Ze, people in caps and the Great Cross Procession

Vladimir Zelensky criticized the UOC for the Great Cross Procession. Photo: UOJ

The Great Cross Procession gathered 350,000 people. Elation and triumph – this is what believers feel. But the President thinks differently. Why – let's sort it out.

The Day of the Baptism of Rus was celebrated in Ukraine. On July 27, the Great Cross Procession of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church took place.

The holiday of the Baptism of Rus' is a special day for the Church; as His Beatitude Onuphry said, it is the birthday of our people. But on this day, we also clearly see who the believing Ukrainian people support and who do not.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced that over 350,000 believers participated in the Great Cross Procession - 2021, which appears even more than in previous years. And if one views the aerial footage of the Cross Procession, it is easy to confirm this figure. One can see just an endless sea of people. The entire width of the street from the Vladimir Hill to the Lavra was filled with a continuous stream of cross walkers. When the head of the column entered the Lavra, a lot of believers were still descending from the Vladimir Hill. Some publications even cited a figure of 400,000, but the police traditionally lowered the number of participants to 55,000.

On July 28, a cross procession and a prayer service of the OCU took place on the Vladimir Hill. Earlier, Sergei Dumenko said that there would be no cross procession due to the pandemic, but it did take place. From the St. Michael Cathedral, supporters of the OCU came to the Vladimir Hill and held their prayer service there. To say that it was in great contrast to the Cross Procession of the UOC is to say nothing. It's like comparing an ocean and a stream. We will not name any numbers. Who the Ukrainians are with can be seen on the screen. But this is an objective reality. In our country it is often not the main one, because the main reality is virtual. In this reality the situation is completely different.

Recently in Ukraine, all the mainstream media spread information that according to polls conducted by the private company Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, most of Ukrainians, 58%, consider themselves members of the OCU and go to the churches of this structure. And only 25% identify themselves with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, i.e. half as much. A number of opposition media say that the Office of the President was involved in organizing this opinion poll. Whether this is true or not, we do not know, but the President personally commented on the Great Cross Procession of the UOC, and at the same time he looked very irritated and dissatisfied.

The Cross Procession and its organizers came in for heavy criticism. The President said that mostly elderly people walked in the cross procession, that the believers had not been provided with water, that they had spent the night at the fence of the Lavra, and was outraged that the organizers had not provided masks to the pilgrims.

Vladimir Zelensky: “Yesterday there was a procession (Great Cross Procession – Ed.), right? The procession was in Ukraine, 55,000 people. People are mostly elderly, you need to be careful. They had to wear masks, at least like that. In the video I watched, I did not see masks there. People arrive in an organized manner by buses, they are delivered to the venue. How about people having to spend the night in the Lavra and near the Lavra? It’s a large number of elderly people. It was necessary to organize night accommodation and ensure that everyone wears masks. The police should have provided the participants with water – people didn’t even have drinking water!"

These are very strange statements made by Zelensky about the UOC, and it's not the first time. Quite recently, after a prayer standing near the Verkhovna Rada and the Office of the President of 20,000 believers in defense of their Church, the President confused them with a rally of the Opposition Platform, called them grandmothers in yellow caps and said that “something is wrong in the Church”: “There are old women and children there (near the Ukrainian Parliament – Ed.), have you seen? In yellow caps with the party logo. Something in the church is wrong again. And so, by chance, everyone got interested in this issue so much that by chance thousands of old women came in yellow caps. Well, what does it look like?"

However, let's return to Zelensky's comments on the procession. His words are easy to refute.

So, the words about the lack of water (quote: "they did not even have drinking water"). According to the official information of the UOC, the participants had an abundant supply of water. As the secretary of the Kyiv diocese of Kyiv city, Archpriest Viktor Ivashchuk, told us, only in the Lavra there were pallets with 44,000 bottles of water, another 5,000 were on the Vladimir Hill. Also, the Kyiv authorities supplied two water tankers. Therefore, alas, the President was misled.

As regards spending the night at the Lavra (quote: "people had to spend the night in the Lavra and near the Lavra.").

Absolutely all pilgrims were provided with shelter and food. As in previous years, this year each pilgrimin was attached to a certain Kyiv temple. So all the cross walkers were ensured night accommodation and meal. Mattresses were laid out directly on the floor of the temples. True though, the conditions were not luxurious, but no one slept near the fence.

The most painful issue is quarantine restrictions. Let's listen to the UOC Chancellor Metropolitan Anthony: “Unfortunately, the disease has not completely gone away yet. We all measure the temperature to restrict sick people. And we ask everyone to wear masks. All this is done so that we show our love for our neighbor."

Yes, most of the believers walked in 35-degree heat without masks. But are the organizers to blame for this? Of course, not.

Well, a question to Vladimir Zelensky. Let's recall that quite recently, on July 18, there was a mass meeting of Uniates in Zarvanitsa. Is there anyone here wearing masks? No. On July 7, the OCU summoned its supporters to the monastery at the Kozatsky graves. Is there someone wearing masks here? No. Now let's take a look at the concerts that take place in the stadiums. On July 26, a concert of Max Korzh took place in Odessa with 45 thousand people. Is there someone wearing masks here? No.

Even more people came to Monatic’s concert on June 17th. Is there someone wearing masks here? No. From 5 to 11 July, the Atlas Weekend festival was held in Kyiv, which was attended by about 600 thousand people. Do we see someone wearing masks? No.

Well, the last moment. According to Zelensky, believers of the UOC in the open air in the heat should go up the hill wearing a mask, while the President himself, together with the journalists, is sitting in a closed room without a mask. Are there double standards here? Yes.

It turns out that Zelensky criticizes only the UOC. Why? Because that's the policy.

On August 24, the head of the Phanar, Patriarch Bartholomew, arrives in Ukraine at the invitation of Zelensky. And he wants to see the "correct" church picture, where the OCU enjoys full support, while the UOC does not exist altogether. Well, such a picture does not add up at all, but the opposite is true. And we can only sympathize with Zelensky, because he needs to solve his own political tasks, in particular, to win the favor of the United States, which openly patronize both the OCU and Phanar.

But the truth does not change because of these tasks. And the only truth is that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church unites millions of people countrywide. This is the canonical Church of all our Ukrainian citizens. Moreover, it will remain so regardless of the political environment, tasks and ambitions of individual structures, politicians, and even presidents.


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