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Letter #9, 2023 Mon Jan 9: Kyiv Lavra

    Above, the nearly 1,000-year-old Cathedral of the Assumption (or Dormition) of the Most Holy Theotokos (“God-bearer”) in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. In Greek, “Theo” means “God” and “tokos” means “bearer,” so “Theotokos” means “God-bearer” and refers to Mary, who bore Jesus. So this cathedral is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (It is the cathedral to the left, with the golden domes.) It was built in 1073 by the monastery`s Abbot, Theodosius. Building a building of this scale was difficult at that time for local craftsmen, so architects from Byzantium were invited.

    It is the main church of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Cave Monastery). The word pechera means cave. The word lavra is used for high-ranking male monasteries for monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Therefore, the name of the monastery is translated as Kyiv Cave Monastery, Kyiv Caves Monastery, or the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves.

    According to a chronicle of those years, the cathedral was built in three years by Byzantine masters at the expense of Svyatoslav II Yaroslavich, Grand Prince of Kiev between 1073 and 1076.
    Letter #9, 2023, Monday, January 9: Kyiv Lavra

    The sorrowful, bloody war in Ukraine continues.

    would to God that he had not begun, because of so much slaughter….

    After almost 11 months, and tens of thousands of deaths — no one has exact figures, but all agree the number is now in the tens of thousands — the war seems now still to be ratcheting up to something even worse than anything that has happened thus far.

    Pope Francis warned in early September that “World War III” has in fact already begun (link).

    And in this he echoed the deep concern not only of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who just passed away on December 31, but also of Benedict XV, who was Pope during World War I, and who spent all of his energy during his papacy striving to bring peace and avoid millions of deaths…

    Since then, Francis has called for a cease fire, a Christmas truce, and negotiations to find a way, somehow, to reach a settlement before the war totally destroys Ukraine… or Russia… or both… and before the war spreads beyond Ukraine, bringing misery with it wherever its weapons go…

    So this is the point:

    We are hoping, and, in our own small way (with quite modest resources), working (quite hard, actually), to try to locate…

    that “unmarked exit”…

    that “religious off-ramp”…

    by which, if it would be followed, illuminated by the very final shreds of transcendent light granted to us in this age of total immanence…

    the parties in this conflict could possibly…

    “stand down.”

    Turn from the superhighway fast lane on which they are currently driving at breakneck speed toward a destination inevitably marked by brutality, horror and, in the end, regret… the loss of thousands more young lives, as this war consumes tens of billions of dollars and shatters millions of lives and limbs (I refer to the millions of refugees who have fled their homes in fear of being caught in the crossfire of this conflict).

    We pray for an intervention, an intercession from above, enabling the armies to be withdrawn, and the boys and men on the front lines to come home to those waiting for them…


    Mary, of Fatima, of Lourdes, of Kazan, intercede…


    Inside of Ukraine, religious tensions have been growing steadily, and below are two articles that take up this religious question in more detail.

    The first is by Peter Anderson, a Catholic American retired lawyer in his 70s from Seattle, Washington, who has followed events in Ukraine and throughout the Orthodox world for more than 40 years. Anderson is widely acknowledged to be a thoughtful, well-informed, fair interpreter of these very complex and often very divisive issues. He is an old friend and has contributed to Inside the Vatican magazine. His latest report is below.

    The second is another old friend, Terry Mattingly, a Texan, writing on January 2 in GetReligion.com. After leaving the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian body in which he was raised, Mattingly was for a time a member of the Episcopal Church. He is now a practicing Orthodox Christian, a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. 


    Here I will try to simplify the religious situation in Ukraine, and hope I will not falsify in the process.

    The territory of Ukraine, which once numbered 43 million people (millions are now out of the country) include about 70% Christians, most of them (about 80% of them) Orthodox.

    Here are (perhaps inaccurate) statistics (because people may not answer the pollsters honestly) at this link (but note that, in his article below, Mattingly gives higher numbers for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church still in contact with Moscow):

    About 67.3% of the population declared adherence to one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (28.7% of the Kyiv Patriarchate, 23.4% state simply “Orthodox” with no declaration as to which Patriarchate they belong to, 12.8% of the Moscow Patriarchate, 0.3% Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and 1.9% other types of Orthodoxy), 7.7% Christian with no declared denominational affiliation, 9.4% Ukrainian Byzantine Rite Catholics, 2.2% Protestants and 0.8% Latin Rite Catholics, 1-2% Islam,[2] Judaism was 0.4%; while a small percentage follow Hinduism, Buddhism and Paganism (Rodnovery). A further 11.0% declared themselves non-religious or unaffiliated.

    This is how it would look broken down as a list:    

    — Orthodox Church in Ukraine (OCU, Kyiv Patriarchate, autocephalous (not under Moscow), led by the relatively young Metropolitan Epiphany, 43, link) — 28.7%

    (these are all Orthodox Christians — including 26 bishops — who were in union with Moscow but are now autocephalous, no longer with Moscow; so Moscow, in religious terms — which are not precisely transferrable to political terms — has lost almost one quarter of the population of Ukraine in the past three years, approximately 10 million adherents, a considerable number)

    —”Orthodox” (without any other qualification) — 23.4%

    — Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC, Moscow Patriarchate, led by Metropolitan Onuphry, 78 (link), who is, as a person, as a Vatican official once told me, “a holy man”) — 12.8%

    (these are those Orthodox in Ukraine who have not gone over to the autocephalous Church, and, though no longer “subject” to Moscow, are, as it were, still “in contact” with the Moscow Church, as they have been for centuries; this group, which still includes about 5 million Ukrainians (but see Mattingly below, who says the number is higher), is the group which may now be diminished almost to zero)

    —other types of Orthodoxy — 1.9%

    —Christians with no declared denominational affiliation — 7.4%

    —Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (in union with Rome, so Catholics, but celebrating a Byzantine liturgy that is the same as the Orthodox liturgy, led by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, 52 (link), who in November in an interview said that “Ukraine will say yes to a serious peace proposal” (link) — 9.4% (so, about 4 million eastern-rite Catholic Ukrainians, but predominantly in the western part of the country, far from the eastern border with Russia)

    —Atheists — 9.5%

    —Protestants — 2.2%

    —Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Independent, led by an aging Filaret (Denysenko), 93, about to turn 94, link) — 0.3%

    —Roman Catholic Church — 0.8%

    —Islam — 1-2%

    —Judaism — 0.4%

    —Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism — “a small percentage”

    —Non-religious or unaffiliated — 11%    

Ukraine’s government is investigating whether some priests and bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that for generations was part of the Russian Orthodox Church centered in Moscow may be “Russian agents” and so have to be arrested. —RM
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    Dispute over the Kyiv Lavra and Enthronement in Cyprus (link)

    By Peter Anderson

    January 9, 2023

    On January 7, the feast of the Nativity on the Julian calendar, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), headed by Metropolitan Epifany, celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Dormition (Assumption) Cathedral of the historic Kyiv Pechersk (Caves) Lavra. (link)

    It was the first religious service ever conducted by the OCU in the Lavra. Previously, at least since 1988, all religious services had been conducted only by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).  The entire Christmas service can be watched on the following video: (link). The text of the address of Metropolitan Epifany can be read at (link).

    Some of the points made by Metropolitan Epifany in his address are as follows: He notes that “more than two decades ago, this shrine [the Dormition Cathedral] was restored from ruins as a gift to the Ukrainian people for the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.”

    He states that according to tradition, exactly 950 years ago, the Mother of God personally sent builders from Constantinople to Kyiv to construct this cathedral.

    Epifany renews the “spiritual connection…between the Church of Rus’-Ukraine and the Mother Church of Constantinople and the fullness of Orthodoxy today….”

    He expresses the belief that the spirit of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) [primate of the UOC, 1992 – 2014] “who condemned the ‘political Orthodoxy’ planted from the north and took real steps towards reconciliation between Orthodox and overcoming church divisions,” rejoices in today’s service.

    He appeals to the brothers [monks] of the Lavra to free themselves from Moscow’s rule and to turn a new page of devotion to the “one Church of Christ” and “the Ukrainian people.”

    He expresses the conviction that “we owe the present joyful event to the courage of the Ukrainian army, to our newest heroes.”

    The entire service, including the Ukrainian dress of the choir, stressed the Ukrainian language and culture. There were special prayers for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

    It is important to note that the Lavra complex is owned by the Ukrainian government, and the government’s permission to the OCU to use the Lavra was limited to one location on one day — the Dormition Cathedral on January 7, 2023.

    It appears likely that if the OCU wishes to use the Dormition Cathedral in the future, it will be necessary to apply to the Ukrainian government for each of those occasions.

    The government body responsible for the Lavra is the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Preserve, which is part of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy. (link)

    The Ministry is currently headed by Oleksandr Tkachenko. The entire Lavra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    To understand the current dispute relating to the Lavra, it is helpful to have some knowledge of the various parts of the Lavra.

    The Lavra covers 20 hectares and includes over 100 structures. Good maps showing the structures of the Lavra can be found at (link) (click on the map to enlarge it) and (link).

    It is extremely important to understand the difference between the “Upper Lavra” and the “Lower Lavra.”

    The Upper Lavra is essentially a very large museum complex.

    It includes museums covering such subjects as the “book and printing,” “theater and cinema,” “folk decorative art,” “historical treasures,” “microminiatures,” and “Lavra history.”

    The museum complex in the Upper Lavra also includes the Dormition Cathedral and the Refectory (Trapeza) Church of Saint Anthony and Theodosius.

    The Lower Lavra consists primarily of the active monastery (over 100 monks), the historic “near” and “far” caves, the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary (the most important academic institution of the UOC), three hotel buildings for pilgrims, and the administrative headquarters of the entire UOC.

    There are approximately 12 churches in the entire Lavra.

    The Dormition Cathedral is the most famous.

    Over the course of over 900 years, it has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times.

    In 1941 it was completely destroyed by a great explosion and remained in ruins for almost six decades.

    In 1995, Ukrainian President Kuchma decreed that the Cathedral should be built on site with a completion date by Ukrainian Independence Day 2000.

    The accelerated construction schedule was met, and the newly-constructed Cathedral was dedicated in 2000.  (link)

    Although Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) laid the foundation stone of the new cathedral and later dedicated it, the construction of the cathedral was the work of the government and was financed by it.     

The Refectory and its Church are not historic structures, but were constructed in the 1890s.

    The Refectory Church is noted for its large dome and its Art Nouveau frescos.

    The interior of the Church is the work of artist Alexey Shchusev (1873-1947). (link)

    Ironically, Shchusev later became the designer of the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square and was awarded the Stalin Prize on four occasions.

    The UOC [Note: the Church linked most closely to Moscow] has held two leases relating to its use of property in the Lavra.

    With respect to the Upper Lavra, it has held a lease that has allowed the UOC to use the Dormition Cathedral and Refectory Church for religious services.

    Apparently, the UOC must pay a fee for each hour that one of those churches is used for religious services.

    As part of the museum complex, those churches have also been visited by millions of tourists over the years.

    The lease with respect to the two churches ran until the end of 2022.

    The Ministry of Culture has now announced its intention not to extend this lease. (link)

    On January 6, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed), governor of the monastery at the Lavra, sent a letter to Minister of Culture Tkachenko protesting this decision. (link)

    It appears that the Metropolitan’s primary argument is the Cabinet of Ministers last May issued a resolution extending state leases expiring during the period of martial law to after the end of such martial law.

    However, such a resolution may not provide the UOC with much protection as the Cabinet has the power to amend this resolution at any time.

    Viktor Yelensky, the new head of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, has stated that there is agreement that the churches should be used for prayer, but maintains that the UOC should not have a monopoly in this regard. (link)

    My guess is that the final resolution will be that if either the OCU or the UOC wishes to use one of the churches in the Upper Lavra on specific occasions, it will need to apply to the National Preserve for such use.

    The use of the Lower Lavra by the UOC is governed by a lease which was apparently signed in 2013 and which is for an indefinite term.      

    On January 8, it was reported that stated that an interdepartmental commission will meet next week to discuss how religious organizations use state property, in particular in the Lower Lavra. (link)

    Tkachenko also stated that the government cannot transfer its property to religious organizations for long-term use free of charge. (link)

    Personally, I would find it amazing if the government sought to evict the UOC monks from their monastery or to evict the theological academy and seminary from its building.

    Rather, it is much more likely that the government will seek rent from the UOC for the use of certain state-owned buildings in the Lower Lavra.


    Lastly, representatives of many of the Local Orthodox Churches were present for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict. The list of the representatives can be read at (link).

    The representatives included Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk (Moscow Patriarchate).

Sursa: www.InsideTheVatican.com

Contor Accesări: 373, Ultimul acces: 2024-06-17 05:25:39