Robert Hosken from the “Agape Restoration Society” in Pittsburgh/PA states that he once lived in Russia for 17 years – that would be roughly until 2007. In his newsletter from 3 January 2021, Hosken calls for the arrest and trial of Valentyn Lukiyanik, an Orthodox priest in Ukraine pushing for continued ties with the Moscow Patriarchate. “Valentyn Lukiyanik is acting as a Russian agent,” the writer claims. “Why does the Ukrainian government not arrest this person and try him for treason?” The demand even ends up as a prayer request at the bottom: “Ask God to cause Ukrainian authorities to take action against Valentyn Lukiyanik, a pro-Russian agitator and disloyal citizen.”
After the separate “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” had come under the jurisdiction of the “Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople” (Istanbul) in December 2019, the Moscow and Kiev churches essentially excommunicated each other. Despite its many losses since then, the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate” may still be Ukraine’s largest denomination.
My response: I believe that as a rule churches and mission societies need to remain neutral, or better, multi-partisan in their political dealings. Churches should strive to be fair, just and even-handed. The individual Christian may indeed “get involved” with a political party or movement, yet it is quite another matter if a Christian church or mission intervenes in specific and narrow political issues.
I from my end on Russian soil can think of several Russian Protestant leaders clearly loyal to Kiev. Should they, in the name of even-handedness, not too be arrested for disloyalty to Moscow? Should all the Ukrainian Baptist and Pentecostal leaders loyal to Kiev be arrested whenever they enter Russian territory? What about the diverging viewpoints in Crimea – who should get to arrest whom?
I’m against arresting any Christians on either side for strictly political reasons. Left to their own devices and without interference from a strong, distant country across the Atlantic with an extremely interventionist foreign policy, the Eastern Slavs might be able to slowly resolve their differences. For that, a peaceful resolution, I want to struggle.
Ladushkin, Kaliningrad region
4 January 2021
Response from 13 January 2021:
Words can have great consequences, as
we've seen last week in Washington DC: words can egg on a mob to do violence - "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned"
(Mat. 12:37). "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell"
The article in RISU that I quoted states that "the Synod of the UOC-MP revoked the blessing of his organization, in 2011 the Synod banned Valentyn Lukiyanik from receiving communion." So it appears that even the UOC-MP perceives him as too radical and rightly excommunicated him. I don't see in the article that Lukiyanik is a clergyman.
Lukiyanik is advocating for the Russian and separatist military forces that have invaded Ukraine and set up two "autonomous People's Republics" which is the same sort of thing that Donald Trump advocated in his fiery speech last week. The words on the banner he is holding in the photo: "Слава освободителям города-героя Киев" ("Glory to the liberators of the hero-city Kiev") are first of all in Russian, not Ukrainian, secondly, the "72" in black & yellow is the same as the celebration of the USSR's victory over Nazi Germany.
Thus, it is deliberately comparing Ukraine's liberation back then with his desire that Ukraine should be "liberated" by Russia from its independence. If that isn't a call for armed foreign intervention of Ukraine's capital city, what is? Let the Ukrainian judicial system decide whether this man is a traitor, inciting foreign military takeover of Kiev or not. That is what I called for.
Robert D. Hosken, M.Min., D.Min.,
A journalistic release for which only the authors are responsible. It is informational in character and does not express the official position of any church organisation. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #21-01.
This exchange appears only in English.