Piraeus, Greece, January 23, 2019
The Metropolis of Piraeus, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, has called on the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church not to recognize the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” created by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine on December 15.
The Metropolis’ statement has been posted on vimaorthodoxias.gr.
Following the mid-December “unification council,” Pat. Bartholomew personally wrote to the hierarchs of all the world’s Local Orthodox Churches, asking them to accept the results of the “council” and to begin commemorating “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the new nationalist church, at the Divine services.
Thus far, the Polish, Serbian, and Antiochian Churches have officially rejected this request, and His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus has also said that he will not commemorate Epiphany Dumenko. The Greek Synod met on December 8, but in view of the seriousness of the Ukrainian issue, it decided to refer the issue to the broader Bishops’ Council to get more hierarchs involved in the decision.
The Metropolis notes that “the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not take into account the warm calls and appeals of many other Local Orthodox Churches that have pointed out that the only appropriate way to resolve the Ukrainian issue is through dialogue and a council, with the pan-Orthodox participation of all the Local Churches.”
Synods, primates, and hierarchs from around the Orthodox world have repeatedly called for Constantinople to handle the issue in a conciliar fashion, but Constantinople has continually refused to do so.
Noting that Constantinople’s actions have already led to the Russian Church breaking communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Met. Seraphim states: “It is now obvious that world Orthodoxy, following the unilateral decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant autocephalous status to a ‘church’ that is nothing more than a patchwork of schismatic, deposed, and self-consecrated bishops, is quickly being led to a new great schism, perhaps the second great schism after that of 1054, with incalculable ecclesiastical consequences for pan-Orthodox unity and to the utmost joy of its enemies.”
Further, the diocese states that the situation with Ukrainian autocephaly has no historical precedent in Church history, as the canonical Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine did not appeal for autocephaly and has been ignored by Constantinople. While the majority of the Ukrainian population belongs to the canonical Church, Constantinople granted autocephaly to a small group of fake “bishops,” the Greek Metropolis writes.
Further, behind this ignoring of the canonical Church lies political and geostrategic considerations, the Metropolis writes, as Met. Seraphim has spoken about before. This is clearly demonstrated, it is argued, by the fact that Poroshenko thanked the U.S. for its support in the autocephaly process and from statements made by the U.S. State Department.
The Metropolis also writes, as Met. Seraphim has before, that Pat. Bartholomew had no canonical right to restore the defrocked and anathematized Ukrainian schismatics, undoing the canonically-justified decisions of the Moscow Patriarchate. Moreover, the granting of autocephaly to them constitutes an intervention in the territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Constantinople’s involvement with schismatics hinders its coordinating, unifying role. Nothing in the past three centuries in any way indicates that the Kiev Metropolia belonged to Constantinople, and all the Local Churches have accepted that Ukraine is the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“This unanimity expresses the pan-Orthodox ecclesiastical consciousness, but now the Ecumenical Patriarchate paradoxically and improperly disputes and cancels it with a single stroke of a pen, essentially in blatant contradiction with itself!” the statement reads.
And, as the Metropolis notes, the schism is only deepening in Ukraine, with churches being seized and bishops, priests, monks, and laity being persecuted.
It further notes the irony that while persecution is raging, Pat. Barthomew writes letters to the primates of the Orthodox Churches, asking them to recognize this new persecuting church. As the Metropolis notes, several Churches have already rejected this request, and the Churches of Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Bulgaria are expected to follow suit.
Therefore, in view of the upcoming session of the Bishop’s Council of the Greek Orthodox Church, the date of which is not indicated,
with a sense of anguish and responsibility for the pan-Orthodox unity of our Church, we would like to appeal to our honorable hierarchs and express our concerns about this major issue. We would like to kindly ask our hierarchs to do their duty with a high sense of responsibility. We ask them to examine the issue with sobriety, fear of God, and love for the Church, taking into account the sacred canons and all that we have pointed out above, serving pan-Orthodox unity and the Church’s interest.
The Metropolis also asks the hierarchs to take into account:
That President Poroshenko, who initiated and guided the autocephaly process, is a Uniate, as is clear from widely-publicized photos showing him receiving communion from the head of the Ukrainian Uniate church;
That the schismatic “Metropolitan” Epiphany has specifically called for cooperation with the Uniates;
That Philaret Denisenko was defrocked and anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church for his schismatic activity and other serious moral concerns and thus there can be no canonical ordinations in his “Kiev Patriarchate” that resembles the communists’ Living Church;
And that the Pat. Bartholomew himself explicitly acknowledged to His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and All Russia that the Russian Church had “exclusive competence” to deal with and sanction Denisenko.
The Metropolis concludes: “We want to believe that our hierarchs will be lifted up in the circumstances and will not recognize the new schismatic ‘church’ under ‘Metropolitan’ Epiphany, following the sacred canons, which they promised to observe with fearful vows on the day of their consecration.”
Several other individual Greek hierarchs have spoken out against the actions of Constantinople and the Ukrainian state over the past several months, including the Metropolitans Nektarios of Corfu, Paxoi, and the Diapontian Islands, Seraphim of Kythira, and Ambrose of Kalavryta.
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