POROSHENKO: "MOSCOW EXPECTED THAT BLOOD WOULD BEGIN TO FLOW IN OUR LAND. . . .IT DID NOT COME TRUE."
Religiia v Ukraine, 18 February 2019
Within the context of a working trip to Ivano-Frankovsk oblast, President Petro Poroshenko visited the Manyava skete [hermitage] of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU) and took part in a prayer service of thanskgiving for getting a tomos concerning the autocephaly of the PTsU, Religiia v Ukraine reports, with a reference to the president's website.
Metropolitan Epifany, the head of the PTsU, conducted the prayer service in the courtyard of the Elevation of the Cross monastery in the village of Manyava with the participation of Metropolitan of Riazan and Galicia Ioasaf and many priests.
Greeting the believers, priests, and military chaplains who had gathered for the prayer service, the president called attention to the number of persons present. "Thousands of people are here today, in the Manyava skete," he said, noting that all these people had come to thank God for hearing their prayers and for the spiritual independence that Ukraine has received.
"It is very important that the Lord heard us and this became possible only when millions of Ukrainians prayed for this and when they believed that nothing is more important than to have their own state and their own church," Petro Poroshenko emphasized, and he recalled the path that the Ukrainian church passed through to its independence.
"After this [receiving the tomos concerning autocephaly—ed. note], 320 parishes have already joined our church. Five of them, in the Frankovsk region in Ciscarpathia. Parishes and communities. I can note that now, in one month, more parishes have transferred than in the preceding five years. And it is very important that nobody is forcing anybody," the head of state emphasized.
"Moscow expected that blood would begin to flow in our land and that raids on churches and seizures of monasteries would begin. . . . It did not come true. Because our church is proceeding with faith and love," Petro Poroshenko emphasized, noting that Ukrainians do not understand how there can exist in the country a church that is subject to another state and prays for its troops.
The president also took note of Metroplitan of Ivano-Frankovsk Andrei. "I am now simply happy for the efforts of each bishop that have been made so that a united church can be created. Because we have not completed the process of the creation of the church and we are only at the beginning of this path," Petro Poroshenko said, and he reported that he had made the decision to award Metropolitan Andrei a state honor, the Order of Merit, 2nd degree. "This is for your meritorious activity in the creation of our Orthodox Church of Ukrraine—local, conciliar, and autocephalous. Thank you very much for your labor," the president said.
He also thanked the believers present for their support, noting that their support and prayers are now needed by the church hierarchs and the local church of Ukraine. "It is for this reason we are here today. Because we are not indifferent to either the fate of the state or the fate of the church," the head of state added.
Metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine Epifany congratulated everyone on the possibility of gathering in such an ancient place as the Manyava skete, and he thanked the Lord for the "mercy, bounty, and good deeds" that have occurred in recent months.
The president's website quotes the metropolitan: "The Lord gave us a great gift, the gift of freedom for the Ukrainian local Orthodox church. Over the course of centuries our people have fought, striven, and dreamed in order to receive autocephalous status and to worship in their own native and independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And we are the direct participants and creators of the modern history of our Orthodox church that has been recognized as independent. Therefore today here we are thankful to the all-merciful God that he has honored us with such great mercy and has taken pity on us, because we have prayed over the course of long years. We prayed and fought and hoped, and the Lord bestowed on us this great gift. Therefore we also are thankful to God that he took pity on our prayers and granted us church unity."
Epifany thanked the hierarchs who communed and attended the prayer service and are developing in Ciscarpathia a united local Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"But our church efforts usually were not enough, and therefore today we also thank Ukrainian President Petro Alexeevich, who joined these historic events, and thanks to our joint efforts—of the church and state—we have the long-awaited document bearing the title tomos," he emphasized.
"Today we celebrate this our spiritual victory, but during the prayer service we asked God that he would defend our country. We pray that the Lord, in the future, will grant us a just peace. Because we can receive a different peace, but we do not need a peace without freedom. We want to live in our own country, in which love, peace, and harmony will reign," Epifany said, expressing the opinion that it is the prayer of each believer in each church that made possible that the Lord heard these prayers. He also expressed the faith that God also in the future will enable and confirm a united and local church. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 February 2019)
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