Rivne, Ukraine, March 10, 2020
Despite the pressure and persecution from the government and the radical schismatic-nationalists, the clergy of the Rivne Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have stood strong in their confession of faith in Jesus Christ and His holy Orthodox Church.
Following a procession on Sunday in honor of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, His Grace Bishop Pimen of Dubna, vicar of the Rivne Diocese, told the faithful that, despite the persecutions, not a single cleric of the diocese left the Church to join the schismatics.
The clerics have thus remained true to the pledge they made in October 2018, when “the bishops, monastics, and clergy of the Rivne Diocese testified to their loyalty to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.”
Bp. Pimen noted that the celebration of the victory over all heresies is especially relevant in Ukraine, “where they want to make a lie true, where they want to pass black off as white, where they want to blacken the honor of our holy Church.”
While the past year was rather difficult, with seized churches being passed off as “voluntary transitions,” the people have shown that they will defend their holy sites, and today the churches pray for those who have departed into schism, that the Lord may guide them back to the Orthodox faith.
And such difficult times are necessary for the cleansing of the soul, Bp. Pimen told his flock.
Despite the pressure, not a single ordained cleric of the Rivne Diocese decided to join the schismatics outside the Church, Bp. Pimen said, “and this confirms the truth of the Lord.”
This pressure included multiple rounds of interrogation from the Ukrainian Security Service.
And in those places where churches have been seized, temporary churches have been set up and new churches are already being built.
But, His Grace stressed, the triumph of Orthodoxy is not in mere numbers, but in the love with which Christians conquer the evil in the world. “We must stand and we will stand, because our faith is correct and our Lord in the Trinity is the indivisible Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” the hierarch said.
It was previously reported that all parish communities in the diocese have remained faithful to the Church, although some have been deprived of their church building.
In the summer of 2018, clergy from the Rivne Diocese delivered 300,000 signatures of Ukrainian faithful to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, pleading with it not to interfere in Ukrainian Church life, though their voices were not heard.