Bancheny, Chernivtsi Province, Ukraine, September 14, 2023
His Eminence Metropolitan Longin of Bancheny of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a beloved hierarch and father to 100s of orphans, announced on Tuesday that the state’s investigation against him has finished, and the matter will now go to court.
Though officially recognized as a Hero of Ukraine for his efforts to help hundreds of orphans, the state now considers him an enemy because he staunchly remains within the Orthodox Church. He is being accused of “inciting religious enmity”—the same phony charge being brought against a number of Orthodox hierarchs.
In a video published on the YouTube channel of the Holy Ascension Monastery in Bancheny, where the hierarch serves as abbot, he announced that he will soon be tried in court and gave a strong Christian example of how to behave amidst persecution.
“It’s a great joy when you taste these bitter trials... If I go to prison, I don’t care, because, most importantly, we suffer for our faith,” Met. Longin said. The Orthodox faith teaches that if we receive suffering with a good spiritual disposition, it unites us to Christ, Who suffered for us, and purifies us of our passions.
“Today is a joyful day for me!... The most important thing is that we are suffering for our faith! For our Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the hierarch reiterated. He also asks that the Lord might have mercy upon his persecutors.
“My ancestors went to this Church, they were saved in this Church, I was baptized in this Church, and I ask God that I might die in this faith and in the purity of the Orthodox faith, our canonical Church—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry,” His Eminence said, calling on all believers to remain faithful to God no matter what.
“We are Ukrainians, we were born here, we live here! I want to tell you that we are suffering for our Church, for our faith in God! We are worthy of suffering, although we are sinful people. But the Lord is kind; He sees everything,” the Metropolitan said, returning to the salvific nature of suffering.
The authoritative hierarch also gave an example of forgiveness, saying he hugged the investigator and his prosecutor, holding nothing against them. “Do what you have to do—I love you and I bless you that the Lord God might always protect you,” the hierarch told them.
He also entreated the prayers of all the faithful, “so that I can go through all these trials,” noting that he is weaker lately because of health problems. His Eminence suffered a severe stroke in July, amidst the state’s persecution against him.
He also notes that the state’s crusade against him prevents him from fully caring for his adopted children as he should. The children made a video pleading for the state to drop its persecution of their father, but their pleas were not heard by the authorities.
“But if the Lord has placed this cross on me, then the Lord loves me! And the Lord loves you too! And we must love our persecutors!”
“I bow my head before the Lord, I ask His mercy for the entire Ukrainian people! I remain faithful to my Church—the canonical UOC! I remain faithful to my ear heart and soul His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry! And I remain faithful to my homeland, my Ukraine,” the persecuted hierarch exclaimed.