With Orthodoxy Torn Apart in Ukraine, Mediation is Needed to Heal It
Ukraine is in an existential struggle for the lives of its citizens and its existence as a sovereign state. The 1750 branches of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church pull together with a wide range of partners to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs) and to manufacture heating stoves. Their volunteers, and those of other congregations like the Victory Church, and the Roman Catholic Caritas-Spes work on the very edge of combat zones, as close as the military will allow. Volunteers have been killed transporting food to liberated areas of the country where basic services have been destroyed, and Russian bombs still fall.
Aid is both humanitarian and spiritual. According to Senior Pentecostal Bishop Mykhailo Panochko, “The government can’t do anything for the soul.” Ukraine is a religious country, with over 70 percent of the population declaring themselves believers. A substantial majority cleave to Eastern Orthodoxy, yet the humanitarian and spiritual efforts of those churches in the current crisis are overshadowed by the conflict between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate (UOC) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine/ Constantinople Patriarchate (OCU). The poisonous roots of this problem were planted by
Aaron Rhodes is Senior Fellow in the Common Sense Society, and president of the Forum for Religious Freedom- Europe
Originally published in Bitter Winter.