Chernivtsi, Chernivtsi Province, Ukraine, January 18, 2023
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Chernivtsi in western Ukraine on Sunday.
In his address, the Ukrainian primate pled with both the Russian and Ukrainian authorities to end the violence and persecution against the Ukrainian people, and to allow peace to reign.
In particular, His Beatitude expressed condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured in the attack on Dnipro on Saturday, when a Ukrainian air defense missile crashed into an apartment building, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
He stressed that whole past year has been difficult and mournful, with many people dying in the continuing war against Ukraine, including members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who “gave their lives for their land and for their people.”
His Beatitude also strengthened his flock with the words: “God is with us and the power of God keeps us. We believe that we won’t be broken by those who want to break us and that we will live and glorify God. We will enjoy peace, joy, and a quiet life.”
Turning to the Russian authorities, Met. Onuphry appealed:
For the sake of Christ, stop shooting at our people. God has given us life, and it shouldn’t be taken away from us, because he who takes someone else’s life will receive the same measure from God—he will lose his life. Even one drop of blood will have to be answered for before God. So, for the sake of Christ, stop shooting at our people, stop killing them! The Lord created us not to kill each other, but to live peacefully with each other. We are children of the same Father, and God wants us to bear with each other, to help each other, that we not bomb, but support each other. I think that our voice will be heard. I pray and ask God for this.
His Beatitude also highlighted the danger of the religious war that is currently playing out within the Ukrainian state:
A foreign war is going on. And someone is trying to make a religious war within the state to weaken the state, to weaken us, to make us vulnerable. That kingdom that is divided against itself cannot stand—these are the words of God. If someone doesn’t like something, that’s not a reason to fight against each other within the country.
At the same time, the Church is different from all human organizations, because it’s characterized by repentance and forgiveness.
“In other institutions, there is no such forgiveness: those who have sinned are imprisoned, expelled, fired from work, fined, and so on,” His Beatitude said.
“But in the Church there is forgiveness. We’re often asked that if someone has sinned, we should crucify him. We can’t do that. If we listen to those who advise us, we’ll destroy ourselves,” the Ukrainian primate warned.
And of course, there is no greater example of forgiveness than the Lord Himself, Who forgave even those who crucified Him, Met. Onuphry said.
“Where God is, there is victory, there is eternal life. So we must ask God to forgive all people their trespasses, to make amends. And only this will be the right path—the path of faith and Divine love,” His Beatitude concluded.