Belgrade, January 15, 2019
Several Serbian hierarchs have continued speaking out against Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine, affirming that their stance is a matter of canonical fidelity and not of supporting this or that Church. Constantinople’s actions are, in their eyes, an attack on the entire Church itself and Christ Himself.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia stated this position explicitly in an interview on the Serbian Church’s “Church TV” on January 5, the day before Patriarch Bartholomew gave a tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatics.
“We do not support either Constantinople or Russia, but adhered to the canons where everything is clearly stated,” His Holiness emphasized. “The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was part of the Russian Church; it received autonomy and today exists in Ukraine. This Church has about 90 dioceses, 90 bishops, and the largest number of faithful,” the primate added.
Constantinople and the Ukrainian schismatics refuse to believe this, insisting that the Polish, Serbian, and Antiochian Churches, which have refused to accept the new Ukrainian structure, are merely puppets of Moscow.
“If we exclude politics, then the canonical point is very clear,” the Patriarch added, again stressing that the situation in Ukraine can only be solved by a pan-Orthodox council.
“However, everything went wrong. The Patriarch of Constantinople assumed the right to solve the problem his own way, which was resolved 300 years ago. The real reasons for this are not canonical, but rather political. The desire of some of the powerful of this world … to get the best control on this earth. The Patriarch of Constantinople started down this path, not consulting with anyone, and, probably, in accord with some of the other powers of this world. As far as we can see, it has been dealt with in the most catastrophic way so far. Thus, the schism in Ukraine will be legalized and continued,” His Holiness concluded.
Meanwhile, in his Nativity message to his flock, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostom of Dabar-Bosna in Bosnia and Herzegovina harshly criticized the actions of Constantinople in Ukraine, saying the Patriarchate has “torn the robe of unity of the Orthodox Church.”
Calling for prayer for the clergy and faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Church, Met. Chrysostom stated with regret that “the celebration of the Nativity of Christ this year will go down in the history of a divided and fragmented Church,” reports Romfea.
Moreover, he emphasized that the unity of the Church was “attacked from within.”
“The Patriarch of Constantinople and his Synod, as if on a theatrical stage, have played with the Mystery of the Church and its unity,” reads the Metropolitan’s message. “They attacked not only the Church of martyrs in Ukraine, but also the whole Church of Christ, its holiness, its conciliarity, its apostolicity, and its unity. They betrayed Christ and tore the robe of the unity of the Orthodox Church in order to tailor from the scraps of the schism, erected by its enemies, the schismatic-sectarian model they called the ‘Church.’”
And speaking in a Montenegrin television interview, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral also spoke about Constantinople’s role in destroying the unity of the Church, reports pravoslavie.ru.
“What Bartholomew is doing in Ukraine now,” Met. Amfilohije said, “is completely incongruent with the spirit of the Orthodox Church. Instead of playing a unifying role for all Orthodox as the first in honor among the patriarchs, he is ruining the centuries-old unity between the Orthodox Churches. From this point of view, our Church and many other Patriarchates do not accept such a position.” The Serbian hierarch personally told Pat. Bartholomew this during a recent meeting.
His Eminence noted that the once great Patriarchate of Constantinople has been reduced to but a few thousand people, and thus must rely on the support of Europe and the U.S., and “probably world politics affect him, so he makes decisions that are not in the spirit of God’s Church and not in the spirit of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
As Met. Amfilohije notes, Pat. Bartholomew had hoped that other canonical Churches would join him in his Ukrainian pet project, but none of them did, and now he is in an unenviable situation.
Asked whether the Patriarchate of Constantinople is considered the “supreme Church authority” for the Serbian Church, His Eminence responded: “Absolutely not. Only the Catholic church has a supreme authority—the Pope of Rome, but in the Orthodox Church, every bishop is an authority. In this sense, the Patriarch of Constantinople is mistaken when he interferes in the life of the Russian Church.”
In his view, the self-interested cancelation of the 17th century document that transferred the Kiev Metropolia to the Russian Church represents the papal ambitions of the Pat. Bartholomew.
Met. Amfilohije earlier described Constantinople’s lust for power as catastrophic for Orthodoxy.
In their 2019 Nativity message, the bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church stated that Russophobes, politicians, Uniates, and Constantinople have worsened the schism in Ukraine.
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