At the corner of boulevard Saint-Germain and rue des Saints-Pères in Paris stands the Ukrainian cathedral of Saint-Volodymyr-le-Grand. This Thursday, February 24, will be exceptionally open all day to allow believers to meditate, Ukraine is experiencing dark hours as the same night Moscow gave the order to bomb this former Soviet republic.
In the adjoining building, the parish priest Father Ihor Rantsya points to a dining room where several men vent their anguish, their eyes riveted on their screens, seeking the latest news at war from this east coast of Europe. ” What happened is probably the worst thing that could happen! I woke up to a phone full of support messages Says Oleksandr, a 23-year-old theology student. He and his comrades are genuinely worried about their family and friends staying in the country, even for those living in the west, a few hundred kilometers from the Russian border.
a patriotic church
The Ukrainian congregation of Paris, a Byzantine liturgy, is affiliated with the primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which arose from a rally in Rome in the 16th century by part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The third Christian component of this Eastern European country, after only two Orthodox Churches, one of which is affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, brings together about three of Ukraine’s population of forty-five million people in 2020. a little ” very patriotic and anti-Russian », perhaps because of the atrocities experienced during the communist era; Although their rulers looked very Western, most lived in the United States or Canada.
Echoes of this recent history are unsurprisingly reflected in the words of the clergy. ” I awoke with anxiety but also with hope and faith that our army could protect us. continues Oleksandr. ” Contrary to what some propaganda is trying to say, it is not Ukraine that attacks, but Ukraine that is attacked and bombed. From Ukrainian grandfather Walter is 44 years old and lives in Lyon, where he teaches History-Geo. Secondly, for this reason, France expects reactions from the European Union and the USA. ” I’m surprised it took so long. But this attack, a priori, everyone expected it. Moral condemnation is one thing. But this will not bend Putin! »
He also came from Lyon with him, Yurii, also a 23-year-old Catholic University theology student. According to him, a lot of misinformation circulates on the Internet: Because of those who say that the Russians took this or that city. Or demoralized Ukrainian soldiers start to flee “. ” The first battle to be won is information warfare! », Deduction Oleksandr. Therefore, it receives information from the certified official Ukrainian websites: Either from the Department of Defense or the National Army. “. Yourii’s resume: Putin wants to cause our panic. Because no one makes the right decisions when everyone panics. “Walter continues: It was said that the Russians were only targeting strategic locations. However, we see that there are already ten dead. “. ” Fourty ! ” fixes a newcomer [à la fin de la journée, le président ukrainien parlera lui-même de 137 morts, Ndlr]. Walter: ” Frankly, no one can believe in the illusion of war without civilian casualties. Especially when bombarded “.
We turn to the two parish priests. The spirits of this priest appeal above all to the Christian conscience: ” Pray for us ! Father Volodymyr asks Pendzei. It bears the same name as the saint under whose patronage this church is: a prince who converted to Christianity in Kiev in 988. But the priest insists on the etymology of this first name: “ The one who has peace. Too bad Mr. Putin doesn’t take this into account! Which is still paradoxical! “, he sighs, still referring to the same name, which turns out to be that of the Russian leader.
Prayer, the main weapon
Despite the eerie news from Ukraine, witty and smiling, she surprisingly does not leave the room. Friendship, observed many times in the company of churchmen, reigns here at the highest level. A few outstretched hands come back brightly as he points to the priest, who until then perhaps deliberately kept quiet to prevent the spirits entrusted to him from exceeding his words: ” He often reads your newspaper! one says. ” Oh yes ! we subscribed says another. ” Ah, as an accountant I approve of this! “, reassures Oleksandr with humor. Satisfied faces then turn to Father Ihor Rantsya, who, despite arriving in France more recently than his flock, expresses himself in perfect French. He wants to stay put and do his best. for the parishioners and the homeland that are brutally attacked by the Putin regime today. “. Prayer count, our main weapon “.