Putin will perish by the sword, says Ukrainian Metropolitan


Eastern Europe


Relatives and friends mourn during a funeral service for the Ukrainian soldier Anton Sidorov, killed in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday. Photo EPA, Sergey Dolzhenko

Everyone who takes a sword, will die by the sword. That was the message of the leader of the Ukrainian Church, Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv.

The head of the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church used the words of Jesus in response to the Russian invasion on Thursday morning. He called for the defence of the country. “Defending yourself with the sword” is very different from “taking the sword”, according to the principal bishop on DF News.

On Tuesday, the day after Putin recognised the separatist republics, Epiphanius came with a declaration that was more moderate. Just like Russian President Putin, he painted a perspective on “more than a millennium of the history of our statehood” that could be as controversial as Putin’s picture of history. In that statement, Epiphanius called “everyone to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression.”. “I am convinced that even in the current trials, God will help us to defend the truth, to establish a just peace.”

On Wednesday, the Kyiv Patriarchate still consecrated the building site of a new church in Mariupol, according to DF News. That strategic city is part of the Donbas region, which is the primary target of the Russian army during this invasion.

On Thursday morning, Supreme Archbishop Sviatosvlav of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine spoke about a “treacherous enemy, breaking the basic rules of international law, as an unjust aggressor set foot on Ukrainian soil, bringing with him death and destruction.” In a declaration, he called for prayers. The archbishop would have gone to Italy today. Still, he stayed in Ukraine because of the war, as was reported on Twitter.

On Wednesday, all churches and religious organisations in Ukraine asked Putin to “stop the outbreak of war”. “The Supreme Commandment “Thou shalt not kill” determines the absolute value of human life and God’s severe punishment for the murderer. Aggressive war is a great crime against the Almighty”, Ukrainian religious figures said in an address to the Russian leader.

In the meantime, Christian news sites in Ukraine were also spreading practical tips in case war would come. The website Svitogliad.com for instance, advised “to give everything in prayer to God”. And after that, people should make sure they had enough water and food at home and prepare a bag if they had to leave.

Other sources, such as DF News, published a list of churches in the whole district that are open for giving shelter to refugees. The expectation is that many Ukrainians will travel to the west of the country, hoping they will be safe there.

Kirill: Army chose the right path

On the Russian side of the border, the leadership of the Orthodox Church celebrated the friendship with President Putin on Wednesday. Patriarch Kirill said on the Defender of the Fatherland Day that the Russian army “has chosen the right path”, according to IRP News. The borders of the Fatherland are “sacred”, he said, and he mentioned the “threats” present on the borders. He wished all the Russian soldiers “readiness for self-sacrifice”.

Putin: It’s all about traditional values

In his speech to the Russian people, President Putin reiterated that his action was meant to defend traditional values against the Western destruction of them, he said according to Interfax. “Until recently, attempts haven’t stopped to use us to their advantage, to destroy our traditional values and impose their pseudo-values on us, which will corrode our people from the inside, those attitudes, that they are already aggressively planting in their countries, and which directly lead to degradation and degeneration, since they contradict the very nature of man,” Putin said in a video message, referring no doubt to homosexuality. “This has never worked out for anyone. It won’t work now either.”

The Russian authorities claimed to have arrested a terrorist cell that was preparing an attack on a Russian church in Crimea, according to Interfax. Six members of the extremist Right Sector movement would have been arrested. The Ukrainian Religious Truth, however, called this report “fake news”.

For a long time, both parties have reported “persecution” of each other’s churches in Ukraine. DF News reported recently about “systematic harassment” of Ukrainian churches in Crimea.



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