Religion: Orthodox Easter – Attacks continue in Ukraine

Orthodox Easter – Continued attacks in Ukraine

An orthodox church in Kamyshevakha was destroyed by a Russian missile. photo

© Kateryna Klochko/AP/dpa

People around the world celebrate Orthodox Easter. For believers in Russia-attacked Ukraine, this important day has been marred by fighting for the second year in a row.

Overshadowed by Russia’s war against Ukraine, millions of Orthodox Christians around the world celebrated Easter on Sunday. In addition to Russia and Ukraine, the predominantly Orthodox countries include Greece, Cyprus and Serbia. In German Orthodox churches, too, people celebrated the solemn masses.

As in the previous year, the attacks in Ukraine continued this time. For example, the authorities in the southern region of Mykolaiv reported the deaths of two teenagers from Russian shelling. Impacts were also reported in the Zaporizhia region. At the same time, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, also announced a “big Easter prisoner exchange”: According to him, a total of 130 Ukrainian soldiers have been released from Russian captivity in several stages over the past few days.

The Orthodox Churches adhere to the Julian calendar in connection with Easter. The Gregorian calendar applies to both Catholics and Protestants. This usually leads to the fact that the Orthodox celebrate the most important festival of the church year at a different time from the other Christians.

Zelenskyy, Putin and the Pope

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tried to encourage his compatriots: “The war could not wipe out us, our values, our traditions and our holidays,” he said in a video released by the Ukrainian Presidential Office. “Today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ,” said the head of state of the attacked country, in which around 70 percent of the people are Orthodox or Greek Catholic Christians. “The main symbol is victory: the victory of good, the victory of truth, the victory of life. We celebrate Easter with unshakable faith in the irreversibility of these victories.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared in Moscow at night in the famous Cathedral of Christ the Savior. He lit a candle at the side of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and had Patriarch Kirill present him with an ornate artificial Easter egg. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church is considered an ardent supporter of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

In Rome, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to all believers. He also remembered those in Ukraine in particular – but also in Russia. “May the Lord be with them and help them to make peace,” said the Catholic Church leader after the Regina Coeli midday prayer in front of the faithful on St. Peter’s Square. He also complained – without explicitly referring to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine: “Unfortunately, the wars – in stark contrast to the Easter message – continue. And they sow death in a horrible way.”


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