The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has confirmed, and continues to show, a bulwark of freedom and religion even because the ruthless Vladimir Putin destroys lives, families, and the religious traditions of the individuals of Ukraine. One of many quiet heroes of this resistance is an expensive buddy of mine and my spouse, Susan, Father Oleg Sknar.
At this time, Father Oleg continues to minister to his flock at the same time as missiles and rockets rain down around the capital of Kyiv. Certainly, round his church. He prays for his parishioners; he prays for all Ukrainians. He prays for the peoples of the world to unite towards tyranny and the tragedy that’s the battle now tearing up historical past and Ukraine. Certainly, he prays for the individuals of Russia, too, as they’ve lived below this jack-booted thug for a lot too lengthy.
Father Oleg not solely leads his devoted as they search succor from him. Father Oleg additionally has constructed and operates a navy hospital that tends to the wounded coming back from the entrance traces adjoining to his church constructing. He thus offers each religious and bodily assist for the individuals he loves a lot.
Priest stands as much as Russia
I first visited Father Oleg again in 2015. He had opened his church to offer medical look after Ukrainians who had fought and been injured within the freedom efforts within the metropolis heart of Kyiv, the Maidan, not quite a lot of blocks from his church.
He informed me that the Russian Orthodox church had threatened his life then. If he offered succor and medical assist to Ukrainians preventing the Russian-puppet regime, he can be held to account. These threats got here not solely from Russian political leaders, however from Russian Orthodox leaders as effectively. For Putin, the church is merely another tool of power — he has used Christianity as a front-line effort to unfold propaganda and concern. Putin has used the church as a political cudgel to construct on his imperialist agenda and really devoted Christians needed none of this — they needed to worship the Lord, not Putin.
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Within the face of those threats, Father Oleg prayed and served. He saved lives and souls.
Susan and I’ve now visited this church and damaged bread with Father Oleg and his workforce a number of instances. As secretary of state, I traveled to the navy hospital and spoke with injured troopers there. As Putin has launched his assault, Father Oleg has stayed in contact with us, offering updates on what he’s seeing and doing on this present disaster.
The conversations should not about excessive politics and technique, however about his efforts to offer consolation, religious and medical, to all these he encounters. His hospital is open and prepared. As God would require, he’ll deal with all-comers — Ukrainian and Russian alike. He’ll accomplish that with love and compassion.
We may help Father Oleg, too. We will demand that American power be offered to Ukraine — crude oil and pure gasoline — this may deny Putin the premium price he gets today that fuels his terror and may have the extra advantage of decreasing power costs right here at residence. We must always demand that the worldwide company governing air journey — the ICAO — ought to prohibit Russian plane from touchdown anyplace on this planet. The UN Common Meeting ought to be compelled to sentence this Russian aggression as a result of — though such a vote is essentially oratory — it might enable rights-respecting nations to hitch collectively to defend human dignity and sovereignty of countries with a single voice. American assist — intelligence, weapons, humanitarian help — ought to be offered in huge quantities.
Father Oleg has additionally informed us he’s ready to combat. Battle for the independence of his nation. And for the independence of his church. When the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made the daring and correct determination to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, devoted Christians throughout Ukraine rejoiced. Father Oleg is proud to have been the primary Ukrainian religion chief to signal the Tomas — the doc granting his church independence from Muscovite rule. That act was each courageous and devoted. His bravery continues in the present day.
A warning from historical past
Not removed from Father Oleg’s church is a memorial he requested me to go see in 2016, Babi Yar.
This memorial remembers the greater than 30,000 Jews slaughtered throughout the Holocaust over simply two days in 1941.
It’s a ravine, Kyiv, the place males selected to obey orders and kill their fellow man due to their religion. It’s a reminder, as Father Oleg shared with me then, that evil nonetheless exists and believers of each religion have an obligation to withstand it.
We’re praying for the Ukrainian individuals. We’re praying for Father Oleg and his household. Praying for his or her security, in fact. But in addition praying for his or her continued braveness, power and faithfulness.
I do know that they may proceed to be resolved of their love of their Lord and their nation. I do know that they may take danger and save lives. And I pray, they may proceed to be examples for all the world that even within the midst of darkness that His mild nonetheless shines within the hearts of man.
Mike Pompeo was the CIA director below President Donald Trump.
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