Moscow, June 16, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has sharply criticized Verkhovnaya Rada deputies who have recently issued an address to the Constantinople patriarch calling for recognition of the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Moscow.
"Instead of doing their direct job, which is to pass laws protecting the dignity of Ukrainians and strengthening public accord, the Rada has decided to become a self-proclaimed body in charge of administering inter-church relations," Vladimir Legoyda, the head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, said in a statement quoted by his press service on Thursday.
On June 15, the Verkhovnaya Rada called on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to invalidate the act of 1686 according to which the Kiev metropolitan was allegedly "in violation of canons" attached to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Legoyda believes that by their decision Ukrainian legislators showed that "they are driven by a wish to make the Ukrainian Orthodox Church a pawn of big shortsighted policies and deprive it of its impartial peacemaking role that it plays in a situation of civil unrest, not by a wish to cure division and care for peace among the religious communities of this country."
He said Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine has called the parliamentarians' address a direct violation of the Ukrainian legislation. "Metropolitan Onufry also said that ways to unity would have been found a long time ago if politicians had not interfered in internal church affairs and inter-church relations. One can't help but recognize the justice of these words," Legoyda said.
He said the address adopted by Russia is only one of the methods of putting pressure on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which includes attempts to pass discriminatory law governing its status, takeovers of churches and persecution of clergymen. "All these things are major violations of the national and international law, which deserve legal proceedings," Legoyda said.