Ukrainian activists force priest to apologize after call for peace
A call for peace between Russians and Ukrainians has landed a Ukrainian priest in hot water. Roman Kurach, who serves with the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, has had to apologize publicly after his words prompted an intervention by some Ukrainian journalists and sparked what the local media called a “massive scandal.”
During a Sunday prayer, the priest asked God to “work a miracle and bring these great peoples together: Ukraine and Russia.” He also beseeched the Lord to make Russians and Ukrainians “stop exterminating and killing each other” and help them “build the kingdom of heaven here, on Earth” to eventually “ascend to the skies together.”
These words did not sit well with local journalist Darya Sipigina, who was the first to publish videos from the sermon, along with a Facebook post in which she blasted Kurach’s words as “shocking.” “How is this even possible a year and a half [into the conflict]?” she asked in her post, while accusing the Uzhhorod Greek-Catholic Church of a lack of “respect for those who defend the Ukrainian land and die for it.”
The journalist admitted that she did not listen to the whole sermon but heard the words about peace through the local cathedral’s loudspeaker while “driving past it.” She claimed she confronted the priest after the sermon, but Kurach told her he would not stop blessing Russians even if his brother, who is currently on the frontlines, died in the conflict.
The journalist also complained that “dozens of people listened silently to the sermon” and “no one even blinked at these words.” However, many commenters on her Facebook post sided with the priest, arguing there was nothing wrong with calls for peace and accusing Sipigina herself of attempting to stir up some “hype” over the issue.
The Ukrainian media still widely reported on the priest’s sermon, calling the situation a “scandal.” Kurach then had to explain his choice of words and apologize in an interview with a local media outlet. “It is dangerous to say such things [during] the war,” he said on Monday, adding that “it was a mistake.” He also described his call for peace as “spontaneous.”
The priest then said that he had the example of Europe in mind when he called for peace between Russia and Ukraine. “I was guided by the fact that, when I studied in Europe, I saw people that waged wars against each other for centuries: England, France, Germany, and others. God gifted them … with a spirit of unity, love, and forgiveness,” he explained, adding that “God can bring together any peoples.”