Now, Ukrainian authorities demand that an important religious place in Kiev be abandoned by Orthodox monks, which sounds unacceptable to the Christian people. Writes Lucas Leiroz
Kiev’s neo-Nazi regime continues to persecute Christians and impose severe restrictions on the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Now, Ukrainian authorities are demanding that an important spiritual site in Kiev be abandoned by local monks, which sounds unacceptable to the Orthodox population. The threats made by the regime raise concerns in the Russian government, which hopes that the case will be investigated, and Ukraine will be punished internationally.
The place being now targeted by the Ukrainian regime’s ambition is the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, one of the most important spiritual centers for the Slavic Christendom, where several Orthodox monks live, and thousands of people make pilgrimages every year. Until the end of 2022, the site was administered under a joint jurisdictional system between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (under the Patriarchate of Moscow) and the Ukraine’s National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve, a state entity designated for the preservation of historical heritage.
However, with the rise of religious intolerance in the country, the situation in the Lavra began to deteriorate. As well known, the Ukrainian government has used anti-Russian rhetoric to attack the Orthodox Church, claiming a supposed “necessity” to combat institutions linked to Moscow, whether state, private or ecclesiastical. This even led to the formal prohibition of the Patriarchate of Moscow in the country, making the Orthodox faith (professed by the majority of the Ukrainian people) illegal. In this sense, as expected, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra became the target of the regime’s attacks on the Church.
Patriarch Kyrill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, publicly condemned the attitude of the Ukrainian authorities, calling Kiev’s decision “repressive”. He reminded the historical importance of the Lavra and emphasized that there was no transparency in the alleged investigation of “violations” committed by the monks and denounced that the Ukrainian authorities do not hide their clear objective, which is to absolutely eliminate Orthodoxy. He further commented on Ukraine’s hypocrisy in implementing dictatorial acts while claiming to defend European “democratic” values.
“The Kiev Lavra of the Caves is the first monastery of the Kievan Rus. It is the founder of the common spiritual and monastic tradition of the Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian peoples. It is the cradle of our civilization and national cultures (…) The work of a certain commission for searching violations in the accounting procedure was not transparent, and its repressive aim – the full banishment of the monks from the Lavra – was not concealed by state officials and representatives of other Ukrainian religious organizations influenced by secular authorities (…) It is regrettable that while the Ukrainian state leaders declare their commitment to democratic norms, to the European way of development and adherence to human rights and freedoms, these rights and freedoms are violated in the most glaring way”, the Patriarch said.
In the same vein, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated on March 12 that the Russian State views Ukrainian maneuvers against the Church with concern. Peskov stressed that for Moscow these acts are unacceptable and urged the international community to investigate the situation, thus continuing the constant Russian calls for Kiev to be held accountable and internationally sanctioned for its crimes.
“It causes [concern]. This is an absolutely unprecedented attitude toward representatives of the church, the Russian Orthodox Church. We consider this unacceptable. We believe that the world community should respond appropriately to such an outrageous decision”, he said.
Unfortunately, the West has repeatedly made it clear that Kiev has a kind of “carte blanche” to commit war crimes, ethnic persecution, religious intolerance, and political repression. The Ukrainian neo-Nazi regime will certainly continue to carry out its acts of terrorism against Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, the most likely thing is that the Lavra will have the same fate that other important Orthodox cathedrals and monuments have had in recent months: desecration, destruction, or donation to ultra-nationalist schismatics allied to the regime.
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