Photo: – 1/2/17

Violence against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate is going strong already in 2017. As the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports, the latest include three schismatic priests beating up a priest in Katerynopil, Cherkasy Region, central Ukraine, and several churches being robbed and desecrated in Odessa.

According to the Union’s source, three priests of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC), one of the nation’s two schismatic “Orthodox” “churches” ended a meeting with Fr. Viktor Katkalo, rector of the canonical St. Michael’s parish in the village of Katerynopil, by putting him in the hospital.

According to the assailant-priests, he didn’t “love Ukraine strongly enough.” Fr. Viktor, on the other hand, says the true cause was that he refused to surrender his parish to them and their schismatic jurisdiction, so they beat him up and broke a bottle over his head, as reports.

One of the priests, Paul Dobriansky, was previously expelled from the also-schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” for defiant behavior, and has referred to himself as the “spiritual commandant of the Maidan.” The schismatic priests have tried to claim that they are the victims, while Fr. Viktor lies in the hospital on a drip.

Fr. Viktor’s parishioners have written a formal request to the local administration asking for protection from the UAOC, garnering over 200 signatures.

Meanwhile, on the night of January 30, two churches of the Belgorod-Dniester deanery in Odessa were robbed and the altars desecrated. A total of 4,000 UAH (about $150) was stolen from St. Andrew’s parish in the village of Andreevka, and Kazan Icon parish in the village of Monashi.

The stolen funds had been collected by parishioners to be transferred to a social and humanitarian aid center in Odessa to help refugees from East Ukraine, the poor, and the ill.

The press secretary of the Odessa diocese stated that the attackers “violated not only civil, but Divine law, defiling the church altars by their crimes.”

Several dozens of churches have been attacked over the past two years, with police as yet detaining no suspects. These are the first attacks of the new year.