Pat. Bartholomew did not humiliate Met. Onuphry by his letter, but himself.
Kiev, December 10, 2018
letter from Patriarch Bartholomew to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev of All Ukraine, dated October 12, was published on Thursday in both Greek and Ukrainian by a hierarch of the Ukrainian Church and the Greek portal Romfea.
While the letter represents on the part of Constantinople a threatening assertion of perceived canonical and historical rights and a belittling of the position and title of Met. Onuphry, who is universally recognized as both the canonical primate of Ukraine and a true man of prayer, it has only increased the stature and respect for His Beatitude throughout the Orthodox world.
“I know that after its Greek text was published, the hierarchs of various Local Churches read it and many of them said: ‘We respect Met. Onuphry even more now,’” Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the Deputy Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR), told Interfax-Religion on Friday.
He also spoke to the truth that Met. Onuphry enjoys great spiritual authority both within and beyond the borders of Ukraine.
“He is rightly revered as a spiritual man of righteous life. Thus the sympathy of the Orthodox is not on the side of the one who sent such a rude, insulting letter. He did not humiliate Met. Onuphry by it, but himself,” Fr. Nikolai reflected.
In his comments, Fr. Nikolai also confirmed information from the Union of Orthodox Journalists, which, relying on its own sources, reported that, rather than responding in kind, Met. Onuphry had simply placed the letter in an envelope and mailed it back to Pat. Bartholomew.
“Instead of an answer, Met. Onuphry returned the letter to the sender. I wouldn’t want to discuss such a document either,” the DECR representative said.
In February of last year, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Plovdiv of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said: “In recalling Vladyka Onuphry, the first image that arises in my heart is that of a man of prayer. Thank God that the Ukrainian Orthodox people have such a primate, a holy man of peaceful spirit and a serious man of prayer. Metropolitan Onuphry has very strong prayer. I am sure of this.”
In April of this year, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem said: “God chose His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the most suitable person for the difficult situation in which the Ukrainian people find themselves now, and he will have the strength to overcome the schism which has occurred in Ukraine.”
In September of this year, His Beatitude Archbishop Joachim of Beroun of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia said: “Onuphry, the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine is the best of the living bishops. He is adorned with humility, love, forgiveness, and wisdom. Always in prayer, he is wholly dedicated to God and to service to the people. He brings comfort, hope, and joy everywhere. Throughout many trials, he has always stood like a rock. Knowing him is the greatest spiritual gift for me.”
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