Ukraine, March 4, 2022
Attacks and fake news about the canonical Ukrainian Church
Last week, OrthoChristian reported on increased threats, violent attacks, and media manipulation against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, such cases have continued in various places.
Fake reports about weapons and ammunition being stored in churches and monasteries continue. Special Services and local police and authorities inspected Holy Dormition-Svyatogorsk Convent in the village of Zimno, Volyn Province, following up on such a report, though no weapons or anyone or anything suspicious was found. Meanwhile, the nuns pray for peace every day and are ready to house up to 50 refugees.
Police in Rivne have also refuted the constant reports they are receiving of weapons and saboteurs supposedly being concealed in monasteries and churches.
The website of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra was blocked after false accusations that the monastery is raising money illegal armed groups. Ironically, the block prevented the monastery from hosting its appeal to Patriarch Kirill to call on Russian authorities to stop the war in Ukraine.
In general, the Ukrainian Security Service has announced that there is a massive campaign of fake news and fake accusations underway against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which destabilize the internal situation in the country.
Meanwhile, Uniate and schismatic priests have seized and blocked several churches and a monastery in the Ivano-Frankivsk Diocese, and clergy and parishioners in Gorodok, Lvov Province, have been accused of anti-Ukrainian activities, and the Church banned.
Though it is lamentable that such assistance is needed, it is good to see that the Church in Ukraine and in many other countries has massively mobilized to offer all possible humanitarian aid to those suffering in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighboring countries. There are far more stories than OrthoChristian is able to cover.
In the Ukrainian Nizhyn Diocese, hierarchs, monastics, and volunteers have provided hot meals to hundreds of refugees and local servicemen, and the same is true all across Ukraine. Clergy of the Odessa Diocese recently delivered food to a local orphanage that had run out and was in urgent need. An infirmary and shelter were also established at a convent in Odessa. The Kiev Caves Lavra is supplying local orphanages and hospitals with food.
The Ukrainian Church’s Synodal Department for Social and Humanitarian Affairs has launched a project, “The Church Helps,” to connect those in need and those who can help.
Dioceses and monasteries throughout Russia are also taking care of refugees and raising funds for those who are suffering. The Church’s Mercy humanitarian aid service managed to raise 10 million rubles ($89,750) in 5 days, used to provide 10.5 tons of food and necessary items to various regions to help refugees. Another 1 million rubles ($8,975) was sent by the Synodal Department for Charity to the Shakhty Diocese, and funds will be collected in all churches of the Russian Church on the next three Sundays. As of earlier this week, more than 18,000 refugees had received assistance in 30 dioceses from the Synodal Department.
ELEOS, the Polish Church’s humanitarian agency is actively raising funds for refugees in Poland. As OrthoChristian previously reported, the Orthodox Church in America has partnered with ELEOS to help those in need, and funds have already been sent to ELEOS from the Finnish Orthodox Church. The Polish Church has already provided several shipments of goods for refugees and those suffering within Ukraine. The Orthodox faithful have also opened their houses to refugees.
The Church is also raising funds and collecting food, toys, medical supplies, blankets, and other necessities in Slovakia.
35 tons of aid the Czech Republic and the Church in Romania was recently delivered to Chernivtsi in Ukraine, and another 35 tons was sent by the Romanian Church for refugees and soldiers in Rivne, Ternopil, and Zhytomyr. The site of the Romanian Orthodox Church features many such stories. Dioceses, monasteries, and churches are also offering free medical services to refugees, collecting toys for refugee children, housing refugees, and much more.
Both the Romanian and Russian Churches in Moldova are also doing all they can to provide housing, food, medicine, and all necessities to refugees there.
Monasteries in Bulgaria are also opening their doors to refugees. Help is also coming from the Church of Greece. For example, residents of Thessaloniki sent off a truck full of food, medicine, clothes, shoes, and blankets for those suffering in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, with attacks and fighting in several cities throughout Ukraine, several churches have been caught in the crossfire and damaged.
In Kharkov, windows, liturgical utensils, and decorations were damaged at the Holy Dormition Cathedral, and two other churches in the city were damaged, one severely.
The Ukrainian Church also reports on four churches in the Lugansk, Nizhyn, Kiev, and Donetsk Dioceses being damaged, and another in the city of Lysychansk.
Of course, the most important and terrible consequences of the war are the people who have been injured and killed, including soldiers on both sides, Ukrainian citizens who have been armed, and those who have been caught in the crossfire.
Amidst Russian reports that Ukrainian nationalist battalions aren’t allowing citizens to evacuate cities where fighting has broken out, thankfully, the Russian and Ukrainian negoatiation teams were able to come to an agreement on creating evacuation corridors, including a possible temporary ceasefire as long as citizens are being evacuated.
Among the civilian casualties is Hieromonk Theodosy (Goncharov), 45, of the Holy Trinity Church in the village of Grabovka in the Chernigov Diocese, who died of a shrapnel wound.
The handmaiden of God Elena, a chanter at the Theophany Cathedral in the center of Gorlovka, which is among the church’s damaged, died in the hospital on February 28.
May the memories of Hieromonk Theodosy, the handmaiden of God Elena, and all those who have died be eternal!
OrthoChristian reported earlier this week that several hierarchs and dioceses have ceased commemorating Patriarch Kirill in the Divine services, and some have even called for the process of requesting autocephaly to begin, while the UOC Chancellor has urged all to focus on prayer and not to make major decisions in such trying and emotional times.
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