This Saturday morning (April 1st), Ukrainian security forces raided the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and forced the governor (chief priest), Metropolitan Pavel, to sign a search warrant, before taking him for questioning.
He is being charged with “inciting inter-religious hatred and justifying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation.”
A thousand-year-old Monastery in Kiev, one of the most important Christian pilgrimage centers in the world, has become the focus of attention of the international community, as Orthodox priests defy orders from the Ukrainian government to vacate the premises, in a fight for the soul of the Slavic people from Eastern Europe.
Situated on a hilltop on the western bank of the Dnieper River, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is “a masterpiece of human creative genius in both its architectural conception and its remarkable decoration,” according to UNESCO.
After the raid this morning, searches are underway in the Metropolitan’s home, and he has been placed under house arrest. The police has cordoned off the building, while believers are gathering nearby.
“The Monastery of the Caves, as it is also known in English, has been tangled up for years in worsening Ukrainian-Russian relations, relations that resulted in a formal split — a schism — between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches in 2019, when the Ukrainian church was granted independence.
Now the issue is coming to a head at the historic monastery, as Ukrainian officials demand that the priests who live there — some of whom are suspected of recognizing the authority of the Moscow church — vacate the facility.”
Metropolitan Pavel has been under sanctions from Zelensky’s government since late January, when he accused the Ukrainian authorities of persecuting the church.
“[…] We, monks, more than 200 people, must leave the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, our home. The grandchildren of the revolution, the grandchildren of the leaders of the persecutors of the Church of Christ, today are hiding behind the good. Probably, the Apocalypse begins with Ukraine.
[…] We will defend our rights to the last, defend our shrines to the last. […] If they defame the church, they blaspheme Christ.”
And the Kiev regime does not hide their intentions towards these priests: in an interview with a Ukrainian TV channel, Mykhailo Mykhailovych Podolyak, adviser to Zelensly, declared that the impasse around the monastery is “an excellent opportunity to physically ‘clean up’ pro-Russian priests.”
He added that in the first 3-6 months of the War, it was possible to liquidate such people “very quickly and painlessly,” but this does not mean that it is now impossible.
This was not an isolated incident. The Gateway Pundit reported two weeks ago on a different raid on an Orthodox monastery.
This Week in Ukraine: Soldiers Storm Orthodox Monastery, Arrest Priest During Service, Cut Off Access to Sacred Caves, Close Three Orthodox Churches