Ukraine, July 31, 2020
The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church welcomes the agreement on a full and comprehensive ceasefire in Donbass that went into effect on Monday, July 27, and asks its faithful children to pray that this will be the beginning of the end of the war in eastern Ukraine, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary, the Chancellor of the UOC, commented on his Facebook page.
There are those among the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” who feel differently, however.
The ceasefire was decided upon at a regular meeting of the trilateral contact group (Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) on July 22.
It is symbolic that the ceasefire began precisely on July 27, Met. Anthony writes, as in previous years hundreds of thousands of Orthodox believers traditionally went on a cross procession in Kiev in honor of the Baptism of Rus’ on that day, offering fervent prayers for the cessation of the fighting in eastern Ukraine and the establishment of peace throughout Ukraine.
“This agreement provides all of us with a good opportunity to make significant progress on this path. We very much hope that from now on there will be no more deaths and injuries on the frontline, as well as in the zone of direct contact between the parties,” Met. Anthony writes.
The faithful of the UOC must now thank God in prayer and ask Him to maintain the peace, the UOC Chancellor exhorted.
“Peacemaking is very difficult, but it is still the only true and correct way, because it is pleasing to God. After all, as St. Basil the Great said, nothing is more characteristic of a Christian than to be a peacemaker; for this, the Lord has promised us His greatest reward,” His Eminence concluded.
For his part, His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's representation to European International Organizations, emphasized that forgiveness is the only sure path to peace and unity in eastern Ukraine.
The UOC has called for peace, mutual understanding, and finding common ground since the very beginning of the conflict, the bishop recalled.
True forgiveness, that enters into and takes root in the human heart, defeats even the devil, Bp. Viktor said. And the UOC will continue to pray for peace until it is finally established in Ukraine, he said, recalling that the UOC has 5 dioceses and about 1,000 parishes on land not controlled by Ukraine.
On the other hand, there are those within the schismatic OCU who do not welcome the ceasefire, but rather see it as a betrayal of Ukraine.
“Archbishop” Athanasy Shkurupy, the schismatic hierarch of Kharkov, accused President Vladimir Zelensky of treachery and called for an armed uprising and a public trial of “Putin’s henchmen.”
Writing on his Facebook page, he also spoke about dreaming of taking up a sniper rifle and pulling the trigger.
“Since the spring of last year [when Zelensky was elected—O.C.], I have been constantly singing these words: ‘I look through the scope and I wonder why I’m not a sniper, why I don’t shoot,’” he wrote.
And this feeling only became stronger after the “terrible betrayal” of President Zelensky and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the “hierarch” continued.
When parishioners tried to remind him that a cleric is called to pray and preach, not to fight, he responded that Ukraine is in danger, so “just to pray is not enough.”
“A cross in one hand and a machine gun in the other! Do you want my mother to be beaten while I just pray and see what happens?” Shkurupy asks.
“I’m surprised the youth are so passive,” he added.
Later, he also called for an armed uprising against President Zelensky. He writes excitedly:
Zelensky betrayed the Ukrainian state! The leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has betrayed its troops! Ukrainians, are we going to tolerate this and once again surrender to the enemy, forever burying the possibility of having our own state? Why are politicians silent? Why are nationalist organizations silent? Why is the Committee Against Capitulation silent? Why are Ukrainians silent? Will we again cover ourselves with the shame of capitulating? Let Putin's henchmen come under the judgment of the people’s wrath!!!