His Beatitude: The war destroyed over 80 temples, killed priests and laity
The Primate of the UOC spoke about the scale of the losses the Church has suffered from the war.
On May 27, 2022, before the start of the meeting of bishops, clergy, monastics and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine addressed the audience with a welcoming speech, reports the Information and Education Department of the UOC.
“On May 27, 1992, exactly 30 years ago, a historic event took place for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In the city of Kharkiv, a Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was convened, which went down in history as the Kharkiv Bishops' Council. The decisions made determined the further historical path of our Church. The past 30 years of church life have proven these decrees to be right and expedient. In those difficult 1990s for Ukraine, the Council was able not only to preserve the unity of our Church, but also to protect it from the forces that tried to use the institution of the Church for their own purposes,” the Primate said.
He noted that today Ukraine is going through extremely hard times. The war, launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, has been going on for more than three months, hostilities have claimed thousands of Ukrainian lives now, houses have been destroyed, families orphaned, innocent people afflicted.
“It is impossible to describe all the repercussions of the ongoing war, just as it is impossible to find words to convey all the pain of millions of Ukrainians. Not to lose humanity and the image of God when evil has filled the hearts, not to waver in one’s faith in God – these super-difficult tasks are facing each of us today.
From the first day of the military invasion of Russian troops on the territory of our sovereign and independent State, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church condemned this military aggression and called for an end to the bloodshed. The voice of our Church, unfortunately, remained unheard. 14 of the 53 dioceses of our Church are particularly affected by hostilities, more than 80 churches have been destroyed, clergymen, monks and believers of our Church have been killed. In addition to intense prayer for peace in Ukraine, shelters from shelling and bombardment were set up in churches and holy monasteries from the first days of the warfare. The Church joined not only in the defense of the Motherland, but also in all-round assistance to Ukrainian military personnel, hospitals, civilians, refugees and all those in need,” Metropolitan Onuphry emphasized.
However, he added, despite such an actual and vigorous participation of the Church in overcoming the war, religious hostility towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has artificially increased in society.
“Representatives of other confessions, individual deputies and civil servants, abusing their power and official position, are making illegal and unfounded accusations against our Church. We all know that these accusations are not true. However, such biased statements – built on emotions, rather than arguments – serve as grounds for political slogans regarding the ban on the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” His Beatitude said.
The Primate added that local governments have already made more than 20 illegal decisions to ban or restrict the activities of local religious communities of the UOC. Also, according to Metropolitan Onuphry, there were recorded more than 40 raider seizures of churches, more than 15 cases of confrontations and sealing of churches; about 50 communities of the UOC were coerced to transfer to the OCU.
“The historical path of the Church is the path of the cross of Christ the Savior. In past times, clergy and believers were artificially made enemies of the state, and the Church was attributed various activities that were not inherent in it. However, the people who fought against the Church have long gone into oblivion, while the Church of Christ has endured and continues to carry out its salvific mission, because the Church is the Body of Christ. We believe that even in modern conditions the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, like our entire Ukrainian State, will survive and win,” said Metropolitan Onuphry.
Recall that on May 27, a meeting of bishops, clergy and laity of the UOC began in the Feofania Monastery.