Sofia, October 5, 2018
Meeting in a regular session yesterday, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church decided to create a special Synodal commission to study the crisis situation in Ukraine.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia recently wrote to all the primates of the world’s 15 Local Orthodox Churches to inform them about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and to propose opening a pan-Orthodox discussion on the matter.
During its session, the Holy Synod examined the Russian primate’s letter, in which he relates the disturbing truth about the unrest in Ukrainian Church life, reports the site of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
After hearing a proposal from His Eminence Metropolitan Nichols of Plovdiv, the Holy Synod resolved to create a special Synodal commission to examine Pat. Kirill’s letter and study the situation in Ukraine in more depth.
Met. Nicholas previously spoke of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine as the canonical and prayerful bishop of Ukraine: “Vladyka Onuphry is the Orthodox and canonical bishop who walks along the path of faith and eternal salvation with fear of God in his life and service. He is a man who always has the image of our supreme Shepherd the Lord Jesus Christ in view, and serves Him faithfully. It’s not just my opinion, but that of the whole Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the opinion of the Bulgarian Orthodox people.”
Ten members of the Synod, including His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria, voted in favor of this proposal. Three metropolitans—Gabriel of Lovech, John of Varna, and Daniil of Vidin—voted against it.
They voted against Met. Nicholas’ proposal because they favored instead the oral proposal of Met. Gabriel, who urged the Bulgarian Church to call for the gathering of a pan-Orthodox Council to resolve the Ukrainian issue.
Met. Gabriel said,
Being concerned about the preservation of the unity of the holy Orthodox Church, and in order to prevent the forcible seizure of churches and monasteries in the dioceses of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the guidance of his Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, we propose the Orthodox Churches to assemble a pan-Orthodox Council in the near future, which will most authoritatively and canonically resolve the issue of the autocephaly of the UOC and overcoming the schism in Ukraine. The council should be similar to the broad and inter-jurisdictional council in Sofia in 1998 that helped to overcome the split in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Met. Gabriel, who studied with Met. Onuphry at the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, has also spoken highly of him: “He is a very good monk, a very prudent person, who would do nothing against peace, against mutual understanding… His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry is a mercy of God for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church… Thank God that in such a troubled time the Lord has sent such a pastor to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
And referring to the Ukrainian schismatics, he said, “There is no grace of God in schism. And without the grace of God there can be no Church. People must return to the canonical Church, where there is the grace of God and where man can be saved. Schism is a very harmful and pernicious phenomenon.”
In the final vote, the Holy Synod voted against Met. Gabriel’s proposal, believing it is not its place to convene a council about Ukraine. Three voted in favor of Met. Gabriel’s proposal, while eight voted against it, with two expressing dissenting opinions.
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