sabato 24 settembre 2022

Ukrainian Orthodox Church joins appeal on "pseudo-referendums" & other news

(Peter Anderson)
On September 24, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) prominently posted on its website the “Statement of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations regarding pseudo-referendums in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.” (link) The posting includes a photo of Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv and Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil seated in the foreground at a large table with other church leaders.  At the end of the Statement there is the following appeal:
  • all countries of the world not to recognize the pseudo-referendums held by the Russian occupying power in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine;
  • all citizens of Ukraine living in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine not to participate in pseudo-referendums and to be aware of their responsibility before God, their own conscience, previous, current and future generations, as well as before the Ukrainian people;
  • the authorities of the Russian Federation to abandon the criminal plan of annexation, which violates not only the human laws of the coexistence of peoples, but also the corresponding prescriptions of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish Holy Scriptures.

Earlier in the Statement, there is a detailed recitation concerning the inviolability of Ukrainian territory, the intention of Russia to seize Ukrainian territory, and the conditions under which such pseudo-referendums are being conducted.  Father Mykolay Danylevych, deputy head of the DECR of the UOC, has also posted the Statement on his Facebook page.  (link) It will be interesting to see how the hierarchs and clergy of the UOC in the occupied territories will react to this appeal.  The Statement has not yet been posted on the website of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.  It has been posted by the UGCC. (link) Father Mykolay has also disclosed that his brother, Vitaly Danylevych, a lieutenant-colonel and one of the defenders of Mariupol, was one of the 215 Ukrainian soldiers released in the recent prisoner exchange. (link)

On September 21 at 9 a.m., President Putin made his address relating to the partial mobilization in the Russian Federation and the holding of referendums in the occupied territories. (link) A few hours later, Patriarch Kirill made an address at the conclusion of the Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Moscow. (link) On the Julian calendar, it was the feast day of nativity of the Theotokos.  On the Julian calendar, it is also the anniversary of the victory of Prince Dmitry over the Golden Horde at Kulikovo Field on September 8, 1380.  Patriarch Kirill did not refer directly to the address by President Putin, but he did refer to the “severe trials” which “our Fatherland” is now experiencing.  He defined “our Fatherland” as “historic Rus’.”  The full text of the Patriarch’s address can be read at (link).   The following is an excerpt of his remarks:

Today our Fatherland, Rus’, historical Rus’ is going through severe trials.  We know what is happening in Ukraine.  We know what danger hangs over the Ukrainian people, whom they are trying to reformat, to make a state that is contrary to Rus’, hostile to Russia.  It is very important that in our hearts there is no feeling that an enemy is there.  We must pray today that the Lord would strengthen the fraternal feelings of the peoples of Holy Rus’, so that the unity of our Church becomes even stronger and stronger, which is really a guarantee of peace in the expanses of Rus’ - which is why the collapse of our country began with attempts to break the Church, create schisms and divisions.  The enemy knew that it was necessary to strike this point.  And although we have suffered losses and a dangerous, sinful, graceless schism has arisen in Ukraine, but at the same time the Orthodox faith is preserved there, and our brothers and sisters, archpastors and pastors, who are united and, I believe, together with us around the throne of the Lord, continue to pray for an end to internecine strife, and for the restoration of peace in the expanses of historical Rus’.

Today is connected with the memory of the great victory of our people, their spiritual feat, with the memory of how spiritual authority influenced the formation of courage and heroism. I mean, first of all, the blessing of St. Sergius of Radonezh given to Dmitry Donskoy.  How all this formed the true spiritual strength of our army, which won the historic battle.  This is a digression into history from our ecclesiastical point of view.  This point of view is not present in secular historical science, but in vain, because it is this approach to history that highlights the most important thing - the spiritual dimension in the life of people and the state, without which victory, in conditions of the fading of faith and spirit, becomes impossible.  Therefore, today we pray to the Lord again and again that He would pacify Rus’, stop internecine strife, so that Holy Rus’ would be reunited - in the sense that no discord and division would torment the heirs of that very united Holy Rus’.  And today, when we remember the victory of our people in the Battle of Kulikovo, we ask that a true victory come without particular battles and bloodshed, which would return to us spiritual unity, peace, prosperity, and mutual love.

May the Veil of the Queen of Heaven stretch over Her inheritance - over Holy Rus’.  May the holy saints of God, equally glorified and revered in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other parts of historical Rus’, pray today for us, the unworthy, and arm us with the correct thoughts, the necessary words, but, most importantly, the righteous deeds through which peace and prosperity could come to the land of Holy Rus’.  Amen.  

On September 22, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the “sidelines” of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.  According to the media release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov “explained that the forthcoming referendums in the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions fully comply with international law and are the realization of the legitimate rights of the inhabitants of these territories to self-determination and organization of life in accordance with their own civilizational, cultural and religious traditions.” (link) On September 24, Cardinal Parolin delivered a long address to the General Assembly in which he focused on various world problems.  The text of his address can be read at (link).  With respect to Ukraine, he refers to the resulting food shortages, the danger of a nuclear disaster, and the refugee problems.  However, nothing is said concerning the partial mobilization or the referendums.  Russia is not mentioned by the Cardinal.

Jonathan Luxmoore has done an interview of an anonymous Catholic priest in Russia concerning President Putin’s address. (link) The priest stated:  “Catholics themselves are divided, with around 20 percent supporting the war, 40 percent categorically opposed and a further 40 percent watching to see what happens, especially if things get worse and their own family members are killed.”  Catholic Archbishop Pezzi in Moscow stated with respect to the address:  “It seems to me that the main problem is to find a way out that does not make anyone feel defeated.”  (link)

In other news, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America has retired.  Patriarch John of Antioch issued a letter on September 17 in which he prays that the Metropolitan “may complete the remaining time of his life in peace and repentance.”  (link) Metropolitan Joseph ends the letter submitting his resignation as follows:  “To all those who have falsely accused me by word, thought, or deed, without evidence, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I forgive you.  May God be merciful in His judgment upon all of us.  Now, let us go forth in peace.” (link) Sister Vassa (ROCOR) is doing a video series in Russian on Orthodox against the war.  (link)

Peter Anderson, Seattle USA