A statue outside of a Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of St. Volodymyr was beheaded in Winnipeg and its coat of arms cut off according to a report:
The leader of a Winnipeg cathedral says he’s hurt after a statue of a saint that was blessed by a Pope at his church was decapitated, and its staff stolen.
The statue of St. Volodymyr at the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir & Olga on McGregor Street, between Flora and Stella Avenues, was found headless early Tuesday morning.
Right Rev. Monsignor Michael Buyachok said he was out of town until Tuesday afternoon, but went to the church after learning of the vandalism from his secretary.
“I took a look at the statue and felt devastated,” Buyachok said.
“It’s a tragic event, because the statue symbolizes something for us. Our congregation, they know the statue from memory. But that’s the way it is.”
The statue, which was created by well-known Winnipeg sculptor Leo Mol, was blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1984, Buyachok said.
The saint it depicts is significant for Ukrainian Catholics for accepting Christianity in Ukraine in 988 when he was a prince, Buyachok said.
Residents of a seniors’ home across the street saw teens who appeared to be playing around near the statue Monday night, Buyachok added. Another church staff member told CBC News some residents were woken in the early hours of Tuesday morning by a grinding sound outside.
When people went to investigate, they found the statue’s head had been stolen, along with the top and bottom of its staff. The top of the staff was a tryzub, a symbol on the Ukrainian coat of arms, Buyachok said.
Police say they’re aware of the incident, which is being described as a vandalism and theft. It’s believed to have taken place around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, police say.
Buyachok said he doesn’t know what’s behind the incident.
“I really couldn’t tell you. I think it’s just vandalism, straight vandalism,” he said. “They wouldn’t have anything against the cathedral, because the statue’s been there for years, since 1984.”
He’s hopeful the missing pieces can be recovered, and the statue can be repaired.
“If by miracle we get the head back, we can get it fixed by local people here,” he said.
The cathedral has contacted local metal scrappers and asked to be notified if the head or staff are brought in in an attempt to make money, he added.
“There’s always hope,” he said.
Mariana Raikh, a parishioner at the cathedral who was there for a service Wednesday, said she can’t believe the vandalism happened. Raikh previously lived in western Ukraine.
“This is our history, of Ukraine, and our heritage,” she said.
When she sees the statue now, she said she feels scared and sad.
“We just would like to know who did it and what were the reasons,” she said.
To whoever is responsible, Buyachok said he’d simply ask to have the missing pieces returned.
“I would just simply tell them, just return the head to us. We won’t prosecute you,” he said. “Let those that prosecute people, let them do that. But we won’t do anything to you, because what’s the point?” (source)
Religion is often times politicized for nationalistic reasons in Ukraine. The fact that not just the head of the statue, but that the Ukrainian coat of arms was removed is a strong suggestion this crime may have been more than an act of simple vandalism.
Ukraine’s people are divided between an Orthodox majority with Catholic minority. The Catholics live predominately in the Western regions, and the the Orthodox are spread throughout the whole nation. However, there has been a serious split in the nation with the autocephaly granted to what has now become the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
This has been a source of tremendous anger to Russia because as I have noted before, the Eastern Orthodox schism exists because of nationalism. The repeated use of theological claims by the Orthodox to distinguish themselves from Catholics are mostly focused on cultural differences in religious expression that have been continually addressed and for the greater part resolved, while genuine theological differences, such as with the Orthodox treatment on the Sanctity of Marriage or sodomy, are often ignored or not discussed. This is because the difference is not so much an issue of theology or culture, but one of associating religion with a particular tribe of people and creating a hierarchy around it to reflect such tribalism. As one Catholic priest noted on this issue:
In any event, what good is a stable Orthodox tradition (if it is) when there is a massive ecclesiological error at its core? Did Christ really intend to institute a loose network of state-subordinated national churches wrapped in ethnicity and missionary inertia? Is Moscow really the new Rome? Is KGB Orthodoxy the true refuge and home of Christians?
I aver that the truth is, Orthodoxy is singularly unable to confront the moral anarchy of liberalism because of its crypto-fideism and appalling disdain of the venerable Theory of Natural Law. As such, it continues to slide on issues of bioethics, marriage, contraception, and even abortion.
On the other hand, the Catholic tradition has a settled and well-defined body of doctrine in faith and morals that can be found in a single book for all the world to see and by which even popes can be judged. Moreover, the Church is also prepared to meet the rational challenge of modernity with right reason. There is simply no unifying magisterium and no single definitive universal body of teaching in Orthodoxy, apart from the first seven ecumenical councils, which were not sufficient of themselves to stem the plethora of heresies and liturgical changes periodically endorsed by caesaropapist emperors, up to and beyond Peter the Great. Verily, an argument can be made that Byzantine Orthodoxy, the mother of Orthodoxy, doesn’t actually exist anymore. For Orthodoxy without the Emperor is like the ancient Hebrew religion without the Temple. Allow me to quote Patriarch Anthony (1395) on the ecclesial centrality of the imperial autokrator: “it is impossible for Christians to have a church and no empire.” It would appear that you haven’t really had a religion since 1453.
“A figure like Pope Francis is unthinkable within Orthodoxy.” Well, unthinkable until one thinks of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, who is open to the ordination of women and same-sex marriage on the basis of “consensus,” not excluding heretical communions. Ironically, Orthodoxy’s continuous flirtations with Anglicanism and the heretical potpourri known as the World Council of Churches surely has, and will make, inroads into Orthodox teaching, especially in the moral arena. As beautiful as the Eastern liturgy is (but no more beautiful than the Traditional Latin Mass), all liturgies are nothing but tinkling brass if right faith and right practice are lost. (source, source).
As the priest notes above, the issue of “KGB Orthodoxy” is a serious problem, since it is well proven now that the Russian Orthodox Church was wholly infiltrated by the KGB going up to the highest ranks of power, where Patriarch Alexey II himself was a KGB spy, and two priests have estimated that twenty to fifty percent of Orthodox priests were involved directly with the KGB.
The Orthodox Church is Ukraine is an extension of Russian control over that nation. The creation of an “autocephalous” Church in Ukraine is a direct strike at direct Russian political control over her.
It will be interesting to know who cut the head off of that statue, for it could have been an act of genuine anti-Christian hatred, or it could also have been an Orthodox nationalist who favors Russia attempting to send a political message to the Church by his actions.