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Eastern Orthodox clergy staying with their parishioners in Ukraine’s embattled east

September 24, 2014, 21:06 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The situation when the priest leaves his parish is “abnormal from the ministerial point of view as external sufferings cannot be an excuse for leaving the service”, says Patriarch Kirill
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Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all-Russia

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all-Russia

MOSCOW, September 24. /ITAR-TASS/. In spite of combat operations in Ukraine’s southeast, most of the clerics have been staying with their parishioners, even at the risk for their lives, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church told reporters on Wednesday.

“I am certain that in this situation /the current armed conflict in Ukraine’s east - eds. Itar-Tass/ one should act in the same way as the absolute majority of the clergymen are acting as perform their duty in Ukraine’s east,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all-Russia said at the Faith and Word festival of Orthodox Christian media outlets.

“We have learnt about victims among the clergy and about those who were tortured and interrogated harshly,” Patriarch Kirill said. “We know about churches that were damaged by bombings. Certainly, to stay with their people is a deed of valour /for the clerics Itar-Tass/.”

The situation when the priest leaves his parish is “abnormal from the ministerial point of view as external sufferings cannot be an excuse for leaving the service.”

Along with this, the patriarch said that one should not blame those who had gone as all circumstances were not known.

The events in Ukraine taught the Orthodox believers a lesson, he said. “You cannot link your devotion to a wealthy and comfortable lifestyle as it is an absolutely erroneous approach to choosing your pathway in life,” he said.

Three priests died of bullet wounds in Ukraine in the past three months.

Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian Church Metropolitan Onufry called on the Ukrainian President to avert any attacks on churches and clergy from the Ukrainian military reporting to Kiev.

On August 1 experts from the Russian Strategic Studies Institute made public data from Ukrainian and Russian media which reported 62 incidents of attacks on either churches or clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Moscow Patriarchate that occurred since January.

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