Kurozvany, Ukraine, March 15, 2019
High levels of violence against the canonical Ukrainian Church continue in the aftermath of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s non-canonical interference there, creating a new “autocephalous” “church,” with clergy and faithful being physically attacked and holy churches being routinely seized by schismatics and nationalists, often with the assistance of the local authorities and police.
In one of the latest incidents, after seizing the Church of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God in Kurozvany, 25 miles east of Rivne, schismatic-nationalists also attempted to take the canonical priest’s house, as reported by the YouTube channel of the Kiev Caves Lavra.
According to the parishioners in the video, their beloved rector Archpriest Vladimir Koval was threatened. “We will bury Batiushka by evening,” said one of the parishioners, quoting one of the schismatic raiders.
“We are the religious community. We may be a little smaller, but we believe, and we have firm faith. They won’t listen to anything. It’s a shame that the power is all on their side. We are in tears. They wanted to take our priest’s house,” one of the women from the parish told the Lavra’s press service.
The parishioners themselves were also threatened during the seizure of the church. “They threatened us and shouted and called us names. It was a brutal mob,” said another parishioner, who added that she doesn’t understand why activists screaming about love for Ukraine are spending their time threatening women rather than fighting in the anti-terrorist operation zone.
During the collecting of signatures to steal the church, the activists, who are not parishioners according to Fr. Vladimir, intimidated people by asking them where they want their money to go—to Russia or to Ukraine, although the Ukrainian Church does not, in fact, send money to Moscow.
When one parishioner implored them to leave the church as it is, in honor of their ancestors who built it, the schismatic activists only started screaming, “Shame!”
The parishioners have said they will protect their priest. “We will guard Batiushka. We won’t let Batiushka out of the village!” they said. Even if something were to happen to him, Fr. Vladimir is certain that God will provide for his flock: “The Mother of God will not leave us!”
“It’s wrong to act this way with people—we’re also the community of this village. We are citizens of Ukraine. My grandfather and great grandfather and I live here, and we pray. We won’t change our faith,” one of the parishioners affirmed.
The village was visited by Brian Brown, the President of the World Congress of Families and the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, who expressed exasperation at what is happening there:
All these people were parishioners of this church. They've been kicked out. And it does not seem that this process is being properly investigated. It’s a violation of their basic right. It's amazing that so few people know about it. I think if they see this, people from all over the world will stand up for them. I hope that people will come to help, because it is a violation of the basic human right to have freedom of religion and to pray in their church… It's terrible that they put locks on the church door, and a group of young people stand at the entrance and try to prevent them from entering. See all these old women? They've been here forever. And the fact that they are prevented from entering the Church, I think it is wrong.
The schismatic-nationalist activists broken into the church on March 1, breaking the fence around the church and cutting the locks on the door, under the pretext of taking inventory. The police watching the incident did nothing to stop it. Local officials were involved in the incident, carrying off various items. They then went immediately to the priest’s house and demanded that he move out. Since March 3, the parishioners have been meeting in the priest’s house.
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