“If you imprison him, imprison us too!”—Ukrainian diocese intercedes for its persecuted hierarch

Cherkasy, Cherkasy Province, Ukraine, September 6, 2023

news.church.ua news.church.ua     

Among the hierarchs of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church facing personal persecution by state authorities is His Eminence Metropolitan Theodosy of Cherkasy.

Like other hierarchs, he is being falsely accused of inciting religious enmity and justifying Russian aggression. The evidence included in the prosecutor’s indictment in May was that in 2020, the hierarch ordered the creation of a new diocesan website which used a template from the Russian Orthodox Church and had links to Orthodox resources in Russia such as patriarchia.ru (the official ROC site), pravmir.ru, and pravoslavie.ru.

The hierarch denies all charges and accuses the state of persecuting the entire Church.

A Cherkasy court began hearing his case late last month.

On Monday, clergy, monastics, and laity of his diocese addressed an appeal to the President, the court, and other authorities, declaring that they stand with Met. Theodosy and receive the trial against him as a trial against them as well.

“And when you judge the bishop, then judge us as well! If you want to imprison him, prepare cells for us too!” the diocese exclaims.

Read the full statement below:

To the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky,

To the state authorities of Ukraine and to the Cherkasy court,

From the clergy, monks and nuns, clerics and laity of the Cherkasy Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,

Regarding the judicial prosecution of Metropolitan Theodosius of Cherkasy and Kaniv, who governs the Cherkasy Diocese.

Christ is in our midst!

These words should sound powerful and mighty today in our suffering Ukrainian nation. Unfortunately, the influential of this world have taken a dangerous path of dividing our people into the right and the wrong, our own and strangers, “patriots” and “non-patriots”. As before, in modern times, the Church of Christ has become the most “alien” and “other”. For us believers, this is not surprising. This was said two thousand years ago: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own (Jn. 15:18-19). And not only was it said, but the Church throughout its earthly existence has experienced all the hatred and persecution of this world. And it has stood firm!

Today, the Church is experiencing not something new, but just the not-forgotten old. Many of the older clergy remember well a time when, for being a believer, one was persecuted, humiliated, judged, and locked up in psychiatric hospitals. Today again, the same methods are applied: deception, falsehood, informants, judicial prosecutions.

In connection with the meeting of the “modern-day Sanhedrin”—the trial over Metropolitan Theodosius of Cherkasy and Kaniv, we, the clergy, monks, nuns, clerics, and laity of the Cherkasy Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, feel it necessary to testify our position on this matter.

The clergy, abbots and nuns of monasteries, clerics, and laity are united with their ruling bishop, Metropolitan Theodosius. We see the judicial persecution as an attempt by the authorities to pressure the believers of the Cherkasy diocese, and many faithful members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an attempt to intimidate them. We consider the testimonies of informers and “evidence” to be fabricated and unfounded.

We perceive this trial against the Metropolitan as a trial against all of us, the thousands-strong flock of Cherkasy.

And when you judge the bishop, then judge us as well!

If you want to imprison him, prepare cells for us too!

We have one heart and one mouth in praising God, steadfastness in faith, loyalty to the Church. In our diversity as people, we maintain God-ordained love and unity among ourselves. In all trials, the believers of Cherkasy will stand together with their shepherd.

But remember: the more you persecute the Church of Christ, the stronger it becomes; the more lies, insults, and slander you inflict upon the Church, the purer and holier it will rise. We, the believers, strengthen ourselves with the words of the Savior of the world: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33). Our victory is that we are persecuted, judged, mocked, and yet we pray for those who do this. We are beaten, spat upon, cursed—and we bless them. You come to us at night with searches, with grinders, crowbars, stones, trying to take our churches and our sanctities, but you cannot take our souls. You may ban us, but you cannot steal our faith from our hearts.

We appeal to you, Mr. President! Order the immediate cessation of the artificially fabricated criminal case against Metropolitan Theodosius of Cherkasy and Kaniv and release our shepherd from arrest! The fact that he is being unjustly persecuted based on reports from “people with crowbars and grinders” is evident not only in Ukraine but in the entire Orthodox world!

We also appeal to the judges of this trial: no matter how much pressure comes “from above” and “from below”, never make false and criminal decisions! It’s better for you to lose your position and job than to lose eternal life and invoke God’s wrath. If, under the pressure of politicians, you imprison God’s bishop, neither your descendants nor history itself will forgive you.

We also call upon the entirety of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to preserve the gospel unity and love among themselves. Be steadfast in trials, fervent in prayers for the Church and our nation, quick in doing good deeds, unwavering in faith.

Glory to the One God!

Follow OrthoChristian on Twitter, Vkontakte, Telegram, WhatsApp, MeWe, and Gab!


to our mailing list

* indicates required