Released captives: We wouldn’t have been out without Metropolitan Onufry

Protopriest Vladislav Dikhanov, head of the Synod’s Social and Humanitarian Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, told about the most large-scale exchange of captives since the hostilities began in the east of Ukraine. About the participation of the Church in the peacemaking cause he tells in his interview to Pravmir.

"Even before the transfer, when the guards stood between me and the guys, they suddenly shouted, "Father, we do not know how to say it correctly ... But if somehow we do not have another opportunity (just think about what their thoughts were!), we want you to convey to Patriarch Kirill and His Beatitude of all Ukraine Onufry our many thanks. Because we understand that without them we would not have been out,” the priest said. “And this was such a wave of love, warmth and kindness that it forced the guards who moved in their direction, literally to recoil. For me, these words were a complete surprise. And also a testament to the fact that people understand what work has been done to release them, and what a tremendous spiritual value they have received from the entire situation."

Father Vladislav noted that a spiritual person is distinguished from others by having peace in his soul – he bears Christ’s peace all the time. Such a role model is His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry.

"Therefore, probably, when it became clear that all human resources in the negotiating system were exhausted, and there are just dead ends and closed doors ahead, then the idea arose with various partners to involve the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in these processes," said the Protopriest of the UOC. "Despite the fact that it is constantly persecuted and defamed, this is the Church everyone listens to."

"I’ve seen different people: I had to face nobility and meanness in its concentrated form. And I'm very grateful to God for the experience. All those who read these lines, I call first of all to pray for those who remain in prison, do your best to support their relatives and friends. After all, our country is not born to suffer, but to live and create. You can talk a lot about patriotism, but if you do not create for your country, if you do nothing good for it, then you are not a patriot. Love your country, your people, love God, put your hope in Him," the priest called.

Archpriest Dikhanov drew attention to the fact that the exchange had a format of "Ukrainians for Ukrainians". "This bears witness to the fact that from the very beginning of the armed confrontation in the east of Ukraine in 2014, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry has spoken of the fratricidal war," he stressed.

"The Church began its peacekeeping activities not with the current participation in the negotiation processes: a bloodless struggle for peace has been waged for a long time and daily – in our prayers, in every divine service. For a faithful person, especially for a clergyman, it is absolutely understandable: we come to the temple for prayer, we raise our hands to heaven and ask for peace in the whole world, so that the Lord would stop infighting," said the UOC priest.
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