Your Eminences, Eminences,
dear fathers, brothers and sisters!
Dear participants of the Congress!
The main thing in life is to be with God always and in everything. Under such conditions, we will always have the strength and ability to fight our sins and weaknesses, as well as overcome any disasters, disagreements and trials.
Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and in every way unrighteously revile you for Me. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven (Matt. 5: 11-12). It is these words of the Holy Gospel that are the best fit to describe what the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been dealing with in recent years.
During this time, a lot has happened. The seizure of our churches, the illegal re-registration of parishes under the jurisdiction of another religious organization, physical violence towards our believers, intimidation and blackmail of their families. This is just a small list of offenses that took place in different regions of Ukraine. Unfortunately, many of them still remain a reality.
However, the main thing is not in these tragic events, since various persecutions and oppression accompanied our Church throughout the entire period of Her existence. The most important thing is that, despite all kinds of obstacles and persecution, people remain faithful to God. What is their strength and firmness of position? And why is it so necessary to stick to the real Church? First, it should be remembered that every believer has gone his own way to faith. Whom the Lord brought to Himself through the opportunity to start a new and truly fulfilling life. Someone – through long reflections and a fateful choice. And someone, like the prodigal son, through the resurrection with His love.
And all of us, so different and weak, were accepted into her arms by the Holy Church. She, like a caring Mother, always cares and supports us, despite our daily sins and mistakes, always heals our spiritual and physical wounds, helping us in the work of salvation. In this regard, I am sure that everyone can tell their own story or give an example of such help or consolation.
At the present time, when the Church is under attack, when streams of filth and lies are poured on it, they are trying to split and weaken Her at all costs, Her sons and daughters boldly demonstrate their gratitude and loyalty. This is not surprising, since everyone knows that you cannot betray your Mother. Only in the true Church are we able to meet God and receive His grace. It is this aspiration that is the key to the firm position of our believers – not politics, not geopolitics, not some kind of ideology, but exclusively the desire to be faithful to the Lord.
This is very important, since the Holy Gospel contains the following words: A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree bear good fruit (Matt. 7, 18). Each of us must remember this criterion. After all, it allows you to clearly understand where the real Church is, and where is her fake.
Today, many different forces are pushing us to compromise with our conscience and acknowledge what is only verbally connected with real faith. But can there be God where the canons are violated and a schism is maintained? Can the Sacraments be performed in temples that have been taken away by force, with the shedding of blood, despair and grief for many people? Does God’s grace abide where lies, violence, and aggression toward their fellow men reign? Frank answers to these questions not only put everything in its place, but also unambiguously explain why believers, against the background of provocative statements about new “waves” of so-called transitions, continue to remain faithful to the Lord and His Holy Church.
Dear rulers, fathers, brothers and sisters!
Everything that we say today about the faithful sons and daughters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church directly concerns all of you – both those who were able to come to this congress and those who remained at home, continuing their sacrificial feat. It is impossible to find exhaustive words to convey to you the fullness of our gratitude for your standing in the faith. We pray with all our hearts to God to support and protect you on this difficult path. Difficult, but full of great hope. After all, the Lord told us: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul (Matt. 10:28). If we are with God, if we continue to be faithful to Him in the future, then even the greatest threats and trials will not become an obstacle on the path to salvation.
Let’s remember the history of the Church of Christ. How many times it seemed to many that the Church was on the brink of extinction, how many times the enemies had already celebrated its end. However, with God’s help, the Church was reborn more than once literally from the ashes, while the persecutors of the faith disappeared forever in the whirlpool of historical events. For example, now only specialists remember well the era of the Arian heresy or the period of the so-called renovationists. And there were times when representatives of the respective pseudo-churches, using the unconditional support of the authorities, exercised unprecedented pressure on the Orthodox and disposed of almost all the churches of the canonical Church.
Remembering these pages of history, I urge to stand firm for the truth and not be afraid of anything. After all, everything is in the hands of God, and if we remain faithful to the Lord, then everything will definitely work out. The most important thing is to maintain peace of mind and love for each other. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn 13:35). Let us follow these words in order to be worthy of His mercy and blessings.
I wish that the words of St. John Chrysostom become our guide to the future: “The Church is not walls and a roof, but faith and life. Do not move away from her, because nothing is stronger than the Church. Your hope is the Church, your shelter is the Church. ”
May the All-Merciful Lord bless today’s meeting and help all of us to work fruitfully for the glory of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and for the good of our Ukrainian people.
METROPOLITAN OF KIEV AND ALL UKRAINE,
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH