Putin is ‘making it a religious war’ — Head of U.S. Ukrainian Orthodox Church slams Russian leader, Moscow Patriarch Kirill

As Archbishop Daniel, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, watched his residence nation endure an invasion by the hands of Russia this week, he discovered himself waffling between two feelings: shock and devastation.

It’s not that he was shocked by stress between the 2 nations, which is long-standing. The rifts between Russia and Ukraine even lengthen to the spiritual realm: In late 2018 and early 2019, Orthodox Christians in Ukraine declared independence, or autocephaly, from the Orthodox Patriarchate in Russia. The Orthodox Church in Constantinople promptly set about recognizing the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, whereas Russian Orthodox leaders refused. The outcome: two opposing Orthodox factions within the nation.

However seeing such tensions escalate to the extent of armed battle — with lethal penalties for Ukraine and its individuals — tore at Archbishop Daniel’s coronary heart.

“I got here to america of America in 1995, proper after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he mentioned Thursday in an interview for Faith Information Service with Lew Nescott Jr., an unbiased producer masking faith and politics. “I lived by the photographs of tanks going by Moscow and when the Soviet Union fell.

“Now, 30 years later,”  the archbishop mentioned, “I’m residing by the photographs of Russian tanks going by the streets, by the sovereign borders of Ukraine.”

The interview is beneath, edited for size and readability.

You went on a pastoral go to to Kyiv the primary weekend in February. It should seem to be it occurred a 12 months in the past.

Completely. After I was in Kyiv, I stayed in a resort very near St. Michael’s Cathedral. I acknowledged the balcony the place CNN was doing their reside shot on tv — on the resort the place I stayed. I referred to as a good friend of mine who lives in a monastery, a monastic. I mentioned, “How’s it going? What’s occurring?” He despatched me pictures of stories media throughout St. Michael’s monastery making an attempt to get as a lot protection as they’ll.

As we had been speaking, he mentioned, “Are you able to hear it — explosions within the background?” It was in all probability in a proximity of some kilometers from there, they usually had been in a position to hear them.

Being in Kyiv at first of February, individuals had been on edge. They considered the potential for provocation from Russians, however no one anticipated a full invasion. Now, our Western allies and intelligence from the U.S. have been saying — and in lots of information networks — that it’s attainable, the Russians would try this. However you recognize, we reside within the twenty first century; who desires to imagine that in the midst of Europe, in Ukraine, any person will take the actions that he has taken?

I simply completed speaking to our seminarians — we’ve got seven of them from Ukraine that reside within the seminary (within the U.S.). They’re telling me their dad and mom are afraid to go exterior. Bombs are being thrown. Plane are flying. Explosions are in all places. My mom lives in western Ukraine, and she or he says that right now, she wasn’t in a position to purchase bread. The pharmacies are empty. Individuals standing in strains, individuals making an attempt to get as shut as they’ll to the Polish border.

I perceive you spoke with Metropolitan Epiphanius of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine a number of hours after the invasion began. How is he and what did he say to you?

I reached out to him through cell gadgets and tried to see how issues are in Ukraine. My message didn’t get to him till about 4 within the morning right now. I obtained a telephone name again from him and, then, later I spoke to him for the second time. He’s at St. Michael’s Cathedral, in his places of work. He instructed me he’s in good well being. He’s standing with bishops, clergy and devoted navy chaplains of Orthodox Church of Ukraine. He’s not planning to depart Ukraine. He mentioned he’s the non secular father of the individuals of Ukraine and he should be along with his flock, along with his individuals.

So he’s staying in Kyiv, and I encourage all people to supply their prayers for the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Orthodox Christians worldwide are on the verge of coming into probably the most holy of seasons: Nice and Holy Lent. What’s your message to Ukrainian People right here in america and to Ukrainian Orthodox Christians worldwide?

The sacred season of Nice Lent is one in all my favourite non secular journeys that I all the time take very critically. As Ukrainian People, we’ve got a blessed alternative proper now to observe really the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian when he talks about humility, when he talks about sacrifice, when he talks about our personal sinfulness and repenting over our private transgressions and coming unto the Lord and asking for defense and for the renewal that we’d like. I’m dropping, with my individuals of God of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, onto my knees, in that humble prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian, asking God to have mercy over the individuals of Ukraine. Troopers, navy generals, proper now they’ve these highly effective weapons — they’ve nuclear energy, tanks and what have you ever. However as Christians, as individuals of religion, we even have a weapon in our arms — and that’s a prayer.

I’m asking individuals of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Catholic Church and folks of goodwill no matter background to make use of the weapon of prayer, to melt the center of the aggressor towards Ukrainian individuals, and to cease the crimes towards humanity that we’re experiencing.

Many People can be shocked to be taught Russia and Ukraine are predominantly self-identified Orthodox Christian nations. Wouldn’t it be truthful to characterize this as a non secular struggle with Orthodox Christians killing Orthodox Christians?

I feel the president of the Russian Federation is making it a non secular struggle. The duty is on him and his soul.

Look, main saints of the Slavic Orthodox Church — and I’m speaking about Ukrainian Russian Orthodox Church and Serbian, what have you ever — a variety of them are of Ukrainian descent. Ukraine has produced the fathers of Orthodox Church which have served in Russia, Serbia, Moldova, Romania, in different components of the world, together with the Center East and in Jerusalem. Ukrainians have contributed to the material — into the mosaic — of the non secular entity of who we’re as Orthodox Christians.

We’re two distinct teams of individuals, Russians and Ukrainians. We’re individuals of 1 religion — we’re Christians. However our cultural background makes us totally different. Due to the influence that Western society has had on Ukraine, individuals in western Ukraine, and basically in Ukraine, are open to their entire concept of self entities, figuring out themselves as Christians and asking themselves legitimate questions, “Why am I a Christian? Why am I Orthodox? Why am I doing the ritual I’m doing? Why am I residing the best way I reside?”

Within the northern half, or the northern neighbor, the Russian Federation, they’d typically use the teachings of the saints of the church and suggest that you’re not worthy of something as an individual, as a baby of God, to perform something to be able to absolutely and really strategy him together with your worthiness. Two distinct approaches to the sanctity of human life.

You’re saying that, imbued in considering and observe in religion, the Ukrainian view is one in all independence and freedom. Those that profess Orthodoxy aren’t solely devoid of their capacity to be good. Whereas within the extra austere type of Russian Orthodoxy, all of humanity is condemned?

Completely.

Ukrainians are striving or making an attempt for hundreds of years to protect their id — who they’re as kids of God.

There was an announcement launched Wednesday from Moscow Patriarch Kirill. What are your ideas on that assertion? Conciliatory? Goodwill? An enchantment of some kind?

A letter from a non secular politician, and never a non secular father of the individuals of Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Kirill is repeating a so-called historical past lesson all of us obtained from President Vladimir Putin a number of days in the past. You can’t rewrite historical past, Ukrainians and Russians. I’m not being divisive right here, however we’re not sharing the identical historical past. Ukraine — Kievan Rus’, not Russia.

To say that we share the identical ethnic background and what have you ever — I feel it’s a mistake. It’s an incorrect assertion. And I want the spiritual leaders would appropriate that terminology he’s using. It’s not a brotherly battle that we’re having in Ukraine. I’ve a youthful brother, and once we had been rising up, we had a battle. We fought over little issues. However on the finish of the day, we knew we had been brothers and we knew we needed to respect one another as a result of there was love between us. If you happen to love any person, as a brother, as a real brother, you’re not going to go and bomb the houses and destroy the lives of individuals, after which say, “Properly, let’s carry humanitarian support,” and what have you ever. If you happen to’re really the non secular father, as you declare, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow, Patriarchate in Ukraine, then go and confront the political chief of the Russian Federation and inform him, “Cease abusing the individuals of my church.”

What’s essential for individuals in america, particularly, to know? Particularly those that would possibly say, “I’m not Ukrainian. I don’t know any Ukrainians. Why ought to we be involved with Ukrainians? It’s their struggle.”

It’s a problem of crimes towards humanity. It’s towards who we’re as freedom-loving individuals of God.

If we permit one thing like this to occur in Ukraine right now, then atrocities much like this may occur in different components of the world — sanctioning different dictators and political leaders to go forward and abuse the sanctity of human life. I agree with you — some individuals could watch and listen to stories and watch movies and say, “What do I’ve to do with Ukraine? I’ve my very own lifestyle. I reside in America. It’s hundreds of miles away. So far as I’m involved, Ukraine is way, far-off from right here, and it’s not harmful for me.”

Properly, it’s. We reside in a cosmopolitan society, in a cosmopolitan world. It’s now not about one single nation right here and there, unfold across the globe. We’re all interconnected, our economies, our lifestyle, our cultures. After which there may be the very core of our existence: created within the picture and likeness of God. We now have to maintain that in thoughts. We’re all a part of the magical physique of Christ.

Jack Jenkins contributed to this report.

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