St. Petersburg, October 17, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged parliamentarians from different countries of the world to pay special attention to the attempts of the Verkhovnaya Rada MPs to adopt bills that will infringe on the religious rights of the believers belonging to the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
"I cannot help mentioning about continuous legislative attempts in Ukraine to discriminate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with which people bind hopes for interethnic reconciliation. Suggested bills, lobbied by radical political and nationalistic forces, will set up legal conditions for bureaucratic interference in internal affairs of dioceses and communities and will result in even tougher religious schism in Ukrainian society," the patriarch said at the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly held in Petersburg.
The primate stressed that today there is no other force in Ukrainian society, except the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church that can become "a foundation for inter-ethnic reconciliation."
To illustrate his words, the patriarch reminded about the procession with cross in Ukraine which was organized by the canonical Church of Ukraine and attracted over 100,000 people. According to the patriarch, this large-scale action demonstrated that the Orthodox Church in Ukraine stood "exceptionally for internal peace," while the mentioned legislative initiatives of the Verkhovnaya Rada seek "to make believers and the Church an instrument of the inner political struggle."
"It is absolutely unacceptable. I ask you to pay special attention to this situation," the patriarch summed up.
It was reported that Bill No. 4511, which the Verkhovnaya Rada is expected to debate at its session on Thursday, proposes granting special status to religious organizations "the administrative centers of which are located in a state which is designated by the Verkhovnaya Rada as an aggressor state."
Bill No. 4128 suggests allowing people who are members of a church community to change this church community's charter by a simple majority of votes, a move that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate believes will result in legalizing "forcible" takeovers of its churches and transferring control over them to the self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate".
Earlier, besides Russian politicians and diplomats, other local Orthodox Churches and Vatican spoke against adopting these bills.