Jerusalem, September 5, 2019
His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, is currently on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, where he was received by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem.
During their meeting, Pat. Theophilos reaffirmed his fidelity to the good canonical order of the Church and his support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, reports the press service of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.
Having been received by the Patriarch, Met. Pavel express his heartfelt gratitude for the warm welcome and the blessing to visit and serve at the holy places in Jerusalem associated with the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In turn, Pat. Theophilos noted that Jerusalem is always happy to welcome pilgrims from the fraternal Local Orthodox Churches and recalled that Met. Pavel himself had “lived, served, and worked in the Holy Land for many years.”
Met. Pavel became a member of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem in September 1981, which he then led from July 1982 to late 1988. He was elevated to the ranks of igumen and archimandrite while serving in Jerusalem.
Naturally, the acute topic of the ongoing Ukrainian Church crisis was discussed as well, with the Patriarch of Jerusalem emphasizing the importance of preserving the unity of the Orthodox Church and noting that he is deeply saddened by what is happening in Ukraine today.
“I recognize only Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which is headed by Metropolitan Onuphry,” His Beatitude said, emphasizing that, according to the Holy Fathers of the Church, schism is the greatest sin against Divine love, which lies at the foundation of the Church’s unity.
Met. Pavel expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Pat. Theophilos for his firm position in defense of the unity of the Church on the basis of its proper canonical structure.
Likewise, Pat. Theophilos has frequently expressed his support for the canonical Ukrainian Church over the years, and especially since Constantinople began to deepen the schism there in April of 2018. In addition to his statements, the Patriarch bravely withstood the serious pressure to concelebrate with the Ukrainian schismatics in January on the feast of Theophany, and the Patriarchate began strictly verifying the ecclesiastical affiliation of all clerics from Ukraine after schismatic “clergy” attempted to serve at the Holy Sepulchre.
At the end of the meeting, the hierarchs exchanged gifts. Met. Pavel presented the Patriarch with an icon of the Nativity of Christ painted at St. Elisabeth’s Convent in Minsk and a medal dedicated to the 180th anniversary of the Polotsk Council, which abolished the disastrous Union of Brest of 1596 where the Greek Catholic Unia was formed.
Pat. Theophilos presented Met. Pavel with an episcopal Panagia with the Jerusalem Icon of the Mother of God.