Kiev, December 14, 2022
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine headed the annual diocesan meeting of the Kiev Diocese today, held at the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Following memorial prayers offered for the Kiev clergy who reposed over the past year, His Beatitude opened the meeting with a report on the life of the diocese in 2022.
This year’s report is different, the Ukrainian primate said, as the Church has faced two great challenges this year. First:
The situation changed significantly on February 24, when the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine began, which brought to the Ukrainian land and the Kiev Diocese the death of people, the destruction of churches, rocket attacks, and a lack of light, heat, and water. With God’s help, we have already somehow gotten used to these challenges and adapted to the latest realities. We learned how to work to the sound of an alarm and perform the necessary work in semi-darkness.
However, unfortunately, we are now faced with a new challenge—to preserve our Church—the Church of Christ—on Ukrainian soil, to preserve the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the purity of the Orthodox faith. This has to be done under the relentless information and provocative pressure of our own compatriots-citizens of Ukraine, individual representatives of state authorities.
As His Beatitude recalled, the UOC condemned the war and called for an end to bloodshed from the very first day, and there were appeals to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to help bring an end to it, but the voice of the UOC went unheard.
On May 27, the UOC held a Synod meeting, a Bishops’ Council, and a Local Council, including hierarchs, clerics, monastics, and lay representatives. In the end, significant amendments were made to the statutes on the administration of the UOC.
“In particular, the clause that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church has been removed from the statutes. Thus, not only the administrative independence of the UOC, which already existed before, was established, but also the separation from the Moscow Patriarchate was confirmed,” Met. Onuphry affirmed.
Thus, the UOC primate is no longer a member of the Russian Holy Synod, the UOC is no longer obliged to abide by the decision of ROC councils, and the clause about commemorating Pat. Kirill in the Divine services was removed from the statutes. Copies of the updated statutes were sent to the relevant state bodies.
The Metropolitan further recalled that the Council condemned the war, called for peace talks, and expressed disagreement with Pat. Kirill’s position on the war.
It also defined the conditions that would make dialogue with the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” possible, which includes the OCU stopping the seizure of churches. However, Met. Onuphry pointed out, the seizures have only increased in recent months.
In the Kiev Diocese alone, 41 parishes have been illegally reregistered, of these 22 have been physically seized, and 19 are still defending their rights in court, “suffering humiliation and violence.”
The Council also talked about the possibility of resuming the practice of making Chrism in Kiev, which the UOC Holy Synod decided to do at its session on Nov. 23.
His Beatitude also reported on the Kiev Diocese’s social service over the past year, noting that the Church remains with its people even in the most difficult of times.
Churches and monasteries are equipped with shelters, and the clergy and faithful of the diocese joined in defense of the motherland and in comprehensive assistance to soldiers, hospitals, civilians, displaced persons, and all in need. The clergy also helped evacuate people
The diocese also provided 4 cars and more than 240,000 hryvnia ($6,500) for the Ukrainian army. It also provided 31 tons of food and medicine, ammunition, and wax and paraffin for trench candles.
“Good deeds are the only wealth that everyone will take with them into eternity and which will determine the further fate of the soul. We pray that these good deeds will become the key to eternal life with God,” Met. Onuphry exhorted.
And turning to diocesan statistics, His Beatitude reported that the diocese currently has 393 parishes. Besides those that have been seized, four voluntarily joined the schismatic OCU in the past year. In total, there are 848 clerics in Kiev Diocese churches and monasteries—19 more than in 2021. The diocese has 22 monasteries—12 for men and 10 for women.
Over the past year, four churches were consecrated, though four were completely destroyed, and another 15 were damaged throughout the Kiev Province.
In conclusion, Met. Onuphry said:
We thank God for everything. I urge everyone to focus on prayer, fasting, and the responsible fulfillment of their Church duties. I ask you to support our parishioners and help each other. Let us continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and to work for the good of our state and the holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church.