Members of a Ukrainian Orthodox parish in a village in the Rivne Oblast voted to join the Kyiv Patriarchate because their priest refused to hold memorial services for deceased soldiers fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The St. Paraskevska community in the village of Soloniv (Radyvyliv district, Rivne Oblast), which used to belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), has joined the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), reports UNIAN, August 10, citing the UOC-KP official website.
According to the UOC-KP site, the village community had repeatedly appealed to their priest to hold memorial services for the victims of the Maidan protests in Kyiv and those killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. They also asked for prayers for Ukraine and for peace in the country, but their requests were always denied.
The local priest constantly proclaimed his support for “one Orthodoxy,” centered in Moscow, and for the “canonical church” headed by Patriarch Kirill, the website reports. Eventually the community turned to Abbot Sofroniy (Bordiuk), head of the Sviato-Heorhiy (St. George) Monastery at Kozatski Mohyly, with a request to hold a litany for Ukraine and Ukrainian soldiers.
On July 20, 2014, with the blessing of Archbishop Illarion of Rivne and Ostroh, Abbot Sofroniy (Bordiuk), together with Archpriest Oleh Savchuk and priest Onufriy (Liada), held a prayer service for Ukraine in the courtyard of the Saint Paraskeva church in Soloniv. They also said prayers for peace in the country, for the liberation of Ukraine from foreign invaders, and for God’s help for soldiers defending their country from aggressors.
Based on the decision and subsequent request by the parish members of the Saint-Paraskeva community of Soloniv to join the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Archbishop Illarion of Rivne and Ostroh accepted the parish into the Rivne eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and decreed that that priest Onufriy (Liada) be appointed rector of the St. Paraskeva parish.
On August 4, at the invitation of the rector and the parish community, Archbishop Illarion visited the St. Paraskeva church, where he said a prayer for Ukraine.
Archpriest Heorhiy Kovalenko, a spokesman for the UOC-MP, confirmed the information about the transfer of this parish to the Kyiv Patriarchate.
However, Kovalenko explained to TSN.ua that there have been transfers of individual parishes to the Kyiv Patriarchate since the mid-90s, but no mass transfers. Kovalenko also categorically denied any accusations of anti-Ukrainian positions or behavior by local priests (of the Moscow Patriarchate), stating that the local eparchy had even initiated a collection of funds for the needs of the soldiers of the Rivne Oblast.
Translated by Anna Mostovych