by Serhii Shumylo*
Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev continues to rely on sectarian fabrications and hoaxes to justify and support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In particular, on November 4, 2022, on the occasion of the “Day of National Unity” and the “Day of Military Glory of Russia” (these holidays replaced the Communist holiday of the “Great October Socialist Revolution” in Russia starting in 2004 – author’s note), he once again gave a propagandistic speech about “restoration of the lost internal integrity of our Fatherland”. In this speech, repeating like a mantra his artificial ideological clichés about “the united historical space of holy Russia,” he once again quoted his favorite slogan: “Ukraine, Russia, Belarus – together we are holy Russia”.
Two days later, on November 6, he once again emphasized in his sermon: “I mean both Russia and Ukraine, and Belarus, which, according to the words of the outstanding pious ascetic Lavrentiy Chernigovskiy, is holy Russia”.
This slogan is the basis of the entire fundamentalist ideology of the “Russian world” developed by Kirill Gundyaev, which has become the justification and the cause of the current war of aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine (read more about this in my previous article). This slogan, so to speak, is his “creed”. At the same time, often manipulating this phrase, Gundyaev constantly falsely attributes it to the Ukrainian saint who lived in the first half of the twentieth century, St. Lawrence of Chernigov (his layman’s name being L. E. Proskura; 1868-1950).
As Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev states, “the core of the Russian world today is Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and the holy Venerable Lavrentiy of Chernigov expressed this idea in the famous phrase: ‘Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are holy Russia.’ It is this understanding of the Russian world that is incorporated in the modern name of our Church”.
However, in fact, behind these words of the Moscow patriarch lies a banal lie and falsification, because St. Lawrence of Chernigov never said these words. To attribute words and ideas to St. Lawrence of Chernigov to which the reverend ascetic never adhered and of which he is not the author constitute an act of fraud and forgery intentionally propagated with an ideological purpose. And in fact, these contrived ideas are illiterate and even heretical from the standpoint of Christian theology.
The apocryphal statement quoted by Kirill Gundyaev, which is artificially attributed to St. Lawrence, reads as follows in toto: “Kievan Rus was together with great Russia. Kiev without great Russia and separate from Russia is inconceivable in any and all ways… As it is impossible to separate the Most Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – who are One God – so it is impossible to separate Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus. They are Holy Russia together” (Moscow: Russian Spiritual Center, 1994).
Behind these words, in fact, lies an unorthodox heretical theory, according to which the existing states of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are equated with the one and indivisible Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. From the point of view of Orthodox theology, this is nothing but blasphemy and heresy, encroaching on the basic dogma of Orthodox doctrine : the unity of the Divine Trinity, which is the one and only God in essence, but trine in the Hypostases, not merged among themselves and, simultaneously, are undivided in one Being.
Substituting concepts and meanings, through the idea of an indivisible “trinity of Holy Russia” asserts a new heretical theory about likening the Holy Trinity to three states in order to artificially “sacralize” and justify the indivisibility of the “Russian world” as “one space composed of three fraternal nations of Holy Russia”. In essence, there is an artificial deification of the mythical “holy Russia” and the intention of giving it the qualities of a “deity,” where the three independent states acquire some formerly unknown “single spiritual essence,” “trinity of hypostases, but undivided in a single being”.
At the same time, this analogy essentially denies the dogma of the unity of the Divine Trinity itself, because if the three republics of the former USSR were divided among themselves decades ago, then it turns out that the Blessed Trinity can be divided in the same way… From the point of view of Orthodox theology, this is clearly blasphemy and heresy. And Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev acts as the promoter of this heresy, i.e., heresiarch.
From the sectarian thickets
At the same time, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev is not the author of this newfangled heresy. He is its propagator. The real “founding father” of this heresy is a scandalous sectarian figure and self-appointed “schiarchbishop” Cherubim (Degtyar), who first launched this fake in 1994 in his falsified published book about St. Lawrence of Chernigov in Moscow. Belonging to the sectarian movement of the “Sekachevites” and claiming to be a “schiarchimandrite” or a “schiarchiepiscopus,” he was one of the first to spread the pseudo-orthodox sectarian cults of the “holiness” of Ivan the Terrible and Grigory Rasputin in the early 1990s in the Russian Orthodox Church. He was also involved in spreading sectarian anti-code and anti-passport propaganda within the ROC Moscow Patriarchate. In addition, he was the confessor of the Russian extremist fundamentalist Black Hundreds and Hierarchs Union of Orthodox Christian Churches, which chose “Orthodoxy or Death” as its slogan and promoted the ideas of “Russian Peace,” Orthodox fundamentalism, racism, neo-Nazism, and Ukrainophobia.
Cherubim Degtyar was repeatedly the subject of various scandals covered by the media. Thus, as early as in the Chernigov regional newspaper “Desnyanskaya pravda” of July 16, 1985 (№ 134 (17167)) the article “Righteous man with greedy hands” showed the “fraud” as well as the mental and sexual disorders of this man, and informed that from 1979 to 1984 he had a certificate from a psychiatric hospital stating that he was mentally disabled. It is also known that in 1983 he was treated in the Chernihiv Regional Psychiatric Hospital for eleven months. And in 1984 he was arraigned “for fraud”, but was soon released due to a mental illness disability.
In 2013, the Ukrainian media reported the theft of about $1.5 million from Chervym Degtyar’s home in Chernihiv. And in 2019 a new scandal received widespread media coverage when, under Cherubim’s influence, the body of a recently deceased local priest in his native village of Moshchenka in Chernihiv Region was stolen from a grave at night and secretly buried in the woods in the middle of the thickets after having been abused.
From the documents of his personal file, stored in the archives of the Chernigov eparchy of the UOC, we know that Cherubim (Degtyar Mikhail Maximovich) was born on February 2, 1937, in the village of Moshchenka, Gorodnyansk District, Chernigov Province (although he himself repeatedly added 11 years to his age, saying that he was born in 1926). He had only a 7th grade education in a rural school. He was ordained a deacon in 1958 and served as untenured clergyman of Chernihiv Transfiguration Cathedral until 1960. The same file states that in 1962 Deacon Cherubim (Degtyar) resigned from the staff of the Chernihiv diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate and never belonged to it again.
At the same time it is noted that when Bishop Vladimir Sabodan (the future primate of the UOC MP) was the ruling bishop of Chernihiv diocese from 1969 to 1973, Cherubim evaded his repeated requests to come to the diocesan administration. Posing as a “hieromonk,” he refused to show a document confirming his priestly ordination in response to numerous demands from diocesan clergy. Therefore it is noted in the reference of Chernigov diocese ROC Moscow Patriarchate from 28.09.1969 that “officially” the Eparchial Board of Chernigov cannot confirm that he really is a hieromonk. He himself later began to say that he was ordained a priest in 1962 in Alma-Ata by Archbishop Joseph (Chernov) of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan. However, from the reference of Metropolitan of Astana and Kazakhstan Alexander (Mogilyov) from 20.05.2020 № 587/438 it is known that “Degtyar M.M. never belonged to the clergy of the eparchies of Kazakhstan Metropolitan district and moreover did not receive priestly ordination”.
It is known that since the 1970s Cherubim Degtyar belonged to the illegal intra-church sect of “Sekachevites” (named after the founder of the sect, a former priest of the Chernigov diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate Fr. Gennadiy Sekach), The leaders of this sect pretended to be “bishops” and “metropolitans,” even though they were not actually such.
They traveled to various regions of the Soviet Union making up various “miraculous” stories about themselves and falsifying documents, and they engaged in illegal religious ceremonies. Among the hierarchs of this movement, it is known that they served officially as ordinary priests in legal parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate, but among their followers they served illegally as “secret bishops” (Father E. Zhiganov, Father A. Lapin, Father A. Piletsky, and others).
There is a theory that this semi-clandestine sect was created with the assistance of the KGB in order to control the underground church in the USSR and to restrain anti-Soviet sentiments among believers. It was in this sect that Cherubim Degtyar was ordained “bishop of Chernigov” in the late 1970s by its leaders, the self-appointed “skhimitropolitans” Gennady Sekach and Feodosy Gumennikov, who in the 1960s together with him were clerics of the Chernigov diocese of the ROC MP. And in the early 1980s they also elevated Cherubim to the rank of “archbishop”.
The Story of a Fake
After the local ascetic Archimandrite Lawrence (Proskura), revered in the Chernigiv region, was canonized in UOC MP in 1993, Cherubim Degtyar tried to use the name of the saint to create for himself the popularity and image of the “elder”. To this end, falsely posing as a “disciple of St. Lawrence,” he forged his hagiography and teachings, which he first auto-published in 1994 in Moscow at the publishing house “Russian Spiritual Center”. Subsequently, having the copyright to the text, in 1996 and subsequent years he again published this falsified work in many thousands of copies, which Russian church publishers and resellers distribute to all the dioceses of the Moscow Patriarchate, including in Ukraine.
The book was based on the 1988 edition of the Russian émigré publishing house “Posev” (No 14), which published its first book, “Life Descriptions and Teachings by Archimandrite Lavrentii Chernigovskii”. In 1991 this text was republished without change in the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra by the publishing house “Svet Pechersky”. And on the basis of this edition, the self-appointed “archbishop” Cherubim wrote his own version, having changed and added his own stories and inventions.
Thus, in his published version, the heretical phrase first appeared, later promoted by Russian spin doctors and current Moscow patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, that “just as the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the One God – cannot be divided, so cannot Russia, Ukraine and Belarus be divided. They are holy Russia together.” None of the previous versions of St. Lawrence of Chernigov’s hagiographies and precepts ever contained these words.
Other illiterate hoaxes by Cherubim also appeared for the first time in the 1994 Moscow edition. In particular, here Cherubim Degtyar falsely attributed to the saint his own pseudo-predictions that “Russia, together with all the Slavic peoples and lands, will form a mighty kingdom. It will be nurtured by the Orthodox king – God’s anointed one. In Russia all schisms and heresies will disappear… Even the Anti-Christ will fear the Russian Orthodox Tsar. And all the other countries except Russia and the Slavic lands, will be under the power of the Antichrist” (Ibid., P.157-158). Any seminarian will easily notice that such views are fundamentally contrary to the Orthodox sacred and patristic eschatology, and belong to the heresy of Chilias.
However, how could Cherubim, who had attended a rural school for only seven years, know such theological subtleties … At the same time, this idea has now gained particular popularity among the Russian post-Soviet KGB-FSB elites.
Cherubim artificially added other speculations and ideas of his own in the 1994 edition, particularly with his condemnation of the Kyiv Patriarchate (which did not exist during Fr. Lavrentiy’s lifetime and first was created only in 1990), as well as condemning Metropolitan Filaret Denisenko of Kyiv (who separated from the ROC MP in 1992) and even the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (the latter in 1990 announced its non-recognition of the hierarchy of the semi-catholic current of “Secachovites,” among whom it named Cherubim as the non-canonical “bishop of Chernigov”). Thus Cherubim, by falsifying the biography and instruction of the saint, under the guise of false prophecies tried to take revenge on the leaders of three jurisdictions (UAOC, UOC-KP and Russian Orthodox Church) that began operating in the post-Soviet space in the 1990s after the collapse of the USSR.
All these additions, which had never existed in any of the previous editions, testified to their emergence after 1992. This was confirmed by the linguistic (authentification of authorship) examination of the 1994 text, which showed a significant difference and inconsistency between the styles of speech in most of the text with the new additions that appeared in the 1994 edition. Moreover, in the 1994 additions there are many terms and linguistic constructions, which were not used in the first half of the twentieth century and are characteristic of the 1990s.
When this book first appeared in Chernigov, elderly nuns who were still alive at the time, disciples and nuns of St. Lawrence, were extremely indignant at such falsification, distortion and fabrications by Cherubim Degtyar, whom the old parishioners in Chernigov remembered well as a sectarian and impostor. The author of this article personally had occasion to witness from these old Laurentian nuns a refutation of what Cherubim had written. In particular, Abbess Amvrosia (Ivanenko; 1926-2006) of the Chernigov Yeletsky monastery, who was a novice and a nun at St. Lawrence since 1942, categorically denied the authenticity of the above statements, repeatedly calling it “Cherubic heresy”.
Such a characterization of the book published by Cherubim was heard from her by many Chernigovites who communicated with her. According to St. Lawrence’s spiritual daughter, he never spoke about politics and never expressed or shared even in a restrained fashion such views, because it was contrary to his inner convictions. He taught that monks should stay out of politics. Moreover, all those who knew the ascetic testified that he always spoke Ukrainian in everyday life and had great respect for Ukrainian culture and traditions.
The then-ruling metropolitan of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, Anthony (Vakaryk; 1926-2003), who banned Degtyar from serving and receiving Holy Communion as a sectarian and impostor back in the early 1980s, did not bless the distribution of this book, edited by Cherubim in the Chernihiv eparchy of the UOC MP.
Was St. Lawrence an adherent of the Moscow Patriarchate?
Among other things, it is worth noting that the forgery committed by Cherubim betrays a call attributed to Fr. Lavrentii (Proskura) under the guise of a false “prophecy” – an appeal on his behalf “that we should be faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate and in no case enter into any schism” (the text refers to the Russian Orthodox Church and the UOC-KP). Such politico-ecclesial narratives were quite popular among the ROC-MP in the early 1990s, when many of its parishes after the collapse of the Soviet Union joined the ROCOR, UAOC, UOC-KP and UGCC, threatening a complete breakup of the entire Moscow Patriarchate system. At the same time, during the postwar period, when the followers of Fr. Lavrentiy recorded his authentic teachings, such accents were inappropriate altogether, since the Soviet Union’s repressive security agencies established a complete monopoly of the ROC-MP over religious life in the country, and all alternative jurisdictions were banned and physically eliminated.
Moreover, in the State Archive of the Chernigov region in the materials of the two-volume investigation case of the NKVD for 1936 – 1937 protocols of interrogations of Fr. Lavrentiy (Proskura) dated 19 september 1936, as well as complaints and denunciations by several “serhiyan” priests of the ROC MP. From these documents we learn that the saint did not in reality recognize the authority of the Moscow Synod headed by Metropolitan Sergey Starogorodsky (future Moscow patriarch) and was one of the leaders of the church movement that opposed the Moscow Patriarchate, “True Orthodox Church” (TRC) in Chernigov Region.
NKVD documents explicitly state that Fr. Lavrentiy (Proskura) was a “pillar of the IPC” in Chernihiv, did not recognize Metropolitan Sergey (Stragorodsky) of Moscow, and even if in any of the churches he heard the name of this hierarch being commemorated, he defiantly “plugged his ears” in public, thus demonstrating his attitude to the pro-Soviet Moscow church leadership of the ROC MP.
During the German occupation, he belonged to the autonomous Ukrainian Church, which also did not commemorate Moscow Patriarch Sergey (Stragorodsky), and its hierarchs were subjected to a “ban on priestly service” by the Moscow Synod. After the arrival of Soviet troops, Archimandrite Lavrentii, although forced to join the ROC MP, remained in opposition to Bishop Boris (Vick), sent from Moscow, for which he repeatedly received insults, reprimands and threats of being “banned from priestly service”. It is known that some priests of ROC MP in Chernigiv in the 1940s called Fr. Lavrentiy an “autocephalist,” warning his parishioners against contacting him. Moreover, until his death, he continued to secretly receive and bless those catacomb True Orthodox Christians (TRC) who did not recognize the Moscow Patriarchate and continued to pray secretly at home.
Consequently, in this aspect as well, Cherubim’s 1994 fictional statements and stories are unsupported.
Thus, we are dealing with a deliberate and gross falsification and distortion of both church history and the true image of the saint and the beliefs he professed, carried out in 1994. Through such provocation, political slogans and ideas were falsely ascribed to the revered saint in order to further promote and spread them among the faithful in “his name,” artificially attributing to him the authority of so-called “prophecies” and thus “sacralizing” these ideas as such.
It is these fictitious and forged “statements” and “prophecies” by the sectarian activist Cherubim Degtyar in the 1990’s, which were never said or shared by St. Lawrence of Chernigov, that were adopted in the development of a new imperial-fundamentalist ideology of the “Russian world” and which are now forcefully imposed in the ROC MP by the current Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev.
Manipulations by Moscow Patriarch Kirill
As Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev said in his sermon of November 4, 2022 to justify the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, he “remembers the day of celebration of the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, when in Kiev, on Khreshchatyk, thousands of people shouted the words of St. Lawrence of Chernigov: “Ukraine, Russia, Belarus – together we are Holy Rus! It was a chorus of thousands of people united by one faith, one national self-consciousness. What power was shown then by our people”.
What was that event during which a “chorus of thousands of people” in Kyiv “proclaimed” such slogans and who were supposedly united by a “common national consciousness”? It turns out that this was a rock concert on Khreshchatyk on June 26, 2008, during which then-Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev of Smolensk jumped out onto the stage and began loudly chanting this slogan in front of the young people. Alcohol was being sold on the streets and many of those attending the concert were in an intoxicated state, leaving their empty bottles right under their feet… In the crowd there were a lot of guys in matching T-shirts with Russian symbols, who as if on cue from different places began to chant this slogan about the “united holy Russia” with the Metropolitan.
Following them, in a kind of hypnotic ecstasy, it was picked up by some of the other young people in the crowd. Most of the rock music fans present at the concert, belonging to a variety of informal youth movements (often completely non-Christian), did not even understand who the strange man with the beard, resembling the fantastic Tolkien “wizard Gandalf,” was, nor why he jumped on the stage with the rock musicians, and what was this fabulous “holy Russia” he was shouting about. But Kirill Gundyaev was not indifferent. The main thing was to fabricate the necessary “tableau” for the TV cameras, so that later he could declare that everyone present there was united by a “common national consciousness” and “what power was shown by our people at that time”.
Later at a press conference in Moscow, Metropolitan Kyrill spoke about this first experiment in Kyiv: “It was like a meeting of liberators – there was such jubilation among Ukrainians”. He also then noted, “Recent days have shown that we Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarusians also understand the importance of preserving a single space of civilization which is called Holy Russia”.
After having become the new Moscow patriarch six months later, in January 2009, Kirill Gundyaev made the ideology of the “Russian world”, which he had previously tested, the fundamental doctrine of the entire Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. “Only a united Russian world can become a strong subject of global international politics, stronger than any political alliances,” Moscow Patriarch Kirill said at the opening of the 3rd “Assembly of the Russian World” in November 2009.
Henceforth, manipulations with slogans about “united holy Russia”, “united civilization space”, “united Russian world”, “united spiritual crosses”, etc. acquire a systemic character, being adopted not only in the ROC MP, but also in the power structures and special services of the Russian Federation.
In this ideology, the Moscow Patriarch constantly appeals to the terms “Holy Russia” and “unified historical space of the peoples of Holy Russia” as if they represented a kind of historic reality, although in fact it is only a folkloric metaphor, an imaginary myth-dream, artificially invented by scribes from Ivan the Terrible’s entourage and subsequently, as apocryphal legends, transferred to the folklore of Russian mystical sectarianism. Thus, it is not only illiterate from a scientific and historical point of view (because in reality a country or state with the name “Holy Russia” never existed), but a deliberate manipulation and substitution of concepts.
An anti-evangelical “theology of war”
The production of such ideas gained a new lease on life after the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Justifying it, two weeks after it began, Patriarch Kyrill stated, “we have entered into a struggle that has not a physical but a metaphysical significance”. In his next sermon of October 18, 2022, he emphasized that this “metaphysical struggle” is being waged by Russia in Ukraine, “that by the power of God all these devilish thoughts be eradicated from the minds of people who do not seek the spiritual unity of holy Russia, that we all realize our responsibility to preserve the spiritual unity of the Russian world… I speak with courage in these walls the words “Russian world”, although I know that some forces in Ukraine demonize them… We use this word – with full responsibility, inner calmness and confidence in the rightness of our position… We are one people – the people of holy Russia… of one historical Fatherland, called Orthodox Russia. Our prayers today are about this, and to this purpose we direct our labors today”.
Furthermore, on October 25, 2022, while opening the meeting of the XXIV “World Russian People’s Council” (WRPC), the Moscow Patriarch said that Russia is now struggling with “global universalism”, without which the one who “will claim global power and whose name will be associated with the end of the world” (i.e. “the Antichrist”) will not appear. This means, as Kirill Gundyaev emphasized, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, the spirits of evil under heaven”. And in his November 6 sermon, repeating his meme about the “immutable trinity of Holy Russia” and wishing “strength of spirit” to “representatives of our guard, the Armed Forces, and all the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” he added that “Russia today is a certain pillar and a statement of truth (see 1 Tim 3:15). These words were said in reference to the Church, but our faithful people are themselves to be pillars of truth”.
Inspired by such “reinforcing” propaganda, militaristic sermons and admonitions of the patriarch about “metaphysical struggle” against “world rulers of darkness and spirits of evil under heaven”, about “diabolical intentions” of the opponents of unity of the “Russian world” and opposition of Russia to “the Antichrist”, influential Russian officials also began to declare that “as the special military operation continues, the de-satanization of Ukraine becomes more and more urgent” (statement of the Assistant Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation A. Pavlov of 25.10.2022 ).
Also on the occasion of “National Unity Day,” on November 4, 2022, the former President of the Russian Federation and current Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev released a statement that echoed the recent statements of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. In particular, he publicly stated that “we are fighting for all our people, for our land, for our thousand-year history. We fight against those who hate us, who ban our language, our values and even our faith, who incite hatred for the history of our Fatherland… By rising up against them, we have gained sacred power… When the decrepit world order collapses, it will bury all its haughty priests under the many tons of rubble… We listen to the words of the Creator in our hearts and obey them. These words give us a sacred purpose. The goal is to stop the supreme ruler of hell” (statement of the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation D. Medvedev from 04.11.2022).
All of these paranoid statements and pronouncements by influential Russian officials not only echo the statements and sermons of the Moscow patriarch, but also complement and continue his pseudo-sacred anti-evangelical « theology of war ». In fact, Kirill Gundyaev is their mastermind, and thus, along with other Kremlin war criminals, is directly responsible for unleashing the war and the thousands of civilian casualties. At the same time, as we have seen, the basis and main slogans of this fundamentalist ideology were borrowed not from the church tradition, but from the sectarian thickets of marginal currents – from outright impostors and adventurers with a damaged psyche and unhealthy spirituality.
One such sectarian was the self-appointed schiarchbishop Cherubim Degtyar, who in the early 1990s first came up with and disseminated heretical ideas that form the basis of the modern ideology of the Russian world. Moreover, they are a crude and conscious forgery, thanks to which, « in the name of » one of the Ukrainian saints of the last century (St. Lawrence of Chernigov), purely political slogans, ideas and hoaxes of an anti-Christian and heretical nature are now extrapolated into the masses, becoming the official doctrine of the ROC-MP with the goal of their sacralization. These false prophecies are used to substantiate and justify both the ideas of the restoration of the USSR/Russian empire and the invading war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the genocide of the Ukrainian people.
It is rather symptomatic that the Russian post-Soviet ruling elites (and who are mainly officers of the former KGB who had engaged in anti-religious persecutions and repressions in the USSR) and a significant part of Russian society, increasingly immersed in the stupefaction of pathological militant madness, are fueled and inspired by exactly such pseudo-spiritual surrogates invented by a mad sectarian.
Marginal sectarianism and psycho-spiritual deviations are at their core. This is a clear sign of the marginalization and degeneration into sectarianism of both the Russian Orthodox Church and the part of Russian society that is ready to accept and consume such spiritual surrogates. Yesterday’s atheists and persecutors of the faith, disguised and mimicking the Orthodox, under the guidance of « Chekists in cassocks » are trying to restore the Tower of Babel. Pathological lies are at the core of their ideology of the Russian world. It is about such people that Christ says in the Gospel: «You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies». (John 8:44).
Through the sacralization of fakes and lies under the pretense of an external appearance of Orthodoxy in Russia, a subtle internal substitution at a deeper level is taking place. In essence, this is an attempt to assume the role of the so-called Antichrist, who, according to the warnings of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov), St. Seraphim of Sarov, Fr. Clement (Leontiev) and others, may appear specifically in Russia. After all, the term in ancient Greek of « anti » (Greek ἀντί) means not only « against » but also « instead of »; that is, a replacement of one by another, a falsification, a substitution.
And so « anti-Christianity » is not just something that is against Christianity but also which substitutes it by an outward deceptive cover of a pretense of Christianity. This is exactly what we are now witnessing in the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate with its anti-evangelical « theology of war », its massive militarization of church consciousness, and its « sacralization » of the murder and the genocide of Ukrainian civilians. The entire free world is coming to understand the meaning of Ukraine’s heroic resistance to the aggression by Putin’s Russian Federation : it is a confrontation with the general insanity and the satanic obsession of the «mortiferous multitude» «from the uttermost parts of the north» (Ezekiel. 39).
Ph.D. (History), Doctor of Theology (Th.Dr,)
Director of the International Institute of the Athonite Legacy,
Research fellow of the Institute of History of Ukraine at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,
Associate professor of the Department of Humanities of National Academy of Managerial Staff of Culture and Arts at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine,
Honored Worker of Ukrainian Culture