Kingdom of crooked mirrors: why they sling mud at the Church

In my childhood, one of the brightest recreations in the amusement park was visiting a laughing room. In this room, along the perimeter, crooked mirrors were arranged, in which the image was refracted, and laughter could always be heard from these rooms.

For some reason, I didn’t have fun looking into these twisted images at all, and I left this room, wondering why everyone was laughing. Nor am I amused now by the kingdom of crooked mirrors that flooded the information space of our world rapidly falling into abyss.

In modern media, both print and electronic, you can find information about all public people. Moreover, this information will not always be true, but often distorted, as in a distorted mirror. But this is not the grief. It's disappointing that there are no authorities for the modern world. Attacking politicians is understandable – someone wants to replace one politician with another, his own, another one is simply always dissatisfied with any authority. The attacks on spiritual leaders get me down. Such leaders, whose every word and action are twisted in a distorted mirror, especially in our country, are His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry.

Meanwhile, the efforts of Orthodox priests deserve more objective evaluation. Judge for yourself.

On November 15, Patriarch Kirill called on President of Russia Vladimir Putin to pursue further with the release of war prisoners in the Donbass, which had been repeatedly discussed with the RF leadership upon his request and the request of Metropolitan Onufry.

"Some requests were satisfied. The role of the Church in such conflicts is, of course, primarily a humanitarian dimension. People suffer, become victims of this difficult conflict, which really leads to the suffering of the so many," stressed the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry did not join this process only today. As early as December 2016, the Patriarch participated in the liberation of Ukrainian soldier Taras Kolodiy. At a traditional Easter reception at the Russian Foreign Ministry this year, His Holiness said that the ROC "will continue to exert every effort to release prisoners of war in Ukraine."

In 2016, the Church helped in the return from captivity of four more Ukrainian military: Alexander Yaslinsky, Yury Poteychuk, Svyatoslav Savchuk, Anatoly Semenyuk. In total, from the beginning of the conflict, according to the First Vice Speaker of the Parliament, the representative of Ukraine at the negotiations in Minsk Irina Gerashchenko, several dozen prisoners have been released so far.

"Let me thank the Church and all the clergy who are involved in the liberation of Taras. By the way, since the conflict began, the priests have managed to release several dozen prisoners," she noted.

The efforts of the Church aroused deep gratitude of Ukrainian servicemen and were noted by the Security Service of Ukraine. On January 4, 2017, Ukrainian servicemen and adviser to the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Yuri Tandit congratulated the Head of the UOC on the upcoming Christmas and expressed their gratitude for their help in the release of prisoners of war. Gratitude to Metropolitan Onufry was also expressed by head of the Security Service Vasily Hrytsak.

Taras Kolodiy himself thanked the clergy: "I want to thank all the Eminencies who helped liberate me from captivity".

At this point the Church did not stop and continued to carry out its mission.

In January 2017, at the initiative of the Security Service, a meeting was held with the relatives of prisoners of war. The vicar of the Kyiv Metropolia, Bishop Nikolai of Vasilkov (Postal), took part in it. Vladyka assured that the Church would continue to pray and make efforts to return the prisoners home as soon as possible. He called on mothers, women and relatives of prisoners and missing in the east of Ukraine soldiers first of all to pray to the Lord about resolving the issues of exchange.

On September 2, 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko thanked Metropolitan Onufry for his efforts to release captured Ukrainian soldiers.

And, perhaps, these efforts of His Beatitude and Patriarch Kirill will be crowned with the release of about 100 Ukrainian servicemen!

The scale of this humanitarian action was well understood in the Security Service: "The Security Service of Ukraine welcomes any initiatives aimed at unblocking the process of releasing hostages," the website of the structure noted. "We believe that the accession of the head of the ROC Kirill to the joint efforts of the heads of all world confessions within the framework of the initiative of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations will facilitate the speedy return of each of the hostages to their homes."

Opponents of the Patriarch and the Church are at a loss, and the search engines have yet to give references to their comments, but they are already beginning to come up with rotten ideas of how to pour mud on this news.

In the past few years, most of our media have been aggressively attacking the Patriarch. All sorts of fabrications, lies and slander as far as the minds of those who have access to our information resources only, that even some priests succumbed to such propaganda. These are the so-called "non-mentioning", i.e. those who, under a flood of lies, decided not to pray for the Patriarch at divine services. I, for example, know one priest who got soaked himself with this information mud so much that he printed out all the fakes from the web, gathered parishioners, read them out the stuff and said that he would not mention the Patriarch’s name.

Why did he do this? There is such an unspoken blessing: if the majority of parishioners are against mention of Patriarch Kirill, then, in order not to tease them, only His Beatitude and the ruling Bishop are mentioned at the service. Since there was not such a majority in this parish, the priest distorted the information about the Holy One in the crooked mirror, and the majority became against him.

Additionally, an idea is twisted about the Patriarch’s idea of the "Russian world" in a distorted mirror. Meanwhile, the idea itself has never foreseen the imposition of the "Russian" world and the unification of all lands under Russian rule.

We will analyze in detail what the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church actually said.

"The Russian world is not the world of the Russian Federation, not the world of the Russian Empire. The Russian world originates from the Kiev font of baptism," Patriarch Kirill always stressed.

Its essence lies in the self-identification of all those who consider themselves to be heirs of Kievan Rus, and not a political, but a spiritual unification on this basis. KIEV! RUSI! And it was we, the Ukrainians, who could use this idea in order to become the center of such a world with Kiev and Kiev-Pechersk Lavra!

This spiritual unity is necessary, according to the Patriarch, "not in order to recreate some political structures, build new empires, create military blocs, not at all for that. But in order to preserve the greatest legacy that we have received from our ancestors."

Why keep this heritage, in the opinion of the Patriarch? In order to preserve our cultural identity!

"There is such a concept – a melting pot: everything is melted down to achieve peace. But it does not work. An example of modern Western civilization, which models on this melting pot, makes us convinced that nothing in this boiler is melted down, and contradictions and problems are left unchanged. And people who do not want to be melted with others, trying to preserve their identity, are fighting against this terrible prospect of being dissolved in one common space," said Patriarch Kirill.

In the light of the latest statements by Ukrainian deputies, in which the Ukrainian religious tradition is contrasted with the "civilized" Western tradition, is the Patriarch wrong? We are trying to imagine some "savages", and our traditions – "uncivilized", "Soviet-like" and so on. Why should we agree with this?

One of the most ridiculous charges against the Patriarch is that he allegedly blesses someone for the war against Ukraine. Moreover, one can now blame someone without providing evidence. When I ask to present at least one video evidence or a transcript of the direct speech of His Holiness, where he blessed military actions against Ukraine, I am either shown fake plots by 1+1 channel blessed by Ivan Zoria and Mikhail Denisenko, without the Patriarch's direct speech, but with the anchor's lie, gloomy music and abstract video, or they simply switch to another topic.

And the truth is that almost from the very beginning of the bloody events in our country, the Patriarch composed a prayer for peace in Ukraine and blessed the kneeling worship of this prayer in all Divine Liturgies in all the churches and monasteries of the ROC, as well as the autonomous Churches that make up the ROC structure. I just returned from the Holy Land, where I took part in the Divine Liturgy in Gornensky Monastery, which was led by Metropolitan of Cheboksary and Chuvash Barnabas, and during the Liturgy this prayer was also offered there.

The truth is that the ceremony of signing the treaty on annexation of the Crimea to become part of Russia was attended by mufti, the rabbi,and some kind of the Buddhist leader, but the Patriarch was not present. Someone will say that this is an accident, but one more fact interested me in the light of the events in the Crimea. If the opponents of His Holiness strain memory, they will remember that before these events His Holiness Patriarch Kirill visited the Eparchy of Crimea every year and served Liturgy in the Chersonesos. Since the Ukrainian authorities barred visits to the Crimea without special permission, the Patriarch has never visited the Crimea!

When I drew attention to these facts of one of the parishioners of our Church at the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession in 2016 (this parishioner was disloyal to the Patriarch), he became thoughtful and after a long pause asked: "Why does no one write about this?" Yes, I do not know I, why no one writes about this! Now I'm writing. But I'm sure that the opponents of the Holy Church will reflect these facts in a distorted mirror and distort them beyond recognition. As one of my friends wrote to me on my Facebook page, the priests of the UOC give their blood to cancer patients, and the servants of the chief slanderer of the world write that this blood is poisonous.

I want to ask a question: what have those who defame Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Onufry with done or could have done to stop the war or release prisoners? What is the use from the Kyiv Patriarchate or the UGCC? For the UOC-KP, any activity from the perspective of peacekeeping or the exchange of prisoners is closed after harsh and hateful statements were voiced by its leader, Mikhail Denisenko, addressed to the inhabitants of Donbass.

No matter how much he and his assistants try to prove that they are the "truly Ukrainian Church", all these passages are groundless. They could not become the "Church" for ALL Ukrainian people, including the population of Donbass and the Crimea. And it is this fact that pisses them off. That's why they pour the tubs of slops on our Church. And in this light, the message on the website of the UOC-KP that the head of SBU expressed gratitude to Denisenko for his "efforts on the creation of a single local church" is surprising. Over the past four years, I cannot remember a single step towards creating a "One Church". He can’t be rewarded for the illegal seizure of the UOC temples, can he?

The head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk did not make such loud statements, but the Uniates cannot act as peacekeepers. In my subjective opinion, Shevchuk is weak as a leader, as evidenced by the latest events in Kolomyia. So called "chaplains" did not even lead their ears to the appeals of their leadership "to show Christian respect to representatives of other faiths, to keep obedience to state and church law and to avoid any violence in solving property-related inter-confessional contradictions." It is the presence of such personalities as Medinsky and others in the UGCC that closes the possibility of participation of this faith in the establishment of peace or the release of prisoners.

I am sure in the end there will be peace in Ukraine. I am sure that our Church will take a huge part in the establishment of peace. But the longer we stay in the "room of laughter", where we are surrounded by the kingdom of crooked mirrors, the further we delay the moment when we break these mirrors, the further away peaceful times are from us.
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