Why UOC teaches to love while OCU – to beat

A sledgehammer with which the raiders smashed the doors of the UOC church in Mikhalcha. Photo: Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy

The OCU storms churches, calls it a "holy deed", compares their attacks with Napoleon’s wars, believes the Phanar head fully supports them. What's wrong with that?

You can't hide an awl in a sack, and brass knuckles, bats and gas cans cannot be passed off as accessories for prayer singing. Representatives of the OCU organized another assault on the temple in Mikhalcha, according to all the rules of military art. In principle, nothing new, except that for the first time in the OCU they called things by their proper names: they come to the temple of the UOC not to pray, not to negotiate – they are fighting, they are waging a war. And these revelations are not surprising. Pretending and playing a double game is always difficult. Especially when the fire of "righteous" hatred for the "wrong" Orthodox Christians, by which they mean the UOC, is boiling inside. Only Christ taught about something completely different. However, we’ll lay an account of the case in its due order.

On December 12, 2020, nationalists tried to storm the Holy Dormition Church in the village of Mikhalcha, Chernivtsi region. The raider attack was violent and brutal. The believers describe the actions of the attackers in the following words: “Today there was an attack by strangers and residents of the village of Mikhalcha, supporters of the OCU, on our church. They sprayed gas at us, beat us with shovel handles. <…> Brass knuckles were seized from one of them and, apparently, many were hiding brass knuckles under mittens. This is not the first march of people with such weapons to our temple, but the Lord has mercy on us. Today the iron sledgehammer was taken out, a whole bunch of sticks that they had prepared to beat people. The police also filmed that there were firecrackers and smoke bombs."

Church doors smashed by raiders with a sledgehammer. Photo: Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy of the UOC

But despite all the efforts of the nationalists, the Lord did not allow them to seize the temple.

And now these actions clearly show who is the aggressor, and who is the victim, who has the spirit of peace and love, and who – enmity and hatred, who is on the side of Christ and His teachings, and who is on the opposite side. In Mikhalcha, as in all other cases of raider seizures of UOC churches by supporters of the OCU, two worldviews clashed. The worldview of believers of the UOC is that in order to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary to observe His commandments. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

The ideology of the invaders is, at best, in loyalty to the national idea (we will keep silent about the fact that all seizures are ordered and paid for) when “Ukraine is above all”, and therefore above both Christ and His commandments. If such an ideology is promoted by politicians and public figures, then this can still be explained somehow, but when people who call themselves “priests” and “bishops” stand on such positions, this is not only inexplicable, but it also gives out the anti-Christian attitude of the carriers such a worldview. In fact, the “clergy” of the OCU, supporting the cruel violent seizures of churches, sign that they serve not Christ at all but someone else. At least, the Ukrainian national idea, as mentioned above. In this regard, we would like to recall one Gospel episode: “And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them....” (Luke 9: 52-55).

In fact, the “clergy” of the OCU, supporting the cruel violent seizures of churches, sign that they serve not Christ at all but someone else.

After the fight that the nationalists made in Mikhalcha, the leadership of the Chernivtsi Eparchy of the OCU not only did not condemn these anti-Christian actions or simply keep silent, but, on the contrary, approved and called for new attempts. The corresponding letter, one must think on behalf of the "Metropolitan" Daniil Kovalchuk of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna of the OCU, was posted on the official website of his eparchy.

When the eparchy of the "Church" compares its members’ actions with Napoleon's wars

A screenshot of the website orthodox-cv.org

This letter begins with another historical opus, which testifies to the ignorance of the OCU representatives in historical and theological issues. Regretting the failure of the invaders of the temple, the author of the letter says that a lost battle is not a lost war and cites as an example ... Napoleon Bonaparte: “Napoleon lost several battles. He saw the spider clinging the web and failing but it did not retreat and clang the web. After that Napoleon still fought and got his dream." For the information of the OCU representatives, Napoleon's army was completely defeated by Russian troops, which also included Ukrainian (Little Russian) Cossack regiments (117 thousand on payroll and 20-25 thousand who participated in battles) in 1812. After that, the troops of Russia and the allies entered Paris, and Napoleon abdicated the throne and was sent into exile on the island of Elba. In 1815, he regained power for exactly one hundred days, lost the battle at Waterloo, and again abdicated the throne. He spent the last years of his life in captivity with the British on the island of St. Helena and died of a stomach ulcer. Is this a dream achievement? Is it that the OCU representatives wish their supporters the same fate? Not to mention the fact that the victims of the Napoleonic wars, designed to satisfy his ambition, were, according to the very minimum estimates, more than 5 million people, which by the standards of that time is very, very many.

Let's get back to the letter. Its authors address their believers not as shepherds but as the leaders of a gang, against whom accusations of an unsuccessful raid are rained: “Dear parishioners, there is a lot of indignation, a lot of rumours about our failure. It was possible ..., it should have been done like this or that ... It is possible or not, but there were difficulties because the adherents of Moscow Orthodoxy are like those who fought against the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state in Kyiv on the Maidan…"

What can we say? For seven years now, we have heard stories from schismatics and Uniates that the participants in the Euromaidan are the Ukrainian people, and those who did not support it are enemies of the Ukrainian state. What is this if not an attempt to split society and sow enmity between people? Can this be called a pastoral word?

Bandit assaults on UOC churches is a "holy deed" which Patriarch Bartholomew tirelessly fights for

Well, what is particularly striking is that the Chernivtsi Eparchy of the OCU calls the bandit attack on the church with sticks and knuckles "a holy deed" and directly calls to repeat it: "We cannot give up, we cannot retreat from the holy deed." And at the same time, they say that they are doing this in the name of Patriarch Bartholomew: "Can’t we be ashamed if we retreat when the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself tirelessly fights for our cause." These words are sad, hard but true: Patriarch Bartholomew really fights and, moreover, tirelessly with the Church of Christ, participates with his blessing in the seizure of churches and the beating of believers. He bears the most direct responsibility for the enmity and hatred that he brought to Ukraine, for the division and violence that is justified by his name.

Patriarch Bartholomew really fights and, moreover, tirelessly with the Church of Christ, participates with his blessing in the seizure of churches and the beating of believers. He bears the most direct responsibility for the enmity and hatred that he brought to Ukraine, for the division and violence that is justified by his name.

In general, the entire letter is permeated with the idea that the canonicity of the “bishops” of the OCU is based on the fact that they are recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople: “While some Churches, like our Ukrainian priests of Moscow subordination, hesitate to recognize or not recognize our Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew <...> proved that our bishops are true and showed that the bishops and clergy of the Ukrainian Church of Moscow subordination are not canonical and no Church has the right to recognize them."

Here again there is a lack of knowledge of the elementary foundations of the Church's existence. What the author of the letter wrote is a Catholic rather than Orthodox criterion when "canonicity" is determined by submission to the Roman throne. But to justify the author, we can say that Patriarch Bartholomew is now actively trying to impose on the Orthodox world a similar criterion when the Patriarch of Constantinople will be recognized as the guardian of Orthodoxy. In fact, the earthly criterion of truth is the entire fullness of the Church and not a separate Local Church. The document of 1723, which is called “The Epistle of the Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Church on the Orthodox Faith”, said about this: “Why we are not only convinced but also undoubtedly confess as a firm truth that the Catholic Church cannot sin or err and speak lie instead of truth; for the Holy Spirit, always working through the faithful Fathers and teachers of the Church, protects Her from any error." As for the fullness of the entire Orthodox Church, we can say that She has always considered the Ukrainian schismatics to lack grace. And the fact that some bishops, including the patriarchs, have changed this opinion does not detract from the fact that the Church continues to regard the schismatics as non-canonical impostors. This can be argued, both because the majority of the Local Churches did not change their minds and because the grounds according to which the Church recognized the schismatics as non-canonical have not changed at all.

From those excommunicated from the Church, one cannot become members of the Church except through repentance. The Church simply does not know any other workaround, no matter what Patriarch Bartholomew says. But Ukrainian schismatics not only have no intention of repenting and reuniting with the Church but also call upon the members of the Church ... to join them, schismatics: “But we were and are canonical and we ask them (the faithful children of the UOC – Ed.): return to the fold of your canonical Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” That is, in essence, this is a call to betray the Church and join the schism.

Can members of Christ's Church hate someone?

But even more than references to the recognition of the OCU by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the letter contains a mention of ... Moscow:

  • "... because the champions of Moscow Orthodoxy are like those ...";
  • "... Moscow in Ukraine has gained the upper hand, unfortunately ...";
  • "... supporters of Moscow and children deceived by it ...";
  • "... the Russian Church served the empire ...";
  • “... Moscow power-lovers set out to ...”;
  • "... the Moscow Church must recognize ...";
  • “... today Muscovites in Ukraine are picketing ...”.

These quotes can be continued for a long time. They are all aimed at arousing in those who read them a feeling of hatred for Moscow, for the Russian Church, and for all the faithful children of the UOC. Only Christ taught differently. It was already mentioned above how the Lord told the apostles that they do not know what spirit they are. Several more passages from the Holy Scriptures can also be cited.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph 6:12). Do the representatives of the OCU say that it is necessary to fight these "the spiritual forces of evil "? Do they say that a Christian believer needs to expel hatred from his soul and plant love there? No, on the contrary, they teach their adherents to hate, to attack and commit violence against the faithful of the UOC. And the fruits of such an ideology are evident: seized churches, burned down monasteries, battered parishioners, priests expelled along with their families from their homes.

We can compare: if the bishops of the UOC teach that even the construction of a church with their own money or their own labour does not guarantee a person the achievement of paradise in the afterlife, that this is only a tool on the path to salvation, and that this will not help a person if he/she violates the commandments of God; then the “bishops” of the OCU, directly or indirectly, call for the seizure of other people's churches. If a person who has absorbed the anti-Christian ideology takes away a temple if he takes a sledgehammer and smashes the doors of a church to pieces, if he drives out Christians who have been praying there for many years, what will be his fate in Eternity? Will a man with a sledgehammer, brass knuckles and pepper spray enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

Maybe you should think about these questions? Compare what the representatives of the OCU say with what the Scripture says? Maybe you should follow the words of the apostle Paul: “The works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5: 19-23)?
 

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