An open address of the rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy of Archbishop Sylvester of Bilogorodka to the Ukrainian public

25.03.2023

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25.03.2023 - 23:30

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25.03.2023 - 23:30

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An open address of the rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy of Archbishop Sylvester of Bilogorodka to the Ukrainian public

 

 

On 10 March 2023, the National Historical and Cultural Preserve “Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra” sent a letter to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery informing it that the lease agreement concluded in 2013 would be terminated on 29 March 2023. Accordingly, the administration of the Preserve demands to vacate all the premises transferred to the monastery by the mentioned agreement.

 

This decision of the Preserve administration caused a heated debate both in the church environment and in the entire Ukrainian society. However, most of the comments made today by government officials, politicians, and scholars hardly address the issue of the future of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, which has been located on the territory of the Kyiv Pechersk Monastery for over thirty years.

 

Today, the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary is the main educational institution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

 

In the twentieth century, Kyiv theological schools were closed by the Soviet authorities twice.

 

After the celebration of the 1000th year anniversary of the Baptism of Rus in 1988, when the Soviet government had loosened its atheist policy, the premises on the territory of the Kyiv Pechersk Monastery were partially given to the Church use. This allowed the Kyiv Theological Seminary to be reopened there in 1989. And in 1992, the Kyiv Theological Academy was revived. Thus, SINCE 1989, THE KYIV THEOLOGICAL ACADEMY AND SEMINARY HAVE BEEN LOCATED ON THE TERRITORY OF THE KYIV PECHERSK MONASTERY. It should be noted that the Kyiv Theological Academy is an independent institution and acts as a higher theological educational institution and it is directly subordinated to the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

 

The buildings that currently serve as classrooms of the Kyiv Theological Academy (buildings 63 and 64) were transferred to the Church in an emergency condition. The Kyiv Theological Academy carried out a general reconstruction of these buildings at its own expense. Also, at the expense of the Academy, the premises were equipped with everything necessary for the educational process (desks, blackboards, a library, a computer classroom, etc.). In addition, two dormitories (buildings 55 and 60) were equipped at the Academy’s expense. In 2008, the Academy also established the Church and Archaeological Museum, which contains many valuable exhibits.

 

Today, more than 250 students study full-time at the Kyiv Theological Academy at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. More than 500 students are enrolled in the Distance Learning Sector. The Academy employs about 100 teachers and staff members. The Academy’s library contains several tens of thousands of books in various fields of science. Tuition and accommodation at the Academy are free of charge for full-time students. At the same time, the Academy provides meals for students. Therefore, the Academy has a kitchen, a refectory, and food storages.

 

If the Kyiv Theological Academy loses the right to use the buildings and facilities on the territory of the Kyiv Pechersk Monastery, it will inevitably lead to the termination of the educational process, as we don’t have any place to move to. Thus, one of the leading theological educational institutions of Ukraine, which has more than 400 years of history, may cease to exist.

 

I would like to emphasise once again that the Kyiv Theological Academy maintains all these buildings at its own expense. These buildings are not sacred structures. Historically, they belonged to the complex of buildings of the Lavra’s Guest Yard (there were household premises and hotels for pilgrims).

 

The Preserve’s decision to terminate the lease agreement was motivated by violations found in the use of the buildings transferred to the monastery. At the same time, the Kyiv Theological Academy has not received any documents indicating whether such violations have been detected in buildings 63, 64, 55 and 60. If there are such violations, we are ready to eliminate them in cooperation with the National Historical and Cultural Preserve “Kyiv Pechersk Monastery”, and in the future we are ready to take responsibility for the proper use of these premises, and to support this, including in the legal field.

 

The professors and teachers of the Kyiv Theological Academy are patriots of Ukraine. After the beginning of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, the Kyiv Theological Academy regularly provided assistance to the needy, refugees and internally displaced persons. We also provided assistance to the Territorial Defence Forces of Kyiv and the Armed Forces of Ukraine (food, medicine, etc.). Today, many our students’ relatives and friends are defending Ukraine in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Among the defenders of Ukraine at the front are graduates of the Academy of previous years. During the services the clergy of the Academy constantly offer prayers for Ukraine and its victory over the Russian aggressor.

 

Today, the educational process continues at the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary. Students attend classes in classrooms and live in dormitories on the territory of the Lavra. The Academy even managed to partially implement the publishing programme developed before the war. In the second half of 2022 and early 2023, the Academy’s periodicals, textbooks, and research papers were published. On 14 March 2023, the Academy held its traditional annual student scientific conference. Even in the current difficult situation, the Academy continues to live. So, the Kyiv Theological Schools will continue to stay in the Lavra and continue their studies.

 

Addressing the general public, we share the pain of our hearts. An educational institution with long and glorious traditions may be destroyed in front of our eyes.

 

Therefore, I call on the Ukrainian state authorities, Ukrainian and world society, and all those who care to prevent the destruction of the Kyiv Theological Academy.

 

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