In a meeting with the members of the Nationwide Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, President Petro Poroshenko stressed the importance of continuing the strategy of partnership between the state and religious organizations and assured that all the rights and freedoms of citizens in Ukraine, including religious freedom, are respected.
According to the Head of State, representatives of various religious organizations are now being oppressed in Russia. Recent evidence from the Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea Klyment is a vivid demonstration of what is happening with religious freedom in the territory of the occupied Crimea, he added.
He noted that at the example of Russia, one can see what a state church is and what can be the situation with the observance of the religious rights and freedoms of the citizens; what are the oppression and persecution of representatives of other denominations, including Ukrainian churches. In particular, there are constant problems in the activities of Roman Catholics, representatives of Protestant organizations can tell about the numerous facts of violations of the rights of representatives of religious organizations in the territories occupied by Russia.
“At the same time, I would like to emphasize that we have an example of a fruitful state-church partnership. A striking example of this partnership is the activity of the Nationwide Council of Churches, which includes 16 churches and religious organizations and one inter-church organization, including Orthodox, Greek and Roman Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical churches, as well as Jewish and Muslim religious organizations,” the Head of State stressed.
The President noted: “I am happy that such a religious diversity does not contradict unity. On the contrary, our unity in diversity makes us stronger than unity in the barracks of the “Russian world”.
The Head of State said that his active role in the Unity Council, the gaining of the Tomos, the formation of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine was not guided by the desire to create a single state church. “For me, it’s a matter of the independence of the church from Russia,” he emphasized.
“I assure, we will continue the partnership strategy,” Petro Poroshenko said.
The Head of State also noted that the Kremlin was trying to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, including in the religious sphere. He warned that during the election that issue became even more urgent: “We must see all the risks and threats, the stakes in these elections, which Putin knows very well. Knows and wants to dishonor and humiliate in our eyes everything that has been done over these five years, wants to break the Ukrainian unity”.
“In the religious sphere, it is about whether the “Russian world” will come to Ukraine or not. The issue of religious freedom should also be the subject of our joint activities. Unfortunately, there are attempts of intense destabilization of the situation in Ukraine now. We also observe violence, unfortunately. We shouldn’t allow bloodshed, God forbid. I emphasize that violence has never been an effective solution to the problems,” he added.
In turn, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Epifaniy said: “We thank God for the fact that we have a united Ukrainian state. And, thanks to your hard work, we have our powerful Ukrainian army”.
“We believe that in the future, with God’s help, we will move towards our unity,” the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine said.
Metropolitan Epifaniy thanked the Head of State and wished him a God’s inspiration, strength and patience for the further development of our Ukrainian state that will become a full-fledged member of the EU and NATO in the future.