Vinnitsa, Ukraine, December 17, 2018
The majority of the clergy and parishioners of the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Vinnitsa, Ukraine showed their loyalty to Christ and His Church on Sunday in the face of the their former hierarch’s betrayal, refusing to follow him into the new nationalist church created on Saturday at Constantinople’s “unification council.”
The former Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa was one of only two out of 90 bishops to abandon the Church and join the new structure. He is known to be a close friend of President Poroshenko, who attempted to force the bishops gathered on Saturday to elect Simeon, though this effort failed.
A source within the canonical Ukrainian Church told Interfax-Religion:
According to incoming information, today, on Sunday, having finished the Liturgy in the Vinnitsa cathedral, the former metropolitan of the UOC Simeon declared that he is leaving for the new church and that tomorrow and henceforth Epiphany [the primate of the new church—OC] will be commemorated at the services in the cathedral. The people were divided: Half applauded (probably those whom the mayor had organized in support of Simeon), and the other half left the church.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists reported on Saturday that Vinnitsa city hall were informed that they were to gather in support of Simeon. Interfax’s source continued:
Half of the archdiocesan choir left with them, while the secular “workers” remained. The entire large children’s choir left the cathedral. Half of the priests left the cathedral, and almost all of the subdeacons, all the staff and cooks and security.
The source also noted that there were many employees of the Security Service of Ukraine at the church at that time and several young men of an athletic build, who, as OrthoChristian reported on Saturday, had seized the keys to the church and were acting as new security guards in advance of Simeon’s departure for the new schismatic church.
From the pulpit, Simeon announced to the parishioners that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine is no longer the Metropolitan of Kiev and is, in fact, now a schismatic, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. This bold assertion has the explicit backing of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
The former hierarch also said that the Cabinet of Ministers will soon make a decision on the reregistration of the parishes of the canonical church to the new schismatic structure.
Simeon was long a vocal supporter of the autocephaly movement and it was no surprise that he took part in the “unification council,” though, according to the report, he was only able to convince 75 priests in the Vinnitsa Diocese to support him, which is less than one third of all the clergy. In Vinnitsa itself, neither the authoritative deans and priests supported him, nor the ancient Holy Trinity Brailovsky Convent and other monasteries.
“The Orthodox parishioners hope that Simeon would repent, therefore they didn’t leave the cathedral until the end of the service. Now they are outraged by the treachery of their former hierarch and they are asking for a new Vladyka to be sent as soon as possible,” the source noted.
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