New tensions between Ukrainian and pro-Russian nationalists, among the faithful of the Kiev Autonomous Patriarchate and Orthodox of obedience to the Moscow Patriarchate. The spark: the refusal of an Orthodox church in Moscow to officiate the funeral of a child who died in an accident, because he was baptized "a heretic" in the Church of Kiev. Monks of the two Churches blocked at the Kiev caves. Mutual violence towards sacred buildings.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Another cause of conflict between Churches has exploded in Ukraine, that is to say among the supporters of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church with a national character, and those who believe that Orthodoxy is the Russia’s only instrument to affirm its influence on the Ukrainian population. Outbreaks of this new dispute have erupted in the capital Kiev, in Odessa and in the area beyond the Dnieper.
Some seemingly independent episodes, occurring in different parts of the country, are considered the metastasis of a single problem, which dates back to the attempts of the Moscow Patriarchate to act as a mediator in the political strife between Ukraine and Russia.
On January 11 the Ukrainian security services searched the headquarters of the "Orthodox Union of Radomir". Firearms and weapons were found together with anti-Ukrainian propaganda materials. The prosecutor has not only investigated the members of the association, but also some representatives of the eparchy of Beyond Dnepr (Zaporozhe) of the Ukrainian Church of Muscovite obedience, on charges of violent actions to foment religious hatred. The military established special security measures to safeguard the churches in the area dependent on the Kiev Patriarchate, objects of the attacks.
Child denied funeral because "heretical"
The spark that has ignited the conflict took place in the early days of 2018, when a priest of the Moscow church refused to celebrate the funeral of a child who died tragically in an accident, due to his "heretical" baptism in the church in Kiev. The pro-Russian metropolitan of Zaporozhe, Luka (Kovalenko) defended the priest giving rise to grievances and threats began. Some activists, with a flashmob, filled the church with a mountain of toys; on January 7 some of them were brutally beaten by members of the "Radomir".
These events triggered an escalation of mutual accusations, threats and violence on both sides and in several Ukrainian cities. On the night of January 10 the church of the Holy Protection in Chernomorsk in the Odessa region was ransacked and desecrated, and similar acts of hooliganism were directed on January 12 against the church of Our Lady of Kazan, at the Academy of Medicine in Kiev .
Moscow Churches, "Kgb offices"
On January 9 Ukrainian nationalists covered several Russian churches with offensive stickers, describing churches as "masked KGB offices". Some young people from the Ukrainian "Common League" broke into a liturgical celebration in the Trinity Cathedral of the city of Dnepr, posting the video on the internet. In the meantime, the " toys protest " spread, placing blood marked toys and garlands in churches and squares spread. The most resounding demonstration took place at the walls of the Lavra of the Kiev Caves (see photo), the "mother of monasticism" of ancient Rus', where since January 8 various nationalist groups have tried to prevent access to the sacred convent, in which there are monks of both jurisdictions, to the cry "get the KGB out of the Caves!". The superior of the Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed), came out to try to pacify the demonstrators, obtaining however the opposite effect: in the heat of the discussion, the metropolitan began to cry out that "the Crimea was never Ukrainian" , further igniting the minds of the nationalists, and also provoking the grievances of the Ukrainian government.
The "war of the bleeding child" threatens to erase all trace of the successes in the mediation between the parties obtained by the Moscow Patriarchate, which on January 4 through its Ukrainian representative, Metropolitan Onufrij of Kiev, had obtained the agreement for an exchange of 10 prisoners Russians and Ukrainians in the eastern territories, extending the agreements already reached in December, when hundreds of hostages had been exchanged. The agreement was signed last December 25 in Moscow, between Patriarch Kirill himself and some Ukrainian political leaders. The Russian Patriarch had emphatically stated that "it is here that there is our flock, our people. No one is as afflicted as the Orthodox Church, when a brother raises his hand against his brother! " Without renewing the accusations against the Ukrainian rulers, Kirill recalled the decisive role of the Church in the pacification of the parties in conflict.
The Ukrainian nationalists were only waiting for the opportunity to prove the falsity of the good intentions of the Patriarch of Moscow, and the intolerance of the Dnieper priests gave them an excellent motivation. The road towards peace between the two Churches in Ukraine is still long, despite the many letters and initiatives of the two patriarchs Kirill and Filaret.