Beloved Brothers and Sisters, Fathers, Concelebrants, fellow Citizens!
Our country finds herself on the brink of chaos. We are witnessing an escalation of confrontation and violence, which encompasses wider and wider circles of our citizens. We mourn and pray for the repose of the people who were killed during clashes or perished of illegal actions. There can be no excuse for murder, violence, abuse and neglect of human dignity no matter in the name of what and by whom it is done.
Despite calls by the leaders of the Ukrainian churches and personally by the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Vladimir, the government has not taken steps to resolve the conflict, stop the violence and start a real dialogue. The situation escalated to the limit when it appears that the opposition is unable to control the mood of the protesters. “Disband the Maidan” in such a situation is impossible, and forceful dispersal will lead to the beginning of the Civil War, in which there will be neither losers nor heroes.
What is happening in Ukraine today is judgment day for all parties and for everyone: for authorities, opposition, churches, public figures and for each person. “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God” – says the Lord. In this situation, we Christians must be the first to take responsibility for our actions, emotions, calls and prayers.
Our Christian principles are the Lord’s commandments. Nothing can justify the violation of the commandments. “Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud” – these are the basic norms, and the one who trespasses them puts himself outside the boundaries of Christianity.
“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. ” – the Orthodox Church reminds us of these words remind us today in the liturgical reading of the Epistle of the Apostle James (2:13). Yet instead of mercy we often become today witnesses to lawlessness, abuse, cruelty. We implore everyone: Come to your senses! The judgment of God is for everyone. The Lord might not give us time to repent. The measure of lawlessness overflows very quickly when it is filled by those who consider themselves Christians.
Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!
Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and smote them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.
He will raise a signal for a nation afar off, and whistle for it from the ends of the earth; and lo, swiftly, speedily it comes!”(Isaiah 5:20-26).
Or is this the future we want for ouselves and our children? There is still time to stop. We call on all parties to end the violence and illegal actions. Only truth and goodness can defeat evil that is encompassing us.
Now is the time for each of us to say that in the future he will not live a lie. It’s time to remember and join the words that were written by Solzhenitsyn in Soviet times. We declare that we:
- Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in our opinion distorts the truth.
- Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on our own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
- Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which we can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
- Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather our own nest, to achieve success in our work, if we do not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
- Will not allow ourselves to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to our desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which we do not completely accept.
- Will not raise our hand to vote for a proposal with which we do not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom we consider unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
- Will not allow ourselves to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question.
- Will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if we hear a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
- Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.
In this so help us all the Merciful Lord, the Sun of Righteousness!
From politicians we demand the restoration of dialogue to find a peaceful way out of the social crisis. Our politicians – pro-government and opposition – must come to their senses, must begin to live according to the rules of law and solidarity, to stop cheating and deceiving. Only the restoration of mutual confidence among politicians and in the community can be the beginning of a new page of history of Ukraine.
We call all Christians to fervent prayer for Ukraine! Our country, like ancient Israel, will either find the strength for the peaceful transformation and start living according to God’s commandments, or will become a thing of the past as one who has turned away from God’s blessing.
Still, our efforts are not enough. There is still a need for political agreement to begin to live heeding the law of God and of man, while respecting the rights and dignity of citizens, and maintaining social cohesion.
Today our political leaders will determine whether this nation will be blessed. And we all need to pray that politicians have the wisdom, courage, and mutual trust to start a new life. Whatever decision politicians adopt, the people, and especially Christians today must prove themselves as people with dignity and conscience.
Will we ever hear similar words from clergy here in the United States?