Mt. Athos, September 12, 2019
His Eminence Metropolitan Barsanuphius (Stolyar) of Vinnitsa and Bar was on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos recently, where he informed the brothers of St. Panteleimon’s Monastery about the persecution and church seizures committed against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU).
Met. Barsanuphius was appointed as the new hierarch of Vinnitsa and Bar in December of 2018, after the previous hierarch, former Met. Simeon (Shostasky), fell into schism and joined the OCU. Since then, he has led his diocese with patience and dignity as Shostasky and other OCU supporters worked to seize the cathedral and cause strife in the diocese.
Met. Barsanuphius is one of the most qualified hierarchs to describe the persecution suffered by the canonical church, as he himself was assaulted by schismatic activists, and therefore can give personal accounts of the situation. He reported on his pilgrimage on his Facebook page.
“After the service, I spoke with the abbot and the brothers of Saint Panteleimon Monastery. I told them about events in my diocese, the seizures of churches which took place this year, the illegal non-registration of me as the administrator of the diocese, and other pressure placed on believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as the sincere faith of the flock of Podolia [his region of Ukraine], which did not support the new church structure but remained faithful to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the Union of Orthodox Journalists quotes the metropolitan.
“In turn, Archimandrite Evlogy [the abbot of the monastery] and the brothers supported me, and said that they were praying for peace in Ukraine and the flock of the Vinnitsa diocese,” he said.
Met. Barsanuphius also recounted that he climbed to the top of the Holy Mountain where he offered prayers for the peace of Ukraine. “I prayed at the top of Mount Athos where the Church of the Transfiguration is located, where I prayed for peace in our country, for the flock of the Vinnitsa Diocese, and the restoration of occupied cathedrals and dioceses.”