(UOC-USA) As we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of Ukrainian Independence, we find ourselves in perhaps the most critical moments of all Ukrainian history. We witness yet another genocidal invasion of the nation by the armed forces of the Russian Federation whose main target are the innocent civilians – mostly senior citizens and their grandchildren – sleeping in their beds at night. We hear the often repeated by Russian dictators, allegation that there is no such nation “Ukraine” and no such people “Ukrainians”, followed by the promise of the present dictator at the beginning of his invasion, that “when we are finished, there will not be a single person left anywhere who will self-identify as a Ukrainian. Finally, we hear the promise made by the prime hierarch of the government’s “church”, promising in a Holy Day sermon that any soldier who dies fighting in the invasion of Ukraine murdering self-identified Ukrainians will earn forgiveness of all their sins, equating them to the holy martyrs. Shortly thereafter, he began deposing his own clergy who prayed for peace rather than for victory over Ukrainians as he ordered them to do.
We witness millions of men, women and children fleeing from their homes and the invaders to nations all around the world. We witness nations, some of which have been known as “traditional” enemies of Ukraine, opening wide their borders, their hearts, their minds and souls in welcoming and supporting Ukrainian refugees on a scale rarely seen throughout world history. We witness the millions of our fellow citizens here in the United States of America and South America who have worked diligently to collect the funds necessary to support those remaining in all regions of Ukraine – millions contributed to our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA because of their trust in our ability to maintain transparency in the distribution of aid to all who desperately need it.
We witness the world’s greatest nations supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the defense of their nation, astounding the world with their success and professionalism. We witness the profound oneness of mind throughout all the “nation” – the people – of Ukraine. These are people of God who have, throughout all their lives, remained faithful to God trusting that His “Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. We witness men of all ages serving in the Armed Forces defending the nation with their every bit of energy and certainty in their righteousness. We witness a man who portrayed an “accidental” president on television elected as the “real” President of Ukraine, becoming an inspiration for not only his nation, but for nations all around the world, uniting his people into one mind about who they are and what they will always be.
Yes, we are at a critical moment of Ukrainian history because the President and his government face what can become overwhelming pressure to negotiate and end the conflict not of their own making by making sacrifices of land and people. We are at a critical moment because the President and his government face additional pressure to deal with critical issues existing at all levels of society that may do more to undermine Ukraine’s future than any unjustifiable invasion.
We are not politicians and have no desire to be politicians. We, along with you, dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, are people of God whose responsibility is to pray for all the people of God throughout Ukraine. We have worked closely with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in our Christian aid programs and we call upon the Church, its clergy and its people to once again become the active conscience of the nation of Ukraine. We call upon the Church of Ukraine to put forth at all times the necessity of standing in humility before God in the Holy Trinity seeking strength to follow the Guidance of the Holy Spirit in the way we relate to one another and the Grace to profess our love for one another under all circumstances.
Pray, dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, pray more fervently than ever before in your daily life. Pray for peace, pray for understanding, pray for open hearts, minds and souls that will be able to rebuild Ukraine so that like the proverbial Phoenix, she will “rise up from the ashes” to fulfill her destiny among the forever free nations of the world. Pray for the leadership of the nation and the Church that they may always be one with the people they serve.
We extend our deep gratitude to all who have stepped up in our parishes and as individuals to help in helping the people of Ukraine. Your unconditional love has worked miracles! Yes, we are at a critical moment as we celebrate this 32nd anniversary of Ukrainian Independence – and celebrate we do because we have learned so much about the citizens of Ukraine, but also because of how much we have been blessed and enabled in our assistance to them. May the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Remember your faith as part of your daily prayers: “The Father is my Hope, the Son is my Refuge, the Spirit is my Protection.” Pray this and believe.
In our Lord’s All-Encompassing Love,
+Antony, Metropolitan of the UOC of the USA and Diaspora
+Jeremiah, Archbishop of the South American Eparchy
+Daniel, Archbishop of the UOC of the USA and Western Europe