Fearing that Russian bombardments may continue over the Orthodox Easter holiday, the head of Ukraine’s Orthodox church requested clergy and the faithful on Wednesday to forego night Easter services in areas of the nation threatened by fighting.

In a televised address, Metropolitan Epifaniy expressed his skepticism about a proposed suspension in Russian troop shelling for the period of Orthodox Christian Easter festivities requested by the Ukrainian association of churches and religious communities.
“It’s difficult to imagine this will actually happen,” he continued, “since the adversary is attempting to absolutely destroy us.”

Since the formation of a distinct Orthodox church in Ukraine in 2018, which ended centuries of ecclesiastical relations with Moscow, Ukrainian church leaders have been at conflict with Russia. The majority of Ukrainians and Russians are Orthodox Christians.
The Orthodox Easter service takes place late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, followed by a traditional feast.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry also expressed gratitude on Wednesday for a different UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plan for a four-day Easter “humanitarian truce” that might begin on Thursday.

It claimed the cease-fire was vital for the safe evacuation of thousands of civilians from locations where hostilities were ongoing or possible, “particularly from the long-suffering” city of Mariupol.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, dozens of churches and other religious and cultural institutions have been damaged or destroyed. Russia’s operations are described by the Kremlin as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine.

Easter services should be held in the morning or afternoon, according to Epifaniy, and priests should endeavor to prevent overcrowding in churches. According to him, the devout can also watch live broadcasts of the Easter service on television or the Internet.

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