“This is inhumanity,” said one city resident, Ludmila Partinchuk.


There are no longer walls behind the main altar of the Transfiguration Cathedral, a landmark heavily damaged when Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian port city of Odesa.

So on Tuesday, when the breeze from the nearby Black Sea blew in, it disturbed the stillness inside one of Ukraine’s largest places of worship, sending a chandelier in the nave swinging like a slow pendulum from side to side. Detritus floated down from the roof as building inspectors, United Nations employees and priests donned hard hats to assess the damage to a cultural icon.

“We hope God will protect the heart of our cathedral,” said Father Oleksii after a morning Mass held in front of the red-and-white caution tape roping off the main part of the church.

Outside, residents gathered around the entrance to the cathedral, which is now boarded up with plywood. Many stopped to kiss an icon of the patroness of their city, which an employee of the church said had been pulled from the rubble. Others came simply to witness the destruction, walking by the church with smartphones in hand filming videos, their mouths wide open.

“This is inhumanity,” said one city resident, Ludmila Partinchuk, who had come with her husband, Oleh.

Founded in 1794, the cathedral became the most important Orthodox church in Novorossiya, the name given by the Russian Empire to land along the Black Sea and Crimea that is part of present-day Ukraine. It was destroyed during a Soviet campaign against religion in 1936 and not rebuilt until after the fall of the Soviet Union.

When it was consecrated in 2010, the ceremony was presided over by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow — now perhaps better known as the prelate who has blessed Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine and promised that their sins would be “washed away.”

Read more. 

The Catholic bishop in Odesa, meanwhile, has spoken out: 

One person was killed and 22 others – including four children – were wounded in that attack on the historic church.And this has angered even the city’s Catholic leaders.

“In the name of justice, I call on the international community to strongly condemn Russia’s crimes, and I call on all those with influence – political, military, etc. – in the game of global dialogue to come out against these attacks,” said Bishop Mykhaylo Bubniy, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Odessa, during this exclusive interview with La Croix’s Malo Tresca.

Read a full interview with the bishop.