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Russian Orthodox Church slams seizure of churches in Ukraine

December 22, 2015, 16:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to the Russian Orthodox Church, Kiev is trying to draw the church into the political and civil conflict in the country
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© Artiom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, December 22. /TASS/. The seizure of cathedrals of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the manipulation with religious organizations are an attempt of the Ukrainian authorities to draw the church into the political and civil conflict in the country. By doing so, private political tasks will be solved, but Ukraine’s unity will be lost, member of the secretariat for inter-Orthodox relations of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Deacon Feodor Shulga told a round-table meeting in Russia’s Civic Chamber.

"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of the Moscow Patriarchate - TASS) is essentially the only unifying factor amidst the present civil conflict," Shulga said, adding that "for this very reason the Ukrainian Orthodox Church observes strict political neutrality in relation to the conflict." He noted that "the task of the political forces was to draw the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of the Moscow Patriarchate - TASS) into the conflict, which already involves in full measure the competing denominations. These are the so-called Russian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the so-called Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church." He pointed to two ways of exerting pressure on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, namely, promoting the idea of a unified national church and the seizure of churches.

As of the end of 2014, 9 churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions were completely destroyed, 77 others were destroyed partially. This year six more churches suffered. During the conflict three priests were killed, four others were injured and at least eight were subjected to interrogations and beaten. In addition to that, the cathedrals are looted and illegally seized. There are more than 30 examples to this effect.

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