Chronicles of Ivano-Frankivsk massacre: does anyone else want to join the OCU?

29 March 2023 14:20
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Parishioners and priests were gassed during the seizure in Ivano-Frankivsk. Photo: UOJ Parishioners and priests were gassed during the seizure in Ivano-Frankivsk. Photo: UOJ

The OCU and authorities raided the last UOC temple in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. Believers were sprayed with nerve gas. Does anyone else want to unite with Dumenko?

On March 28, 2023, a shocking event occurred, even by the standards of military Ukraine. In Ivano-Frankivsk, the OCU, with the help of the authorities, raided the last UOC church in the region. And the word “raided” is not an exaggeration at all.

First, the bandits cut off the fence gate with a grinder, then knocked it out with several blows. An aggressive crowd burst into the territory and cordoned off the temple.

Some of the believers locked themselves in the temple, some prayed on the porch and stairs. The crowd chanted "Glory to the nation - death to the enemies!" The believers answered "Glory to God!" The "priests" of the OCU tried to break through up to the doors, but the parishioners did not let them through.

But soon part of the assaulters broke open the side doors and rushed inside. They sprayed tear gas and drove out the priests and believers of the UOC who were inside. Gas was sprayed right in the face of Secretary of the diocese, Fr. Vasyl Romaniuk. He lost consciousness and fell. The priest was taken out of the temple and hospitalized.

The bandits opened the central doors and pushed the believers down the stairs. To the sobbing of parishioners, the crowd knocked out the doors to the refectory. The ruling bishop, Bishop Nikita, and his parishioners were pushed out of the territory. The last temple of the UOC in the Ivano-Frankivsk region was seized. Everything happened within an hour, the police did not interfere with the bandits. And this is understandable. After all, Mayor Ruslan Martsynkiv led the takeover. He pathetically announced that the Ivano-Frankivsk region is the first in Ukraine to be "cleansed" from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Ruslan Martsynkiv, mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk: “This is a great event for us. Ivano-Frankivsk is the first region to be completely freed from the Moscow Patriarchate today.”

The penultimate Transfiguration temple of the UOC in the city was demolished by excavators in January 2022. Therefore, all the believers of the city prayed in the Nativity Cathedral, the community of which has more than 300 people. There were not a single person here to support Dumenko. The people who were sent to the temple by the mayor Martsinkiv under the guise of the OCU community are figureheads who were supervised by his assistant, the Greek Catholic Hrushetska. After the authorities illegally re-registered the UOC temple in favor of the OCU, the parishioners turned to the police, the SBU, and even to the President. Nobody protected them. Eventually, on March 28, a violent takeover took place.

In the situation at hand, it’s not even the bandits with tear gas that’s appalling. We can’t seriously say that all these guys in balaclavas, caps and hats, walking around the ruined temple, are believers. But those who call themselves "priests" of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine are astounding.

After they, together with the authorities, pulled off a real military assault and seized someone else's temple, these people enter the altar and pray. To whom and about what? You have taken away a sanctity from hundreds of people, deprived them of their last temple in the city and region. How can you immediately utter the name of the Mother of God and Christ and ask them for something? It's like breaking a girl's jaw with a fist and immediately asking her to marry you.

After all, lawlessness in Ivano-Frankivsk is just an ordinary episode. There are many hundreds of them now in Ukraine. Here are just a few recent cases.

On March 27, the UOC temple in Kordyshiv, Ternopil region, was bombarded with Molotov cocktails. The altar and interior decoration were completely burnt out.

March 18. During the storming of the temple of the UOC in Yurkivtsi, Chernivtsi region, a supporter of the OCU cut off part of the finger of a believer of the UOC with a crowbar. The temple was taken over.

March 22, Babyn village, Chernivtsi region. During the raid, the police with the OCU forcefully dragged the UOC priest out of the temple.

In the fall of 2022, in Pereyaslav, the “priest” of the OCU breaks open the doors of the UOC temple with a crowbar.

Now we see how, under the pretext of war, the churches are forcibly taken away from the UOC communities. The authorities, without any reason, are evicting the UOC from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in order to transfer it to the OCU. Thousands of people are being deprived of their number one shrine. Dumenko has already appealed to the government to give him a room for "prayer" in the Lavra.

And on March 28, the OCU synod registered the Pochaiv Lavra structure. For what? Right! In order to expel the monks and believers of the UOC from the Pochaiv Lavra and seize their property. As they say, nothing personal, just business. However, one can understand such methods with businessmen, albeit it’s hard to. But what does all this have to do with Christianity?

How can you pray in a seized church, when you can still hear the sobs of its owners, the people who built the church, prayed in it all their lives? Here are the words of one of the parishioners: “What shall we do without our church? I’ve just been crying all day. Easter is coming soon, and we are left without a church in the whole region. We're not people here, we're just third class."

Praying in a raided temple, even from the point of view of logic, is stupid and pointless. Is it really possible to seriously consider that God can hear such forceful “prayers”?

And this question is not even addressed to Epipfaniy Dumenko. Over the years of leadership in the OCU, he proved that it is useless to ask and beg him. It's more of a question for other people. To the one who legalized Epifaniy – to Patriarch Bartholomew. To those who recognized this person as a bishop – the heads of the Alexandrian, Greek, Cypriot Churches. To those who constantly insist that the UOC should recognize the power of Dumenko and unite with its structure.

Is it really possible to seriously expect that after such explicitly gangster actions, the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be willing to unite with the OCU? For what? To beat someone together, to rape, to seize someone else's property?

You will never find Christ telling us – blessed are those who kill and seize temples for my sake. He says differently – blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You can rant about politics for a long time, shout about patriotism and war, but Christ is one and the same 2000 years and today. His words were and are the same. Looking at modern Ukraine, it is clearly visible who follows God and who goes against His will. We are definitely not on the way with such people.

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