Court opens proceedings on illegal registration of schismatics with same name as canonical Ukrainian Church

The district administrative court of Kiev took into consideration and opened proceedings on the matter of the illegality of the state registration of the religious center of the new schismatic church on Tuesday, reports the legal department of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church filed a lawsuit against the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the state registrar after they registered the schismatic church with the same name that the canonical Church has legally held since the 1990s.

In particular, the religious center of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” was officially registered on January 30 in the united state register of legal entities, individual entrepreneurs, and public formations of Ukraine under the name “Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine),” while the canonical Church has been registered as the “Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” since 1991.

The Ukrainian Church’s legal department believes there are no legal grounds for registering the newly-created schismatic church with this name. “The so-called newly-formed OCU has no basis to be called the Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, not only because there has existed a religious center with such a name since 1991, but also because the primary constitutive document, the ‘tomos,’ which they should respect and fulfill, defines two names for it—the ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’ and the ‘Holy Orthodox Church of Ukraine,’” explained legal department head Archpriest Alexander Bakhov in February.

Earlier in January, the speaker of the canonical Church Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich also commented: “You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that this is lawlessness. Legal names cannot be duplicated. How could state organs register another Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church if one already exists? Raiders!”

If the court decides to satisfy the claim, it will cancel the registration of the OCU under such a name.

Currently, the registry lists the founder of the OCU legal entity as the “Local unification council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which took place in Kiev on December 15, 2018,” and the head of the church as Epiphany Dumenko, “the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine”—the title and position rightfully held by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of the canonical Church.

Recall that in late December, the Ukrainian parliament passed and then-President Poroshenko signed into law a bill that would force the canonical Ukrainian Church to rename itself the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.” According to the stipulations of the law, the Church had four months to comply. However, on April 22, the same district administrative court of Kiev suspended the process of the forced renaming of the Church.

It had previously declared the actions of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Andrei Paruby in connection with the adoption of the bill to be illegal.

Responding to the court’s Tuesday decision to hear the Church’s case, Paruby declared that the case is an exam for the court on its Ukrainianness. “The Kiev district administrative court must pass the exam for statehood and Ukrainianism, and clearly confirm the legality of the registration of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Paruby declared.