In 2016 the Church has faced a number of serious problems: ongoing church raiding and a wave of arsons and robberies of our churches in different regions of the country, said the Metropolitan.
"The passing year, despite a number of serious problems faced by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, has been marked by a variety of positive, bright events. The most memorable of them probably became the unprecedented All-Ukrainian Cross Procession of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which took place with a prayer for peace and unity of the people," said Metropolitan Anthony, Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
– What problems do you mean? What important events would you single out of all the things that happened in the last 12 months?
– In 2016 the Church has faced a number of serious problems: ongoing church raiding and a wave of arsons and robberies of our churches in different regions of the country, the difficulties with the registration of statutes of our new dioceses and monasteries by the Ministry of Culture. Unfortunately, the above problems have caused difficulties not only for the UOC. So, because of delays in registration of the mission of the Synodal Department for social and humanitarian issues, several international organizations have failed to timely provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine. As a result, the Church lost the opportunity to give a more large-scale assistance to the needy. And this is thousands of internal migrants and other people affected by the hostilities in the east of Ukraine.
Besides, the attempts to adopt bills № №4128, 4511should also be recalled. The risk of the former is the fact that its adoption may create conditions for raider attacks on property of various denominations. The latter, in its turn, violates the principle of equality of all religious organizations in Ukraine. It is very important that the representatives of some other denominations carrying out their activities in Ukraine also expressed their protest against the adoption of such legislation.
However, there have been many positive events. First of all, this is the Cross Procession of the faithful, which by God’s grace united the country in prayer. Shoulder to shoulder, from different regions of the country, residents of the east and west of Ukraine, ATO soldiers and migrants from Donbass, people of different political views, walked to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.
St. Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians says that our God is, first of all, the God of peace (see 1 Cor. 14: 33).
And common prayer and the desire of good for our common Motherland allowed people to rise above all that had previously divided them. The Cross Procession showed that only due to the Church our people can again become united. The Cross Procession showed that our people are already tired of war, tired of hatred and confrontation. This is evidenced by tens of thousands of people who decided on such a procession, a walk of prayer for peace in Ukraine.
– What will the UOC focus on in 2017?
– The task of the Church is always the same. As two thousand years ago, today the primary aim of the Church is to save people from the power of sin and spiritual death, connecting them with God. This is why the Church exists in this world and will continue to exist until its last days.
However, salvation is not an individual process. According to one Orthodox theologian, a Christian cannot save alone: he/she saves only in the unity of the Body of the Church, which is made of the fullness of people believing in Christ.
Therefore, it is very important that each of us thinks not only of themselves but also of the neighbors. And for this we must try to unite around ourselves as many people as possible to perform works of mercy, compassion and love.
After all, in fact, each of us has many opportunities to show love, for example, by helping the poor and disadvantaged, and of course, the people affected by the hostilities in the east of Ukraine.
– What would you like to wish our readers on the eve of the upcoming holidays?
– On the eve of New Year and Christmas holidays I would like to wish all of us, that the Lord will never deprive us of His grace, but show to us, sinners, His love, also in the upcoming year. After all, Christmas is a feast, showing, first and foremost, the immense love of God for His creation.
God loved the world so much that He himself becomes a man and is doing everything so that we could become children of God. From us it is required quite a bit: just let Christ into our lives and give Him the opportunity to be born in our hearts. And if we decide to take this step, if we give God a chance to act in our life, then the life itself will be better. And if we become better, the world around us will improve too. As a folk wisdom says: if you want a better world – start with yourself!