Russia has banned the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and other Catholic ministries in occupied areas of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, according to the Church’s main communications office in Kyiv. Source: OSV News.
The UGCC announced on its website last week that it had obtained a copy of an order signed by Yevgeny Balitsky, the Kremlin-installed head of the area’s military-civil administration, declaring that the UGCC had been banned and its property was to be transferred to his administration.
Also banned by the order were Caritas, the official humanitarian arm of the universal Catholic Church, and the Knights of Columbus.
The UGCC said in its statement that the document, written in Russian and dated December 26, 2022, had only now come to its attention. The order declared that the UGCC’s activities were in “violation of legislation on religious and public organisations of the Russian Federation”.
According to the document, UGCC leaders work “in the interests of foreign intelligence services,” while UGCC parishioners had participated “in riots and anti-Russian rallies in March-April 2022”.
The order also claimed that UGCC churches and buildings stored “explosive devices and firearms weapons” and distributed “literature calling for the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.”
The order accused UGCC communities of “active participation … in the Zaporizhzhia area in activities (of) extremist organisations and propaganda of neo-Nazi ideas.”
The document said that the Knights of Columbus were “associated with the intelligence services of the United States and the Vatican”.
The order did not provide an explanation for its action against Caritas, but listed several specific entities in the Caritas network that were banned: Caritas Canada; “Caritas USA,” an apparent reference to Catholic Charities USA; Caritas Polska; Caritas Czech Republic; and two Caritas agencies in Ukraine, Caritas Donetsk and Caritas Melitopol.
Russia bans Catholic Church in occupied Ukraine (By Gina Christian, OSV News)