Kiev, July 29, 2019
The “Synod” of the OCU resolved on July 27 to create a Romanian Vicarate, as the Union of Orthodox Journalists report.
Since its creation by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in December of 2018, the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, which is not yet recognized by any church in the world aside from its creator, has been trying various methods to achieve recognition. One of these was hinted at in a BBC Ukraine interview with OCU “Primate” Epiphany in March of 2019.
Epiphany affirmed that re-ordination of OCU clergy, who were almost entirely ordained in schism by either defrocked bishops like Philaret Denisenko or outright self-consecrated bishops like Makary Maletich was unacceptable.
Philaret himself, the “Honorary Patriarch” of the OCU, from which he recently schismed, pointed out that if he was under anathema, then Epiphany himself is not even a priest, as Philaret ordained him while he was in schism and under anathema from Moscow. It is therefore natural that Epiphany would not be willing to discuss the topic of reordination.
One matter he did discuss, however, was the prospect of forming a Romanian Vicarate within the OCU, if it would convince the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church to recognize the schismatic OCU.
The Romanian Synod stated in February that its evaluation of the Ukrainian issue largely depends upon the fate of the Romanian faithful in Bukovina who are concerned about preserving their ethnic and linguistic identity. The bishops also called at that time for a Romanian Vicariate to be created, as a Ukrainian Vicariate exists within the Romanian Church.
Western Ukraine, specifically Bukovina, is home to a very old community of Romanians-Moldovans who consider this region to be their homeland. In modern times, the ancient region of Bukovina in Ukraine is mostly part of the Chernivtsi Province.
It is worth pointing out that one of the greatest saints of the entire Russian Church, Metropolitan Peter (Mogila) of Kiev, Galicia, and all Russia was born Petru Movilă in Suceava, Romanian Moldavia, to the princely family there. St. Peter is famous for his extraordinary work for the unity of the Church of Rus’ against the Uniate schism, and in addition to his labors at increasing the literacy of the people and printing books, he most notably founded the first Orthodox seminary in the world. The Kiev-Mogila Academy was considered superior to the schools of the Uniates, and equal to Western institutions. Bukovina is still graced by a talented minority of beautiful and talented Romanian Christians.
There are more than 100 Romanian parishes in the Chernivtsi Province.
Support for the canonical Church is particularly strong among believers in this Province of Western Ukraine, most likely due to the fact that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine is a native son of Bukovina, and was previously the Metropolitan of Chernivtsi. For this reason alone, it was no surprise when Romanian parishes began declaring openly that they support only the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphry.
It is unclear from which parishes the OCU intends to form this vicarate; the Union of Orthodox Journalists notes that despite their plans, the schismatic OCU does not posses a single Romanian parish.
The parishes of the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese have been subject to racism and banditry at the hands of the schismatics who attempted to seize a church in Tovtry in the Chernivtsi Province. Schismatics stormed onto church grounds and insulted the people, calling them agents of Moscow, and paradoxically saying “Romanians go home,” as they told the priest, who himself was Ukrainian, that he should return to Romania.
This attitude is common among the ultra-nationalists, who not only shout “glory to the nation—death to enemies” during their cross processions, but have committed brutal repressions against the Carpatho-Rusyn people, suppressing their identity and language and labeling them as only Ukrainian highlanders in the past.
Seeing as the OCU does not currently possess any Romanian churches, it is greatly feared they may attempt to seize them.
Nevertheless, come what may, the Orthodox citizens of Ukraine who are of Romanian decent have made it clear they support only the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, led by Bukovina’s beloved son Metropolitan Onuphry.
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