AUCCRO delegation states in US that temples are not being closed in Ukraine

03 November 2023 13:39
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Members of the AUCCRO delegation in Washington. Photo: vrciro.org.ua Members of the AUCCRO delegation in Washington. Photo: vrciro.org.ua

The AUCCRO delegation that went to the USA did not include a representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Members of the delegation of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO), currently visiting the US, have declared a high level of religious freedom in Ukraine and that churches are not being closed in the country. This was reported by the AUCCRO press service.

During the events at the Institute of Peace in Washington, the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine, Yakov Dov Bleich, stated that "after the collapse of the Soviet Union, democracy began to flourish in Ukraine, genuine freedom of religion emerged, and religious pluralism was established." Then, during a meeting at the US State Department with US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, AUCCRO delegates asserted that "despite the state of war, Ukraine maintains a high level of religious freedom, and no church has been prohibited."

According to the AUCCRO press service reports, delegation members provided detailed information to the Americans about the repression of Protestants and Catholics in the occupied regions of the Russian Federation but did not mention the persecution of the UOC in territories controlled by the Ukrainian government. Nor did they address the violent seizure of hundreds of churches, the closure of monasteries, numerous restrictions on the activities of the UOC by local authorities, expropriation of Church land and property, unjust reregistration of parishes into another denomination, legal persecution of Church hierarchs, clergy, and human rights defenders.

In response to questions from American journalists and experts about the draft law passed in the first reading aimed at banning the UOC, delegates stated that the "activity of organizations, centers, and leadership based in the Russian Federation is unacceptable in Ukraine." They claimed that "Ukraine is undergoing a democratic discussion of this draft law, and as a result, the bill may be adjusted for the second reading."

The AUCCRO delegation included representatives of the OCU, UGCC, RCC, Evangelical religious organizations, Seventh-day Adventists, the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations, the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Bible Society. As the UOJ was informed by the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the request by the UOC to include its representative in the delegation was ignored by the organizers of the visit.

Earlier, the UOJ reported that an interview by US journalist Tucker Carlson with American lawyer Bob Amsterdam, discussing the persecution of the UOC, was viewed by over 103 million people in just 5 days.

The UOJ also reported that US presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy believes that due to the persecution of the UOC, Ukraine cannot be considered a democratic country.

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