KIEV, September 27. /TASS/. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is a constituent of the Moscow Patriarchate fears that a new wave of incitement may be staged and radical nationalists may attack churches but believers are ready to protect their sacred sites, Metropolitan Anthony of Borispol and Brovary, the Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said in an interview with TASS on Thursday.
"There is a risk that the Lavra will be seized," he cautioned. "About 50 churches have been taken from us in the past four years, which are mainly located in western Ukraine - they were seized either by or with the support of radical forces, such as the Pravy Sektor [or Right Sector, outlawed in Russia], Svoboda (or Freedom) and the like," the metropolitan explained.
According to him, tensions have been escalating following statements about the upcoming establishment of a new autocephalous church in Ukraine. "Chances are they [radical nationalists] may indeed continue their activities aimed at seizing the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. This is what head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret (Denisenko) has made public statements about on numerous occasions. In the past, the seizure of churches was totally illegal but took place nonetheless, and now, if a Tomos is issued, this illegal trend is highly likely to expand to a far larger scale," Metropolitan Anthony warned.
"Under this situation, there can be no doubt that believers will try to protect their churches, particularly the Kiev Pechersk Lavra," he concluded.
Metropolitan Pavel, the Vicar of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, earlier released a video address to the people, warning them about threats to seize the monastery, which may be carried out on October 14, when the Russian Orthodox Church would mark the feast of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin. He called on the congregation to pray more for peace and abide by the Orthodox canon.
Head of the unrecognized Kiev Patriarchate Filaret said in August that should a Tomos of Autocephaly be issued, he planned to seize all property from the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, including the Kiev Pechersk Lavra and the Pochayev Lavra. The Moscow Patriarchate’s press service said on September 22 that officials from the Ukrainian Culture Ministry planned to assess the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s property without waiting for a decision on autocephaly.