Moscow, September 25, 2014
In spite of the combat operations in the south-eastern Ukraine, most of Orthodox priests continue to remain with their flock with risk for their own lives. This was stressed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia during a meeting with journalists at the festival of Orthodox media, “Faith and Word”.
“I feel certain that in this situation (fighting in the Ukraine—ITAR-TASS) one should do what the absolute majority of clergymen, carrying out their ministry in the eastern Ukraine, are doing,” said the patriarch. “We are aware of the cases of victims among the clergy, of those who were subjected to tortures and cruel interrogations. We are aware of the churches that were bombarded. Under the existing conditions, to remain with your people is surely a heroic deed,” he added.
In his view, the situation when a pastor leaves his parish “is abnormal from the point of view of the priestly vocation, as no external hardships can justify giving up one’s pastoral ministry”.
At the same time, the patriarch has noted that we should not condemn those who have nevertheless left.
“God is their Judge, we do not know all the circumstances,” he said.
All of what Orthodox Christians have to endure in the Ukraine is a lesson to learn for all clergymen, believes the patriarch.
“You can never establish a link between the ministry of a priest and a solely prosperous and comfortable life; it is an absolutely wrong approach to choosing your life path,” he concluded.
Over recent months, three priests were killed by bullets in the Ukraine.
On August 1, experts from The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) published the statistics based on reports by Ukrainian and Russian media of 62 cases of attacks in the Ukraine on churches and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate since the beginning of this year.