Ukraine is a country whose population is mostly Orthodox and is found between a dependent Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and another independent of Russian tutelage.
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Church bells ring out and religious songs rise to heaven. This Sunday, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in kyiv in defiance of the Russian religious authorities, who They will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in two weeks.
In a packed temple, near the famous Monastery of St. Michael of the Golden Domes located in the Ukrainian capital, next to the Dniper River, the faithful light candles one after another, while others they line up before confession.
“The war has brought us a lot of pain,” he confessed to AFP Olga Stankoa 72-year-old believer. “We cannot continue under Russian influence,” says Stanko, in a context in which the military conflict with Moscow has also shifted to the religious field.
Ukraine, a country whose population is mostly Orthodox, is found between a Church dependent on the Moscow Patriarchate – which announced to break its ties with Russia at the end of May due to the Russian offensive – and another independent of Russian guardianship.
Created at the end of 2018, the Church has sworn allegiance to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, based in Istanbul.
According to an Interfax-Ukraine survey conducted in November, 44% of Ukrainians They agreed with the idea of celebrating Christmas on December 25 instead of January 7, the date of Orthodox Christmas. – “The great light” vs. “the gloom” -In this kyiv church, war is never far. Olga’s son is fighting in Bakhmut, the epicenter of fighting between the Ukrainian and Russian armies in eastern Ukraine. “We forgot that they were our enemies, we were so gullible. And now a war has come to us, a calamity,” he laments.
Not too far, Olena Zakharova-Gorianska claims to feel happy to celebrate Christmas on December 25 for the first time. “I don’t want to have anything to do with the occupiers, with the enemy,” says this woman who survived the Russian occupation of the city of Gostomel, on the outskirts of kyiv, in the first weeks of the conflict.
In his sermon, he Father Mikhailo Omelyan he cannot avoid the subject of the Russian invasion and its consequences in the lives of millions of Ukrainians, between regular electricity cuts and lack of heating.
“People who are (today) in the dark have seen a great light, and those who are in the dark death’s shadowthe light has shone on them”, he pointed out before the faithful.
Before directly attacking the Russians, without naming them: “There are people who prefer the dark to the light, because their actions are diabolical.”- Transition period -Outside the church, several elements remember the war: a Russian army tank destroyed is a few meters away and an anti-aircraft siren sounds for 25 minutes in the church.
On social networks, users even have fun substituting, in photos, the Three Wise Men -who visit Jesus Christ after his birth in the Christian religion- by Ukrainian soldiers. Despite this mass celebrated on December 25, Father Andrii plans to organize a liturgical ceremony on january 7.
“For me, it is a period of transition. There are things that we cannot radically change at once,” remarks the religious, who believes that it will take years until it is definitively introduced into popular culture. “In fact, we should remember the event we celebrate – the birth of Jess – not the date,” he adds.
According to the criteria of