The following letter was sent to the leader of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk on January 13th, 2014 threatening legal repercussions for allowing priests minister to anti-government protests in Ukraine. Click here for more detail.
Ministry of Culture of Ukraine to Sviatoslav Shevchuk
primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church,
Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych
The news media is actively publishing stories and reports of religious activities led by the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church on Kyiv’s Independence Square beginning last December through the beginning of the new 2014 year in defiance of the constitutional requirements of Ukraine in regards to freedom of conscience and religious organizations.
Especially concerning is the systematic ignoring of the rule of law on the part of certain priests allegedly supported by and serving on behalf of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which has an overall negative influence on the overall cultural rights and legal consciousness of our citizens – faithful members of the Church.
With respect to Your personal authority and authority over the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, further ignorance of the articles of law of Ukraine in regards to the construction of temporary structures for religious functions (so-called “prayer tents”) as well as holding public prayer services, religious rites, ceremonies and processions, obviously hinders the state of trust between the state and church and religious organizations overall, the promotion of peace, societal understanding, and the religious environment.
Under these precepts, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, as the central organ especially authorized to regulate the sphere of religion on behalf of the executive government, in order to implement state control and abidance of the laws regarding freedom of conscience and religious organizations, would like to bring your attention to the fact that in accordance to article 21 of the Law of Ukraine “on freedom of conscience and religious organizations,” open, meaning without proper permission (consent), prayer services, religious rites, ceremonies and processions are only permissible in religious buildings, on adjacent territory, places of pilgrimage, apartments or homes of citizens, as well as some other places (cemeteries, funerary venues and crematoriums).
Other instances of public prayer services, religious rites, ceremonies and processions which were compliant with current legislation, only did so with the expressed permission of the local state administration which, at the moment, is non-existent.
Non-compliance with said regulations, in accordance with the terms of article 16 of the Law of Ukraine “on freedom of conscience and religious organizations,” may serve as legal precedent for a court of law to terminate a religious organizations’ right to operate.
The undersigned, as authorized by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, officially appeals to You – to unconditionally follow the law of Ukraine in regards to religious organizations, a category into which the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church falls.
T. H. Kokhan
First Deputy Minister
All emphasis and punctuation original. Translated by Julian Hayda.