Photo of the Day: Orthodox priests on the front lines in Ukraine
posted at 2:53 pm on January 23, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Yesterday morning, monks from the Kiev-Caves Lavra Fr. Gabriel, Fr. Melchisedek, and Fr. Ephraim stood on Grushevsky Street in Kiev with a cross and icons, between the demonstrators and the Ukrainian special police force “Berkut”, and stopped the conflict. They entered the arena as peace-makers, and not in support of one side or the other.
Although they were invited to join the “people”, the fathers only prayed and sang the Paschal troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life,” wrote the Ramensky deanery of Moscow on its facebook page. The conflict ceased.
As the website Pravoslavie v Ukraine (“Orthodoxy in the Ukraine”) learned, at around 9:00 a.m., clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church came to Grushevsky Street, placed themselves between the warring sides, and began to pray, calling both sides to stop their fighting and repent.
The monks have no intention of leaving until the situation has completely stabilized.
Lo and behold, saner minds might be prevailing:
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich called for an emergency session of parliament to end political crisis and violent unrest, in a sign he might be ready to soften his hardline stance and strike a compromise.
Yanukovich was due to hold talks on Thursday with opposition leaders including heavyweight boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, and anti-government demonstrators in the capital agreed to a truce with police until 8 p.m. (1300 ET) pending the outcome.
The parliamentary website said the special session would be held on Tuesday.
I think Yanukovich may be seeing the writing on the wall here. He’s losing control of the narrative and creating martyrs in the streets, and this time he may not be able to stage a political comeback if it gets too far out of hand. We’ll see whether a compromise can be achieved, but the space for the opportunity may have come in part from these priests.