Looks like Zelensky’s goons will not get it without a fight.
The clock is ticking towards high noon as Zelensky’s government persecution apparatus squares off against the monks of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. We reported earlier this week about the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to summarily terminate the lease of the monks to the Lavra, which is by law technically considered state property and a museum. This came as a culmination of several months of sustained persecution where priests have been arrested, stripped in some cases of citizenship, beaten, their monasteries ransacked, and have suffered a host of other indignities.
The challenge was issued to the monks of the Lavra: “Vacate by the 29th of March.” The monks, for their part, have responded, “No.”
In both a video and statement released by the monks, they claimed that, while they had no quarrel with legitimate actions taken by the government, “such as inspections,” they reject “illegal” ones. They continued,
We do not intend to move out and will not, because now there are laws that are on the side of the person. It's not the 17th year for us to be threatened with violence. Today there is a global community, there is some kind of culture.
We haven't started praying so hard yet for the Lord to show us a miracle, but we'll probably be forced to.
We are not collaborators, we are citizens of our own country, we are people who have lived here since 1988, and many people have no other place than this. No one can tear us away from the love of God, " he said, adding that they were not provided with legal grounds for eviction.
One parishioner, emboldened by the stalwart decision of the monks, said the schismatics should find a plot of land "in the open field. Our shrines belong to us."
The Ukrainian government, for its part, stated through Minister of Culture and Information Policy Alexander Tkachenko how the monks could stay in the monastery, speaking of priests who had transferred from the UOC to the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). So the monks can stay if they turn schismatic. The monks, being monks, are not remotely considering this “option.”
Patriarch Kirill also released a video and statement strongly condemning the actions, reminding that the Lavra is the “first monastery of the Kieven Rus, existing since the 11th century,” and thus is the wellspring of monasticism for all the Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian peoples. He calls it the “cradle of our civilization and national culture.”
He condemned the Zelensky regime for violating the monastery, comparing it to the militantly atheist, godless Soviet regime, which was the only time before now monks were evicted from the monastery. He also pointed out the hypocrisy of the regime, for declaring its dedication to Western, liberal values while at the same time trying to violently oppress a disliked religious body, one that just happens to include most of the population of Ukraine.
The Patriarch insisted the world turn its attention to the monstrous persecution,
I call for every effort to be made to prevent the forced closure of the monastery, which will lead to the violation of the religious freedom rights of millions of Ukrainian believers, guaranteed by Ukraine’s constitution, as well as such documents as the United Nations charter and many other acts of international significance.
One might think that Zelensky, being Jewish, would reflect upon the fate that has visited his own co-religionists in recent history who simply wanted to practice their religion in peace, but were violently persecuted for doing so. Or perhaps one might think that, not being a Christian, he would have no interest in inter-Christian squabbles. But interestingly, nothing could be further from the truth. Declaring the need to strengthen the “spiritual independence” of Ukraine, whatever that means, he ruthlessly persecutes the canonical UOC. But perhaps it should come as no surprise, as many elements in his own military openly worship Hitler and Bandera, and wear symbols and chant slogans that would have chilled his grandmother’s blood. It would be interesting to know how he reconciles all of this in his mind.
But perhaps he has no say in this at all, and is simply carrying out the orders of his Western masters, the same ones that created the schism during the reign of Poroshenko who they placed into power in a coup, undermining the democracy and freedom they claim to so love in Ukraine. However, as Dr. Steve Turley points out, these moves in general are not about democracy, but about defending the liberal international order in Ukraine.
As for the secular fallout from these actions by the Zelensky government, on the one hand it might easily lead to an intensification of the conflict with Russia, as some time ago President Putin vowed to protect Orthodox monasteries and churches throughout Ukraine from any and all threats, even those emanating from inside the borders of Ukraine.
There is also the very real possibility that Zelensky’s bald persecution of Christians will shock and offend conservative Western and American Christians in the countries that Zelensky relies on for money and aid. He could, at a stroke, manage to turn a sizable portion of the Western population against him and cause them to lean toward supporting Russia, which has openly allied itself with traditionalist Christianity. And when those conservative Christians, angered by the naked persecution of their co-religionists, put pressure on their governments to not continue to support the Zelensky regime, what then?