Schismatics in the Lavra is a national disgrace, says UOC

Kiev, January 5, 2023

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The schismatics holding services in the sacred Kiev Caves Lavra will be a great shame for all of Ukraine, says the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Late last month, the state refused to renew the lease agreements for the Orthodox Church to continue using the main churches of the Upper Lavra, which the Ukrainian state inherited as a museum from the Soviet Union. The Church held its last service in the Upper Lavra on New Year’s Eve.

Yesterday, it was announced that the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” will celebrate Nativity in the Lavra’s Holy Dormition Cathedral on Saturday.

The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the broader Orthodox Church recognizes the OCU, created by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the Ukrainian and U.S. governments in late 2018, as graceless and unordained schismatics who trace back to the defrocked and anathematized “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko and other unordained and schismatic “hierarchs.”

The UOC press service commented to the Ukrainian outlet Klymenko Time:

This event will be a major disgrace for Ukraine. Unlike other cases with the seizure of our churches by supporters of the OCU, in this case, the raiding takes place directly by order of the highest authorities. The Local Churches abroad would be surprised, to put it mildly, by the state of the freedom of conscience and right to religious confession in our country.

According to Ukrainian Minister of Culture Alexander Tkachenko, the Holy Dormition Cathedral and the Trapeza Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius, on the territory of the Upper Lavra, were transferred to the temporary use of the [canonical] UOC in 2016, but the lease agreement ran out on December 31.

Now the churches have been returned to state use, the Minister said. “This Ukrainian holy site must serve the whole Ukrainian people. We will follow this principle in the future.”

At the same time, the head of the Kiev Caves Lavra Museum-Reserve, Alexander Rudnik, notes that the UOC still has use of the Lower Lavra, where the Caves are located, and which has also has several churches on its territory.

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