Posted by: Fr Chris | February 23, 2014

The two “Ps” of Maidan and the Future

One of my friends in Ukraine asked me, “where else on earth would you find people standing in sub-zero temperatures for three months, peacefully protesting and calling for democratic change and respect for human rights with not one violent incident, with no looting of the expensive stores that surround Maidan, and with daily prayer?”  Only in Ukraine! The two “Ps” are Protest and Prayer. Enough has been written about the protests – now for the prayers.

Christian clergy offering prayers at Maidan 

 The protesters had established two tent churches on the square, fully outfitted for religious services by Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and Protestants.  Lutheran Street runs into the square, and there is a now famous photo of the Lutheran pastor standing between the two opponents and beseeching them to avoid violence.

Pastor Ralph Huska of St. Catherine Lutheran Church, Kyiv. Read more about him at

Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Greek Catholic Church and rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University (in L’viv) has been a heroic voice for patience and prayers.  “The whole world sees  you contemplating the peaceful pilgrimage on which we go with a song and a prayer on our lips. This pilgrimage will not be simple and short, and before us today, the Lord raises the question – are you willing to call a spade a spade, are you ready to go for the truth? Today we are together. And when we are at home or in the workplace, we need to bring this spirit of peace and solidarity, and we have the great responsibility of requiring of ourselves what we demand of others.”

From the beginning of the protests, people found sanctuary in St. Michael of the Golden Domes Monastery Cathedral. which has served as dormitory and hospital; on the day of the Massacre, St. Alexander Roman Catholic Cathedral opened its doors and then slammed them shut against the police chasing the protesters.  

Below: St. Michael’s Church as a dormitory for exhausted protesters.

On February 21, this vast crowd filled the square to listen to the Panachidas sung by the Orthodox and Greek Catholic clergy for those slain in the Massacre of Kyiv , to hear the names of the dead recited, and to witness baptisms of adults.  These are the people whom Messrs. Putin and Yanukovych claim are staging a coup d’etat? What arrogance to belittle them so, and to think that the world will believe such stupidity. 

Crowd on Maidan to hear the requiem services on 21 February, 2014

Or perhaps the quiet masses walking through the splendor of Yanukyovch’s ornate mansion, private zoo, and garish landscaping, all laid out while a country has been starving and facing record unemployment – these crowds who did not loot or damage anything, who came out to see where their hrivny have been spent, after going to church on Sunday morning? Are they the Nazi terrorists?

People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi

Ukrainians peer through the windows at the sumptuous banquet room, in a country that is the 2nd poorest in all Europe. Documents found floating in the river indicate millions of dollars were transferred in cash to the president, all illegally.  Chandeliers in this monstrous house cost an astounding €30 million!

Ecumenical prayers were offered all the way through with the three Orthodox Churches, Greek and Roman Catholic, and Baptists.  That is simply unheard of, and perhaps Maidan will show the way to unity for the Orthodox in Ukraine at long last: Moscow Patriarchate, Kyiv Patriarchate, Autonomous.  In addition,  Jews and Muslims have had their own clergy available to them.  When threats were made against the Greek Catholic Church for its “political” support of the opposition, phones were tapped, internet site attacked repeatedly, and when Major Archbishop Sviatoslav quickly refused to back down, the other Churches all came forward to denounce the resumption of Communist-style persecution of that Church. With that resolute response, the Yanukovcyh government had to back down. 

Bishop Gudziak pointed out that Maidan has been an occasion for Ukrainians to reclaim their human dignity in the face of a corrupt government that was stealing from the nation and heading down a very dangerous path.  “The people are morally exhausted,” he told Vatican Radio. “So… what began as a Euro-Maidan movement…is really now a Maidan of dignity, a Maidan of citizens recognizing something that is rather transcendental and that is fundamentally spiritual— that every person is created in dignity in the image and likeness of God.”

Here is the key: those who want to turn the clock back to Soviet-style corruption and manipulation of the Orthodox Church and suppression of the Greek Catholics, who have been stealing from their own hungry people, who have been overthrown by massive crowds that are mostly middle-class and university student Ukrainians, those people denied that Man is in the image and likeness of God. Instead, Man for them is the tool to abuse in order to achieve great personal wealth and political power.  The brazen attempt to silence the Greek Catholic Church shows how easily those men were using Soviet tactics in order to keep the masses down and destroy all who extol spiritual values and deny that Man is only a tool to be used by those in power! Humanity consists of living icons of the Trinity, who deserve to be treated with respect and care.  As long as the new Ukrainian State respects what P & P did – Prayer and Protest – and again treats human beings with reverence due to the image of God, there is hope for a bright future.

The crowd at Maidan on 22 February, following speech by Ms. Timoshenko who had been released from prison. What will the future bring? If prayer remains important, then the future should be bright. 

Kiev Crowd 2/22

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