Chernivtsi, Ukraine, May 24, 2019
Despite the ongoing persecution against them, the faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Church are standing strong, preserving the faith, and defending their churches and clergy.
Yesterday, thousands of faithful in the southwestern Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi gathered in a prayerful procession against the forced transfer of their churches to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists, with reference to the press service of the Chernivtsi-Bukhovina Diocese.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Melety of Chernivtsi and Bukhovina, thousands of Ukrainian clergy and faithful gathered at the Holy Spirit Cathedral to prayerfully process to the Chernivtsi Provincial administration, where parishioners of the seized Holy Dormition Church in the village of Tovtri have been praying around-the-clock since May 18.
The church was seized earlier on May 18 with the help of the national police, who formed a human chain to block out the parishioners, acting on behalf of the illegal order of the provincial head Mikhail Pavlyuk to force the parish into the schismatic church. The faithful have said the vigil will continue until all such orders from Pavlyuk are canceled.
The faithful carried banners and posters that read, “We are the UOC,” “Deliver the Church from political dirt,” and “Bukhovina is with His Beatitude Onuphry,” and other slogans.
Among the participants were a notable number of young people who are upset with the arbitrary persecution against their Church in Bukhovina.
“We as young people who have always taken part in situations where it was necessary to defend the truth, today stand on the side of truth—on the side of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” said one young participant of the diocese-wide procession.
Another noted that the youth are highly displeased with the constant raider attacks on churches where the “activists” even beat old women and throw them out of churches. “There’s no way a normal person can be okay with this,” he said.
Speaking at the prayer vigil outside the administration building, Met. Melety addressed the state’s interference in Church matters: “The government interfered in Church matters, as if we lived in the Middle Ages, as if we don’t have a constitution where Article 35 states that Ukraine is a secular state, that the Church is separate from the state and officials of any level must not interfere in Church affairs.”
The disturbance in Bukhovina caused by the secular authorities is painful, the hierarch said. “That is why we are here today, to tell our authorities that we do not agree what they are doing. We are not cattle, we are the people of Ukraine. And we have declared these days that a government that makes the Church a dividend for itself should not be in Ukraine,” Met. Melety said.
The diocesan press service has posted a video of the entire procession:
And a video from the round-the-clock prayer vigil, with the reading of the Psalter and Akathists:
Follow us on Facebook!