messy business that often wreaks havoc on the innocent. But ultimately, Ukraine's decision to treat the UOC (MP) as an agency of a wartime enemy government is not unreasonable. The ecclesiastical and canonical situation in Ukraine is such a mess that I get a headache just thinking about it.

    Lord have mercy.

  7. It is wrong to blame the victim, which is what many commentators are doing. This war was engineered by the United States to begin with, and the US was pushing for the recognition of the Schismatics before any of this happened. Just yesterday, clergy under Epiphoney were out doing services to commemorate the birthday of a Nazi war criminal. So the only real Orthodox Church in Ukraine is the one that is being persecuted. The SBU is not showing any real evidence of espionage on the part of their clergy. They are simply tightening the screws in hopes of forcing the clergy to sign on to a bogus Church. The Ukrainian government has decided to pick a fight with God, and I predict that it won’t end well for them, if they continue down this road.

  8. Also, the Church in Ukraine has been completely autonomous since the 1990’s. They run their own affairs. They have a lot more say in what goes on in the wider Russian Church than the wider Russian Church has in what goes on in their autonomous part of it. And Metropolitan Onouphry is a living saint. No one who has had any significant dealings with him that I have ever run across has anything negative to say about him.