Belgrade, October 16, 2018
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has made an unprecedented decision it has no right to make, said His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, commenting on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s official recognition of the schismatics in Ukraine, reports Romfea.
“Our Church is in a great temptation today,” the Serbian primate said. “A temptation that has befallen our first hierarch, the Ecumenical Patriarch: to make a decision that could be catastrophic for the Church—to do something that he has no right to do—to recognize a schismatic church, and even give it autocephaly.”
Pat. Irinej also emphasized that such a move is totally unprecedented.
“I believe that all the Churches will indicate how catastrophic this decision is, in order to avoid the most catastrophic Church division,” he said, expressing his firm hope.
“We hope the Lord will save us from this temptation,” he added.
His Holiness has spoken out on the Ukrainian matter several times before, having sent two separate letters to Pat. Bartholomew, imploring him to heed the consensual voice of the Church.
“In these letters, it was very clearly stated that the granting of autocephaly cannot be the prerogative the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone, that new autocephalies must be created only with the consent of all the Local Orthodox Churches, as the Holy Synod of Antioch also said in its recent statement,” he wrote.
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, who is currently visiting Serbia, also reiterated this view in St. Sava’s Church in Belgrade, saying, the Churches should focus on unity, not personal searches for autocephaly, and that a pan-Orthodox Council should be called.
Pat. Irinej also expressed his own conviction at an event in Moscow in May: “Anyone who helps the Ukrainian schismatics is an enemy not only of the Russian Church and the Russian world, but also of all Orthodox Slavic nations and the entire Orthodox world.”
He also affirmed, “The Serbian Church fully supports the unity and integrity of the Russian Orthodox Church and strongly condemns the actions of the Uniates and schismatics who tear apart the robe of Christ at the baptismal font of Kiev, selling their people to the enemies of faith. Their end will be according to their deeds (2 Cor. 11: 15).”
The Ukrainian government-backed website Mirotvorets responded by branding the patriarch an “enemy of Ukraine.”
The Serbian Holy Synod also expressed its support for the canonical Ukrainian Church at its April-May session, saying, “[T]he Assembly expresses full solidarity, in co-suffering brotherly love, with the martyred sister Church in Ukraine, exposed to the harshest persecution by the current regime in Kiev.”
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