UOC bishop: Blinken's words can be taken as a call for new church seizures
Bishop Victor believes that some Ukrainian officials may take the open support of the US Secretary of State for the interests of the OCU as a call to action.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's open interest in promoting the interests of the OCU, expressed on May 6 in Kyiv, may be accepted by some Ukrainian officials as a command for action, which will provoke new seizures of temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The head of the Representation of the UOC to European international organizations, Bishop Viсtor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, wrote about this on his Telegram channel.
The point is that at the meeting between Blinken and the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko, "the removal of artificial obstacles in the free, based on the principles of freedom of conscience, determination of their affiliation by the communities" was discussed. The hierarch of the UOC noted that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has always defended and will defend precisely these principles – freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, and has repeatedly drawn the attention of the Ukrainian authorities to the need to observe these principles. “Some of our officials may take Antony Blinken’s words about ‘the removal of obstacles’ as a command to act, which will lead to a new wave of seizures of the UOC churches, and, consequently, to civil tension and religious confrontation,” thinks Bishop Victor.
Bishop Victor recalled that in recent years the UOC has repeatedly experienced harassment and persecution by certain political forces when the same principles of freedom of conscience were violated. “The seizure of churches, physical violence, a selective attitude towards representatives of the UOC, as well as aggressive rhetoric and banal ignorance of the needs of believers (for example, excluding the chaplains of the UOC in the Armed Forces of Ukraine) – all this, unfortunately, has become our sad present,” said the head of the UOC Representative to European international organizations.