In Kurozvany OCU activists attempting to take away the priest’s house

Archpriest Vladimir Koval, rector of the Holy Protection Church of the UOC in Kurozvany

We will guard the priest, we will not let him out of the village, said the parishioners.

After the seizure of the Holy Protection Church of the UOC in Kurozvany, Rovno region, OCU activists attempted to take over the house of the rector Vladimir Koval, reports the press service of the Vicar of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed) of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl on its YouTube channel.

“A religious community is we, although we are fewer. But we believe. And we are firm in our faith. They did not listen to anything. It's a shame that the authorities take their side. We are so upset we could cry. They wanted to take the priest's house,” the parishioners of the church told the press service.

According to the women, Archpriest Vladimir was threatened.

“We will bury the priest till the evening,” one of the witnesses quoted the raiders.

During the seizure of the temple, activists threatened the parishioners themselves.

“When I was called at 6 am and said that we already had a lot of cars here, I realized that nothing would be quiet and peaceful. If it were not for the police – they would have made "dumplings" of us. They threatened us and shouted and called us names. It was a brutal crowd,” said parishioner Svetlana.

She does not understand why the OCU supporters who were speaking out loud about love for Ukraine "are fighting with women" instead of defending the country in the ATO zone.

According to the villagers, and during the collection of signatures for the "transfer", supporters of the new church structure asked where people want their money to go – to Russia or to Ukraine.

“In 2036 our church will be 200 years. This is a church that belongs neither to me nor to us and nor to them. This is the church of our forefathers. I begged them: ‘In memory of our forefathers – they built this church – let's leave it as it is’,” parishioner Nadezhda told the journalists. According to her, the raiders answered this request with shouts: “Shame!”.

The church was seized by those villagers who haven’t gone there to confess and receive communion for decades, the rector of the Holy Protection Church said.

“We see that such times have come when the state urges these temples to be grabbed. Laws do not work at the moment. We wanted to resolve the issue within the legal framework, but, unfortunately, this did not happen,” the priest commented on what is happening in the village.

Fr. Vladimir is sure that even if not him, the Lord will give the people a shepherd.

“The Mother of God does not leave us!” said the priest.

The believers are going to stand up for their rector.

“We will guard the priest. We will not let the priest out from the village!” they said. They added that Archpriest Vladimir has been serving in Kurozvany for 30 years, has crowned several generations of families, baptized the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the parishioners of his church, knows the village and the misfortunes of each of its residents.

“He has never refused anything to anyone,” stressed one of the villagers.

People do not understand why activists of the new church structure are dealing with them in such a way.

“You cannot do this to people, because we are also a community of this village. We are citizens of Ukraine. My grandfather and great grandfather lived here. And we pray. We will not change the faith,” the parishioners said.

Brian Brown, president of the World Congress of Families and the American co-founder of the National Marriage Organization, which protects traditional marriage and religious communities supporting it, also resented what was happening in the village. He considers it terrible that elderly women were kicked out of their home church.

“All of these people were members of this church. They are now kicked out. And this process doesn’t seem to be properly investigated. This is a violation of their fundamental right. It's amazing that so few people know about it. I think if they see it, people from all over the world will stand up for them. I hope that people will come to the rescue because it is a violation of the fundamental right of a person to have freedom of religion and to pray in their church,” Brown said. “It's terrible that locks are hung on the church door, and a group of young people stands at the entrance and tries to prevent them from entering. Do you see all those aged women? They have been here forever. And the fact that they are not allowed in the church – I think that this is wrong.”

 

On the morning of March 1, 2019, the OCU activists seized the Holy Protection Church in Kurozvany. Without having any documents that would give permission for their actions, under the guise of an inventory, the adherents of the new structure broke the fence around the church, entered the temple grounds and cut the locks. Law enforcement officers who watched the scene did not even attempt to stop the perpetrators. The officials of the Goscha district administration and the village chairman entered the temple, spent no more than 15 minutes there, allegedly taking an inventory. After that, the OCU activists went to the abbot's house and demanded that he immediately move out of the house. The chairman of the village council said that the priest was not allowed to privatize the house, which means that sooner or later he should vacate the premises. Since March 3, 2019, the villagers who have lost their church are gathering for Great Lent Divine services in the church house.

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