Kiev, September 12, 2022
The Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra and the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra are the holiest sites in Ukraine. The Kiev Caves Lavra, in particular, is the birthplace and heart of Rus’ monasticism.
Both sites have been state-owned since Soviet times but are leased to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Thus, they have been the target of schismatics and nationalists for years.
For example, in January 2019, just after the creation of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko talked in an interview about how Poroshenko-era laws about the forced renaming of Churches can be used to seize the Lavras from the canonical Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
Late last month, local deputies of the Ternopil Province appealed to the Rada to kick the UOC out of the Pochaev Lavra.
And on Thursday, September 8, Deputy Andrei Bogdanets of the Servant of the People faction registered a bill with the Verkhovna Rada calling for the Cabinet of Ministers to transfer both Lavras to the free use of the schismatic OCU.
If the bill is adopted, the Cabinet of Ministers must inform the Verkhovna Rada about its implementation within three months.
The Deputy is calling for the transfer “in order to protect the national interests of Ukraine,” given the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the resolution reads.
The explanatory note to the bill argues that, “The Pochaev-Holy Dormition and Kiev Caves Lavras are used monopolistically by the Moscow Patriarchate, which, despite changes in the charter, remains part of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).” The Lavras are used by the Kremlin for propaganda purposes, the note contends.
His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye responded to the bill, comparing the submitting deputy to those who beheaded St. John the Baptist.
“The new followers of Herodias and Salome have stricken out this time not against St. John the Forerunner, but against the Mother of God herself,” he writes.
“How mad, and what collaborators with the aggressor do you have to be in order to, in a country where a war is on, when on the front are tens of thousands of parishioners of the UOC, in a country where rivers of blood are flowing, where people are losing their homes—to begin yet another war, a religious war. After all, this spilled blood will be not only on those who started this war, but also on those who ignite it from within; on those who provoke the division of the people and sow religious strife.”