CWN - Demonstrators who are challenging the Ukrainian government in Kiev are not only opposing a move away from the European community, but also battling to remove the lingering influence of the old Soviet regime, according to a bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Bishop Borys Gudziak, who heads the Ukrainian-rite Eparchy (diocese) of France, Belgium, and Luxemburg, defended the protesters in Kiev in interviews with Vatican Radio and with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The bishop—who doubles as president of Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv—said that the current political crisis in Ukraine is “a battle for dignity.”

“The people are not out on the streets to campaign for a party or candidate,” the bishop told ACN. “They are gathering around principles.” He praised the protesters for their peaceful presence, contrasting their behavior with the violence of the police response. “The legitimacy of the Ukrainian government is predicated by respect for human rights,” he said. “That respect has been neglected and in some cases has been absent” during the confrontations in Kiev, he charged.

Bishop Gudziak reported that each day’s demonstrations in Kiev begin with prayers, and priests have always accompanied the protesters, sometimes hearing confessions. “It is hard to imagine a more prayerful protest in 21st century Europe,” he told ACN.

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Dormition

O Mother of God, in giving birth you preserved virginity; * and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. * You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, * and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Neither the tomb nor death could detain the Mother of God, * who is unsleeping in her prayers and our unfailing hope in her intercession; * for He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb, * transferred to Life the Mother of Life. (Kontakion - Tone 2)