Kiev, January 25, 2019
Zverinets Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Kiev has appealed to the Georgian Orthodox Church to support the canonical Ukrainian Church in its time of persecution and not recognize the schismatic Ukrainian structure.
Patriarch Bartholomew personally wrote to all the Orthodox primates following the “unification council” in December, requesting that they recognize the “church” created there and commemorate its primate, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko. The Holy Synod of the Georgian Church has yet to make an official decision on the matter.
Schema-Archimandrite John (Grischenko) posted his appeal on his Facebook page.
“Today Ukraine is going through difficult times,” he writes. “They know about it in Georgia and worry about Ukraine, supporting us in every way, and we feel this support and are grateful for it.”
“But now we ask you, as our brothers in Christ, who approach the same chalice as us—do not abandon us,” Fr. Job entreats.
“Many in Georgia love Ukraine and its Church and believe that it is worthy of autocephaly. Therefore we know that many of you are inclined to support Ukrainian autocephaly. But listen to us—your Orthodox brothers: You are being deceived. They are trying to impose upon us that which we did not ask for—a Trojan horse of schism and slavery, falsely called autocephaly,” the Ukrainian monk writes forcefully.
He acknowledges that there are differing opinions in the canonical Ukrainian Church—some want autocephaly and some do not—but none want it as a political project. “Politicians come and go—the Church remains through the ages,” Fr. Job writes.
He also notes that such respected authorities as St. Lawrence of Chernigov and Elder Zosima (Sokur) and others called on Ukrainians not to accept autocephaly, whether lawful or not.
Moreover, those who support autocephaly do not want it via subordination to Constantinople, as the Church’s current status grants full rights of autonomy that are greater than those of the new “autocephalous church.”
“We all want to heal the schism among the Ukrainian Orthodox, but we don’t understand how it can be possible without the repentance of the schismatics,” Fr. Job writes. How is it possible, he further wonders, that self-appointed and anathematized hierarchs could not only be accepted back into the Church without repentance, but even head it, suppressing those who have remained faithful to their episcopal and priestly oaths. As Fr. Job writes, this is what is happening, in direct contradiction to a number of sacred canons.
The Serbian and Polish Churches have raised the same concerns about the hierarchy of the Ukrainian nationalist church. The Georgian hierarch His Eminence Metropolitan Nikoloz (Pachuashvili) of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo and Kari has also said that the Georgian hierarchy cannot serve with such bishops.
Moreover, “like an enslaved country,” the state will take numerous sacred sites from the Church to transfer to Constantinople. “Have you ever seen such a thing?” Fr. Job asks.
Further in his appeal, Fr. Job further recalls that the Patriarchate of Constantinople broke communion with the Greek Church in 2003-2004 to achieve the transfer of the new Greek dioceses to its jurisdiction. “Who can guarantee that the Patriarch of Constantinople, who has almost no parishes in Turkey proper, will not turn his gaze on the parishes of other Local Churches tomorrow?”
Also, Fr. Job writes, as only 2 hierarchs and a few dozen priests have abandoned the canonical Church for the schismatic structure, no true “unification” can be spoken of, “but in fact, only the renaming of the non-canonical Kiev Patriarchate.”
Philaret Denisenko, the self-proclaimed “Patriarch” of the schismatics recently openly stated as much—that, in fact, a new church was not created, but the tomos of autocephaly was given to his “Kiev Patriarchate.”
While the hierarchs of the schismatic “church” are telling the Georgians that they have legitimate consecrations, this is not true, Fr. Job explains in his statement, and thus, they have no true Sacraments.
The schema-archimandrite then puts five questions before the Georgian Church:
Is the Georgian Church ready to recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as its head, as the tomos of the new Ukrainian “church” claims the world’s Orthodox Churches do?
Is the Georgian Church ready to recognize Constantinople’s right to interfere in its internal affairs, of which the same tomos speaks?
Is the Georgian Church ready to accept Constantinople’s claim to the entire diaspora, which it makes in the same tomos and elsewhere, giving it the opportunity to seize Georgian parishes abroad?
As the tomos does not allow the new Ukrainian “church” to make its own holy Chrism, is the Georgian Church ready to recognize Constantinople’s “monopoly” and abandon its right to make its own Chrism and start buying it from Constantinople?
Is the Georgian Church ready to recognize the superiority of the Greek nation in the Church, which Pat. Bartholomew has asserted?
Fr. Job also writes about the widespread persecution against the canonical Ukrainian Church, with its churches being seized and burned, and its clergy and laity being slanderously accused of “working for the enemy,” and much more.
In conclusion, the Kiev monk entreats the prayers and support of the Georgian Church:
Dear fathers and brothers, we ask for your prayers. In our beloved Ukraine, as a hundred years ago, the time of the incarnation of the words of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ has come: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Mt. 5:11-12). We trust in God’s promise to build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16: 18). We ask you to support your brothers in the same faith in times of persecution and to bear witness with us to the world that Christ is among us! He is and ever shall be!
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