Ternopil, Ukraine, March 17, 2020
Last week, His Grace Bishop Pimen of Dubna, vicar of the Rivne Diocese, stated that not a single one of the diocese’s 300 priests abandoned the Church for the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
And in a recent interview, His Eminence Metropolitan Sergei of Ternopil announced that although 25 churches in the diocese have been seized by schismatic radicals, they were unable to persuade a single priest to abandon the Church.
“We thank God that although more than 25 churches were taken away from us, all the priests remained faithful to the Church of Christ with their faithful flock and continue their ministry in any conditions,” the Metropolitan said on the program Stained Glass Windows: On Faith in Colors.
But despite the hostility against them, the faithful of the canonical Church continue to manifest Christian virtues: “And what’s most important—may God preserve it—they are trying to be at peace not only with each other, but also with those through whom the enemy has deprived them of their external temples. But they protect the temple of their souls.”
And moreover, according to Met. Sergius, the people and clergy have embraced the persecutions as their path to the strengthening of their faith.
“The people realized that they couldn’t stay in those churches, because the peace of God was lost there. People had succumbed to the influence of the evil one there, which is manifested by evil. Therefore, the people followed the words of the Prophet David: Depart from evil, and do good (Ps. 33:15),” explained Met. Sergei.
The hierarch stressed that the people continue to gather to celebrate the services, though in different locations now, and that they do not get angry but live in peace with one another, confirming that they live by the grace of God.
“We thank God that there are such people, such priests. It means the Lord lives! The faith is alive!” Met. Sergei concluded.