Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, December 17, 2019
A number of African priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria have issued an open letter regarding the recent decision by their Patriarch, Theodoros II of Alexandria, to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and to commemorate its primate, Epiphany Dumenko, in the Divine services.
The priests note that while the majority of the clergy and laity of the Patriarchate are Africans, their opinion on the matter was never sought and thus not taken into account.
The letter is signed by 27 priests from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia who are saddened by the decision of their Patriarch and pray that it will be reconsidered.
OrthoChristian received the open letter via email, with the message, “Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, with respect and humility, we are very happy to write you to explain our opinion and our decision as a canonical Church and priests in Africa.”
The letter reads in full:
An Open Letter of Orthodox African Priests
It was with great surprise and embarrassment that we, Orthodox African priests, learned about the decision of Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria to recognize the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
This sudden decision is the opposite of the position previously held by our Patriarch, and it jeopardizes the good relations of our Church with the Russian Orthodox Church that have developed in recent decades. In addition, the recognition of yesterday’s Ukrainian schismatics is criticized in many Local Churches, and means a break with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to which most Orthodox Ukrainians belong.
As far as we know, such a decision was made without asking the opinion of the African clergy, although it is the Africans who make up the majority of clergy and parishioners of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
We would like to express our opinion and say that we do not agree with the above decision. We respect our Patriarch and obey our bishops, but, just as many priests and even bishops in the Church of Greece expressed their disagreement with a similar decision on the recognition of Ukrainian schismatics, we believe that we have no less of a right to express our opinion.
We regret the unexpected decision of the Patriarch of Alexandria and we would like to see it revised.
Rev. Fr. Agapios Omukuba, Kenya
Rev. Fr. Ambrose Chavala, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Anastasios Andrea, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Antipas Odhiam, Kenya
Rev. Fr. Athanasios Oruk, Uganda
Rev. Fr. Athanasios Rukamunuga, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Augustinus Batalingaya, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Barnabas Woasim, Zambia
Rev. Fr. Barnabas Kalumuna, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Mapalala, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Charalambos Ocen, Uganda
Rev. Fr. Chrysostomos Sospeter, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Constantine Shoki, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. David Lakwo, Uganda
Rev. Fr. Eleftherios Nchunguye, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Eliakim Kulali, Kenya
Rev. Fr. Johannes Asonga, Kenya
Rev. Fr. John Jacob, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Laurent Sakwa, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Marcos Rugemalira, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Paul Kagoma, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Hieromonk Philaretos (Kimaro), Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Petros Theophanos, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Polycarpos Uchenja, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Stephen Rushenya, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Theodoros Mutabazi, Tanzania
Rev. Fr. Archimandrite Zacharia (Enock), Tanzania