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ROME — The Orthodox Bishop Epiphanius, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, called Russian president Vladimir Putin the “new Antichrist” who has “decided to destroy the Ukrainian people.”
“With God’s help, we will defeat the enemy, we will defeat the new Antichrist Putin, who has decided to destroy the Ukrainian people,” the metropolitan said during a sermon on Friday. “But we must not fall, we must continue to be spiritually strong.”
Epiphanius, who is the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, was officiating at the Divine Liturgy for St. George the Trophy Bearer, whose memory is commemorated on May 6 according to the Julian calendar.
“God and St. George support us in this struggle, from which we will emerge as winners. And these trials will make us stronger spiritually,” Epiphanius said.
“This is why we must fight, pray and do everything in our power to preserve this great gift of freedom, to consolidate it, and to transmit it to future generations,” he added.
The Ukrainian primate also invoked lessons from history, insisting that Ukraine must fight to the finish.
“We will defeat the enemy, we will restore our territorial integrity, we will regain the occupied territories, and in our united, independent, democratic, European Ukraine, we will build a common future. And this future is now in our hands,” he said.
During the service, prayers were also offered for the soldiers defending Ukraine, for the government and the people, and for the repose of the souls of those who have fallen for their homeland.
In his first Divine Liturgy as Metropolitan in December 2018, Epiphanius omitted the name of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow from the list of brother primates with whom he is in communion.
“At the moment I do not commemorate him because we are in a state of war, so the Ukrainian people would not accept if the newly elected primate commemorated the name of the Russian Patriarch,” he said in an interview on Ukrainian television.
Pope Francis recently warned that Patriarch Kirill must not be Putin’s “altar boy,” but has also insisted that divisions among Christians create “fertile ground” for war.