Source: Peter Anderson, Seattle USA
The Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary (“KTA”) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) is moving from the Kyiv Lower Lavra to the Pokrovsky Holosiiv Monastery, which is located 7 km. southwest of the Lavra. (Holosiiv is the district of Kyiv where the Monastery is located.) The Monastery is also approximately 2-1/2 km. from Feofania where Metropolitan Onufry resides. The Monastery was fairly recently restored. The website of the Monastery can be viewed at http://goloseevo.com.ua/?lang=uk. As can be seen from the photos on the website, the Monastery is a large and attractive complex. A photo of the Monastery is also pasted below. The first and second classes of the Seminary will move by August 27, and the third and fourth classes of the Seminary plus all of the Academy will move by September 9. Although many are upset that the KTA is moving from the Lower Lavra, at least this important educational institution will be able to continue its existence at the new location. An interesting video showing the moving operation at the Lavra can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/www.kdais.kiev.ua/videos/587866956652071/.
A series of events led to the decision of the UOC to relocate the KTA. On August 10 the Kyiv Commercial Court ruled that UOC Monastery was obligated to remove obstacles to the use of the property of the National Reserve and to return this property to the National Reserve. The UOC has now appealed this decision. Later on August 10, the government National Reserve issued an “urgent statement” that “from 7:00 on August 11, 2023, access to the territory of the Lower Lavra is temporarily suspended to all visitors (except priests, monks, and employees of the male monastery).” The reason given for the temporary suspension was the “systematic disruption of the work of the Reserve regarding access to the premises of the Lower Lavra.” https://www.facebook.com/kplavra On August 11, Maksym Ostapenko, the acting director of the National Reserve, met with journalists. He stated that visitor access to the Lower Lavra will be restored when the buildings and other property are fully returned for the use of the National Reserve. https://glavcom.ua/kyiv/news/u-kijevo-pecherskij-lavri-zabarikaduvalisja-storonni-osobi-948383.html With respect to whether the access limitation will be applied to the KTA, Ostapenko indicated that this question will be decided at the State level and not by the National Reserve. https://spzh.news/en/news/75385-the-issue-of-placing-kdais-in-lavra-will-be-decided-by-the-state
Ostapenko’s major concern appeared to be not the KTA, but rather the individuals who have been blocking the entrances to certain buildings. He stated that there are three to four dozen unidentified persons who physically prevent the work of the National Reserve and who have been staying at the Lavra for months. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-society/3747609-na-teritorii-niznoi-lavri-zabarikaduvalisa-do-40-storonnih-osib-kerivnik-zapovidnika.html Presumably, these are the persons one sees in videos massed in front of building doors and preventing employees of the National Reserve from entering the buildings. These individuals have been living in the pilgrims’ hotels such as Buildings 57 and 58 in the Lower Lavra. On August 11, police were stationed at the entrance of these two buildings. The police allowed people to leave the buildings but not enter. A video was posted on August 12 showing a person seeking to enter one of the buildings with an armful of bread and not being allowed in. https://news.church.ua/2023/08/12/policiya-ne-dozvolyaje-peredati-xlib-dlya-palomnikiv-yaki-zablokovani-v-odnomu-iz-korpusiv-kijevo-pecherskoji-lavri-video/#2023-08-25 The UOC contended that this constitutes the use of “starvation” by the police, although the individuals were free to leave the building to obtain food. They would simply not be allowed back into the building later. On August 15, the police entered Buildings 57 and 58 by apparently breaking the locks to the doors. The police obtained the identity of the occupants and then left. https://risu.ua/komisiya-zapovidnika-kiyevo-pecherska-lavra-oglyanula-dva-korpusi-iz-troh-yaki-blokuvali-prihilniki-upc-mp_n141747 There were 11 persons in Building 57 and approximately 15 people in Building 58. The police did not attempt to remove the occupants from the building physically. Apparently, the individuals are still occupying the two buildings. I believe that the National Reserve will probably commence legal proceedings against the now-identified individuals.
On August 25, the UOC posted photocopies of a series of letters by the rector of the KTA and by the Acting Minister of Culture. In the first letter, the rector argued that because of the historic relationship between the KTA and the National Reserve, the students, teachers, and working personnel should be given unhindered access to the buildings of the KTA. On August 17, the acting Minister replied that the teachers, students, and employees of the KTA should be equated with “visitors” and therefore would not be allowed to reenter the Lower Lavra if they left. On August 19, the rector responded with legal arguments supporting the position of the KTA. On August 24, the Acting Minister stated that the position of the Ministry remained unchanged. https://news.church.ua/2023/08/12/policiya-ne-dozvolyaje-peredati-xlib-dlya-palomnikiv-yaki-zablokovani-v-odnomu-iz-korpusiv-kijevo-pecherskoji-lavri-video/#2023-08-25 Because it is impossible to operate the KTA without free access to and from the KTA, the UOC made the decision to move.
As previously reported, Metropolitan Pavlo, vicar of the Kyiv Lavra, was released from the Kyiv pretrial detention center on August 7 following the posting of bail in the amount of UAH 33,300,000 ($902,183). However, this does not mean that Metropolitan Pavlo has complete freedom of movement without restrictions. On August 11, the Solomyansky District Court of Kyiv required Metropolitan Pavlo to continue to wear the electronic bracelet, not to leave the village of Voronkiv (the place of his legal registration) without notifying the investigator or the judge, to come to them at the first request, and not to communicate with witnesses in the case. The prosecutor also requested that the Metropolitan be prohibited from visiting the Kyiv Lavra, but this request was denied by the Court. https://news.church.ua/2023/08/13/sud-prodovzhiv-diyu-nakladenix-na-namisnika-kijevo-pecherskoji-lavri-mitropolita-pavla-obmezhen/#2023-08-26 On August 14, the Metropolitan was hospitalized in the cardiology department of a Kyiv hospital and underwent an operation on the vessels of his heart. https://news.church.ua/2023/08/14/mitropolita-pavla-terminovo-gospitalizuvali-ta-zrobili-operaciyu-na-serci/#2023-08-26 It is not clear whether this involved a stent or bypass surgery. On August 17, the attorney for the Metropolitan stated that the health of Metropolitan is now satisfactory, but that he is still confined to bed. The attorney stated that the Metropolitan had suffered an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
There has been a strong reaction to the Vinnytsia City Court’s sentencing Metropolitan Ionafan of Tulchin to five years of imprisonment on August 7. For example, on August 11, Archbishop Anastasios, primate of the Orthodox Church of Albania, wrote a personal letter to Metropolitan Ionafan. A photocopy of the original letter in English can be read at https://www.romfea.gr/ekklisies-ts/ekklisia-albanias/58250-o-alvanias-anastasios-sto-plevro-tou-toyltsin-ionathan. The letter included the following: “We participate in Your sufferings, and, to the extent of our capabilities, we share where appropriate your testimony about the atrocities against the pious Orthodox holy clergy, the devoted people, as well as the renowned sacred places in Ukraine.” In an apparent reference to the OCU, the Archbishop stated: “Our thoughts and supplications unceasingly are with you, so that, aligning yourself to the chorus of the new martyrs, You may also face the present absurd persecution by Orthodox….” Metropolitan Hilarion, who has been relatively quiet during his last year in Budapest, wrote a letter on August 9 to Prime Minister Orban of Hungary, concerning the sentence of Metropolitan Ionafan. https://mospat.ru/en/news/90610/ Metropolitan Hilarion pointed out that Ionafan was a past abbot of the Kyiv Lavra and that his musical compositions are performed by many leading choirs. Hilarion stated: “His Eminence is 74; he is suffering from diabetes in a severe form. The deprivation of liberty means nothing but the death sentence.” It appears that Ionafan’s conviction is being appealed by his attorneys to a higher court.
The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate met on August 25. The minutes of the meeting can be read at http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/6051881.html. In Journal entry 51, the Synod: “Condemn the actions of Metropolitan Alexander of Riga and All Latvia aimed at destroying church unity.” The Synod pointed out that on August 13, 2023, Metropolitan Alexander of Riga and All Latvia officiated the rite of consecration of Archimandrite John (Lipsans) as Bishop of Valmiera. He had done this without using a list of candidates approved by the Patriarch and the Synod as required by the Statute of the Moscow Patriarchate. Metropolitan Alexander had also reportedly failed to commemorate Patriarch Kirill in the Liturgy and had demanded that his clergy not do so. The Holy Synod emphasized the inadmissibility of failing to commemorate the primate and referred the matter of the consecration of a new bishop to a future Council of Bishops. In Journal entry 62, the Holy Synod established a “permanent Patriarchal Humanitarian Mission” in “the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Lugansk People’s Republic, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.” In Journal entry 72, the Holy Synod noted the report of Metropolitan Anthony, chairman of the DECR, concerning his attendance at the meeting of the Central Committee of the WCC in Geneva. The entry also referred to his meeting on the sidelines with Dr. Jerry Pillay and the leadership of the WCC. However, there was no express reference in the entry concerning the roundtable proposed by the WCC with respect to Ukraine. In Journal entry 78, the Holy Synod heard a report by Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest concerning the composition of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission and approved certain changes. In Journal entry 47, the Holy Synod approved the document “On the distortion of the Orthodox teaching about the Church in the acts of the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the speeches of its representatives” which had previously been approved by the Bishops’ Conference.
Peter Anderson, Seattle USA