Podgorica, Montenegro, March 3, 2020
While politicians, nationalist, and schismatics have their own vision for Ukraine that they try to implement, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry dreams of a Ukraine where love for Christ comes first.
During his recent visit to Montenegro, Met. Onuphry gave an interview to the Svetigora radio station on February 28, in which he spoke of the persecution against Church both in Ukraine and in Montenegro, and of his vision for Ukraine, among other things.
The text of his interview has been published by the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“Of course, it is sad for us that there are people who are tempted to believe the slogans and promises given to them” by politicians and those who have their own self-interests at heart, His Beatitude commented.
“We are sad because Christ does not want us to be politicians, Christ wants us to love each other, not to fight against each other, to respect each other, to love each other as we are,” he said. “But in their case, political motives take over.”
While such people tout themselves as Ukrainian patriots today, it is not so, Met. Onuphry believes. “He who loves himself more than others is not a patriot, but a conceited and proud man, who does not good for anyone—neither himself nor those around him.”
Such people are attempting to build Ukraine according to their own distorted values, “but I am also building Ukraine,” the Ukrainian primate said. “But I see Ukraine completely differently than they do. I see a Ukraine that has Christ, where love for Christ is in first place, and we love one another in Christ, help one another, and love all people.”
“That is how I want to see Ukraine,” the patriotic Met. Onuphry affirmed.
Accordingly, everything in the Church must be done with love, His Beatitude emphasized. Referring to the schism in Ukraine and the present crisis precipitated by the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s inept interference in Ukrainian Church life, he recalled:
You know that back in 1991, I withdrew my signature from the request for autocephaly, which the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was forced to sign then under pressure from Philaret [Denisenko—OC.com]. This is precisely why—because this request was written as an ultimatum, as a non-ecclesiastical and political demand. It shouldn’t be this way in the Church. In the Church, everything should be resolved with love! And all initiatives should come not from politicians, but from the Church itself.
However, the canonical Church holds no resentment against those politicians who oppose it and seek to rebuild it according to their own desires, Met. Onuphry said. “We do not take offense at these politicians, but we tell them that the Church was created by Christ and the Church is governed by Christ. Christ is God, He is perfect, and what God created does not require correction.”