Armed security forces surround Ukrainian monastery that is home to hundreds of orphans (+VIDEO)

Bancheny, Chernivtsi Province, Ukraine, November 10, 2023

Met. Longin comforts one of his adopted daughters who was frightened by the presence of the armed men. Photo: Met. Longin comforts one of his adopted daughters who was frightened by the presence of the armed men. Photo:     

Security forces brandishing machine guns cordoned off a Ukrainian Orthodox monastery in western Ukraine yesterday, to check documents and people, allegedly part of “security” measures.

The officers arrived at the Holy Ascension Monastery in Bancheny, Chernivtsi Province yesterday morning, the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports.

According to a priest on the scene, the forces demanded to be let into the monastery to “check the monastery’s documents and identify the people who are there.” Video from the scene shows that the clergy and parishioners came to the monastery’s defense.

The monastery is run by His Eminence Metropolitan Longin, one of the most authoritative hierarchs of the UOC, who is also the adopted father to hundreds of orphans who are cared for at the monastery.

Photo: Photo:     

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 accused of “inciting religious enmity”—the same phony charge being brought against a number of Orthodox hierarchs.

His Eminence suffered a severe stroke in July, amidst the state’s campaign against him and the Church.

The Metropolitan went out to speak with the security forces yesterday, telling them that while they continually harass him, his children are dying on the front line. Speaking to one man in particular, he said:

You’ve been torturing us for two years now. Why? We serve in our state, we love our country. What do you want from us?!...

Bring my children home from the front line, and then we’ll check the monastery and my children together. They’re defending our state, Ukraine, and you’re here killing me… You’re the one who caused me to have a stroke. You handed me the official notice of suspicion and caused me to have a stroke.

Meanwhile, the faithful parishioners of the monastery came out to defend the monastery, asking the security forces to leave.

“Shame!” they chanted. “Why did you come here?” they asked. “Look how many people have come out!”

Once the armed men had left, Met. Longin recorded a video message, calling the day’s events an attack on the monastery and calling for the world community to protect the faithful of the UOC.

“The Bancheny Monastery was attacked,” he said. “Hundreds of soldiers with machine guns, SBU officers attacked us like bandits, scared all the children, surrounded everything we have. This state does not care about us, about our children.”

“My children are on the front line. 10 sons are there now, four have already become disabled,” he said.

“Let the whole world know how we suffer, how hard it is for us to live in this state. We have no rights, the constitution doesn’t protect us, the law doesn’t protect us. What have these people done wrong? Why don’t we have the right to live in this state? It’s ours. I ask everyone to come to their senses,” His Eminence added.

But in the end, the authorities are not simply fighting against men like Met. Longin, but against God, he said:

We serve this state, but for some reason we have no right to believe in God and pray in our Church… It was scary when they came to the monastery with machine guns. They came out to God with machine guns, not to me. Stop these people, because the Church is ours, God is ours. I need help now.

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