Kiev, December 14, 2022
Sanctions won’t make him love his Ukrainian homeland any less, nor will they force him into the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” says the Chancellor of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who recently found himself among a number of sanctioned hierarchs and clerics.
The powerful of this world have always sought to destroy the Orthodox faith, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary said in a video address yesterday, but they are powerless against the Church. And as members of the Church, we ever called to bear witness to Christ and His Church, even when it’s dangerous.
But whoever tries to fight God always ends up defeated himself, the Metropolitan said.
Met. Anthony came under state sanction by order of President Zelensky on Sunday. More than a dozen hierarchs and clerics of the Ukrainian and Russian Churches have been targeted so far.
Yes, the clergy and faithful can be slandered, and fake evidence can be planted against them, but ultimately this is powerless before God, Met. Anthony says in his address. What is happening to the UOC now is a repeat of what happened under Nero in the 1st century, under Diocletian in the 4th century, and under the communists of the 20th century, the UOC Chancellor noted.
Such actions aim:
First, to compromise the Church and its ministers, so that public opinion is completely set against the canonical Church and no one even thinks of defending it. And then it will be possible to safely seize churches and monasteries, remove parishes and diocesan administrations from registration.
But such designs only show that politicians are clueless about the essence of Church life, Met. Anthony explains. The faithful know their pastors in real life—it’s only possible to deceive those who don’t actually go to church.
Priests and bishops can be imprisoned or even killed, but dozens of new ones will appear in their place, Met. Anthony says, appealing to the words of the Apostle Paul: To live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).
“You can seize and close the churches of the canonical Church or transfer them to another structure, but Christians who have tasted the sweetness of the truth and love of Christ won’t go there. They’ll pray in basements, apartments, or garages. This was the case in history, and it can happen today,” the hierarch continued.
In this time of great trial, of war and aggression, the faithful must “concentrate their spiritual and physical strength to survive and win, but the most important that is that all of us, regardless of religion or political preferences, must be united,” His Eminence exhorted.
Thus it’s confusing and painful for the faithful of the UOC that state decisions today—including sanctions and the various anti-UOC bills before the Rada—seem aimed at tearing society apart, Met. Anthony emphasized.
For Met. Anthony, as a man included in the sanctions list, there are two dimensions, the first being spiritual or sacramental, as it’s a question of “evaluating [his] activity as a clergyman of the Church of Christ for whom it’s important to preserve its canonical structure.”
Truth can never be equal to falsehood, and black will never become white. Likewise, schism can never be the norm for Church life, Met. Anthony said. “The norm is the canonical foundation that preserves the unity of universal Orthodoxy.”
We can remain silent when we are personally slandered, “but when it comes to God, the truth and the Church of Christ, there can be no compromise,” His Eminence emphasizes.
The second dimension, according to Met. Anthony, is purely earthly, meaning “a democratic state doesn’t impose sanctions against its citizens. Therefore, we all have the right to seek not only God’s truth, but also human truth, although we understand how ephemeral our hopes are.”
In conclusion, Met. Anthony assures that despite the sanctions, “we will not love our homeland any less. This is the land of our ancestors and we will do everything to make it flourish, for the Ukrainian people to live in peace and love for God and neighbor.”
“Now the main thing is not to be afraid, but to boldly ask God for His all-powerful help and the grace of the Spirit of God, before which no spirit of the malice of the celestial empire can stand.”