Veria, Greece, July 4, 2018
His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa offered words of support recently for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the entire canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, calling on the Ukrainian schismatics to repent and return to the true Church of Christ.
He also emphasized, as have other heads of Churches, that the interference of politicians in Church matters can only hurt the Church, reports the site of the Zaporozhye Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Alexandrian primate’s word was conveyed to His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol who celebrated the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul together with the patriarch on June 29 in the Greek city of Veria.
Pat. Theodoros noted that he himself had studied in Odessa, and had occasion to visit the city of Donetsk together with Metropolitan Sergius of Odessa, and thus he acutely feels the pain of the bloodshed that is ongoing in Ukraine, which is exacerbated by schisms in Church and society brought on by Ukrainian nationalists.
In particular, His Beatitude emphasized that the question of an autocephalous Ukrainian Church must be resolved through fraternal deliberation, “inasmuch as only common support can facilitate a resolution.”
The patriarch then plainly stated the clear answer to overcoming the Ukrainian Church schism: “Let us pray to God, Who does all for our good, that He would instruct us all for a solution to these problems. If the schismatic Denisenko [the self-proclaimed “patriarch” of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate”—O.C.] wants to return to the bosom of the Church, then he must turn to where he left from. That which has fallen away must return to where it fell from. God is merciful to those who repent, and the Church forgives and receives in its motherly embrace all who repent.”
Unfortunately, Denisenko has declared that he will never return to the canonical Ukrainian Church from which he schismed, and that, rather, he will become the patriarch of a new, united and autocephalous Ukrainian Church.
The patriarch then referred to the Ukrainian politicians, headed by President Petro Poroshenko, who are trying to get a tomos of autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, saying modern politicians are more likely to harm the Church than to help it.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia also told a group of Ukrainian politicians that the state must stay out of Church affairs.
“A schism, caused by man’s egotism, can be healed only through repentance and returning to the Church,” the primate noted. “The new autocephaly must be the result of a consensus.”
Met. Onuphry himself has also stated that politicians cannot unite the Church but only divide it.
Likewise, the Holy Synod of the Polish Orthodox Church has stated, “There are certain schismatic groups in Ukraine which must first repent and return to the canonical Church. Only then can we discuss the issue of providing autocephaly… We must not be led by the political climate in questions of dogma and the canons.”
Pat. Theodoros then asked Met. Luke to convey his feelings of fraternal benevolence and support to Met. Onuphry, and also entreated the bishops to “support their primate, and to emulate his prayerful podvig, firmness of faith, and fidelity to the Mother Church.”
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