Lavra – a hot zone of coronavirus? Why Tomos agitprops badmouth UOC again
Media and politicians that lied and manipulated while hyping up Tomos now accuse the UOC of coronavirus spread. We'll sort out fibs to find out what they are for.
A great deal of the Orthodox has long noticed that the most powerful attacks on the Church tend to happen on the eve of big holidays. This year’s Lent with the celebration of Easter just proves it once more.
Easter-2020 is very special. Only a couple of months ago, none of us could picture that we might end up outside the church on Easter night because of the coronavirus epidemic in our country.
At the time of the video release in Ukraine, about 200 people died of COVID-19 over a month and a half. Of course, behind every such death is a tragedy – tragedy for the near ones of the deceased and for all who loved them.
Yet, here is some statistics. In January 2020 alone, 621 people died of flu and pneumonia in Ukraine. In January 2019, even more died – 908. Well, people are constantly dying of similar symptoms in our country. But how often do these really disappointing figures trigger panic in the media?
At the moment quarantine, fear of infection and a real information attack in the media have affected the consciousness of millions. People are scared and ready to believe everything they are told. In the situation at hand, they are very easy to manipulate by appointing a guilty party.
Pawnshops, banks, construction supermarkets are opened in the country; mass events are organized when opening new stores. However, many media outlets portray the Church as guilty of the spread of coronavirus, which is very convenient. After all, the Church is humbly silent in responding to any lie, even blatant and hateful.
In this story, we will analyze all the latest attacks by the media and odious politicians against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as well as showcase how anti-church technologists are put in place.
Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra – a plague spot?
In early April, an outbreak of coronavirus in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was reported. First, the mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, voiced about 30 infected monks, then official figures allegedly jumped to the mark of 90 people. Two monks died in the monastery: Archimandrite Nectarios and Hierodeacon Naum. Doctors did not confirm they had died of the coronavirus.
A fair portion of Ukrainian media reported about the infection and death in the Lavra with keen delight.
Channel 5, "The Russian Orthodox Church Network in Ukraine as a saboteur? Stop revenge" program: “They’ve had enough embracing. At Holy Week, the Kyiv-Pechersk Monastery became the epicenter of the epidemic.”
Roman Chaika, Channel 5: “The captured Ukrainian shrine, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, in which obscurantist Moscow satanists-Ukrainophobes are seated, abbreviated as UOC-MP, reached the figure of almost 100 infected. And it's not over yet.”
But the most malicious glee was caused by rumors about the illness of the Lavra’s abbot – Metropolitan Paul.
Sergei Sternenko, activist suspected of murder: “If you add that he (Metropolitan Paul – Ed.) also has diabetes and lung problems, then you can predict anything.”
Almost everyone considered it their duty to ridicule the hierarch and cited in full blast the words he said on March 13, on the second day of quarantine: “Pray, fast, go to church, receive the Holy Communion and let your children partake too. Hurry to the temple. Read the Psalter, the Gospel. Embrace one another, dress yourself in love, because the Lord sends us trials for our sins.”
Is there a body of evidence in the calls of the archpastor? And is the entire Kiev Pechersk Lavra guilty of something?
It bears reminding that the Ukrainian authorities did not close churches for believers but only limited the number of people who can be in a church simultaneously. Worship was permitted. Therefore, priests and hierarchs had every right to speak about the need for confession and communion.
And now let's remember what Lavra is, and how its inhabitants live.
Any monastery is a closed community of people who constantly communicate with each other – in everyday life, by performing their obedience, at a meal and so on. In fact, a monastery is one big family, a hostel of people glorifying God. And it doesn’t make a difference for the spread of the virus if the church is a dormitory or any other type.
On April 21, an outbreak of the coronavirus was found in a hostel in the city of Vishneve in the Kiev Region. 78 cases, including 16 children, two died. What is the fundamental difference between a monastery dorm and a secular one? The situation is completely identical. But for some reason we do not hear the curses of the media against the sick in Vishneve and the accusations of spreading the infection.
Ayder Muzhdabaev, deputy head of the ATR state television channel: “The FSB of the Moscow Patriarchate is a nest of coronavirus, a contagious focus where the coronavirus has built its altar.”
Did the UOC invite to violate the quarantine?
Now a number of media outlets unanimously scream at the top of their lungs that the UOC calls for quarantine violation:
Channel 5: “The Moscow Church in Ukraine neglected quarantine during the pandemic ... They said (the UOC – Ed.) to come, pray, kiss the icons, the embrace of the coronavirus is open.”
TSN: "There (in the UOC – Ed.), they not only call to attend services but also hint – it’s not worth believing the information about the spread of coronavirus."
Let us listen to what the hierarchs actually say. Here is the decision taken at a meeting of the Synod of the UOC on the issue of coronavirus: “Take heed of the decisions and recommendations of the Ministry of Health and public authorities regarding anti-epidemiological measures and restrictions."
His Beatitude Onuphry directly called on the flock to comply with the instructions of the authorities and doctors: “We must not oppose the regime that coronavirus brought with it: technical, sanitary standards that have to be met to prevent the spread of this virus. Bear it, repent and pray. And do what physicians tell you to do, those who understand the safety precautions for this disease. Just observe them. ”
At the same time, His Beatitude before Easter announced that Easter worship would be performed, and those who came to them would pray outdoors, but still, those who decided to stay at home would not be abandoned: “I inform you, dear brothers and sisters, that services will be held at temples on Easter night. I want to console those who, due to illness or for some other reason, will remain at home. You will not be left out. You can watch the Easter service on television.”
Do the words of the first hierarchs call for quarantine violations, as journalists and politicians persist? The question is rhetorical.
If UOC does not fulfill ROC guidelines, then it fulfills those of FSB?
For many media outlets, the situation where the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church closed temples for his believers, while His Beatitude Onuphry did not, was complete mind-blowing. After all, all the previous years, they kept running on an idea that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was simply a subordinate part of the Russian Orthodox Church and fulfilled all the guidelines sent from Moscow.
Channel 5: “By the way, the UOC-MP does not even respond to calls from Patriarch Kirill to stay at home.”
But when there is an order, its performers stop at nothing, even if it goes against pure logic. A new version is whipped up on the go – the UOC is fulfilling the FSB order to destroy Ukraine.
Tatyana Popova, ex-Deputy Minister of Information Policy: “I’m far from the idea that all the holy fathers work for the FSB, but someone definitely does.”
Alexander Kirilenko, editor of the “Spiritual Front” resource: “All this has signs of sabotage. I do not exclude that they (UOC – Ed.) implement this instruction in order to spread the virus as much as possible.”
It hardly makes sense to seriously discuss the version that the UOC decided to kill Ukrainians in order to please Moscow. Let’s better see what methods they put in place to convince us of their “truths”.
”If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed” (Adolph Hitler)
On the eve of Easter, Ukrainian media were filled with the rumors that His Beatitude Onuphry and His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony were sick with COVID-19. These rumors reached a peak in the work of TSN, in particular, its long-term author of anti-church narratives Sergei Galchenko.
He called such details which are simply impossible to fabricate. The hierarchs were allegedly hospitalized in special VIP wards at the Institute of the Heart incognito, on top of that.
TSN: “Both are receiving treatment under the COVID-19 Symptom Management Protocol. But when on Saturday morning information about the presence in the clinic of both the coronavirus-infected Primate of the Church appears in the press, they urgently go to the Lavra and video record appeals – we are healthy, ready to serve. Later, in the common service, they do not turn up.”
This accumulation has several false theses at once.
First of all, at the time of the release of the video, according to the information of the Union of Orthodox Journalists, His Beatitude Onuphry and Metropolitan Anthony were completely healthy. Secondly and contrary to the statement of Galchenko, both His Beatitude Onuphry and Metropolitan Anthony took part in the Easter worship. The Primate served in the house church of Feofania, while Metropolitan Anthony served in the St. Nicholas church at the Lavra. On Sunday, he also took part in the telethon “Easter. We are People. ”
The statement that the hierarchs, who were hospitalized with COVID, rushed back to the Lavra looks ridiculous altogether. On the one hand, TSN tells what dreadful and deadly the coronavirus is, but on the other, it says that the allegedly ill hierarchs, who had barely appeared in the hospital wards, darted off their beds and returned to the monastery.
Just a day before the release of this story, its author Galchenko was caught in a blatant provocation against the Church, which immediately spread across the media. APnews journalist Vasily Apasov told that in the Resurrection temple, where the UOC delegation had brought the Holy Fire, a certain person with a 1+1 microphone offered the APnews assistant to kiss an icon for money and to record it on camera.
In a photograph of the person with the microphone, it is easy to identify Sergei Galchenko. Yes, he himself did not deny this, saying he had not been getting on with the UOC for many years.
Galchenko uses similar methods in almost every plot about the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It is enough to recall how back in 2018 he tried to dig up the “necessary” information from the residents of Pochaev, introducing himself as a journalist of Russian television.
Galchenko: “I am disguised as a correspondent for the Russian channel. We are approaching women near the Lavra’s market. They say they come from Transcarpathia.
– A film crew from Russia. – You are from Russia? – Yes, from Channel 1.”
The same methods of manipulation and falsehood are used by Channel 5.
In the plot about the UOC "ROC Network in Ukraine as a saboteur? Stop revenge” broadcast on Petro Poroshenko’s channel, almost every thesis is a lie. First of all, one cannot help but see that throughout the entire video, mass services and religious processions of the UOC of past years are shown as if they were taking place now. But let's move on to the case study.
1. “Pavel (Lebed) has an influence on different people, common and famous. And now the celebrated boxer Alexander Usik also calls to ignore the quarantine declared by the state.”
Barefaced lie. Neither the UOC, Metropolitan Pavel, nor Alexander Usyk urged to ignore quarantine. We repeat: the state did not prohibit the holding of services, therefore, it is allowed to go to the temple but one should observe the quarantine norms.
2. “Through the fault of Paul (Lebed), two monks – Archimandrite Nektariy (Kovalenko) died in the Lavra, followed by Hierodeacon Naum (Fediakin). Only then the territory of the Kiev-Pechersk Reserve was closed for full quarantine.”
Again it is a lie. There is no evidence to claim that both monks died of COVID-19 and that the Lavra’s abbot is at fault. Recall that the Lavra’s administration, on its own initiative, locked down the monastery on April 4, many days before these deaths.
3. “The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, which took place on March 16 in Moscow, banned mass events in all dioceses in the Russian Federation and occupied Crimea. The decision was signed by the member of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, citizen of Ukraine Onuphry Berezovsky. Guided by the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch, the clergy calls on parishioners to pray at home until the restrictions, imposed by the authorities, are lifted. This also applies to the Holy Week and Holy Easter.”
Again Channel 5 reporters tell blatant lies. At the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on March 17, 2020, no bans were adopted on the conduct of worship in Russia. It was only about measures against the spread of a possible infection in temples: refusal to kiss the Communion Cup, the hands of a priest, disinfection of icons, and so on.
In addition, His Beatitude Onuphry was not present at this session and could not sign anything.
As for the document quoted in the frame is not a ban but a guideline to the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church how to hold worship during Holy Week and Easter. The circular was issued by the Office of the Moscow Patriarchate on April 8, three weeks after the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, and His Beatitude Onuphry has nothing to do with it.
Who are they – accusers of the Church?
Looking at the faces of people slinging tons of mud at the Church, there is a familiar feeling that something similar has been already said and done before, though on a different occasion.
Both Channel 5 and TSN, all these politicians and speakers, were top figures in the propaganda of the Tomos a year ago. They lied, manipulated and slapped the UOC for Her reluctance to unite with the brainchild of Poroshenko, the OCU.
Now they are lying and manipulating for another reason. But the purpose remained the same – struggle with the Church. They try in the same way to convince the viewers that the UOC is bad, while the OCU and Greek-Catholic are good.
TSN: “It was this year’s Easter that showed the difference between the pro-Moscow leadership, which actually neglects state interests and endangers people's lives, and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Alexander Kirilenko, editor of “Spiritual Front” site: “The position of the OCU evokes more trust and more respect.”
Ayder Muzhdabaev, deputy head of the ATR state television channel: “How vulgar, shameful, inhuman the position of the so-called UOC-MP looks, which in reality is, of course, directly managed by the FSB Department. Exemplary is the behavior of the Greek Catholic Church and the OCU, which shows how it cares about people and helps the front.”
A year ago, they did not succeed. Now they are trying to take advantage of the situation to create an annoying sidelight with a specific purpose – to discredit the UOC in the eyes of society, to image the Church as the enemy. They also pursue another target – to convince the authorities to transfer the Kiev-Caves Lavra and with a big luck – the Pochaev Lavra – to the OCU.
Channel 5: “It is necessary to break the lease agreement for the state-owned premises with the Moscow Patriarchate. First of all, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, religious analysts convince.”
Andrei Kovalev, former press secretary of Parubiy, former press officer of the UOC-KP: “Now the Ukrainian state has all the powers to actually break this leasing agreement with the brethren of the Moscow Patriarchate due to their failure to fulfill the terms of the lease agreement.”
Vladimir Omelian, ex-Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine (2016-2019): “I think it’s an excellent opportunity to dispatch priests of the Moscow Patriarchate back to their home in Russia. So that they would be treated there, then serve and earn money. In my opinion, they have already stayed enough time in Ukraine and have "prayed" enough for all of us, in inverted commas."
The fact that many of these statements fall under the article of the Criminal Code on inciting interfaith hatred does not bother them; under Poroshenko, there was no question of any responsibility for this. Maybe, something will change now?
There is no doubt that the current government should respond to the manipulations of ideologists of the power of the past.
But how should we, the believers, treat the work of TSN, Channel 5 and others? First of all, without ruffle and condemnation. They’ve already condemned themselves. But perhaps, the Church is really obliged, following the example of others, to close temples before believers, to stop confession and communion? Perhaps, the temple and church sacraments aren’t the main thing and one just need to survive so as not to be among the coronavirus victims?
For an atheist, the end of earthly life is a catastrophe and the end of everything. It is atheists who serve as a target for all media attacks in the lockdown. In a number of Western countries and in ours even before Easter, a poster with the inscription “Christ will rise, but you will not, if you die of coronavirus. Stay at home" gained popularity.
But the Christian knows this is a lie. Everyone is going to resurrect: both believers and unbelievers, both sinners and righteous. The only difference is the fate of each of us after the resurrection.
Christ clearly tells us about this: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left" (Matthew 25: 31-33).
We, Christians, support and respect power in an effort to save lives. But we also know we have to do everything so that after physical death, whatever it may be caused by, the Savior will put us on His right.