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Commentary of the DECR of the UOC concerning the address of the Primate of the OCU to the monks of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

On March 18, 2023, the Primate of the OCU Epiphany (Dumenko) addressed the monks of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra of the UOC with an appeal to join the OCU.

In this regard, we consider it necessary to inform the following.

We remind here that the monks of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra responded to similar statements of Epiphany on January 27, 2023. They declared there that “we were, are and will be in the Truth and faithful to our canonical Church and its Primate – His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy” and that they will not change to the OCU.

The monks that are living in the Lavra are citizens of Ukraine. They are Ukrainians that belong to the Ukrainian tradition of monasticism. It is false to interpret them as Russians, as it is often falsely declared in our mass media. In the Lavra there was no “power of the Moscow Patriarchate” and is not as well.

The manipulation and slyness of this appeal consist in the fact that, on the one hand, the author declares the need to expel the “Moscow Patriarchate” from the Lavra, to which he obviously includes the monks living in the Lavra. But on the other hand if the OCU gets the rooms of the Lavra, then the monks who, according to the Primate of the OCU, “belonged to Moscow”, will turn into “Ukrainian” and will be able to stay there on. Also, in his address, Epiphany declares his readiness to even allow the monks to pray in the “ancient Slavic language”, if only they remain in the Lavra, because it is breadly known that the OCU has very little monks. In fact, on the shoulders of the monks of the monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Primate of the OCU desires to enter the Lavra and take advantage of their many years’ work, appropriating it to his structure.

In addition, at the beginning of his address, the mentioned author claims that finally “the Ukrainian Church is returning to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra”. This is not true, because it is written in all church and state documents that it is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that nowadays performs divine services in the Lavra. There are no words “Moscow Church” or “Moscow Patriarchate” in any official church or state document. This is an artificially created cliché in the mass media, which is designed to divide Ukrainians and, unfortunately, it successfully reaches its goal. In the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, not Russian, but Ukrainian clergy perform their service.

We consider false the accusations that the Lavra allegedly “consistently and consciously has been turning into a centre for promoting the ideology of the Russian world”, that the Lavra is allegedly “an instrument of the struggle against Ukraine”. These are artificially invented clichés that have been zealously spread by the enemies of our Church for years.

The eviction of the monks from the Lavra provokes the Russians to further “protect the Orthodox”, giving them more and more arguments to justify their aggression against Ukraine, as the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov recently stated. He made it clear that “eviction of the monks from the Lavra justifies the goals of the special operation”. Therefore, when Epiphany declares that “the enemy is using this historical event to split Ukrainian unity and sow misunderstandings between us”, the question arises, who is actually giving the enemy reasons for this with such decisions and actions?

Besides, if the OCU’s “hearts were open to unity”, as the author of the appeal states, they would first of all condemn the violence against our communities and parishes, which they are committing nowadays almost all over Ukraine, and now they are slyly calling for “union”.

We want to remind, and we will always keep this memory, that the real, historical and traditional Church of Ukraine is our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has more than 1000 years of history, while the OCU was created only 4 years ago from those parts, which broke away from our Church about 30 years ago, namely the UOC KP and UAOC.

The pressure of the state authorities on our Church, artificial obstacles in its activities and the potential ban of the UOC will not contribute to restoration of unity and to dialogue with the OCU, to which they call us.

We believe that the intention to take the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and to evict its inhabitants is a violation of the right to freedom of religion and a large mistake that will have a destructive effect on the image of our state, on the unity of the Ukrainian people and on religious peace in our country.

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