Eastern Europe

The Travails Of The Canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church Under Zelenskiy

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The closure in March 2023 of the Kiev Lavra, the Monastery of the Caves, may have been the pivotal moment when non-Orthodox realized that the Zelenskiy government was adamant that it was going to sever the ties of the majority of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine with the Patriarchate of Moscow. The Lavra had been associated with the Kingdom of Kiev Rus since its inception over a millennium ago when Orthodox monks established a religious complex on the banks of the Dnieper River. This act of harassment of canonical Orthodox believers was neither unique nor spontaneous. 

Indeed an article published on 9 February 2024 in Orthodox Christianity titled “IT WAS U.S. POLICY TO DESTROY THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, SAYS CHURCH’S LAWYER” (https://orthochristian.com/158616.html) hints that the Zelenskiy government has been actively coordinating the eradication of the largest Orthodox denomination within its borders. While it is universally known that the Biden administration with a healthy sprinkling of supportive voices from the other side of the aisle, have sent billions (if not always accountable) of dollars to the Zelenskiy led Ukrainian government. The heart wrenching images of Orthodox faithful waiting outside the entrance of the Lavra to receive Holy Communion through the bars of the gate have been viewed around the world. The Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, et al are fully aware of the government sponsored repression of religious freedom and affiliation.

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Rather than an insignificant chapel, the Lavra, according to the United Nations Heritage Organization (UNESCO), has been “for centuries…one of the most important Christian pilgrimage centers in the world. A masterpiece of human creative genius in both its architectural conception and its remarkable decoration.”

Recently, nefarious actions against a structure have been overshadowed with outright attacks against clerics in Ukraine who are associated with the Moscow Patriarchate.

From a February 6, 2024 post in the Facebook page of the Banchny Monastery, Chernivtsi Province, Ukraine, one sees the terribly pummeled, swollen, and bruised face of Metropolitan Longin, after a brutal attack. He is described as a fervent supporter of the canonical church, hence a target for retribution. The monastery Facebook page wrote the caption simply as “This is the price of the purity of the Orthodox faith.”

This reporter contacted an Orthodox believer from an U.S. Orthodox jurisdiction in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate for his assessment of the persecution of canonical believers in Ukraine, their places of worship and clerics, such as Metropolitan Longin.

The response was swift and concise, “This reminds one of photos from books about the New Martyrs and Confessors of the 20th century. Just more of the same.”

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