Moscow, May 17, 2017
Metropolitan Irinej of Bačka of the Serbian Orthodox Church has expressed his dismay and disappointment over meetings between representatives of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar in Constantinople, Romfea reports.
In a meeting with Archbishop Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol, Met. Irinej stated that he had told the Ecumenical Patriarch in a personal conversation that were he to support “Patriarch” Philaret of the “Kiev Patriarchate,” it would lead the Church into a new schism, this time not between East and West, but within the East itself.
“Only those powers that have nothing in common with Christianity are interested in this schism,” the bishop of Bačka has also said.
Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the Moscow Patriarchate expressed the same concerns in March in an interview. “We fully respect the Ecumenical Patriarch, and do not consider it necessary to comment on what political actors he meets with. But when schismatic pseudo-hierarchs appear at the Phanar, it cannot but grieve us,” the metropolitan said.
The Serbian prelate also stressed that he spoke honestly with the patriarch, expressing his concern that, besides schismatic clerics, similar talks have been conducted at the patriarchate with political and state actors as well, who are not Orthodox. “Of course, they are pursuing state interests, as is the case in Montenegro. The Church is transformed into a political tool to serve government interests rather than its real purpose,” Met. Irinej lamented.
“My view is that the Ecumenical Patriarch will not in the end compromise with the schismatics,” he added, echoing Met. Hilarion, who said, “Many times we have heard from the mouth of the Ecumenical Patriarch his solid assurance that he considers the only canonical Church in Ukraine to be the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry at the head. For us, these assurances of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew are the basis on which we build our relationship with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada has appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch to intervene in its internal Church affairs and issue a tomos of autocephaly, and former Ukrainian presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Viktor Yuschenko have personally met with the patriarch to entreat him to recognize an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, separated from the Moscow Patriarchate. Self-appointed “Patriarch” Philaret has also visited the Ukrainian Orthodox seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ, under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, where they discussed the issue of recognition of the Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.