Moscow, January 30, 2019
The attack against Orthodoxy in Ukraine has been well thought-out and has struck the Church like a bomb, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia said yesterday during a meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, reports Interfax-Religion.
Further, if the problem cannot be resolved, then a concrete stance will have to be taken on the issue, Pat. Irinej said.
Pat. Irinej arrived in Moscow with a Serbian delegation on Monday for this weekend’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Pat. Kirill’s enthronement as primate of the Russian Church. The two primates met yesterday at Pat. Kirill’s patriarchal residence in Moscow’s Danilov Monastery.
Pat. Irinej expressed solidarity with Pat. Kirill in connection with the Ukrainian crisis and denounced those responsible for the crisis:
Ukraine is a great temptation for Orthodoxy in general. And this temptation has great significance because it relates to the center of Orthodoxy. It’s not something coming from outside, but it’s a phenomenon within our own house. Probably, those who invent evil against Orthodoxy have thought this through well, and what’s happening in Ukraine is like a bomb was thrown into our house.
Another Serbian hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, earlier said that Patriarch Bartholomew’s lust for power is catastrophic for Orthodoxy.
In the Serbian primate’s view, the Ukrainian problem is “purely political” and “ecumenical Orthodoxy should deal with this issue very seriously to resolve it.”
In his turn, Pat. Kirill called the attempts to tear the Ukrainian Church from the Russian and Kosovo from Serbia “links in one chain, in a sense.”
“The Lord is leading our Churches through trials and perhaps that’s why you understand our pain about what is happening in Ukraine better than anyone else,” Pat. Kirill said.
Speaking with the media after his meeting with Pat. Kirill, the Serbian Patriarch again addressed the Ukrainian issue:
This is a huge problem not only for the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, but for the entire Orthodox world. It’s been brought inside the Church and will have profound consequences. All of us Orthodox must look at this problem realistically, because it could have no less significance than what happened in the 11th century. The problem of the 11th century divided the Church into Eastern and Western, but this problem could, in the 21st century, divide the Orthodox world and have serious consequences.
Further, the Serbian Patriarch spoke of what will happen if the Ukrainian issue is not soon resolved:
We must formulate this problem in relation to Constantinople to remove it from the agenda. Unfortunately, if the problem remains, then we will have to take a concrete position regarding this issue. This is a blow to the unity of the Orthodox Church and its consequences will be felt first of all precisely by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And it is precisely in Ukraine that the painful consequences of those actions being carried out today will be seen.
Pat. Irinej also noted that Constantinople’s recent decision to allow priests to remarry contradicts all canons and “characterizes our times and speaks of the temptation through which the Church is passing.”
And speaking of the current problems in Montenegro, the Serbian primate noted that the schismatic church there is headed by a defrocked clergyman and is seeking recognition from Constantinople. He also confirmed that clergy and monastics of the Serbian Church are being persecuted there and being expelled from the country.
Pat. Irinej and other Serbian bishops have spoken on the Ukrainian issue many times, and the Serbian bishops have explicitly rejected the rehabilitation of Ukrainian schismatics and rejected the new Ukrainian “church” created by Constantinople.
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch is also currently in Moscow and has also spoken about the danger for Orthodox unity represented by Constantinople’s unilateral actions in Ukraine.
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