Rivne, April 23, 2019
The faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the northwestern Ukrainian Rivne Province have been under heavy pressure and subject to persecution from the schismatic-nationalist supporters of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Over the past two months, 14 churches in the province have been seized by raiders, according to the Union of Orthodox Journalists, but the people remain faithful to Christ in His Church.
Even though the local officials conspire against the faithful, they continue to zealously preserve the purity of the Orthodox faith, and in the villages where the schismatic activists have seized churches, the faithful are not daunted but have resumed the activities of their parish communities.
For example, in the village of Novaya Moschanitsa, services since the beginning of the Great Lent have been celebrated in the home of the priest. The supporters of the schismatic church are not satisfied with this situation and have thus organized active persecution against the priest, his family, and local residents.
The parishioners cannot even safely go to the cemetery to visit their departed relatives and clean their graves, and they are regularly threatened with physical violence by the schismatic-nationalist thugs. “If you don’t get out, we will smash and break everything, and not even the police will stop us,” they say.
In the village of Selets, the canonical church building was seized by schismatics, and when the community of the UOC began to pray in the cemetery chapel, the local village head, who initiated the raid, exceeded his authority and locked the chapel to the several hundreds of UOC faithful. The village head is insisting that everyone join the schismatic community, Archpriest Nikolai Ivanichko of the UOC says.
On Lazarus Saturday, the canonical community cut the lock from the chapel and resumed their services.
Other communities have set up chapel-tents or are simply praying under the open skies. In the village of Buscha, the schismatics not only seized the church but have also forced the young priest and his family out of their home where the canonical community was gathering for prayer. The house is divided in two with the other half being occupied by the schismatic priest who is bothered by the faithful’s inspired prayers.
In general, all the communities that have suffered the loss of their church have resumed their activities and the majority are planning to build new churches or have their churches returned through the courts.
Follow us on Facebook!