RCC Open Letter regarding Kyiv Pechersk Lavra in Ukraine: New attempt to seize the UOC shrine

THE OPEN LETTER OF THE RUSSIAN CONGRESS OF CANADA REGARDING THE ATTEMPT OF UKRAINIAN AUTHORITY TO SEIZE THE PROPERTY AND SHRINE OF THE UKRANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH BY UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES

Kyiv_Pechersk_Lavra
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Ukraine

The Russian Congress of Canada has learned of an Internet petition urging the transfer of the Kiev Caves Monastery of the Dormition from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (sometimes called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate) to the schismatic “Kievan Patriarchate”. The petition has gathered over 10,000 signatures, and the municipal Government of Kiev has said they would examine and consider it.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is the historic and canonical (that is, lawful) Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which traces its history and antecedents back to the conversion of Russ under Vladimir the Great, Great Prince of Kiev, in the 10th century. The Kiev Caves Monastery of the Dormition (also known as the Kiev Pechersk Lavra) is the oldest and holiest Christian site in Ukraine, and is the seat of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The “Kievan Patriarchate”, which calls itself the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate” is a schismatic body dating from the 1990s, headed by a defrocked bishop, who has assumed the title “Patriarch” in violation of the laws of the Orthodox Church. His illegal and self-aggrandizing assumption of this title is not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, nor by any canonical Orthodox church anywhere in the world. Nor is his church, the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate” recognized by any canonical Orthodox Church, or the global Orthodox community. All the canonical Eastern Orthodox Churches view the Kiev Patriarchate as a congregation of dissenters and outlaw Eucharistic contacts with it.

We strongly protest the actions of the Government of Kiev in accepting the petition for consideration. Any transfer of the Kiev Caves Monastery would be illegal under both church and secular law, and would be tantamount to forced seizure of church property. It would be a provocation, and disrupt the fragile religious peace in Ukraine, and aggravate existing religious tensions. Such action would also represent a shocking and unwarranted intervention by the state authorities in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church.

Since the emergence of the independent Ukrainian state in 1991, the persecution of clerics of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and seizures of church buildings by activists of the “Kiev Patriarchate” have occurred all too frequently in the western and central regions of Ukraine. They have intensified particularly since the state coup of February 2014. Attempts on the lives of clerics of the Canonical Church have also been frequent. We strongly protest this escalation of aggression and persecution against the legitimate Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

Signed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on this 11th Day of December 2015 by:

Valentin Lossev, President and V. Rev. Vladimir Malchenko, Vice President