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Ukraine: “We can feel the pain of splitting......"

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.day.kiev.ua/en/article/society/father-heorhii-kovalenko-we-can-feel-pain-splitting-might-be-reason-why-we-are-so Father Heorhii KOVALENKO: “We can
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2013
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      http://www.day.kiev.ua/en/article/society/father-heorhii-kovalenko-we-can-feel-pain-splitting-might-be-reason-why-we-are-so

      Father Heorhii KOVALENKO: �We can feel the pain of splitting. This might
      be the reason why we are so severe�
      Nadia Tysiachna
      22 May, 2013

      The latest events in the religious life of our country, in particular,
      those connected with the 1,025th anniversary of baptism of Rus�-Ukraine,
      recognition of sacraments performed by the UOC KP, etc., have become
      reason to meet with the head of Synod Information-Enlightenment
      Department and Press Secretary of the Primate of Ukrainian Orthodox
      Church, Archpriest Heorhii KOVALENKO.

      *Recent Synod of Bishops of UOC KP removed all accusations from
      Archbishop Oleksandr (DRABYNKO). Will the positions of head of
      department of external liaisons of the church and chief editor of the
      official website of the church be returned to him? Will rehabilitation
      be as loud as blames?*

      �Some time before His Beatitude issued a corresponding order on the
      staff positions. Thus Archbishop Oleksandr has been appointed managing
      editor, whereas I became the chief editor of the official website of UOC
      KP. And Archbishop Mytrofan is head of the external liaison department
      of the church.

      �In my opinion, the decision on removing all previous accusations from
      Archbishop Oleksandr (Drabynko) is proof that certain mechanisms of
      riding out the crisis are functioning in the church.

      �We survived through the complicated 1990s, when conflicts and
      collisions led to splits and separations. At times from aside it looks
      as if political mechanisms are being applied here. However, the
      mechanisms that work in the church differ from the political ones.

      �For example, the information campaign regarding the disease of our
      primate has been too much politicized. Although we took a deliberate
      step to completely reveal the information concerning the state of health
      of His Beatitude, our sincerity has been appreciated. For some people
      the official truthful information was insufficient, and then information
      incompetent resources and commentaries of incompetent analysts appeared
      in newspapers, TV screens, and especially in the Internet.

      �But one should understand that the church is living a life of its own
      and resolves its questions not in the political-state scope, but in the
      evangelical context.

      �I believe the fact when episcopacy, having prayed to the Holy Spirit,
      gathers at one table, discusses the problem, and then approves the
      decision that is acceptable for everyone can serve an example for
      Ukrainian politicians.�

      *At the abovementioned Synod the invitation text to the anniversary of
      baptism of Rus�-Ukraine that will be sent to Patriarch Kirill was
      approved, too. It is known that Patriarch Kirill refused to take part in
      any actions where Patriarch Filaret will be present. At the end of April
      Vice Prime Minister Kostiantyn Hryshchenko met with the primate of UOC
      KP to discuss the organization questions of the festivities that will be
      held on the state level. Does it mean that the head of the ROC will be
      limited to the actions organized by UOC?*

      �At the moment there are two programs of festivities: governmental and
      church one. Speaking about the participation of His Holiness Patriarch
      Kirill, we mean the church or church-governmental program, if state
      officials will take part in it.

      �For some reason everyone was quick to forget that when we were
      celebrating the 1,020th anniversary of the baptism of Rus�-Ukraine, His
      Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew came to Ukraine with the same demands as
      Patriarch Kirill�s. He did not take part in the services, refused to
      meet with the head of UOC KP. However he spoke about the need to reunite
      Ukrainian Orthodoxy. So, he spoke about the same things His Beatitude
      Metropolitan Volodymyr has been speaking for 20 years by now. Therefore
      there is no position of Moscow. There is a position of Ecumenical
      Orthodox Church. And its severity is another way to remind society and
      �dissenters� of the need to resolve this problem. For when we start
      simply meeting, without concelebrating, without any church, liturgical,
      or Eucharist unity, the UOC KP will be already a different kind of
      church, a non-Orthodox church. And so far we remind that those are
      dissenters, consider that they belong to us, and wait for their return.

      �I think representatives of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv
      Patriarchate should not have raised this wave, so to say, Patriarch
      Kirill is outraged by the participation of Patriarch Filaret in the
      festivities. Maybe they should make an anniversary present to the
      Ukrainian society � come back to the united church, or at least make
      some steps in this direction.�

      *What kind of steps?*

      �Those should be church steps � in the canonic sphere. Taking the
      catechism of the Orthodox Church which must be read by every orthodox
      believer, it reads that the unity of church is determined by the unity
      of faith, sacraments, and hierarchy. At the moment there is only unity
      of faith between UOC and UOC KP. (But still there is a question, for we
      believe in the Unified, Holy, Cathedral, and Apostolic Church.) There is
      no unity of sacraments because of lack of Eucharist-liturgical
      communication. After all, there is no unity of hierarchy, for the
      Ecumenical Orthodox Church does not recognize the hierarchy of UOC KP.

      �So, the more church things we all have the more chances we stand for
      church reunion, for there are often calls to unite, for example on the
      state-political level.

      �The church is called to speak about eternal things. It exists in the
      world, but it is not from this world. Yes, we are citizens of Ukraine.
      We have a political position of our own. But as a priest I think it
      should be expressed in the booth for secret voting. After all people
      should not see that we are politicized, they should see that Gospel is
      the only bias we have. And the more evangelical, rather than political
      things we have, the sooner the unity of Ukrainian Orthodoxy will be
      restored.�

      *Not so long ago you blamed Greek-Catholic Church for recognizing the
      sacraments performed by UOC KP. Is not this a monopolization of the Spirit?*

      �I remember the answer given by the head of UGCC. His Beatitude
      Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) refers to documents of RCC which regulate the
      attitude to sacraments beyond the unity with Roman-Catholic Church. We
      also have an all-church document on the attitude to Heterodoxy. However
      we still consider the dissenters as ours. In other words, we do not say
      that Rome Catholics or Greek Catholics are not Christians. They are
      living their own life, liturgical in particular. But if the dissenters
      call themselves Orthodox, they cannot demand to be treated as Heterodox.
      We do not treat UOC KP as outsiders. We feel the pain of splitting. That
      must be the reason why we are so severe.

      �Apparently it is hard to glue a cup that was broken. But it is possible
      � not by human efforts only, but with God�s help. But this demands some
      humbleness from both sides, as well as a sincere desire of unity which
      would overcome their own interests and all fleshly problems dividing us.�

      *Father, does the UOC pray for Ukraine?*

      �We always pray for the state and the people. The Orthodox Church has
      this in its teachings, in particular the teaching on symphony. The
      church considers that in ideal the state and the church should
      cooperate. The first is dealing with daily problems of people, the
      second one � with their souls. The state defends its citizens, including
      the church, whereas the church prays for the state and helps it. I have
      described an ideal version which will never be achieved. But God did not
      promise us the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

      �During the Great Lent I have listened to recordings of the Holy Writing
      in my car while standing in Kyiv�s traffic jams. I was especially
      touched by Jeremiah�s Book. While reading it, one can draw many
      parallels with our history, even directly with the Holodomor. It also
      teaches us. The prophet says that people should humble themselves before
      the state defeats and captivity. Later God will release them for their
      humbleness.

      �Anyway there is a Biblical attitude to life. And if it is combined with
      sincere patriotism, this is the ground for existence of a state, people,
      man, and their future. Holy martyr Volodymyr, Kyiv Metropolitan, first
      new martyr of the 20th century of our church said that love to your
      homeland should not be stronger than love to God. At the same time our
      patriotism should be based on respect to patriotism of another person. I
      have recently contemplated over the word �a friend.� Etymologically it
      means another person, and at the same time � dear person. So, another
      person who is dear to you. You ought to love others like you love
      yourself. Of course, this is Christian etymology rather than classical.�

      *The Bible also reads that when Israel sinned, God�s patience was
      exhausted, and He sold it into slavery. In Ukraine state officials go to
      church, at least on big holidays, and nearly 70 percent of Ukrainians
      think they are believers, meanwhile our country leads in Europe in terms
      of pace AIDS is spread; people get ill with cancer more quickly; it is
      one of the centers of heroine distribution. Judging by all this and
      political-economic situation, aren�t we getting closer to this trap, in
      your opinion?*

      �I am not a prophet to predict the future. I only read prophecies.

      �Unfortunately, we rarely see faith in action which would be shown by 70
      percent of Ukrainians. For faith must change life. The Holy Writing says
      about living and dead faith. The Bible writes that demons believe and
      tremble too, but at the same time they continue to be servants of Satan.

      �So, a believer should cognize his/her faith based on God�s ten tables.
      And not to be called believers, but be believers, one should try to keep
      to them. If we scan the Ukrainian society for keeping to the Decalogue,
      we will see that people to not keep practically to any of them. What do
      we expect from God? What blessings?

      �On the other hand, the current situation is a kind of a missionary
      challenge for the church. Therefore the church does not start with what
      a person should do, but with education of a person. On the whole, we
      must not judge. On the contrary, we must love people, doing everything
      for them to go the path of salvation. We have inherited a complicated
      post-atheism legacy, so we need to help people to be Christians not only
      on Sunday in a church, but with their families, with their friends, and
      at work.

      �There is one more thing. It pains when people do not believe in
      sincerity of others. I have no tool to measure whether a state official
      or ordinary person are sincere in their search of God. One should
      rejoice when another person is looking for God. At a defined moment God
      will touch his heart. One must not bring political component into the
      relationships with coreligionists. Unity in Christ is not determined by
      any political, economic, social, or racial parameters. God wishes
      salvation to all of us, and we have to wish it to.

      �Speaking about power that be, apparently for them the tables �Don�t
      steal� and �Don�t lie� are the most actual, whereas for many others �
      �Don�t envy� and �Don�t judge.�

      �Believe me, when at least half of those nearly 70 percent of Ukrainians
      who declare they are believers will truly become those, the social
      situation will change. There is no other way. God unmistakably decides
      on the destinies of states and people. But not without our
      participation. He does not enforce.�

      By Nadia TYSIACHNA, The Day



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