Prague, February 27, 2019
Photo: pccs.ru The clergy of the Prague Diocese of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia have been officially banned from serving with clergy of the schismatic Ukrainian group created by Constantinople on December 15.
On February 20, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Prague and the Czech Lands issued a decree, “On permission to serve the Divine Liturgy with clergy from foreign dioceses,” which clearly identifies the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) as a non-canonical structure and forbids his clergy from serving with clergy from the OCU or from allowing them to partake of the Holy Mysteries. The decree was published on the Telegram channel Autokephalia, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
The hierarchs of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia have repeatedly expressed their support for the canonical Ukrainian Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and Ukraine, including Abp. Michael earlier, when he visited the Odessa Diocese of the Ukrainian Church in a show of solidarity in late November.
“We have arrived to show our unity with you, as representatives of an autocephalous Church,” Abp. Michael told His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa at that time.
“In the case of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, considering the canons of the Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate—UOC-MP) is considered canonical. The so-called ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine—OCU’ is considered non-canonical, and on this basis there can be no service of the Divine Liturgy or reception of the Holy Mysteries on the territory of the Prague Orthodox Diocese,” the Archbishop’s decree reads.
Concelebration with the clergy of the schismatic church in the territory of the Prague Diocese “would cause harm not only to the Orthodox religious community of the Prague Orthodox Diocese, but also to the entire Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia,” Abp. Michael writes.
The entire Polish Church forbade its clergy from serving or praying with the schismatic Ukrainian clergy in November. The Serbian Church also rejected liturgical or canonical communion with them, also in November.
Abp. Michael also explains that from now, two documents are required to serve the Liturgy with foreign clergy:
Confirmation from the ruling hierarch that the given clergyman is a member of an Orthodox diocese of a canonical Orthodox Church and is not under suspension from serving or any other canonical precept;
Confirmation from Abp. Michael of the possibility of serving with foreign clergy within the territory of the Prague Diocese.
The copies are to be copied by the parish priest and kept in the church archives. Abp. Michael can waive these requirements orally in extreme circumstances.
Any clergy who fail to comply with this order will be punished, the document reads.
A number of hierarchs of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia have spoken out about the Ukrainian crisis and Constantinople’s role in it. During his recent trip to Moscow, His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia even announced that the Holy Synod had tasked him with appealing to his brother primates to summon a pan-Orthodox council to deal with the matter.
Met. Rostislav also expressed his support for the canonical Church in a letter to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill in October and during a meeting at his residence in November with His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka the Ukrainian Church.
His Beatitude Archbishop Joachim of Beroun, His Eminence Archbishop Juraj of Michalovce and Košice of Slovakia, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Christopher, the retired primate of the Czech-Slovak Church, have also expressed their support for the canonical Church and Met. Onuphry.
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