UOC hierarch reminds of Church’s role in exchange of captives

Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka. Photo: antoniy.com.ua

The UOC rep commented on the theses on the ceasefire in the Donbass and the intensification of the exchange of captives, following Ukraine-France talks.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has repeatedly demonstrated its readiness to act as a mediator in the exchange of captives. Thanks to the Church and its Primate, dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war have already been released. Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, the vicar of the Kyiv Metropolis and the head of the UOC Representation to European international organizations, wrote about this on his TG channel on Monday, April 19.

The hierarch noted that earlier the press secretary of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelenskyy Yulia Mendel had voiced several important theses on the situation in the Donbass, which were voiced at a meeting of the Ukrainian and French Presidents in Paris.

First, it was about a ceasefire, "and in this sense, our Church can only support such an initiative of the state, voiced by an official," emphasized Bishop Victor.

“The Primate and the Holy Synod of the UOC have repeatedly stressed the need and importance of a ceasefire in the Donbass,” he recalled. “Ukraine needs peace – this is what we must strive for together. The armed confrontation has already taken away thousands of lives, and any death in the JFO zone is the pain and tears of mothers, wives and children. The mission of the Church in such a situation is to call for peace and the end of the war. We emphasize once again that the UOC is the force that has the potential to unite a country torn apart by hatred and aggression.”

Another important thesis, voiced by the President's press secretary, concerns the intensification of the process of exchange of captives in the “all-for-all” format. The bishop stressed that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has repeatedly demonstrated its readiness to act as a mediator in this process, and "thanks to our Church and the direct participation of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war have been released."

He recalled the words of the Primate of the UOC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, voiced on this topic in different years.

So, in 2019, he said that “our Church has been dealing with the issue of the release of prisoners of war for several years ... We do not delve into the legal depths of how much who is to blame and before whom, we say this: we all live before God, we are all to blame before God – there is no person who would not be guilty before God. Does he forgive us? Forgives. Forgive each other as well, as God forgives us. This is our principle by which we seek the release of our prisoners of war."

Earlier, in 2017, during the release of 73 captured Ukrainian soldiers with the help of the UOC, His Beatitude said: “The exchange of captives is the first step towards ending the war in the Donbass ... then we will not have any success either. We must forgive each other – and this will be a guarantee that the prisoners will be released and return to their families, and peace will reign in our state ... The wall that stood between us, Ukrainians, and divided us into two parts, has already been broken. This wall has been broken and, God willing, it is destroyed."

“One cannot but heed these words of His Beatitude. Forgiveness, mercy and unity – these are the principles that can help us not only free the captives but also end the war in the Donbass,” resumed Bishop Victor.

As reported, the press secretary of the President said that Zelensky hopes to conduct an exchange of prisoners in the "all-for-all" format for Easter.

As the UOJ wrote, the UOC Chancellor called to prevent an escalation in the Donbass by all means.

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