23 Mar 2023 15:52

Monks won't leave Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra - monastery abbot

MOSCOW. March 23 (Interfax) - Despite the Ukrainian authorities' demand for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to leave the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra by March 29, the monks living there will not be able to do so, the monastery's abbot Metropolitan Pavel said.

"We have been given two weeks to vacate the monastery. We will not be able to do it under any circumstances, because the monks have done everything over the past 35 years to furnish it for its tenants and pilgrims, and there is simply nowhere to move all these items to, but we have no intention of leaving anything behind," Metropolitan Pavel said on the lavra's YouTube channel.

He accused the Ukrainian authorities of showing disrespect toward the UOC clergy, adding that recently, all Synod members, who are "elderly bishops", had to stand for several hours outside the Ukrainian President's Office in Kiev waiting for a meeting with President Vladimir Zelensky, but they "were not granted it" in the end.

"If the state behaves in such a way, it is not worth a dime," he said.

Speaking about the Ukrainian authorities' inspection at the Warm Church on Wednesday, the metropolitan said, "We did not take out the walls. We replaced the paint on the walls with frescoes. We made cases for the icons. I think they will not find other 'flagrant violations' there."

Holding on to the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra is an objective not only for its tenants but also for all followers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, he said.

"Many people are blaming us that we are surrendering the monastery without a fight. Come and take a look - it is your duty to defend this sanctuary together with us," the metropolitan said.

At the same time, he urged people not to behave like "no-good politicians".

"We cannot hurl Molotov cocktails, we will not throw stones. The only thing we can do is pray," he said.

Earlier, the Ukrainian authorities demanded that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church leave the territory of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra by March 29, citing alleged violations by the UOC during its use of this state property.