Kiev, November 30, 2018
His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, the abbot of the Kiev Caves Lavra gave a briefing at the monastery yesterday in which he addressed the current situation with the inventory being taken at the monastery and about the state’s attitude towards the Church in general.
The special commission arrived unannounced at the Lavra yesterday to begin taking inventory of the sacred items that had been given to the monastery since it was reopened in 1988.
“There are many questions today about whether the actions of our state officials against the Church are lawful. To some extent, they are unlawful. There is pressure on me personally, there are threats, all sorts of attacks—and not just on me, but on other bishops and priests too. Why? I don’t know. But for me the main thing is that peace would reign in our country and that the truth would prevail in our country,” Met. Pavel said, as reports the official site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
He further noted that several cases have been opened against him as a citizen of Ukraine, though he stressed he has “never been against the sovereignty of the state,” but conversely, “stood on the foundations of independence in 1991.”
Met. Pavel, in particular, along with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and several other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church, has been added to the government site Mirotvorets, which publishes personal information on those deemed enemies of Ukraine. Moreover, the Lavra has repeatedly been the target for nationalist-schismatics who openly declare their desire to take it over.
“I want to assure you: I am a citizen of our country, I am a son of Ukraine, no matter what anyone says. I want our patriots to be truly patriots, not in word, but in deed,” Vladyka encouraged.
And commenting on the threats against the monastery and his person, he commented: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were searches and harassments.”
It is even more difficult for the Pochaev Lavra right now, as the Ukrainian government first canceled the registration of its buildings to the monastery, then abolished the agreement whereby the buildings were given to the use of the monastery.
And on the matters of the granting of autocephaly and the removal of anathemas he stressed: “The state has no right to interfere in these matters, because these questions should be resolved at the Church level.”
The separation of Church and state is enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution, but the Ukrainian president and parliament still petitioned Constantinople to create an autocephalous church in Ukraine. At least three separate suits have been brought against the Ukrainian state precisely for its religious interference, and a group of Ukrainian Deputies recently called for an investigation into the persecution against the Ukrainian Church by Ukrainian officials.
Concerning the situation with the inspection and inventory by a special commission of the sacred objects and Church valuables in the Lavra, he commented: “I can’t say it’s an inventory. I don’t know why the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture issued an order now to check all the rarities that were given to the Kiev Caves Lavra in 1988 and until 2000.”
Vladyka Pavel also explained that he met with the commission, that included representatives of the Ukrainian Security Service, the Ministry of Culture, and the National Historical-Cultural Reserve of the Kiev Caves Lavra, and they came to an agreement that one group went to the Far Caves, another to the Near, and churches can be checked at any time. Since many people visit the Lavra, the abbot asked that the inventory be taken after 5:00 PM, which the commission agreed to do.
“We simply fulfilled the decision of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine,” Met. Pavel said.
Finally, the abbot urged journalists not to distort facts but to do everything to unite the country. “Today we should not create squabbles but unite for our future. Let us pray together that the Lord would preserve our state,” Met. Pavel concluded.
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