UOC-MP priest consecrated a flag of LNR Troops allegedly on episcopal blessing
On November 22, 2014, in Krasnodon, Luhansk region, a regular ceremony of dedication and awarding of a battle flag to Russia-backed fighters, this time Brigade 4 of the “Armed forces of the People's Republic of Luhansk.” The priest who conducted the rite of blessing of the flag claimed during a sermon to have acted with the blessing of two bishops of the UOC (MP) – Bishop Panteleimon of Rovenky and Metropolitan Mytrofan of Luhansk, as Religion in Ukraine website reports. Metropolitan Mytrofan (Yurchuk) categorically denied any involvement in this event.
The ceremony was held at the city’s “Young Guard” Museum. The priest (hieromonk judging by his outfits) told the ceremony participants that the consecration of the battle flag of “our Lugansk People's Republic”is a great event in our historic Luhansklands and it seems to be ‘a kind of great’ for our Diocesesof Lugansk andRovenky because, thank God, we waited for this day, we all gathered here with the blessing of our Father Dean Dimitry, our lord bishop Panteleimon, Metropolitan Mytrofanof Luhansk and Alchevsk, along with brothers, soldiers and our parents ... the parents who are involved in prayer and pray to God for these people who defend our homeland, our families, our church ...”
According to Religion in Ukraine, the Dean of Krasnodondeanery of the diocese of Rovenkyis Archpriest DimitryPrytula, the diocesan bishop of Rovenky and Sverdlovsk is bishop Panteleimon (Povorozniuk), Chair of the SynodalFamily Department of the UOC, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Luhansk and Alchevskis Metropolitan Mytrofan (Yurchuk), Chair of the Department for External Church Relations, permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The list of churches and clergy of Krasnodon deanery also includes two hieromonks, rectors of Krasnodon churches: Hieromonk Amfilohy(secular name Serhiy Khachaturian, a native of Baku), rector of the church in honor of the Icon of the Virgin Eleousaand Hieromonk Ignatius (secular nameIgor Karpyuk), rector of Saint Panteleimon church in Krasnodon. The latter, apparently, has performed the rite of blessing of the flag.
The pastor also addressed those present in “this holy place” as a reminder that the Church celebrates the feast of the Icon of the Icon of Our Lady “Quick to Hearken” and therefore the churches of the diocese performed worship in which the priests “are askingthe Mother of God, Queen of Heaven for God's blessing and Her intercession so that God protect us from this terrible enemy and send peace to our land ...”
Then he called to prayer, blessed and consecrated three times “this warrior flag to bethestrength andfoundation of the christened warrior host and bring victoryover all enemies ... in the name of Father and Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
He then addressed the audience with a new wordof admonition– that “this flagwe handed with God’s blessing should be a symbol, a tool to remind you that the Lord blessesyou with this flag...”
“A warrior without faith in the fight is no warrior,” the father continues, “I welcome you all at this holy place, our dear Minister of the People's Republic of Luhansk, our commanders, our officers who stay here, all who came ... to pray, support and solemnly take part in this historic event at the festiveevent and hand over the flag to you – it will protect you, keep you safe wherever you meet an enemy, in a terrible war, it will always keep its power and protect you”.
Then the priest remembered the deceased defenders of the “People's Republic of Luhansk” and wished everyone a “victory, a great victory”.
The consecrated banner is a flag, which contains elements of both monarchist and Soviet heraldry, reflecting the special traditions of the region. Social video service“For Novorossia”that posted on Youtubethe footage of the flag consecration rite 2 weeks ago reported: “The crew set off to combat positions of the Communist Party’sGreatDetachment of the Don Cossacks Troops, located at the altitudes of Luhanska Station...”
UOC DECR Chairman His Eminence Mytrofan (Yurchuk) commented on the flag consecration:
“Having reviewed the footage, in which a man in priestly robes performs consecration and invokes my blessing, I want to state as follows:
1. I am not personally acquainted with the person who performed the rite. This person is not a clergyman of the Diocese of Luhansk.
2. Neither the person mentioned, nor anyone else has ever turned to me for the blessingto perform this rite.
3. Moreover, it should be noted that the city ofKrasnodonbelongs to the Diocese of Rovenky and not of Luhansk. According to church canons, I am not entitled to give any blessings to clergymen of other dioceses.
4. On the day when this happened – namely, on the feast day of the Icon of Our Lady “Quick to Hearken” I was in Kyiv where I performed a liturgy at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.
5. I'm sorry that my name and my blessing were used by the person who is unknown to me, thus misleading the faithful.
6. I doubt that either Bishop Panteleimon of Rovenkymight give this blessing, as currently,as far as I know,he is in the Holy Land on a pilgrimage trip.”
The refutation of Metropolitan Mytrofanwas published by the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC (MP).