Kyiv, 03 July 2014 – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate in Luhansk and Donetsk regions fully supported terrorists’ actions and generally serves the interests of Russia, with some priests even taking up arms, said His Holiness the Patriarch Filaret during a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“We are 100% sure that sooner or later Ukraine will have its local orthodox church that will be independent from Moscow. We are not interested in capturing temples, we need a Ukrainian congregation. If the community wishes to join the Kyiv Patriarchate, we do not mind and are ready to accept it. This is the liberty of conscience and the law allows it,” said Patriarch Filaret.
Referring to history, Patriarch emphasized that victory is not achieved by force or weapons, but by spirit and truth. “Aggression is evil, and God cannot be on the evil side. Ukraine will win, because we have the truth and God on our side,” he said.
Today, Russian aggression, including its information war, has, according to Patriarch Filaret, fully affected the clergy. “Patriarch Kirill has become part of the Russian government, and it is in this light that his words and actions should be perceived. Since the times of Peter I, the church has in fact been a department of the Russian government,” said Filaret, “the ‘Russian world’ idea that is being promoted by the Moscow Patriarchate today fits within imperialistic ideas of the Russian government and refuses to acknowledge Ukraine as a state.” This ideology of the people of Holy Rus, all speaking the same language, is used to justify the annexation of Crimea and identify Ukrainian lands as being part of Russia.
Furthermore, there are continuing attempts to “appoint a Metropolitan acceptable to Moscow, instead of Volodymyr”. Patriarch confirmed that before the fall of Yanukovych’s regime he had been repeatedly approached with proposals to head a unified church of Moscow and Kyiv Patriarchate under Moscow’s authority, which he turned down. “There is no force that could incline me towards betrayal. Ukrainian church will exist as long as there are Ukrainian people,” said Patriarch.
Bishop Yevstratiy, who was present at the briefing, also said that Metropolitan Volodymyr was in grave, but stable condition. “Despite not working actively, with his personality he helps our churches come closer together, and so the struggle for his life is symbolic for the Ukrainians,” said Bishop Yevstratiy.
A social service department was formed at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate which cooperates with the Caritas charitable foundation to provide aid to refugees and Donbas citizens. The church also sends priests to military units and security and law enforcement agencies. Filaret expressed hope that the parliament would pass a military chaplain law, and also invited the clergy, bishops and the laity, regardless of their church or belief, to support the unity of Ukraine and to join a Christian Procession in celebration of the Christianization of Kievan Rus’ which will start on July 28 at the St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral.