Address of the Hiero-Archimandrite of the Kyiv-Pechersk Holy Dormition Lavra, Epiphaniy, To the brothers of the Lavra and the public
Dear brothers and sisters, dear fellow citizens!
In connection with current events related to the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, I consider it necessary to provide an explanation of a number of issues.
First of all, it must be emphasized that there is no thought of closing the monastery, or of suspension of prayer, services, or monastic life within it. Comparing the current situation broadly with past persecution by the Communist authorities against the Church or specifically to the two times the monastery was closed by them is baseless manipulation. This sounds especially cynical coming from the lips of a hierarch who was closely connected with the Communist Party, one who even sought to be nominated for an elected position on its behalf.
For a long time, our Church, the Ukrainian state, and society attempted to persuade the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine to finally end their subordination to the Russian center, which is completely under the control of the Kremlin administration and is used as an instrument of hybrid aggression against Ukraine. In response, we witnessed only an attempt to mislead the state and society by declaring separation from the Moscow Patriarchate while actually maintaining subordination to it. Neither Metropolitan Onufriy nor the Synod headed by him took any action regarding the numerous documented acts of collaboration of their hierarchs and clergy with the Russian occupiers, or against the annexation by Kirill Gundyaev of religious structures located in the temporarily occupied territories. Instead, in the spirit of Russian propaganda, they focused on accusations against Ukraine.
Both society in general and the brothers in particular are well aware of numerous examples of how, under the leadership of the current head of the monastery, the Lavra was consistently and deliberately turned into a center for promoting the ideology of “Russkiy Mir – Russian World”, the ideology that became the foundation and now serves as the justification for Russia’s war against Ukraine. For this, that leader received and accepted an award from the Kremlin dictator, and the Russian leadership is now employing all its resources to prevent the liberation of the Ukrainian shrine from Moscow’s spiritual occupation.
I once again call on the brothers of the Lavra to contribute to the process of liberation from the Moscow yoke. We have a single Orthodox faith and belong to the single Church of Christ. The existence of Moscow’s religious structure in Ukraine is uncanonical, and all can see how the Kremlin wields it against the Ukrainian people. The Lavra should not be an instrument wielded against Ukraine, but, to the contrary, should be a place of prayer, of pious monastic life in the spirit of the fathers and ascetics of the past, a place that will spiritually inspire our fellow citizens in these difficult times.
Our hearts are open to unity. As a Hiero-Archimandrite, I testify my respect for the true pious traditions of the life of the Lavra, its liturgical traditions, for those fathers and brothers who came to this monastery for the sake of work and salvation, to every and all who does not share the ideology of “Russkiy Mir – Russian World” and the distortions it introduces into church life.
When we established this monastery of the Local Church, our Holy Synod appealed to the Government to provide premises for monastic life and services in the Lavra. This request remains pertinent, and we will insist that the monastic life, the opportunity for daily prayer and divine services are adequately provided for.
We hear baseless claims that the alleged situation surrounding the Larva is “temporary” and will soon be passed back to previous users. These statements do not correspond to the actual state of affairs.
Likewise, for many years, for decades, the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate deceived the faithful of Ukraine that Moscow would supposedly at some point in the future grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. Year after year, they proclaimed that a Tomos on Autocephaly would never be granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and, even if there was such a Tomos, it would not be recognized by anyone. They made assurances that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine would quickly disappear.
Dear brothers, you should not believe all these rumours. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is and shall be, and the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine has neither a canonical nor a moral basis. I hope that soon the final ban on Moscow’s influence on Ukrainian church life will be confirmed by state law.
As the Hiero-Archimandrite, I testify to the brothers that all of you who will follow the requirements of the canons and Tomos will naturally reject the lawless power of Moscow and continue your service in the Lavra. We will use all our authority and all our resources to protect you from intimidation by the current head of the Lavra. The current affairs of the monastery will be managed by those who know the traditions and life of the monastery, who are known to you, because they belong to the brotherhood, who have the appropriate abilities and who have not tarnished themselves with devotion to “Russkiy Mir – Russian World”. The ancient Slavic language will, together with the modern Ukrainian language, be the liturgical language of the Lavra – we know that this issue is also important for many of you.
As the Hiero-Archimandrite of the Lavra, I am open to dialogue and communication. Our goal is to preserve and renew the abode of our fathers Anthony and Theodosius, to cleanse it of the illusion of “Russkiy Mir – Russian World”. We are ready to cooperate with everyone who shares this desire.
May God bless this good work with success