This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Poroshenko's efforts to subvert the Ukrainian church are not going very smoothly. First he created his own alternative which is so phony and stuffed with dubious clergy who are the very opposite of Christian, that most Ukrainians want nothing to do with it. If anything, he has strengthened the existing church.
This harassment of parishioners, on Christmas Eve no less, (Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 6) is another dumb move. Watch Ukrainian grannies tell the goons a thing or two, and see how this strengthens the spirit and unity of the churchgoers.
Today, US senators called Ukraine an uncontrollable problem for the USA and the EU. This is a quote. During a meeting with Ukrainian officials in Washington, the senators said that corruption, a cult of war, and hate to the dissidents are reigning in the country. And just like in support of these words, the militants of Right Sector, inspired by the tomos, promised to turn the Ukrainians into dissent by force and went to the parishes.
“- Do you even have the right to paste over the relic?
- It's not a relic, it's a billboard.
- It's a holy thing, this is the Venerable Gavriil Aphonskiy.”
Nothing is sacred to the Ukrainian nationalists. On Christmas Eve, near the St. Ilya monastery, they wave red-and-black flags. The parishioners, who headed to the church service, stopped by. One couldn't pass by it calmly.
“- It's the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- So what?
- It's the church of our grandfathers, fathers.
- Our church was founded by God. And yours, by man.
- Our church would never come to yours and obstruct your prayers.”
This is an obvious provocation. The priest persuades the believers to stay out of the fray. A bone of discord was thrown to the radicals and nothing can stop them now. This morning, Right Sector, forbidden in Russia, spread the word to picket the Orthodox churches. And here they are in Sumy, near the Transfiguration Cathedral, trying to plant the Ukrainian flag.
Aleksandr Sokolenko, church elder: “They didn't come to unite. When people come to unite they come in a good mood.”
The actions took place in Lvov, Ternopol, Borispol, Rovno. Vinnitsa was ready to meet with the activists. The parishioners and priests stood up to defend the Holy Cross Cathedral.
“- Do you know the Symbol of Faith?
- No, we don't.
- Do you know the Lord's Prayer?
- You don't know the Cross, the Lord's Prayer. You know nothing.”
The radicals were silent. They weren't able to read any prayers because they don't know any. Their shy cries crashed upon the singing of the believers. Archbishop Varsonofiy made it clear: no one is afraid of the guys in balaclavas here.
Archbishop Varsonofiy: “I think that the people who came here are not committed, they were paid money for that. God is not in force, but in truth. All the priests came here and showed their strength, that they will stand up in Christ and faith despite any persecutions and oppression from the authorities.”
While the separatists rampage, thousands of people in the Ukrainian churches pray for the peace and unity of the Church. The Great Compline has started at the Kiev Lavolta of the Caves. The cathedral barely fits all of the people, who decided to greet Christmas from inside the temple. Their faces are lit with joy, their souls are filled with faith. This is the power of church unity, which can't be broken.
“I will pray for peace in Ukraine, so Ukraine will become whole, so there won't be dissent in the Church.”
“God himself wanted the church to be united. But this unity should be as God wishes.”
The Lavolta's vicar is sure that the Church should stimulate penance and love, while the Kiev authorities should extinguish the war on the church front.
Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Metropolitan Pavel, Vicar of the Kiev Lavolta of the Caves: “I wish you all that the civil strife will end and that the long-awaited peace will come, that our politicians would think that their political heritage would perish, while the Church is in the past, present, and well into the future. God bless you. Let him guard each of you.”
The churches in the warring Donbass are full of people today, too. The minutes of praying for peace. A Divine Liturgy was served at the St. Nicholas church. The people of Donbass didn't let the dissent into their territory.
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