Kiev, December 24, 2019
The annual diocesan assembly of the Kiev Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met in the Sts. Anthony and Theodosius Church of the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine yesterday.
Exhorting his clergy and beloved flock, His Beatitude called on them not to be afraid to preach the Gospel truth, reminding them that the Church was created by God, not man, reports the Information-Education Department of the UOC.
“Do not be afraid, for we live in the true faith, in the Church founded by Christ, not by men. As long as the words of the preaching of the Gospel continue to sound forth from the pulpit of our churches, as long as our lives are in accordance with the commandments of God, our Church will be Christ’s. And our task is to preach this truth, not stopping for a moment speaking the Word of God and continuously doing good deeds,” His Beatitude exhorted.
While the Church is of Christ, people can make even grave mistakes within it.
“The Patriarchate of Constantinople has begun to allow persons who do not have valid episcopal, priestly and diaconal ordinations to concelebrate, which is a blasphemy and an outrage against the Holy Eucharist,” Met. Onuphry said.
“As you know, one of the basic principles of the canon law of the Orthodox Church is that he who enters into Eucharistic communion with the excommunicated is also excommunicated from the Church. That is why the Ukrainian Orthodox Church stopped Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and with those Churches and hierarchs that recognized the schismatics,” the primate explained.
According to Met. Onuphry, “this is the only way to protect the Eucharist and preserve the canonical and spiritual purity of the Church of Christ.”
In his statement, His Beatitude reflects that of the Ukrainian Holy Synod from December 6, which declared that,
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s termination of Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and with the Churches and hierarchs that recognized the schismatics is not an abuse of the Eucharist, or even more so blackmail of the Eucharist, as some sometimes say, but on the contrary, is the protection of the Eucharist and the preservation of the canonical and spiritual purity and integrity of the Church.
However, the Church has repeatedly experienced such difficulties that only served to strengthen true believers, and, “the current events cannot be compared to the persecutions of the Soviet era or the martyrdom of the first Christians.”
And for those who have faltered and proved unfaithful to Christ, “we will pray that the Lord will return them to the true Church.”