Historic 16th century Ukrainian monastery destroyed by bombing

Sviatohirsk Monastery
Sviatohirsk Monastery |

A 16th-century Orthodox monastery was burned down after Russian artillery shelling in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said, but Russian media and supporters say Ukrainian nationalists set it on fire, as the ongoing invasion of Moscow continues for over 100 days. ,

The wooden structure of the All Saints Monastery of Svyatogorsk Lavra, which is located in the town of Gorlovka in the Donetsk region and belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, was set on fire on Saturday after a series of targeted bombings by Russian forces, Fox News reported.

On his official Telegram channel, Zelenskyy posted a video of the burning monastery, saying: “Russian artillery struck…and destroyed the Monastery of All Saints,” said the Al Jazeera news agency, run by the Qatari government. said.

The Ukrainian president also said that Russia should be expelled from the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO. “Every church burned by Russia in Ukraine, every school destroyed, every memorial destroyed proves that Russia has no place in UNESCO.”

The monastery is near Russian positions in eastern Donetsk, which the Kremlin is focused on capturing.

“There were around 300 refugees, around 60 children. Racists continue to prove their inability to be part of the civilized world,” wrote Tkachenko Oleksandr, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, on Twitteradding that 133 religious buildings in Ukraine had “suffered from Russia”.

Oleksandre said media that “when the Russians destroy Ukrainian heritage, they don’t care if it’s their [spiritual sites] or not, they simply destroy them.

Ukraine World, an English-language outlet, wrote: “Earlier this week, several monks and nuns were killed in the Russian shelling of the monastery. Is this “friendly fire” part of denazification? »

Agatha Gorski, the Ukrainian journalist who first reported on the fire, wrote about Twitter“Lavra dates back to the 1500s. Second time Russia bombs it. This is yet another act of Russian barbarism. Nothing is sacred to them.

However, the Russian government-run network RT blame the burning of the monastery on the “civil conflict” in eastern Ukraine, claiming that the Donetsk region is “the site of ongoing bloody clashes between the army of kyiv and the self-defense troops”.

“Several other churches have suffered damage since the start of the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine. Five clerics were killed,” the channel said, adding that “the Russian Orthodox Church has called on the Kyiv authorities to ensure the safety of clerics and shrines, urging them not to let the civil conflict develop a ‘religious dimension’. “”.

The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed that Ukrainian troops burned down the monastery, according to Al Jazeera.

The burning of the monastery threatens to deepen the rift in ecumenical relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Since Russia began its invasion on February 24, at least 4,183 civilians have been killed and 5,014 injured on Friday. update of the UN Among those killed were 268 children.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was condemned by nearly 300 Russian Orthodox leaders in an open letter published in March.

“We mourn the ordeal to which our brothers and sisters in Ukraine have been unjustly subjected,” the Russian Orthodox clerics wrote in their open letter. “The Last Judgment awaits each person.”

“No earthly authority, no doctor, no guard will protect from this judgment. Concerned for the salvation of anyone who considers himself a child of the Russian Orthodox Church, we do not want him to appear at this judgment, bearing the heavy burden of his mother’s curses.

Moscow Patriarch Kirill, an ally of Putin, has been accused of lending religious justification to the invasion, despite countless religious leaders calling on him to condemn the violence.

More than 400 ministers from evangelical churches in Russia also called for reconciliation and an immediate end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee, which represents the interests of the worldwide Orthodox Christian Church, said in an earlier statement that Kirill’s words allow Putin to “give religious cover to this impermissible and unwarranted conflict.”

“Kirill’s statements ring hollow and have the stench of direct government interference,” read the OPAC statement shared with The Christian Post. “Is it because he owes his position and the lucrative benefits he receives to Vladimir Putin? Why doesn’t he speak for his Ukrainian flock? Why does he approve of the Russian army, even presenting them with a sacred icon? »

Barry F. Howard