Vinnitsa, Ukraine, March 28, 2022
There is an external enemy today, but those who violently seize properties from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church also constitute an internal enemy, says the head of the canonical Vinnitsa Diocese.
The schismatics and nationalists need to understand that the people of the Ukrainian Church are Ukrainians who are praying for their people and nation, His Eminence Metropolitan Barsanuphius says in a video appeal with priests of his diocese.
According to the clerics, in this difficult time, unity is needed, not internal fighting over churches.
The Vinnitsa Diocese has been one of the most embattled in Ukraine since the creation of the OCU, as its former hierarch, Simeon Shostatsky, was one of only two Orthodox bishops to leave the Church and join the schismatics.
At least 6 churches have been seized within the diocese since the fratricidal war began a month ago.
“We are Ukrainians. We were born here, we grew up here. We live here, we pray here for the whole Ukrainian people. We are defending our Ukrainian land today, defending our people,” they say.
“We live here, we pray for the entire Ukrainian people, for those who have no roof over their heads, for those who help the disadvantaged. From Russian aggression. We see an external enemy. And the internal enemy, who today calls himself a Ukrainian with us, puts on a vyshyvanka [a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt—OC], but commits outrages, seizing churches, not giving people the opportunity to pray,” the clergy add.
“We want to appeal to everyone that we are Ukrainians,” the hierarch and priests appeal. “We must unite and gather for prayer, to defend our state, and seize churches.”