2017-05-30 10:47:00

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate demands return of all property seized from it, halt of attempts to create state Church in Ukraine

Moscow, May 30, Interfax - The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has called for an end to be put to church division in Ukraine and state interference in religious affairs.

"One should finally put an end to the attempts to create a state Church in Ukraine. All churches and religious communities should be equal to the state and serve freely," the Synod said in an address issued on the 25th anniversary of the Kharkov Bishops Council.

Church division, which can only be overcome by "frank and sincere dialogue," continues to exist in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said in a document posted on its website on Monday.

"However, dialogue became impossible today in a situation of open aggression by the "Kiev Ppatriarchate." The first step towards it should be the halt of violence and aggressive rhetoric. All illegally seized church property should be returned to its lawful owners. Real dialogue can only begin after specific actions that confirm peace-loving intensions and declarations," the document said.

The Synod also said the Ukrainian Orthodox Church today is the most populous religious organization in the country and it is represented in all regions of Ukraine.

"Don't call us 'Moscow Church' just because we keep the centuries-old tradition that begins from the Christening of Kievan Rus in the blessed waters of the Dnieper and unites millions of believers who now live in Moscow, Minsk, Chisinau, and in many other cities and states worldwide," the document said.

Dozens of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were taken over by representatives of the self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate" after the fighting began in eastern Ukraine three years ago. These incidents occur amid the attempts made by the Ukrainian authorities to create a local Orthodox Church in the country. One of the goals is to separate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate.