Ukraine, April 5, 2023
As Orthodox Christians continue to flock to the Kiev Caves Lavra by the thousands to protect their holy sites, battles for other churches continue to rage throughout Ukraine.
In the past several days, schismatics and nationalists, perhaps incensed by the failure to evict the Lavra monks, have physically seized a number of churches throughout the country and adopted anti-Orthodox resolutions in city and provincial councils.
In at least one place, a priest had to be urgently hospitalized after the violent attack of a group of schismatics.
On Sunday, April 2, a man dressed in a military uniform entered the Holy Protection Cathedral in Khmnelnitsky and attacked the protodeacon during the reading of the Gospel, knocking the holy book to the ground. He was physically removed from the church by the altar servers.
Although it later became clear that the man in fact has no connection to the military, his provocation was effective, with video of a UOC altar server handling a supposed soldier roughly making the rounds of social media.
Later that day, about 500 anti-Orthodox activists stormed the cathedral to physically seize it. The raiders later staged a fake vote to “transfer” the church to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
The Khmelnitsky City Council then voted yesterday to deprive the UOC of the rights to the land plots on which seven different churches, a monastery, and the diocesan administration sit, thus fulfilling the desire of Mayor Alexander Simchishin to seize every church away from the UOC.
The same day, the Khmelnitsky Provincial Council declared a ban on the activities of the Church throughout the Province, taking the incident with the fake military provocateur as their justification.
It’s believed that schismatic radicals are also planning to physically seize the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the oldest church in Khmelnitsky, this evening.
The deputies of the Kamenets-Podolsky City Council had the same idea as their Khmelnitsky counterparts and decided yesterday to deprive the Church of 20 land plots in their jurisdiction, calling the UOC “the enemy Church.”
They also appealed to the President, the Parliament, and the Cabinet of Ministers of the Khmelnitsky Provincial Administration to completely ban the Moscow Patriarchate, thus showing their ignorance of the fact that the UOC separated itself from the Moscow Patriarchate nearly a year ago.
In Novy Korets, in the Rivne Diocese, schismatics cut off the locks of the St. Paraskeva Church last night and forcefully expelled the Orthodox faithful. Criminal proceedings regarding the forging of documents to justify the seizure of the church have been opened.
In the village of Zadubrokva, in the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese, cut off the door to the altar of the Archangel Michael Cathedral, broke into the church, and began beating the faithful during the funeral for a Ukrainian soldier.
The police were called but didn’t respond.
Archpriest Vitaly Durov had to be urgently hospitalized as a result of the attack. Cathedral parishioners had been keeping a round-clock-prayer vigil for several years and had managed to thwart several previous seizure attempts.
And in Lvov, another group of radical schismatics interrupted the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of St. George and forcefully expelled the parishioners. The local administration announced a [fake] parish vote to transfer the church to the schismatics, while the Lvov Diocese affirms that the parishioners, in fact, remain faithful to Orthodoxy.