by Archimandrite Bartholomew, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou
A lot of people ask why the Ukrainians are so resistant to the “special military operation”. They consider it to be a matter of a simple transition of power to a ruler of a similar people: “same faith, similar language, they will just pay taxes to another ruler. What is the problem?”
Others see the issue as a conflict between two global superpowers, where “one is being wronged by the other, has come threateningly close to it, has not respected its vital space”, etc., as if the Ukrainian people are not entitled to have independent and free will and to choose the values and culture they want to live with.
The aggressive, expansionist and voracious state cannot tolerate the existence of an independent Church in Kiev. This fact disrupts its plans to create a common supranational space, including the holy of holies of the Rus people, with a supposedly common culture and a common Church controlled by the stronger state.
The occupation of Kiev is a “necessary step” to further fulfill their imaginary rights about the “Third Rome”. The attacking state cannot tolerate the annihilation of its narrative and the undoing of centuries of effort to “liberate the Queen of Cities”. The ruler of the state is called upon to become “Great” in the history of his people in order to fulfill the “vow of his nation”.
A lot of people think that the current war in Ukraine is simply a war of economic interests, territorial sovereignty and the possession of natural resources. But it is more than that. It is a war of civilizations. It is a war between authoritarian chauvinism and freedom.
A war between messianic pharisaism – that fantasizes its rights to overrun cities “where gay parades take place” – and true faith in Christ. At stake is the right of the Ukrainian people to practice their Orthodox faith as they wish, that is, in freedom, love, discrimination and reconciliation, as the true Orthodox faith is.
This war is going on in different parts of the world. It is a war between two cultural paradigms; a spiritual war being waged in the souls of millions of people all over the earth. The war between fear-phobia-pharisaism and freedom-responsibility-love.
Thus, in many countries of the West, even in our country, through this spiritual war, the authoritarian leader has already allured and subjugated the souls of many people who are spiritually like him. People who turn against their own countries, betraying their values and culture, becoming “janissaries”, as we would say in Greece.
The same spiritual warfare was going on during the Christ’s presence on earth. Within the same nation with the same faith in God there were people with different views. On one hand there were the Pharisees and their followers and on the other hand there were the disciples of Christ, the first Christians! People with Pharisaic concepts were stoning adulteresses.
They did so to avoid looking inwards – inside themselves, at their own sins – at all costs. Jesus Christ began to write down their sins on the dust and told them “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Tax collectors and prostitutes approached Christ because of His love, which changed them.
In contrast, modern would-be “messiahs” and their local apologists spread the word that they will impose “moral purity” by sword and fire on the “degenerate and decadent” – as they like to say – West.
Symbols do not make an Orthodox Christian, but beliefs and actions do. In Ukraine there is no war between two nations of the same faith.
There is a war between a state that uses the heresies of fundamentalism and ethno-racialism as its expansionist doctrines – tools used by a “demigod messiah” through a totally controlled local Church – against a people who want to live freely and be able to believe in the Church of Christ in the truest way.
This example of Christian life – free and independent of secular authorities – is what the attackers want to eradicate before it spreads to their own country.
“For the Holy Faith of Christ and the freedom of our country” we, the Greeks, fought 200 years ago! The Ukrainians are fighting for the same goals today. The only right stance is to stand by them! Any other attitude, which does not support the just, will be a great condemnation of our people.
We wish our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine that God will strengthen them! They fight heroically under adverse conditions!
Continuing our prayer:
For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.
For the pious and orthodox Christians, let us pray to the Lord.
For Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and all the Ukrainian clergy and people, let us pray to the Lord.
“And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it!”