Attacks on UOC cross procession: How are we better than Sodom and Gomorrah?

02 September 2022 21:23
Attacks on UOC cross procession: How are we better than Sodom and Gomorrah?

In 2022, the Kamyanets-Pochaiv procession with the cross was confronted with difficulties. Local authorities and OCU barred entrances, blocked roads and hit with sticks.

The religious procession from Kamyanets-Podilsky to the Pochaiv Lavra has been held for two centuries. Believers leave immediately after the celebration of the Transfiguration holiday and, having covered 250 kilometers, come to the Lavra on the eve of the Assumption of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In 2022, given the war in Ukraine, everything is more complicated. While in previous years, several tens of thousands of people would walk in the procession, this year it was no more than 8 thousand cross walkers. While in previous years, cross walkers had to fight only with heat and fatigue, this year they were fought by the authorities and activists.

It is precisely like in 2016, when huge columns of the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession for peace in Ukraine were heading to Kyiv to celebrate the Day of the Baptism of Russ. Then the mass media pumped out fakes, local authorities forbade the believers to pass through their cities, the police announced that roads were mined, and radicals staged attacks, pelting icons with eggs. Now the magnitude of the struggle is different, but the methods are absolutely the same. Moreover, its ideologues are apparently still the team of the ex-president.

The next day after the procession left Kamyanets, MP of Poroshenko's "Eurosolidarity" party, Vladimir Aryev, said that the believers were allegedly carrying tricolors, and there were saboteurs among them. Just like in 2016, when the fake-mongers told about St. George's ribbons and flags of Russia among the cross walkers. True, the head of the Khmelnytskyi Military Administration, Serhiy Gamaly, refuted the current fake about the tricolor, but this did not make a difference.

Other scenarios of 2016 soon followed. Then the deputies of Boryspil impeded the procession, now – those of Volochysk. A group of people led by Khmelnytskyi regional council deputy from Poroshenko's "Eurosolidarity" Alina Koval blocked the way for believers.

Koval says that in previous years she would supply the participants of the procession with porridge and tea, but now it has become dangerous. How? It turns out that the UOC allegedly prays in Russian and does not recognize the OCU.

Alina Koval: "They (UOC – Ed.) continue to insist on their canonicity and the right to pray in Russian and say that the OCU is a self-styled church."

Koval ends with a call to ban the UOC. For what? So that the activists blocking the Holy Procession would not have to block the procession, because it is allegedly dangerous for them: "We need a law on banning the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, on banning the activities of the subversive church. For what? In order to prevent such situations when people gather on their own to bar the saboteurs from entering their settlements."

Yet, the incident with the activists in Volochysk was not single. The same groups went out to block roads in Zbarazh and Lanivtsi districts. 15-20 people stood against many thousands. Believers chanted "Christ is Risen", while the opponents cursed them in response. As a result, the procession had to change its direction and walk tens of extra kilometers across the fields.

More often than not, such blockades were organized by the OCU members. This is what Andriy, a participant in the procession, told the UOJ: "This morning, one community (believers of one of the villages – Ed.) prepared food for the participants of the religious procession. But the local community headed by the 'priest' of the OCU simply did not let it out. People called and said that the OCU folllowers felled trees on the road, kicked up a row, and we ended up without breakfast."

In some villages along the route of the religious procession, the activists closed the wells and food stores before the pilgrims.

In addition, in one place, believers were attacked with sticks. One of the activists took a square stick and struck one of the cross walkers, who was carrying a large cross, on his head. The victim's head was seriously smashed.

Relief is administered to the believer whose head was smashed with a stick. Photo: UOJ

It would be unfair to say that the cross walkers were blocked everywhere. Actually, there were just a few oddities. In most villages, the cross procession was awaited. But amazingly, when the believers were faced with curses, when they had to walk dozens of extra kilometers in the heat, absolutely all of them felt joy and a surge of power.

"We felt such grace, as if we were already stepping on the threshold of the Pochaiv Lavra, we simply felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. There was no fear of them (radicals and OCU members – Ed.). People fell to their knees, and tears flowed by themselves out of joy. Why? Because we are under the protection of the Mother of God," says one participant of the procession.

Another participant says that without God's support, it is impossible for low-trained people to walk dozens of kilometers in the heat: "Athletes who walk without prayer simply go off the route. But here we have old women, you should see them – 60, 70, 75 years old. Women with strollers, children, even one-year-olds, are carried by adults. People pray that the Lord will have mercy on us. And it is clear that the Mother of God and the Lord support these people. Because otherwise it is unreal. A person by himself cannot manage this procession. If people are pulled out (of their routine – Ed.) and taken from their comfortable cars, offices, they will not be able to walk 35, 45, 50 kilometers a day."

Drawing on the example how radicals and OCU members treat the cross walkers, the latter say why they will never be able to be part of Dumenko's structure.

Viktoria, a participant of the procession: "We will never go there (to the OCU – Ed.). Because here is warmth, love, and grace, which the OCU has never had even for a glass of water! Because they closed wells and wrote nasty things about us. And because when those 20 people were shouting and screaming they wouldn't let us pass, we were ready to make a bypass and walk another 40, 50, 60, 70 kilometers in the name of God."

Still, the religious procession reached the Pochaiv Lavra. However, the authorities simply have to draw conclusions from the disgrace, when a bunch of weirdos chased women with children and old men across fields and ravines despite the fact that these people did not commit a single offence.

In the Gospel, there are very eloquent words that Christ said to the apostles, sending them to preach in the world: "And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town" (Matthew 10:14-15).

Our country is officially Christian, the authorities like to pose in temples and demonstrate their piety. But when Christians are chased, humiliated and beaten in the terrible times of war, one needs to think about it. These atrocities were initiated by the former government officilas, who are not at the helm now. One of the pilgrims turns to the current authorities:

"I want to appeal to our government, which allows the atrocities on our land in such a terrible time. In this procession with the cross, we ask everyone for forgiveness and we wish everyone health, God's grace and repentance."

If those who have really undertaken the difficult feat of prayer are persecuted in our country, if people of faith are humiliated, then the future of this country and its victory in the bloody war is in question. Even the godless Soviet authorities turned to the Church for help at the beginning of the war. In our case, everything is on the contrary. Therefore, our authorities need to think hard about it, otherwise everything can end very sadly. And this is not what we, journalists, are predicting. This is what Christ predicts.


If you notice an error, select the required text and press Ctrl+Enter or Submit an error to report it to the editors.
Read also