The Russian Orthodox Church is helping to spread propaganda about the crisis in Ukraine, a Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Britain has said.
Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, eparchial bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, endorsed a call by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for observers to evaluate information about Ukraine critically.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych wrote an open letter on August 21 to the world’s bishops’ conferences, denouncing violence against religious minorities in eastern Ukraine.
Bishop Lonchyna said: “The letter of the Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a heartfelt appeal for prayer and support for the Ukrainian people of all faiths in this most dangerous and volatile situation, as well as a plea to be wary of many forms of misinformation coming not only from government sources (the media), but – regretfully – even from the Russian Orthodox Church.”
In his open letter the major archbishop also criticised the Russian Orthodox Church.
He wrote: “In recent documents issued in Moscow at the highest level of the Russian Orthodox Church, particularly in a letter to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, Greek Catholics and the Ukrainian Orthodox of the Kyivan Patriarchate, disrespectfully called ‘Uniates’ and ‘schismatics’, are defamed. They are held responsible for the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine and are accused of generating the warfare, especially the violence against Orthodox clergy and faithful endured as a result of military operations. Russian Orthodox leaders spread libelous information about Greek Catholics and other confessions thereby putting them in danger from the separatist militants who identify themselves as warriors for Russian Orthodoxy.
“We strongly reject these claims and accusations. The Ukrainian military is not structured as a denominational entity. Therefore, chaplains of various denominations serve in the zone of the Antiterrorist Operation. Chaplains are not permitted to interfere in the life of local religious communities. Accusations that chaplains of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have committed acts of violence against members of other churches and religious groups are not true.”