His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and All Ukraine at the barricades of the Ukrainian troops. He encourages them and gives them a small icon of the Mother of God. (Photo by Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine)
BOSTON – His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine granted an exclusive interview to The National Herald as the war Vladimir Putin has launched against his country rages. Metropolitan Epiphanios is determined to sacrifice his own life for the freedom of his country.
The Interview was done in Greek and under difficult circumstances because Putin and his regime have reportedly placed Metropolitan Epiphanios on a five-person ‘hit list’ that includes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Metropolitan speaks Greek fluently, loves Greece and he said twice, “I love the Greeks of America” and “I love the Greeks.”
Metropolitan Epiphanios is asking for help from the United States, NATO, Europe, from everywhere because as he said, “if they don’t help us more now Putin will not stop. If he captures Ukraine he will go on to the rest of Europe.”
The entire interview follows:
TNH: How are you, Your Beatitude?
Epiphanios: I am well, thank God. I go around everywhere encouraging and blessing our troops.
TNH: Are you not afraid? How is the situation there?
Epiphanios: No, I am not afraid. We must everything to support Ukraine, a united Ukraine. We want a European and democratic Ukraine and that is why I am fighting. Russia and Putin want to destroy us.
TNH: I have been informed that you are among their targets.
Epiphanios: Yes, certainly. We had some attempts. Three consecutive nights they attempted to enter my building from the park, but we have security guards and they captured them. There is a list from Russia and I am among the five people who will try to kill, because as an Autocephalous Orthodox Church we are the stable ground of the Ukrainian State. In an interview Putin said that that the Patriarchate of Moscow has problems in Ukraine. Patriarch Kyrill supports this war because Putin told Kyrill that there will not be a church schism in Ukraine if Russia enters Ukraine.
We want to have a united Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The last survey that was done in the beginning of February showed that I, as Primate of the Autocephalous Church, have the support of 50% of the Ukrainian People and our Church 45%, while the Patriarchate of Moscow has only 15%. That is why Putin and Patriarch Kyrill want to destroy our Church, but we are united and I will fight to the end.
TNH: Did you communicate with Patriarch Kyrill? Did you call him?
Epiphanios: No, no, never. He doesn’t want to have any communication, neither does Metropolitan Unouphrios here in Kyiv.
TNH: Are you afraid for your life?
Epiphanios: No, I am not afraid, everything is in the hands of God. I am fighting for a united Autocephalous Church; my life is insignificant.
TNH: What would you say to the U.S. government?
Epiphanios: We feel the support from America now but I want to say that they must help us more because Putin will not stop. If he takes Ukraine he will go on to the rest of Europe. I tell everybody “you should help us; we are fighting but it is very important to have help from you.”
We must stop Putin. We want America and NATO to close the airspace of Ukraine because Russians know are committing terrorism. Twenty miles from Kyiv hundreds of civilians, ordinary and innocent people, were killed. I making an plea to America to help to make Putin stop, because if we fall then you are going to have a Third World War.
They captured the Nuclear plant in the town of Zaporizia and we may have a global catastrophe because it is the biggest plant in the entire world. It has six reactors and if something happens, we are going to have huge problems not only us, but the whole world.
TNH: Your Beatitude, now as we speak, are there gun shots or bombs falling in Kyiv?
Epiphanios: Yesterday (Friday, March 4) the attacks were louder; today things are little better. I heard some, but not so strong. All day and all night yesterday and the day before we had the sirens sounding loudly.
TNH: Are you going to liturgize tomorrow?
Epiphanios: I liturgize every day. In the morning I offer the Liturgy and, in the evening, the Akathist Hymn.
TNH: Do people come to the Services?
Epiphanios: No, the center of Kyiv is closed. People stay in the basements and in underground shelters.
TNH: What do you want to say to the Greeks of America?
Epiphanios: I love the Greeks of America, we need help, whatever help they can give us, because we face a humanitarian catastrophe in Eastern Ukraine.
TNH: Do you mean financial help?
Epiphanios: Yes, financial help as well, any kind of help.
TNH: Wat would you say about Greece?
Epiphanios: I thank warmly the Government and the Church of Greece for their help but they should help us more because if they don’t help us now, tomorrow they will have war in their own house. I love Greeks and as you can tell we are speaking in Greek now. If there are Greeks in the congregation I also chant in Greek. Last year I went many times to Mariupolis, where we had meetings and liturgies, but now Mariupolis is closed. We haven’t had any communication for two days now with our own Metropolitan because there is no telephone tower there now. The last time we spoke with Metropolitan Sergios he told me “I have nothing to eat, just a little bread and a little fish.”
TNH: How many hierarchs and priests does your Church have?
Epiphanios: We have sixty hierarchs, five thousand priests, seven thousand parishes, and twenty million faithful.
TNH: I understand that now many from the Moscow Church will come to Your Autocephalous Church.
Epiphanios: Yes, I believe that, but we won’t do anything now because we don’t want to open another ecclesiastical war. Now as we speak, I hold a photograph with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from last August, when he visited Kyiv. For us, that is now like a dream because I can’t describe to you what is going on in Harkovo – its downtown is completely destroyed.
TNH: If the Greeks of America want to send you help how can they do it?
Epiphanios: Through the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America
His Eminence Archbishop DANIEL, President of the Consistory.
Mailing address: PO Box 495
South Bound Brook, NJ 08880
Shipping address: 135 Davidson Ave.
Somerset, NJ 08873
Tel: (732) 356-0090
Fax: (732) 356-5556
E-mail: [email protected]
They collect the assistance there and they send it to us.
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