Who are those guys, and what are those things they are carrying?

I was struck deeply by this photo from Kiev posted with an article at Real Clear Politics:

Politics aside, it’s hard to deny that the images beamed to the world from the opening of the Sochi Games were anything short of stunning.


At the same moment, other images — at times smuggled to viewers from Maidan Square in the neighboring capital of Kiev — were telling an unscripted story in stark contrast to the orchestrated optics of Sochi.

Among the most powerful were of priests, standing in the icy breach between masses of protestors and government forces, each straining the leash-limits that keep Ukraine from the nightmare of civil war.

To Western eyes, these blokes, of long beard and foreign vestiture, might seem eccentric. Who are they, why is their presence tolerated, and what are those things they carry?


It looks as if they are on a bit of a raft/platform, because of all the water, probably from water cannons.

Pretty soon, I suspect, we could see something like this in our own streets.

Some will go to town square, some will have to go underground, some will be disappeared.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Be The Maquis, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. torch621 says:

    I forsee a new Ukrainian government that listens to the diktats of the EU and legalizes homosexual “marriage” and abortion and free contraception and all the other evils of this modern world. Why does everyone seem to hate Russia so much? At least they’re trying to preserve their Christian culture. The US and the rest of the Western world have no moral standing and should just shut up and bug out of other country’s business!

  2. Johnno says:

    Amazing and inspiring image!

  3. Priam1184 says:

    These protesters in Kiev seem to me to be little better than the thugs who invade the state capitol in Madison a couple of years ago. This has turned into a Western Ukraine vs. Eastern Ukraine thing with Yanukovych retreating to Kharkov and refusing to resign. The world would have been better off if we had just left well enough alone. After tens of millions of abortions and the massive moral and civilizational decay we have suffered under our present way of life the US and EU have absolutely zero moral standing (as torch621 so ably pointed out) to tell anyone how to run their lives whether it is in Damascus or in Kiev.

    However corrupt Yanukovych may have been whatever follows him will be no better and probably much worse. After 225 years of more or less constant revolution in the Western world you would think that we would have figured this out by now…

  4. Nicholas Shaler says:

    Regarding people not knowing what those strange, bearded men are carrying:

    To quote my sax instructor, “When the transfer student walked into his math classroom at his new Catholic school, he thought to himself I shall have to do well in this class or else they will nail me to a plus sign like the man on the wall.”

  5. kimberley jean says:

    I feel as though Americans are getting suckered again. The protest photos look a lot like the ones from Egypt and look how that turned out. I just wonder how much American money is going to go down this particular drain.

  6. benedetta says:

    Perhaps both sides could consider how to order their affairs together in light of our belonging to the Church, the Bride of Christ.

    Theirs is a culture beginning to recover from many decades of militant secularism, enforced atheism, active rejection by the government of religion, organized attempts to eliminate the witness to Christ in the public square. They are just beginning again with Christ, whereas here in the West the drumbeat is getting more and more organized to eliminate the visible participation and worship of Christians.

  7. Priam1184 says:

    The ultimate target for all of this of course is Putin. It always has been and I think he knows it. God help the Ukraine and the world if he starts supplying arms to the Yanukovych forces as he will probably have to do if he wants to keep the West from trying to destabilize Russia. The Cold War has been over for a quarter century people; leave Russia alone.

  8. johnnyDmunoz says:

    Are the police behind the Cross or are those protestors? They look uniformed and I don’t see any banners… It just seems weird and fabricated that these “protestors” are just freedom loving people. They seem like a mob…

    I am not buying the narrative that the liberal and conservative media is putting out. I may be wrong.

  9. torch621 says:

    Actually Priam, I think it’s time the US and the EU collapsed and got swept into the dustbin of history. The US is an empire of filth.

  10. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

  11. ReginaMarie says:

    More striking photos of priests, both Catholic & Orthodox, can be found here:

    The Ukrainian people have suffered much (the Holodomor, persecution under Lenin & Stalin). May the Holy Theotokos & the Ukrainian Catholic Martyrs intercede on behalf of Ukraine to end the suffering & bloodshed!

    johhnyDmunoz: Those are police behind the priests.
    bendetta: I agree…may this terrible situation serve to reunite the Catholic & Orthodox Churches in Ukraine.

  12. BillyT92679 says:

    God bless the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

    A powerful Russia equals repression for our co-religionists, regardless of how right Outin might be on some issues

    I do not get how some Catholics cannot see that. You’re trading moral issues for overt anti-Catholicism.

  13. BillyT92679 says:


  14. Giuseppe says:

    The Russian Orthodox Church is more conservative than US Republican-hard-core-Libertarians:
    I know this is satire, but what in it is not true?
    The Russian Orthodox Church is more to the right than most Roman Catholic parishes in the US and Europe.

  15. RJHighland says:

    To be more right than most Catholic parishes doesn’t mean a whole lot. Most Catholic Parishes are very Progressive. The Russian Orthodox Church is to the right of Pope Benedict XVI. They have had their issues over the centures but nothing like what has happened to the Catholic faith since Vatican II. In the west the shifting center has drifted so for to the left nearly a majority of Americans and a majority of “Catholics” are ok with same sex marriage. Putin not only stopped the shifting center in Russia he picked it up and moved it back to the right about were it should be. A whole lot of Rosaries have been prayed for the Consecration of Russian the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I think those are paying off big time. Keep up the Rosary Crusades for Russia but add America and the EU to the list. Not only has the majority of Bishops and priests in the Catholic Church not slowed the American and European march to Sodom and Gomorrah but many if not most have been willing participants in their slide through active promotion of evil must mostly for neglecting to teach their flocks properly.

  16. Giuseppe says:

    @RJHighland, you are right – to quote the Daily Show; “the Red Scare has become the ultimate Red State”. The Russian Orthodox church, in conjunction with a strong central government, has done what the US has not been able to do: institute morality in law. While I do not think they will ever convert to Roman Catholicism, it is hard to argue that the Russian rank-and-file Orthodox Christian is less in tune with the original 1000 years of Christianity than the typical post-Vatican II Roman Catholic parishioner.

    For the past 100 years, Roman Catholics have been focused on the conversion of Russia. Why? I’d flip the question: can Russia help the West focus on its true Christian mission? The antipathy toward same-sex sexual activity is strong and tolerance of even same-sex attraction is minimal in Russia. The US and Europe are so far to the left of Russia on these matters. Can European and US Roman Catholics learn from the Russians on this?

  17. Kerry says:

    If Christ is where the priests are, where else then to be?

  18. ReginaMarie says:

    Giuseppe: Were Russia to reunite with Rome, it would make sense that she return to her Russian Greek Catholic roots, versus becoming Roman Catholic, since the Russians were originally members of the Eastern Catholic Churches before persecution led many to the Russian Orthodox Church. May they all be one in the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Faith.

  19. Ben Kenobi says:

    Well, I have personal interest in this matter, as it was the Russians who brought me to Christ. Not Orthodoxy, though. I agree that there is much we have in common, and I hope that the Russians will come over in unity with the Church. As for the Rite, I see no reason why anything would change in terms of preserving what they have done for 1000 or so years… They had all that before the schism.

  20. benedetta says:

    It would be a mistake to say well in our country the “protests” have only been, some thuggish imported union enthusiasts or some unmoored occupiers types, therefore, we have never to contemplate this situation. This is an ongoing fight against totalitarian-leaning elements, and totalitarianism is hostile towards believers, particularly Christianity. Does our present system in the U.S., our “freedoms”, guarantee always against totalitarianism? Certainly there are elements that counteract that tendency. However, to what extent is Christianity currently able to participate and contribute its privileged and noble voice in the public square in this country? Full participation? Or media blackout. Or government tax and fine out of existence move. Elitist stigmatizing? If one is a legislator in NYS and runs on the Democratic Party line, apparently, if he were to publicly run “prolife” he would not be able to maintain this principle. And doesn’t that pretty much say it all? For what difference does it make to the Party apparatus if one lone legislator dissents from the party line, particularly in NYS, the abortion capital of the world, where the powers that be only want more of it so much so as may be implemented. There is very little chance that one little dissenter could threaten that high powered swiftly overpowering barge that runs over anything in its path. So, totalitarianism in the USA.

  21. Terry1 says:

    My heart sunk after watching several videos of protesters gunned down with disproportionate force by police or military. I have to wonder (with good reason) whether pro-Russian agitators stirred the pot, so to speak.

    JR Nyquist’s prescient and foreboding post “Predicting World War III” comes as close to anyone’s guess as to the fate of our near future.

    My spiritual director recently reminded me that victory was already won on the cross by Christ and no matter how painful it will be for us in the short term this evil will be crushed.

  22. Priam1184 says:

    @Terry1 The Russia of today is not what the Soviet Union was 30 years ago so don’t fall for the media myth that is being created of innocent protesters being gunned down by a brutal regime. Was Yanukovych brutal at all before these protesters started tearing up Kiev? Was he really any more corrupt than say Barack Obama or Bill Clinton? Don’t dismiss the possibility that the agitators you speak of were anarchists who stirred the pot just for the sake of stirring the pot. There are a lot of them in Europe (and a growing number in the United States) these days. About WWIII you may be on to something. It is hard for me to believe that Russia will just take this coup in Kiev lying down. I would advise praying the Rosary every day.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I am appalled by the ignorance of history demonstrated in this thread. Ukraine and specifically Kyiv was the cradle of Slavic Christianity, thanks to the river trade with Constantinople. Later on, Moskva and its rulers gained power, as Kyiv was diminished by various steppe invasions and the end of trade with Byzantine ports, and wanted to claim that they were greater than Kyiv and had in fact become the Third Rome, destined to rule the world. Kyiv and Rome and the patriarchate in Istanbul are all inconvenient for the Third Rome theory. It was long argued that the USSR fancied itself an atheist Third Rome, but Putin certainly seems to want to look like a Roman emperor.

    And Russian abortion rates are worse than ours.

  24. Kathleen10 says:

    Gee torch, I agree with your sentiment but don’t forget there are millions of Catholics striving to be faithful in those dustbins.
    That is a very poignant image. God help our world.

  25. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I love the images. It’s what God’s soldiers should look like. I bet those guys wouldn’t tolerate clown Masses.

  26. Netmilsmom says:

    If you watched the Protests live, before the government started the sniper fire, those Priests joined together to say the Rosary on live tv. I was watching on Twitter and once it was stated, you could hear the rhythm of the prayers. I stand with the Priests.

  27. Johnno says:

    kimberley jean –

    “I just wonder how much American money is going to go down this particular drain.”

    5 Billion Dollars.

    But that’s a bargain compared to the cost of regime-change efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and so on…

    BillyT92679 –

    “You’re trading moral issues for overt anti-Catholicism.”

    True! And that’s where precisely Our Lady of Fatima comes in! But unfortunately, we’ve told her a few times over to ignore Russia and focus on the world at large instead… And also no-one needs to convert anymore… so the conversion of Russia is deemed unnecessary by today’s Churchmen. Because we now have dialogue, spirits of Vatican II, open windows, so-on and so-forth…


    “And Russian abortion rates are worse than ours.”

    Something the current Russian government and Russian Orthodox Church are trying to rectify, though they have not taken the steps to outright ban abortion yet. But there are strong indications that there is a leaning in that direction.

    Whether they will be courageous enough to pull the trigger remains to be seen. If you thought the world threw a hissy fit over the ‘gay laws’ then one can only imagine what would occur if they banned the Left’s favorite ‘sacrament.’ I’m sure Obama would be frothfully lobbying Congress to fire off the nukes, or else he’ll do it anyway by executive decision, because he’s the el’Presidente and he’s committed to the cause.

  28. samgr says:

    The Ukrainian rite Catholic Church here in Trenton, St. Josephat’s, has a same-size replica of the Shroud of Turin on display for veneration for the rest of the week. I intend to go pray before it, recalling that the Orthodox patriarch, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, is essentially a servant of the state, while western Ukrainians, whom many commenters here believe are looking toward a decadent Europe, might instead be aiming toward a Catholic Rome.

  29. piggin says:

    The image of these Holy Priests standing up to evil breaks my heart.I cannot but love them and pray that God will defend, protect and bless them as they radically witness to the Truth.

    God forgive me, how I long to see such a witness in the west against the tidal wave of perversion and iniquity that swamps us now.

    True Saints…..God defend them!

  30. majuscule says:

    Does anyone know the difference between the “red” Russian Orthodox Church and the “white” Russian Orthodox Church?

    I know of some Orthodox nuns who fled Russia in 1917 and after a circuitous route ended up in the US. They considered themselves part of the “white church” but they had their property taken by the “red” church.

    I’m wondering if Putin is part of this “red” church.

    Oh, I googled it (the red and white part, not the Putin part) and found this:


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