PARSIPPANY, N.J. — On April 6, a court session of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of Ukraine was held to consider case No. 910/ 10011/19 on the legality of the change by the religious community of the village of Sutkivtsiy, Khmelnytskyi region, of its subordination-withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and entry into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).
As a result of the meeting, a decision was made on the legality of such a change of subordination. Thus, for the first time since the beginning of the active process of transitions of religious communities of Ukraine from the UOC-MP to the OCU, the Supreme Court of Ukraine adopted a decision that confirmed the possibility and legality of such transitions and rejected the objections of the UOC-MP against the move.
On February 23, 2019, the religious community of the village of Sutkivtsi, Khmelnytskyi region, in connection with the formation of the OCU, held a general meeting at which it decided to move from the UOC-MP to the OCU. Not wanting to join the OCU with the entire religious community and, in fact, acting against the will of the religious community itself, its rector appealed to the court with a claim in which he demanded to recognize this transition as illegal.
For quite a long time, this claim was considered in the Economic Court of Kyiv. In February 2020, a decision was made in favor of the rector of the religious community of the UOC-MP. Later, this decision was left unchanged by the Court of Appeal.
However, on April 6, a court session of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court was held, which reviewed these court decisions under cassation procedure. Thus, as a result of this review, the previous court decisions were overturned and the claim was rejected in full. That is, the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court confirmed the legality of the decision of the religious community of the village of Sutkivtsi, Khmelnytskyi region, on the transition from the Moscow Patriarchate to the OCU.
This decision of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court is of key importance, as it is the first among a number of legal disputes initiated by the UOC-MP since the beginning of the active process of transitions of religious communities of Ukraine to the OCU adopted by the highest court of Ukraine.
Since the beginning of 2019, the UOC-MP has initiated more than 100 trials in disputes that are sufficiently new for Ukrainian legal proceedings regarding the legality of changing the subordination of Orthodox religious communities in Ukraine. As a result, until April 6 there was no position of the Supreme Court of Ukraine on such issues, which resulted in the contradictory judicial practice of lower courts resolving such disputes.
The decision of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court can resolve disputes concerning the transition of Orthodox religious communities of Ukraine from the UOC-MP to the OCU and, thus, unify the approach of the courts of Ukraine in their resolution, protecting the legal right of religious communities to change jurisdictions.
Source: Pomisna.info and Religious Information Service of Ukraine.