The priest at the Saint Elizabeth Monastery in Minsk calls for prayers for Putin and the Russian victory in Ukraine. The nuns of the convent are now in Norway to raise funds.
This weekend, nuns from the Belarusian monastery of Saint Elizabeth in Minsk visited two churches in Oslo to sell wooden crosses and icons of the Virgin Mary to churchgoers in Norway.
Two weeks ago, the nuns were in Bergen. Many Norwegian small towns have received the sisters.
The nuns represent a monastery where the priest in his sermons demands victory for the Russians in the war in Ukraine, and calls for prayers for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates.
Prayers for Putin and Lavrov
The sermons of the Reverend Saint Elizabeth André of Michonok continue Youtube.
There he says, among other things, that the whole world is against Russia and the Russian Orthodox believers.
The priest swears allegiance to Russia, calls life in the West sinful and infidel, and says that the Russian Orthodox do not need this “free world where everything is turned upside down.”
The priest says he hopes for victory in the Donbass and urges everyone to pray for Vladimir Putin, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
– I always remember them in the liturgy, says the priest in the recording, smiling broadly.
The priest says that he is praying that the enemy will not take over.
We are all soldiers with you, just in a different kind of army, says Lemeshonok.
loves in Norway
For several years, nuns from the Belarusian monastery of St. Elizabeth in Minsk have visited Norwegian churches.
Now it’s been a few years since Covid has put sticks in the wheels of flight. Therefore, they are happy to come here again, says Sister Ksenia when VG meets her outside the Holy Olga complex in Oslo.
– We like ourselves very well here in Norway. People greet us warmly and Norwegians often buy a lot of what we sell, Sister Ksenia (34) tells VG.
She is one of the five sisters of the famous St. Elizabeth Church currently in Norway.
Sister Ksenia is silent for a moment when VG asks her if she can understand that someone is upset about her monastery sermons supporting Putin and his war in Ukraine. Then answer in moderation.
– I know what you’re talking about. You know… It’s not nice when someone gets angry. Because we travel here as normal, friendly people to spread peace and the word of God. We are not political representatives. “We don’t hurt anyone,” says the nun.
– The recording shows that your priests support Putin who is fighting a war in which cities were destroyed and thousands of people were killed? VG asks.
I cannot say more than that I have never heard such a thing myself. Sister Ksenia answered: I do not know in what context it was said.
The nuns’ visit to Norway has been heavily criticized by the Belarusian Association in Norway (RAZAM), including an article in our country.
To VG, Chairman Darya Shut said that the St. Elizabeth Monastery rules from Moscow and conveys anti-Christian and humanist attitudes.
Schott believes that the war in Ukraine is portrayed as a war against the Russian Orthodox, against truth, as the Western ideological war against the “proper believers”.
– It is undisguised propaganda used by the Russian state. If you support this monastery with money, be aware that you are supporting Putin’s mouthpiece, Schott tells VG.
Schott also replies that Belarusian priest Lemychonak condemns gay freedoms.
Many other Belarusians VG talk about their sadness and feel hurt by the engagement. They experience that the Minsk monastery nevertheless exploits people as recipients of propaganda when they are at their weakest: in search of answers from God.
“Nothing a priest has to say.”
At Olga’s Holy Chapel in Oslo, the abbot, Father Clement, says his church is far from politics.
– Since the nuns from Minsk do not preach, I think it would have been good if they came to visit them. They assert that they are raising money out of mercy. I think this is room rent, says VG orthodox priest monk.
– What do you refer to as facilitating the earning of money for the monastery?
The work of mercy goes to support the weakest in Belarusian society. It would have been a shame to offer nothing, we who are in abundance in Norway. On the other hand, I don’t think incorporating politics into philanthropy is very good.
VG reads Father Clement what the pastor in Minsk said about Putin and the war.
– I don’t think that’s something a priest should say. I think the church room is where the pastor should preach the message of love and gospel content, so that doesn’t sound good, says Reverend VG.
Father Clement denies that all leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church support Putin’s war.
– Not here in Norway at least. I have been quite clear that war is a sin and a misery no matter what. I see no opportunity to justify war, neither in Ukraine, nor anywhere else either.
On a sunny Sunday in Oslo, Sister Ksenia summarizes that she is very satisfied with the weeks she spent in Norway. Sales were good, she told VG. The nuns are planning trips to Sweden and Finland.
Sister Ksenia says that the money goes, among other things, to a boarding school run by the monastery, and to give patients in a psychiatric hospital a chance to work with them. This is their main motivation for working, she says: to help people who are struggling.
We are simple people, not political actors. I want people to live in peace, and for God to be in people’s hearts. And it shouldn’t be war.
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