Patriarch Filaret: ‘If that side will not work toward reconciliation, the people have the right to defend themselves’
On January 23, 2014, following the Divine Liturgy in St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral dedicated to the 85th birthday of Patriarch Filaret (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate), the patriarch met with reporters.
“First of all I want to say that the church is with the people. We are experiencing, genuinely experiencing the suffering and sacrifices of the people on Maidan and do not want to see bloodshed and conflict in our country. Because there are forces, visible and invisible ones, that want to divide our country apart. We want to preserve the unity, peace, and harmony in Ukraine. We also want to move closer to Europe, and not to the customs union.
“As for celebrations and awards, it is not the time to receive them, while there are people suffering. Therefore, the Synod called on the entire Ukrainian flock to pray for peace and harmony, for the Lord to protect our state. We believe that the people will win, not the forces that are fighting against their own people. So we pray that the Lord will lead Ukraine to peace and harmony.”
When asked how he will celebrate his birthday, the patriarch said that the occasion is secondary: “Today the main occasion is peace in Ukraine, as well as attempts to prevent a civil war. And our main task is to shed no more blood. So we pray to God, for God is powerful.
“To declare martial law is the right of the President and Parliament, but let them know that they are accountable for this and the consequences that it will have on them and the Ukrainian people.”
In conclusion, the patriarch urged the people to pray to God and to work toward reconciliation: “If that side will not work toward reconciliation, the people have the right to defend themselves,” the press service of the Kyivan Patriarchate reports.