Kiev, January 31, 2023
The abbot and brethren of the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra are calling upon all Orthodox monastics throughout the world to pray for peace in Ukraine and for the persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The appeal comes just a few days after the brotherhood reaffirmed its loyalty to the Orthodox Church and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, against the claims of the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko that many of the monks are ready to switch to his organization.
The English text of the statement, as published by the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, reads in full:
To: All Monasteries of
Local Orthodox Churches
honorable fathers, mother abbesses, brothers and sisters!
The clergy and monastic brothers of the Holy Dormition Kyiv Caves Lavra appeal to you asking for your prayers for peace in our country in these dark hours of war and the painful ordeal for Ukrainian people. We ask you for support and protection from persecution and discrimination which are being committed in Ukraine against the faithful members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has had autonomy and independence in its administration and organization since 1990, being the largest religious confession in Ukraine according to the number of religious communities and church members. With great pain we have to state the facts that the legal registration of Charters and Amendments to the Charters of our church organizations has been blocked by the relevant state authorities following the inquiries of the leaders of the new “alternative” Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). Now numerous searches are carrying out, criminal suits are being brought, sanctions are being imposed, bank accounts are blocked, all kinds of obstacles are created to hinder divine services, churches are being seized in illegal and forcible way, clergymen and parishioners are being beaten and expelled. It is OCU which registers its organizations with identical names on the holy sites of our Church and make a raider seizure of them, even though under the Ukrainian law “all religions, denominations and religious organizations are equal before the law, the establishment of any advantages or restrictions of one religion, denomination or religious organization in relation to others is not allowed.”
And just like that all the faithful children of our Church are being invited to return to these seized churches and pursue a spiritual life under the leadership of a new confession (OCU). Even if we do not delve into the problem of the canonicity of this or that church, we still cannot answer a simple question: is it possible for any Christian to pray in a church with the robbers who forced the members of the Body of Christ out of this shrine?
We inform you that now we do not have the right to conduct services in the largest churches of Kyiv Caves Lavra, namely: The Church of the Venerable Anthony and Theodosius of Pechersk with the Refectory Chamber (that was completely restored with our efforts) and the Dormition Cathedral (or the Great Church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary), that was literally raised from the ruins by us - the greatest Orthodox shrine in the world. Since the 7th of January 2023, OCU has been conducting services there.
On behalf of the monastics of the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church, we ask for your holy prayers for peace, as well as to raise your voice with an appeal to those in power to put an end to the incitement of interfaith hatred in our long-suffering country.
May the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the prayerful Intercession of the Mother of God and all the Saints of the Kiev Caves be with us all.
Metropolitan of Vyshgorod and Chornobyl,
Vicar Bishop to Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,
Head of the Commission on Monasteries of The Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
Superior of The Holy Dormition Kyiv Caves Lavra,
with the brethren
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