The Ukrainian Orthodox Church can be a bridge for building a dialogue with the Donbas and negotiations on the exchange of prisoners

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church can be a bridge for building a dialogue with the Donbas and negotiations on the exchange of prisoners

The Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Most Blessed Metropolitan Onufry and the leader of the OPPOSITION BLOC faction, Vadym Novynskyi, said this in an interview with the “Ukraine” TV channel.

The head of the UOC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry, answering a journalist’s question about how to establish a dialogue with the Donbas and resume the exchange of prisoners of all parties to the conflict, said, “Our church has been engaged in the exchange of prisoners for several years. I will not list the released. However, with God’s help we succeeded. Our church position on this issue is as follows: we do not go into the legal subtleties of who is to blame and to whom. We are all guilty before God. There is no person on Earth who is not guilty. How God forgives us, and we must forgive each other. Our believers, Orthodox Christians living in Russia, apply there to the appropriate state structures and ask our citizens to be released. We, in turn, ask our authorities in Ukraine to release the Russians who are on our territory.

Now, after the change of power, we again took the initiative to resume exchange. I have already addressed with the corresponding letters both to our President Volodymyr Zelensky, and to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. If earlier there were exchanges of groups of people, today we ask to exchange all for all. At the meeting with the President, we also discussed this issue. Our objective is to remove the demarcation line. Ukrainians who live on the other side of the demarcation line consider themselves Ukrainians, so we should listen to them, to their wishes.”

The leader of the OPPOSITION BLOC faction, Vadym Novynskyi, emphasized that the UOC has one of the highest levels of trust among Ukrainians, therefore its peacekeeping efforts must be supported at the state level.

“At the end of 2017, a mass exchange of prisoners was carried out with the direct participation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. If the highest politicians of Ukraine had not made this process a subject of bargaining to raise their ratings, all prisoners of war would have been released two years ago.

Currently, the church leads this work and reconciles Ukrainians on different sides of the demarcation line. Metropolitans of Donetsk and Luhansk carry their service both on controlled and uncontrolled territories, risking their own lives. It is very difficult. At Easter, we brought the Holy Fire, and for the first time for five years, it was transferred to Donetsk with the help of our Church. The UOC’s peacekeeping potential is very strong, and its efforts in overcoming the conflict in the Donbas should be supported by the Ukrainian state,” Vadym Novynskyi stressed.

18 July 2019 18:16
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