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Priesthood, politics and propaganda: One clergyman’s life in war-torn Ukraine

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The Rev. Sergiy Berezhnoy in central Irpin, just outside Kyiv, in April 2022. Photo courtesy of Kyiv Saints Cathedral (RNS) — “Father, is it a sin to kill the enemy?” This is the question the Rev. Sergiy Berezhnoy, an Orthodox priest and chaplain with the Ukrainian army in Kyiv’s 42nd Battalion, hears most often from soldiers headed to the front lines of the war with Russia.

The 38-year-old clergyman — who, despite spending his days packing humanitarian aid headed for hard-hit areas and presiding over frequent funerals at cemeteries and crematoriums, exudes sincere pastoral warmth — said he fields this question amid the bustle of military buildings and the candlelit quiet of church alike.

Soldiers often come to Berezhnoy’s parish, situated right off a busy road in a semi-industrial neighborhood north of the city center, seeking confession and Communion before leaving for combat. Daily religion news, straight to your inbox. Subscribe today.

The church, named in honor of the Kyivan saints, stands between a gas station and the shores of Lake Jordan. While the small wooden structure looks more like a warming house than a grand cathedral, Berezhnoy excitedly points out that the parish stands on an auspicious site.

According to Berezhnoy, […]

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