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KIEV, July 27 (Itar-Tass) — The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has preserved its spiritual strength in the 20 years of its existence on the post-Soviet space, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said on Friday on the occasion of Kievan Rus Baptism Day and the 20th anniversary of the Church activity.
“We interpret this period as the time of special service. Today we prove that over these years the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has preserved its spiritual strength and its capability to conduct people towards redemption and show its love to the laity,” the patriarch said.
He congratulated Metropolitan Vladimir on the 20th anniversary of his service. In 1992 he was elected metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine in the Kharkov cathedral. Patriarch Kirill stressed that by his works and spirit Father Vladimir “won the affection of foes” and succeeded in “transforming troubles into the victory and glory of Ukrainian Orthodoxy”.
The metropolitan said, “There are much evil and hatred in the world. It is necessary to pray much so that God enlightened the hearts and ideas of people and helped cognise His God’s Will.”
Ukrainian Vice-Prime Minister Sergei Telipko gave congratulations from President Viktor Yanukovich and Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov and thanked Father Vladimir for “the honest and fair service to people”.
For 20 years of its activity the Ukrainian Orthodox Church went through many troubles. The split was one of the most painful problems. But at present, this problem is not so pressing. After the fall of the “orange regime” nationalists’ actions became rarer. In the afternoon Patriarch Kirill conducted a divine service to St. Vladimir when 18 protesters with the Ukrainian People’s Party flag gathered at Vladimirskaya Gorka.
Now the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has 46 eparchies, over 12,000 parishes, 200 monasteries, 66 bishops and over 10,000 clergymen.