“The Church does not bow to politicians”—Patriarch of Alexandria

Bolgrad, October 3, 2018

Photo: news.church.ua Photo: news.church.ua

Continuing his fraternal visit to the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa concelebrated the Great Consecration of the rebuilt Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Bolgrad with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.

The Alexandrian primate again offered words of support and consolation to the Ukrainian faithful, as he had during the services he celebrated in Odessa, noting that he came to Ukraine to bear witness to his love and to the fact that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is the only canonical Church in Ukraine, reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

“Here I lived and shed tears for this country,” the patriarch said. “I have come here to say that I am always with you.”

The patriarch previously served as the representative of the Alexandrian Patriarchal throne in Odessa from 1985 to 1990 and has been perhaps the most vocal hierarch outside of the Russian and Ukrainian Churches to speak about the issue in Ukraine. He had been on a visit to the Polish Orthodox Church just before visiting Odessa, where he and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Poland signed a statement calling on those responsible for the autocephaly question to ensure peace in Ukraine.

Pat. Theodoros also reiterated that he would speak to the primates of all the Local Orthodox Churches about what he “has seen with his own eyes” in Ukraine, as he promised in Odessa, here adding, “I will also tell all the patriarchs that the Church does not bow to politicians. The Church has the Apostolic rules… The canonical Church is guided by the canons. It lives by and will live by the canons.”

Hierarchs from around the Orthodox world have criticized Ukraine’s political interference in Church matters, and a Kiev district court recently decided to hear a case on President Poroshenko’s competency to interfere in Church affairs.

Addressing the gathered hierarchs and faithful, Pat. Theodoros again called on them to remain faithful to the canonical Church in Ukraine: “Church life is not always peaceful: There is turmoil, schisms… Let us not accept what is dictated by the devil who wants there to be strife between us!... Let us pray for Ukraine in our prayers! The years will pass, but always refresh in your memory when the Patriarch of Alexandria came to you from the East. Then you will remember that you belong to the Church of Christ, which is one.”

The Alexandrian primate then noted that he would soon be returning home to Africa, where he would again bear Orthodoxy. “Again I will traverse large distances between churches, and very often there simply is no road and I have to go on foot… Here is a beautiful church that we consecrated today. There, on my way home, I will find churches made of grass and hay. That’s what the churches are like in Africa… But it’s our life, which the Apostle and Evangelist Mark led,” the patriarch said, speaking of the importance of maintaining loyalty to the Orthodox faith.

In conclusion, Pat. Theodoros wished Met. Onuphry, as the head of the canonical Church in Ukraine, patience and many years.

“The clouds will disperse again and the light of the Resurrection will shine again,” he assured the Kievan metropolitan.

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