UOC bishop: One cannot combine prosperity of Ukraine with banning the Church

09 December 2022 21:34
Archbishop Victor (Kotsaba). Photo: politica.com.ua Archbishop Victor (Kotsaba). Photo: politica.com.ua

Vladyka Victor recalled that a Christian has "a clear hierarchy of priorities: first the Church, then the Motherland."

Archbishop of the UOC Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshivka believes that the persecution of the Church and the prosperity of Ukraine are incompatible concepts. Vladyka wrote about this on the pages of the Politika publication.

The bishop recalled that “in recent weeks, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been under severe pressure,” as “mass searches are taking place in churches, monasteries and diocesan administrations, while the President announced legislative initiatives that could lead to the restriction of its activities or even a complete ban.”

One gets the impression, the bishop writes, that all this is “an organized attack on the UOC, which was planned and coordinated by certain forces seeking to trigger an internal conflict during the war, to pit Ukrainians against each other.”

He stressed that "in the absolute majority, from the Primate to the ordinary believer, the Church supports its warriors-defenders and their country, and many believers of the UOC are fighting in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

Vladyka recalled that there are parishes in the villages where almost all the men went to the front, and many relatives and children of priests died.

“Our parishes buy and send vehicles, copters, clothes, food, etc. to the front on a regular basis. This assistance is gauged in thousands of tons. Hardly any other denomination helps the army more than the UOC,” the bishop emphasized.

However, Vladyka writes, no one notices all this in society, and the media do not talk about it.

“In any case, we are ‘FSBs’, ‘Moscow priests’, ’traitors in cassocks’, etc. ... In objective reality, millions of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church support the Armed Forces of Ukraine and fight the enemy themselves, giving their own lives. Yet, authors of all kinds of publications share their ill fantasy in the 'reality' they have invented themsleves.”

The bishop spoke about the latest cases of seizures of churches by the UOC and noted that “now there is such a situation that, having learned about the threat to the Church, the parishioners of the UOC who are fighting at the front have begun to massively record video messages in support of their Church.”

“There is both pain and surprise in their words: ‘how can this even happen – while we are here defending the country, they are preparing reprisals against our Church at home’,” quotes Archbishop Victor.

He noted that “even if the authorities decide to ban the UOC, none of the believers will become a deserter. At the same time, their motivation will change significantly. After all, for a Christian, faith and the Church will always come first.”

The hierarch recalled that a Christian has "a clear hierarchy of priorities: first – the Church, then – the Motherland."

“And here a rhetorical question arises in the minds of many of our compatriots: if the Motherland destroys the Church, then how sincerely and fervently will I love my country?” Vladyka asks.

The bishop recalled that “until recently, our grandfathers lived at a time when the state was destroying the Church and priests, inventing completely absurd accusations – working for foreign intelligence, counter-revolutionary activities, monarchism, etc.”

“What we are now witnessing under somewhat different wordings sends us to find parallels during the Soviet period. And we already know the result – the Church is alive, while the USSR is not.”

The archbishop emphasized that "the believers of the UOC, who consider themselves patriots of their country, wish it only prosperity." However, “it is simply impossible to combine this prosperity with the prohibition and destruction of the Church, the fact having already been history-proven,” Vladyka Victor recalled.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that the soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Kirill Ulyanchenko urged to leave the UOC alone, because the Church cannot be defeated.

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