MOSCOW, November 24. /TASS/. The Ukrainian authorities’ decision to cancel the transfer of the Pochayev Laura to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church may trigger persecution against Canonical Church clergy and monks, Deputy Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolai Balashov told TASS on Saturday.
"This decision forebodes the beginning of persecutions against Orthodox monks in Ukraine. Unscrupulous politicians are seeking to ‘drive’ believers into an organization being set up by persons far away from faith and pursuing situational goals rather than striving for the salvation of souls for eternal life. The Church is ‘inconvenient’ for the destroyers of the spiritual foundations of Ukrainian society. But it is strong by its faithfulness to Christ and is unconquerable in this faithfulness," the archpriest said.
Ukraine’s Justice Ministry made a decision on Friday to cancel the transfer of the compound of buildings of the Holy Dormition Pochayev Laura (Monastery) to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church for use. As Ukrainian First Deputy Justice Minister Yelena Sukmanova alleged, the state registration of the right to use the compound of buildings of the Holy Dormition Pochayev Laura - the Dormition Cathedral, the Trinity Cathedral, monastic cells, the church house, the belfry and other structures was carried out with violations of the existing legislation.
Church crisis in Ukraine
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided at its meeting held on October 9-11 to proceed with granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. It revoked the 1686 decision on transferring the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and announced plans to bring it back under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It also reinstated the heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine, Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, to their hierarchical and priestly ranks.
On October 15, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in response to that move that full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was no longer possible.
On November 3, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople signed a cooperation agreement on creating an independent Ukrainian Church. The ceremony was held in the patriarch’s residence in Istanbul.