Met Pavel: If we leave Lavra, there’ll be an abomination of desolation here
The abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra noted that the Church cannot defend itself with weapons in hand but can only pray.
Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod, commenting on the closure of access to the temples of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and the impending eviction of the monks, said that it is impossible to put into words what is going on in his soul.
"Daniel the prophet said that there will be an abomination of desolation in the holy place. It seems to me that the Apocalypse began from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, though Jerusalem already experienced it once," said the abbot.
Metropolitan Pavel noted that police officers are constantly present at the monastery and for the most part they behave calmly.
"We have been notified that a commission will make an inventory of what has been handed over to the Church. But in 1994, when I was appointed abbot, there was only one temple in the Lavra – the Holy Cross Church, which was in a dilapidated state. Today all the temples have been restored, with iconostases and icons. There is much splendour and beauty here. The Dormition Cathedral and the Church of Sts Anthony and Theodosius, which we call the Refectory, have also been restored. We are given two weeks to move out of the monastery. We can't do it under any pretext, because for 35 years, the brethren have done everything to beautify and improve the life of the monastery and the pilgrims, and we simply have no place to put it all, and we do not intend to leave anything," said Metropolitan Pavel.
Vladyka recalled that recently all members of the Holy Synod headed by the Primate saw how the authorities treat them, when for several hours elderly bishops, the oldest of whom – Metropolitan Agafangel – is 84 years old, stood outside the walls of the Presidential Office and were not granted a meeting.
"If the state does this, then they are a penny price on market day," the abbot of the Kyiv Lavra added.
"Many accuse us of surrendering the monastery without a fight. Come and see, it is your duty to defend your shrine with us," the UOC hierarch addressed the critics.
"We are the Church fighting not with men but with sin. We mediate your prayer and repentance to God. What is happening today is worse than what happened in 1917, in 1937 and in the 1960s. It shows that the man has no rights but there is only violence," said Metropolitan Pavel.
Vladyka spoke about the inspection of the "Warm" Church, which took place on March 22.
"We did not take out the walls. Instead of the blue colour on the walls, we made paintings. We have made icon cases. History may not have known more blatant violations of the law," said the hierarch of the UOC.
The Lavra abbot pointed out that there are no misunderstandings or confrontations with believers of other faiths – Muslims or Catholics, but there are only the political ambitions of Patriarch Bartholomew, who promised to make an exarchate in the country if only His Beatitude bowed to him.
"We don't know if they will extend our time to meet Easter in the Lavra, but I urge you all: come to the monastery! You will see what the godless commands of the tormentors do. But we must not be like pseudo-politicians. We cannot throw Molotov cocktails, we cannot throw stones, we can only pray. <...> No one can reproach us for anything, because we have remained faithful to our Homeland, to our people. We pray for the government, even though it is far from the truth. I ask for everyone's prayers for the holy abode," Metropolitan Pavel said.
"Even if we are driven out of the monastery, no one will take it from our hearts. But if we leave by force, which we do not want, this holy place will be an abomination of desolation - this can already be seen by the state of the premises of the Upper Lavra," the archbishop added.
The Lavra abbot urged the faithful to come to the monastery every day to pray while there is still such an opportunity.
Earlier, the Culture Minister said that not all religious organizations will be able to financially support the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.