Kiev, March 14, 2023
The brotherhood of the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra has no intention of obeying the illegal demand of the Ukrainian state requiring them to leave their holy habitation by the end of the month.
“We don’t intend and we won’t be kicked out, because there are laws now on the side of man. And to threaten us, that they’ll crack down on us—it’s not 1917. Today there’s a world community; there’s a kind of culture,” His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod, the abbot of the holy monastery, said in a video address published by the monastery yesterday.
The territory of the monastery is divided into the Upper and Lower Lavra, both of which are state-owned. The Church was already kicked out of the Upper Lavra at the end of last year, when its lease ended and the state refused to renew it. However, in the case of the Lower Lavra (the location of the actual Caves, the monastic cells, and the theological schools), the state is simply breaking the lease with the Church.
According to the abbot, the brethren aren’t against a legal inspection of the monastery, which is state-owned and leased to the Church, but only against illegal actions and an illegal inspection.
However, the state commission has already shown that it doesn’t intend to carry out an unbiased examination of the territory of the Lower Lavra. According to the notice of expulsion sent on March 10, the monastery was to appoint several representatives to participate in the work of the commission. However, the commission, in fact, showed up unannounced yesterday, without the knowledge of the monastery.
“No one presented any documents of who they are,” Met. Pavel said. “Out of the group, we know only one employee of the [Lavra] museum. But they were supposed to let us know before they came, so we could open up the buildings and show them the churches. But there was none of this.”
“We’re not collaborators, we’re citizens of the state,” Met. Pavel said. “We’ve been living here since 1988, and many of us have no other place to go. We’ve given our youth, our life here.”
“And no one will be able to tear us away from the love of God,” the hierarch-abbot affirmed.
Nor can the faithful be torn away from the love of God, as testified to by the thousands upon thousands of Orthodox faithful who filled the Lavra on Sunday after it became known that the state intends to arbitrarily evict the monks.
“Yesterday’s celebration was a testimony of people of good will, people who remember their history, who live according to the Gospel,” he said, calling on all Orthodox Christians to strengthen their prayers.
In particular, he called on the faithful to read the Psalms of the 9th and 17th kathismas. “The Lord will hear us, because it’s no longer possible to tolerate this. Sanctions have been imposed, citizenship is being taken away, but they won’t be able to do this to the whole of Ukraine, with all the faithful.”
Speaking on live TV over the weekend, Minister of Culture Alexander Tkachenko intimated that the Orthodox monks can stay in the Lavra if they leave the Church and join the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
However, the brotherhood of the Lavra has repeatedly reaffirmed its loyalty to Christ in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as recently as late January.
At the same time, the monastery also appealed to all Orthodox monasteries throughout the world to pray for the persecuted Kiev Caves Lavra.