Bukovina, Ukraine, March 25, 2019
Despite enduring 3 months of persecutions, threats, church seizures, and promises of material goods, the clergy of the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese of the canonical Church are remaining faithful to Christ in His Church, under the primatial rule of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
According to the diocesan press service, only 2 priests have defected to the schismatic church, with 447 priests remaining faithful to the Church and the oath they gave at their ordinations. Thus, they have not abandoned the flocks entrusted to them by God.
“In recent months we have seen personal threats, the seizure of churches, cut locks, buckets of slop poured out by the ‘independent’ media, the temptation of honors from state officials, promises of material benefits from the creators of the new faith… But what’s it all for if having crossed over the threshold, you can only fall down dead?” write the clergy of the diocese.
In January, the clergy of the Gertsa Deanery of the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese appealed to local authorities with an open letter, calling for an end to the persecution of the clergy of the canonical Church.
“We will confess the faith that Christ has left us,” the statement read. “We remain faithful to the Lord God, our canonical UOC in the person of his Beatitude Onuphry Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine and we will serve, above all, God, the true Orthodox faith and the Ukrainian people, and we will be in a prayerful connection with the entire canonical Orthodox world.”
In this latest report, the clergy call on all to pray for the faithful pastors of the Church, that the Lord would grant them strength to worthily withstand the present trials.
The Bukovina region is home to more than 100 Romanian-language parishes, which has made it somewhat of a disputed area. In its latest statement on the Ukrainian crisis, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Patriarchate declared that it would take the fate of those parishes into special consideration and would seek a guarantee from both ecclesiastical and state authorities that the Romanian language and culture there would be protected and that a Romanian vicariate would be established to facilitate their connection with their Romanian homeland.
“Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic church, then declared that they were ready to meet the Romanian Synod’s conditions and open a vicariate, and later that they are preparing a delegation to send to the Romanian Church. The schismatics expect the Romanian Church to be among the first to recognize them, though the Romanian Synod called on Moscow and Constantinople to work out the issue jointly.
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