MOSCOW, February 27, (ITAR-TASS). Russia’s Orthodox Church is hopeful that only the canonical Orthodox faith will be setting the format for Ukraine’s church life in the absence of impact of political methods, the Reverend Nikolai Balashov said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.
“The Church should speak to all people - believers and nonbelievers, Orthodox Christians or nonconformists,” the deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external relations said commenting on the resolution of the Holy Synod of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the Moscow Patriarchate on a dialogue with all religious organizations in the country that identify themselves as Orthodox Christians.
“Of course, it must converse with those who split from the Church’s integrity as there is no other way out of the split,” the Rev Balashov said. “But any efforts aimed at restoring the Church’s unity are to be taken on a solid basis of its Holy Canons.”
The Church union can be restored only by intra-Church efforts and not by political tools as its integrity was devastated “mainly through invasion into its life by politicians.”
The priest said there had been threats to seize churches and monasteries in Ukraine but fortunately they failed. Overnight to Sunday, “threats were voiced to seize the Monastery of the Cames in Kiev, also known as the Pecherskaya Laura,” Balashov said.
“The threats were made public by the people heated by political struggle and bloody clashes in Kiev’s streets and squares,” he said. “Thanks God, these threats remained words and didn’t grow over into violent actions, although some armed people came to Laura’s walls and took under their control all entrances to and exits from that ancient monastery.”
“The danger was then averted due to the /monks’/ patience and to talks that were held with activists representing different political forces,” he said. “Meanwhile, hundreds of Kiev residents came to the monastery walls to support Lavra and express their readiness to protect shrines so dear to them.”
Besides, the Moscow Patriarchate considers “controversial information on attempts to encroach upon the Holy Dormition Pochayev Laura” in Ukraine’s western Ternopol region, the Rev Balashov said.
The Ukrainian Church’s Holy Synod appointed Metropolitan Onufry of Chernovtsy as the Patriarchal Locum Tenens when Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Vladimir became seriously ill.
The Metropolitan is a very sagacious spiritual guide, the Reverend Nikolai said. “He has high spiritual influence among the archbishops and the laity as well. And he is respected far beyond the boundaries of his diocese in Chernovtsy where he succeeded in putting church life on track.