Rivne, Ukraine, June 7, 2019
Yesterday, on the feast of the Ascension, the faithful of the Rivne Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were blessed with the visit and support of a prominent clergyman from the Cypriot Orthodox Church.
Archimandrite Nektarios (Babopoulous), the Secretary of the Cypriot Tamassos Diocese, visited 8 parishes that have suffered from the violent raids of Ukrainian nationalist-schismatics, assuring them that world Orthodoxy supports them and is looking for ways to resolve the Ukrainian Church crisis, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
Fr. Nektarios was accompanied by Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations.
In his talks with the faithful, the Cypriot archimandrite emphasized that the Church of Cyprus was one of the first to express full support for the canonical UOC and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus has spoken out against the political interference in the life of the Ukrainian Church and stated in January that he would not commemorate the primate of the Ukrainian schismatics.
In February, the Cypriot Holy Synod issued a statement that noted that the creation of a new church in Ukraine had not achieved the desired unity and called into question the validity of the ordinations of the members of the new church. On the same day as the Synod session, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos issued a statement saying it is unacceptable to have communion with unordained schismatics.
“I want to assure you that you are not alone in your struggle for the purity of the faith,” Fr. Nektarios told the Ukrainian faithful.
“Our primate Abp. Chrysostomos has undertaken a number of trips to the primates of other Orthodox Churches of the world to discuss and find solutions to the Ukrainian Church issue and heal the wound of the schism. All the problems you are now going through should not shake your faith in God. You must become more dynamic and fervent. The Lord is testing you this way, to see faith and show others what it means when someone believes in God,” the archimandrite said, encouraging the suffering faithful.
In April, Abp. Chrysostomos met with the primates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem in one meeting, and with the primates of Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece in separate meetings in late May. The Cypriot primate emphasizes that no Church should make a unilateral decision, but that they should all work together to find a consensus on how to address the issue.
In turn, the Ukrainian faithful told Fr. Archimandrite about the painful situations they are facing and asked him for advice and spiritual support.
“I have taken more strength from you than I have given you,” he affirmed. “After all, you are living in a Church that is facing persecution. Your struggle will give you spiritual fruits. You are already an example of confession, a testimony to faithfulness to the Church of Christ.”
“The confession of faith that you are experiencing is an example not only for the Cypriot Church, but for the entirety of global Orthodoxy, which lives in conditions of greater religious comfort,” Fr. Nektarios summed up.
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