To write to you this letter brings me a deep sense of pain and extreme concern about the situation facing the flock of the Church in [Novorossiya], where a fratricidal civil war has raged for the last few months. Last autumn, at the beginning of the current Ukrainian political crisis, members of the UGKTs and schismatical “Orthodox” openly preached hatred of the Orthodox Church on the Maidan; they urged the seizure of Orthodox shrines and they called for Orthodoxy’s eradication from the Ukraine. Since the beginning of hostilities, Uniates and schismatics took up arms under the guise of the “anti-terrorist operation” and started direct aggression against the clergy of the canonical UPTs/MP. Nevertheless, the UPTs/MP, unlike the UGKTs and schismatics, remains alien to political bias. It continues to carry out its pastoral care of its believers, including those who find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict, trying to reconcile them, issuing constant calls for dialogue.
In recent weeks, we received reports from local bishops indicating abuse of canonical UPTs/MP clergy as they carry out their pastoral duties. Here are a few examples. On 17 July, during Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Resurrection in Slavyansk, a gang of armed men led by a UGKTs military chaplain threatened the rector Archpriest Vitaly Vesyol. The UGKTs “priest” stated that the MP doesn’t belong in the Ukraine, and lamented that the authorities wouldn’t let the Uniates steal the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra. On 19 July, junta “soldiers” issued death threats to Archpriest Andrei Chicherinda, Dean of the Nikolaevsk Okrug of the Diocese of Gorlovka and Slavyansk, and they harassed and interrogated him, keeping him handcuffed. On 20 July, near Slavyansk, thugs armed with avtomats made Archpriest Vadim Yablonovsky dig his own grave, and on the same day, they nabbed Archpriest Viktor Stratovich, handcuffed him, and took him away with a bag on his head into the woods, where they forced him to grovel on his knees as they interrogated him.
July 30 in Krasnoarmeiskoe [in the DNR], a group of armed men illegally searched the home of Archpriest Igor Sergienko, rector of St Alexander Nevsky parish. They insulted Fr Igor, accusing him of taking part in clandestine organisations, threatened him with torture, demanded that he leave the Ukraine, and that he hand over the deeds to the parish property. On the same day, in Amvrosievska Raion [in the DNR], Ukrainian troops seized Archpriest Yevgeni Podgorny, showering him with abusive curses, bound him, and threw him to the ground. They kicked him, hit him with a rifle butt, and fired over his head, to force him to admit that he supported the opolchenie. They tried to force him to take off his priestly cross, but he refused, so, they tore if off by force, put a bag over his head, and threw him into a pit. Then, they threatened to kill his son, and robbed his house. Only his parishioners’ intervention saved Fr Igor.
We can’t ignore the fact that the conflict in the Ukraine has unambiguous religious overtones. The Uniates and schismatics try to overpower the canonical UPTs/MP, whilst the UPTs/MP continues to minister with patience and courage to its suffering believers in a tough environment. Priests serve in places that became battlegrounds; the majority remain with their flocks, sharing with them all the horrors of civil war. Their families suffer from attacks, lack of water and food, and shelling. On 31 July, Archpriest Vladimir Kreslyansky died of his wounds after a shelling of civilian areas in Lugansk, leaving behind a wife and five children.
[Novorossiya] was a fruitful land inhabited by millions of hardworking Orthodox Christians… now, it’s burnt-over and destroyed. Bombing destroyed Metropolitan Ilarion Shukalo‘s home (he heads the Diocese of Donetsk and Mariupol). Artillery shelling damaged the Diocesan Admin building in Gorlovka. The Convent of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God in the Diocese of Donetsk lies in ruins, it burned during the fighting. However, the canonical UPTs/MP is a Martyr Church; it stays with the believers in spite of these difficult conditions, it does everything possible to help people who’re experiencing the worst times in modern Ukrainian history. The fire of civil conflict caused hundreds of thousands to lose their homes and become refugees. Many of them try to escape the horrors of war by finding shelter in churches and monasteries, in particular, in the Assumption Lavra in Svyatogorsk, which is full of refugees. In Donetsk, Gorlovka, and Lugansk, civilians try to escape the bombardments by staying in the churches at night; once there, they get free food and shelter. All UPTs/MP monasteries, parishes, and dioceses provide all kinds of assistance to refugees and ordinary civilians.
The MP as a whole uses every opportunity to provide humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in areas where fighting takes place. Daily, all MP churches offer special prayers for peace and the end of the internecine warfare in the Ukraine. The Church takes care of many thousands of refugees from [Novorossiya] in camps and in specially prepared facilitated located all over Russia. We provide assistance to all without distinction as to nationality or religion. Amongst those who sought refuge in Russia are many Ukrainian soldiers who didn’t want to shoot their own people.
These are perilous days for our Russian Orthodox Church, especially for the faithful believers in the Ukraine, I ask the prayers of Your Holiness, archpastors, pastors, monastics, and all the believers of the Holy Church of Constantinople for peace in the Ukrainian land, to stop the bloodshed, and to end the suffering of our brethren in the Lord, especially our archpastors and pastors, who in the most difficult conditions of civil strife continue to do their duty courageously, to serve the Church and defend Holy Orthodoxy. I ask Your Holiness to use every opportunity to elevate your voice to defend Orthodox Christians [in Novorossiya], which live in daily fear due to the worsening violence by Greek Catholics and schismatics, who fear that if the persecutors take power that they and their loved ones will face severe persecution if they don’t renounce their faith.
15 August 2014
Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias
MP official website
The only time that you and I can put a “cross” in front of a hierarch’s name is when it’s a signature on an official document THAT EXISTS IN THE ORIGINAL. Otherwise, to put a cross in front of a bishop’s name is ignorant konvertsy nonsense. Note who does it… then, ignore everything that they write, for if they’re spitting on the Church’s usage in this respect, it’s probably true that they’re doing so in others.
If your priest wears Uniate-style vestments without a cowl, he supports the persecutors of the canonical Church. This is all-too-often due to the baleful influence of SVS and Michael Dahulich. We’re paying dearly for their errors now… it’ll be a dog’s age before we root it all out (for we haven’t made a start yet). Yes, Virginia, such things AREN’T minor at all… we’re also paying for ordaining former Anglican (and other heterodox) clergy without insisting that they go to Orthodox seminary and receive a proper formation (that takes years), accepting disobedient clergy from other archdioceses (Maymon, Moriak, and Dahulich… a Terrible Trio if there ever was such), and allowing SVS to run rampant (when they chose Hatfield as their Führer it showed their disconnect with Lived Orthodoxy).
We have a job of work to do. We should follow HH… NOT John Jillions… NOT Victor Potapov… NOT Michael Dahulich… NOT Vassa Larina… you get the picture. We’ve fallen… and we REFUSE to get up. God do spare us the punishment that we so richly deserve for supporting the enemies of Christ’s Church…