Sliven, Bulgaria, June 24, 2019
His Eminence Metropolitan Joanikii of Sliven of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church issued an encyclical earlier this month which banned members of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in December, from receiving the holy Body and Blood of Christ in the churches of his diocese, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists with reference to the Facebook page of Bulgarian journalist Anna-Maria Kristeva.
The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has not taken a stance on the Ukrainian issue, and as His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech recently revealed, the Synod has not even examined the issue in depth yet, though it created a commission to study the issue in October of last year.
However, as the Synod has thus not officially recognized the OCU, its members cannot commune anywhere in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Thus, Met. Joanikii’s encyclical is an affirmation of this fact and a show of support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
In particular, the journalist notes that Fr. Eugene Yanakiev of the Sliven Diocese banned members of the OCU from communing.
The comments under Kristeva’s post reveal that the given incident occurred on June 9 in the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in the city of Pomorie in southeastern Bulgaria during the “It is Truly Meet” Orthodox music festival.
Additionally, the local vicar, His Grace Bishop Hierothy confirmed that Fr. Eugene was acting on the basis of an epistle from the ruling hierarch, Met. Joanikii, and not of his own accord.
According to agensir.it, in 2016 the Sliven Diocese also forbade marriages of Orthodox Christians with the non-Orthodox, noting that “different faiths are an impassable obstacle for Orthodox marriage.”
Recall that in May, His Eminence Metropolitan Daniil of Vidin of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church addressed himself to the metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Church and other Local Churches concerning the Ukrainian Church crisis, urging them not to support the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople there.
The Bulgarian Synod later clarified that the letter represents only Met. Daniil, not the entire Bulgarian Church, and “categorically distance[d] itself” from it.
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