Deputies of the western Ukrainian Ternopil Province are trying to force the Ukrainian Orthodox Church out of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra.They filed an appeal to the country’s parliament, Verkhovna Rada, to break the rent agreement that allows the Church to occupy and use the monastery. The move of the local deputies came after nationalists and schismatics tried to block the route of the annual pilgrimage to the Pochaev Lavra for the feast of the Dormition.
The Cross procession from Kamyanets-Podolsky to the Holy Dormition Pochayev Lavra has been taking place for two centuries. The faithful leave immediately after the celebration of the Transfiguration, August, 19, and, having covered 155 miles, arrive to the Lavra on the eve of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This year, the centuries-old tradition came under fire from local politicians and activists of the schismatic organization calling itself Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Unlike in previous years, when the number of the participants reached tens of thousands, this time there were only eight thousand people, many of them old-aged, parents with young children and babies. Crowds of locals shouted to the pilgrims "Death to the Enemies!", "Glory to Ukraine!" etc., only to hear "Glory to God! Christ is Risen! Truly Risen!" in response.
Activists blocked roads, denying the marchers access into villages, locking water wells and food stores. As a result, the procession had to change direction and walk dozens of extra miles through the fields.
In the afternoon of August 25, entered the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra.
"The authorities simply must draw conclusions from the current disgrace, when a bunch of inadequate individuals were chasing women with children and elderly people through fields and ravines.…. Even the atheist Soviet authorities turned to the Church for help when the war began. In our country, it is the opposite," wrote Ukrainian Orthodox journalist Yaroslav Nivkin.
Next day, at an extraordinary session the Ternopil Provincial Council called on the Kyev authorities to ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as "hostile to Ukraine" and to annul the lease of the complex of buildings of the Pochaev Lavra, transferring it to the UOC.
“We hope they’ll hear us about terminating the agreement with Pochaev, about those premises that the Moscow Patriarchate rents in our park. The Lavra is a national park,” Mikhail Golovko, one of the Ternopil Provincial Council said.
Legally, the XIII century Pochaev Lavra, one of the greatest Orthodox centers not only in Ukraine, but across the whole of the Central and Eastern Europe, is a national park belonging to the government. Local authorities have been trying for years to deprive the monks of their historical home.
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