Persecutions of the canonical Ukrainian Church are perhaps the only church-related topic that is frequently discussed in the global information space. The situation at hand is unprecedented in modern times.
Persecutions of Christians, unfortunately, are not a new phenomenon and are, regrettably, perpetual. We are aware of the hardships faced by Christian communities in India, the pressure on Christians in African countries, and occasional reports of difficult treatment of Christians in Islamic countries in the Middle East. Christians fulfill their duty of faith, suffer for their convictions, and die for Christ.
In this situation, those of us living in Russia, a relatively tolerant country regarding religious freedom (at least for now), should demonstrate another aspect of Christian virtue - tolerance and compassion towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you cannot directly save a Christian community in Manipur, India, where the Kuki people, who adhere to Christianity, are being killed for their faith, at least let us pray for these unfortunate people. We might be tempted to analyze the situation critically, pointing out their mistakes, their inability to find compromises with their neighbors, their lack of influence on those in power, and their inability to defend themselves against militant fanatics. Analyzing the situation rationally, we might have an abundance of criticsms to offer. They live in Manipur, Gondar in Ethiopia, or Punjab in Pakistan - they are just doing it all wrong! They should follow our example, and everything would work out for them! They are weaklings and cowards!
However, there is no need to analyze anything, and giving them advice is unnecessary. What we need to do is simply pray to God. If we are true Christians and believe in Christ, is there any power stronger than us?
The same applies to the Ukrainian Church. Some of the headlines in our newsfeeds are embarrassing: "Onufriy is pleasing Bandera followers," "Metropolitan capitulates," "traitors and cowards lead the UOC," and so on. The demeaning rhetoric from us, who are well-off, strong, confident, and smart, is overwhelming. We believe we know exactly how to act! We are not weaklings! That's us. From the Ukrainian side, a wave of rhetorical "devastating elements," to use military terminology, is also spreading: "We will never be brothers!" "We are not yours anymore," and so on.
Amid this rhetorical crossfire, reasonable thoughts are barely audible: "Let's wait for the end of hostilities, and then discuss everything." But such voices are few. We are too blinded and deafened. The ugly adrenaline in our minds and souls is too strong. We can no longer hear Christ.
"An eye for an eye" belongs to the Old Testament. If we choose to act based on this principle, then we don't need Christ at all. And if that's the case, are we acting like Christians? Can we remember the "new commandment" of our God, the same One we pray to every day, to whom we offer our petitions and praise?
These times are undeniably difficult. None of us lived in ancient Rome, and few remain who lived during the time of the New Martyrs in the era of godlessness. Thus, we cannot offer any advice to anyone. Not to Christians in Manipur, not to the monks in Kiev. The most important thing is to pray for their steadfastness, patience, and spiritual strength.
Let us leave all discussions till later, when the storms subside. In this deafening roar, we will not hear each other anyway.