If Bandera is your father, what is the Church for you?
In Ivano-Frankivsk, the "priests" of the OCU held a "requiem" for the Uniate Stepan Bandera and then sang the song "Our Father Bandera". What does this event mean?
Usually, schismatics and their admirers are offended by the remarks that they are putting the nation and its leaders in the place of God, they call such words manipulations, denigration of patriots and “Kremlin propaganda”. And perhaps they sincerely think so. But let's get down to simple facts.
In Ivano-Frankivsk, the "clergy" of the OCU, at a solemn event at the monument to Bandera, dedicated to his birthday, performed a "requiem" for the leader (who, by the way, was not Orthodox but a Uniate) and then sang the song "Our Father Bandera, Ukraine is Mother ". Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv posted a report about the event on his Facebook.
The opinion of the average "patriot" about the action in Ivano-Frankivsk is not difficult to predict: the "priests" of the OCU love their Motherland and therefore sing a song about the man who fought for its freedom. What's so strange about that?
Indeed, from the point of view of a nationalist, there is nothing strange about this event – priests must also love their land and respect the heroes who fought for it. But should the pastors publicly proclaim not God but a man as the Father, moreover, the man of very dubious Christian merits?
Most accurately, this question was formulated by one of the readers, who commented on this event on the Facebook page of the Ivano-Frankivsk mayor: "And I thought that your dad is the Father who is in heaven?!”
The news about the performance in Ivano-Frankivsk caused a wide resonance on the Net, so let's analyze the song itself and what it means to be performed by the “priests” of the Dumenko structure.
What is the song about?
The “clergy” of the OCU sang a song about a rebel who, inspired by the name of Bandera, fought against the “Muscovites” and died heroically. The story of the protagonist, who lies under an oak tree "without a left leg and right hand", is interrupted by the refrain "Our father is Bandera, Ukraine is mother, We will fight for Ukraine!"
Of course, the text of the song is not obliged to follow the historical truth, but it carries a powerful educational and ideological charge, which is used today to evoke "patriotic" emotions and influence "properly" us, modern Ukrainians. The main theses of the song are as follows: the father for a Ukrainian is Bandera, the mother is Ukraine, the "Muscovites" are bad, and they need to be beaten. It seems that this is why the members of the OCU, positioning themselves as the most patriotic patriots, performed this piece.
The text of the song itself contains a number of theses that cannot but raise questions.
- The song says that the Ukrainians were at enmity with the Russians: “And they didn’t live in accord with Muscovites”.
Usually, the insurgents are called members of the OUN-UPA, who from 1944 to 1956 waged a partisan war against the Soviet regime on the territory of Western Ukraine. Already from the region where these actions took place, it is easy to conclude that the Muscovites (as the nationalists call Russians) were not there. And if there were, then in too small an amount to be separately mentioned. That is, the rebels “did not live in accord” not with the Muscovites, but with those Ukrainians who were loyal to the Soviet regime. And for the most part these were not members of the NKVD who fought with the UPA, but ordinary villagers who simply wanted to live in peace rather than fight with the "Soviets". According to historians, in 1944-1953 members of the UPA killed 30,676 people. Most of them are the civilian population of Western Ukraine: collective farmers and villagers – 15,355; workers – 676; representatives of the intelligentsia – 1,931 (including 50 priests); children, old people, housewives – 860. In total – 18,822 civilian deaths, for which the patriots were inspired by "our father Bandera and Ukraine – mother."
- The song says about a certain battle, which, obviously, took place on the feast of Peter and Paul: “... On Peter’s Day, we entered the battle. The Muscovites fled losing their shoes, and our shots were fired at them."
History does not tell us about the outstanding victories of the insurgent units over the "Muscovites", only a large number of small partisan raids. But the mention of Peter (obviously, we mean the commemoration of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on July 12 according to the new style) makes us remember that in 1944 (July 13-22) there really was a major military battle in which the rebels could participate. Only here is not the UPA, but the Wehrmacht SS "Galicia" Division. This battle is the battle of Brody between the 13th Corps of the 4th Panzer Army of the Wehrmacht, which included the SS “Galicia” Division, and the Soviet troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front. The battle ended with the defeat of the division, after which part of the "Galicians" joined the UPA. And the point is not that the text of the insurgent song is at odds with the historical truth (it was not the "Muscovites" who lost the conditional shoes). The point is not even that in the 1st Ukrainian Front there were many ethnic Ukrainians, whom the SS "Galicia" "beat" as part of the Nazi army. It is important that the “priests” of the OCU see this as heroism and offer it to their believers as an example to follow.
Who is the Father for Christians?
Ukrainians love and know how to sing. Who of us after drinking too much did not start a song, without thinking much about its content? There are not so many of them. But there is a nuance – if such singing happens – it is usually on vacation and in a close circle.
If the "priests" sing such a song in vestments, even immediately after the "memorial service", then they are obviously expressing the position of their "Church". In other words, the attitude towards Bandera as a father is the official position of the PCU.
But is it necessary to say who in the true Church is called the Father? Let us remember the Saviour's words: “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ” (Matt. 23: 9-10). Yes, in the Church the word "father" is not only used to refer to God. In addition to the usual address to the priest, the word "father" is used to refer to especially revered pastors. For example, the late Metropolitan Amphilochios (Radovic) was called "the father of Orthodox Montenegro." There is the expression "spiritual father" in relation to a mentor to whom an Orthodox Christian confesses and entrusts his/her spiritual problems.
And, of course, believers call "father" with love the people whom the Church has named saints. We know that the holy fathers are at the Throne of God and their prayer has a special power.
But all Christians — pastors, clergy, and saints — seek to imitate Heavenly Father.
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect," (Matt. 5:48), Christ tells us. And it's not just words, it's a model for us Christians. In these words – the motivating verb - "be". We look at the perfection of the Heavenly Father and strive to become more perfect ourselves. And it is natural to take an example from the One you want to be like.
Young children very quickly adopt the habits of their parents. They just watch – and repeat. Both bad and good ones.
Adults are not fundamentally different from children, they are also looking for an example to follow. And if the role model for us is Heavenly Father, then we have an incentive to approach His perfection. And if the benchmark is different?
There is a completely different mention of the word "father" in the Scriptures. Christ, addressing the Pharisees, said to them, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8: 43-44).
The OCU offers us Stepan Bandera as "father" and a spiritual guide. We may be objected to – they say that none of the "priests" directly stated this. But they do not have to. If they worship and then sing "Our Father Bandera" in priestly vestments, that is enough. In addition, not so long ago, the head of the OCU Sergei Dumenko stated that Bandera was a "genius of the nation-building spirit," and he is proud when he and members of his structure are called Bandera members.
Can Bandera serve as a moral guide for a Christian?
Stepan Bandera's personality is very contradictory for modern Ukraine. Until recently, the attitude toward Bandera has been largely negative due to cooperation with the Nazis and the OUN's terrorist activities against the civilian population. After the Euromaidan, everything changed – now he is positioned as a fighter for the independence of Ukraine and almost a national hero. But we will not assess Bandera's personality in terms of his political activities. We are interested in what kind of Christian he was.
Stepan Bandera's father was a Uniate priest. In the 1930s, in the territory of Western Ukraine (then Poland), he organized a number of terrorist acts, simply put – the assassination of prominent Polish statesmen. At the Warsaw trial over the high-profile assassination of Polish Interior Minister Bronislaw Peracki, the prosecutor told Bandera that the OUN's terrorist activities "contradicted the foundations of Christian morality", which did not particularly impress the OUN leader.
In 1940-1941, during the split of the nationalists into the Bandera OUN and the Melnik OUN, Stepan Bandera gave orders for the destruction of hundreds of Melnik brothers.
But perhaps the most ambiguous fact of Bandera's biography is his collaboration with the German Nazis. In the spring of 1941, Bandera's OUN formed the Ukrainian Legion in Poland as part of the Nazi "Nachtigall" and "Roland" battalions with a total number of 800 people. They are accused of mass Jewish pogroms in Lviv and other cities of Ukraine during the Nazi attack on the USSR. Later, the Nazis united "Nachtigall" and "Roland" in the 201st Security Battalion and sent to destroy the Belarusian partisans, and at the same time – the local population disloyal to Germany. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko accused the Banderas of this.
In present Ukraine, it is considered that Stepan Bandera did not cooperate with Nazi Germany but almost fought with it.
This is usually said loudest on January 1, during the Kyiv torchlight procession in honour of the leader's birthday. Although outwardly the procession is painfully reminiscent of the torchlight marches of Nazi Germany.
The latest march, which took place on January 1, 2020, was harshly condemned by Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Lyon, who called Stepan Bandera "an accomplice of the Nazi regime".
It is possible to treat Bandera-politician differently, but can he be a "father" for a Christian? Did he teach the commandments of Christ? Did he teach you to love your enemies, to bless those who curse, and to do good to those who do evil? Absolutely not.
Maybe, Stepan Bandera taught love? No, he taught to hate and kill those who disagreed with his ideas.
With such baggage, there are very serious doubts that Stephen became the Savior's right hand after his death, let alone being a moral and spiritual guide for Christians.
Then why does Sergei Dumenko consider Bandera a "national genius" and is proud to be a Bandera man? Why do his "priests" call Bandera his "father"?
Whom Bandera is not a father, Ukraine is not a mother?
Though "Our Father Bandera" is just a song, its refrain "Our Father Bandera, Ukraine is Mother" is an ideological banner of modern Ukraine. The attitude to Stepan Bandera's personality is imposed in such a connection and is a test of "patriotism" along with the notorious "whose is Crimea?". Ukrainians are told that if they do not consider Bandera a national hero, then they cannot fully love Ukraine. Simply put, if Bandera is not your father, then you are not a real Ukrainian.
But if you are not just a Ukrainian, but an Orthodox Christian?
And the Christian simply cannot ignore the fact that the refrain "Our Father Bandera, Ukraine is Mother" is a distorted semantic borrowing of the famous words of the holy martyr Cyprian of Carthage "To whom the Church is not the Mother, God is not the Father." In fact, the saint said a little differently: "He who can no longer have God as Father does not have Church as Mother." But in the case of Ukrainian schismatics, this wording sounds even brighter - a person who has fallen from the Church no longer considers God the Father and therefore is forced to seek a replacement for Him.
And we see how this replacement works in reality. Why do the "hierarchs" and "priests" of the OCU teach their flock to take away temples from UOC believers, break doors with crowbars, and cut them off by grinders? Why do they teach "prayer" with fists and bats? Why do they teach not to love but to hate their neighbour? Because although they say aloud church prayers, but in the heart, there is "Our Father Bandera." Because Stepan and other nationalist leaders taught not to love but to hate: Poles, Russians, "wrong" Ukrainians, Bolsheviks, etc. And hatred, no matter how "patriotic" it may be, cannot bring man closer to God.
And if our lost brothers do not understand this now, then it may be too late.