Thessaloniki, August 7, 2019
Aiming to forge closer relations with hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church, a delegation of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) visited Thessaloniki in late July.
The primate of the OCU, Patriarch Bartholomew, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, and others have repeatedly said that they expect the Greek Orthodox Church to be the first to officially recognize the OCU as a canonical and autocephalous Church. While neither the Council of Bishop nor Holy Synod has made an official decision either way, a number of Greek hierarchs have already taken it upon themselves to serve with the schismatics and behave as though communion were already established, as OrthoChristian reported on Monday.
A report on the delegation’s July 25-26 visit was published by the official site of the OCU and the Greek outlet Panorthodox Synod, revealing that several more hierarchs of the Greek Church anti-canonically concelebrated with the Ukrainian schismatics.
The Ukrainian group included “Archbishop” German (Semanchuk) of Chernivtsi and Khotyn and two archpriests. On July 25, they visited the Stavropegial Monastery of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of the Transfiguration (Vlatadon) in Thessaloniki, whose abbot is the vicar Bishop Nikiforos of Amorion.
“Abp.” German celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the monastery, with representatives of the Ukrainian consulate in Thessaloniki and Ukrainians living in Greece in attendance.
Following the service, the OCU delegation met with Metropolitan Barnabas of Neapolis and Stavroupolis, a diocese of the New Lands that fall under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople while being practically administered as part of the Greek Church. Together they discussed issues surrounding the recognition of the OCU by the other Local Churches.
To date, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is the only Local Church to recognize the OCU.
The delegation then met with Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, who assured the OCU representatives of his continued support for the push for the Greek Church to recognize the OCU. The schismatics then visited the Church of St. Demetrios and the Church of St. Sophia, and served a memorial service at the grave of Metropolitan Panteleimon (Chrysofakis) of Thessaloniki (+ 2003). That evening, they attended Vespers at the invitation of Metropolitan Justin of Nea Krini and Kalamaria, also a Constantinople-Greek Diocese, and had dinner with the hierarch afterwards.
The next day, the schismatic delegation visited the Metropolis of Langadas to venerate the relics of the Holy Martyr Paraskeva and serve the Divine Liturgy with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece.
The Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Panteleimon of Veria, Naoussa and Kampania, with the concelebration of Metropolitan Ioannis of Langadas, Liti and Rentina, Bishop Kallinikos of Arta, Bishop Chrysostomos of Trikki and Stagoi, “Abp.” German of the OCU, and others.
Bishops Kallinikos and Chrysostomos belong exclusively to the Greek Orthodox Church, and thus reportedly celebrated the Liturgy with a “hierarch” with whom their Church does not share Eucharistic communion.
Following the service, Met. Ioannis in particular noted that it was a great honor for him to serve with the hierarch of the OCU. Met. Ioannis again served with the Ukrainian schismatics a few days later, on July 28, the feast of St. Vladimir the Great, in Kiev. “Met.” Epiphany Dumenko then declared that by his concelebration, the Greek Church de-facto recognized the OCU, to which the Langadas Metropolis replied with a statement saying Met. Ioannis had decided to serve in his “academic capacity” as a professor of theology in Uzhgorod University in Western Ukraine, and not as an official representative of the Church of Greece.
Additionally, in December, the retired Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos (Greek Church) sowed confusion among the faithful when he altered the text of the Liturgy to commemorate “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko as the primate of the OCU, despite the fact that, as noted, the Greek Church is not in communion with the OCU, and despite the fact that only primates commemorate other primates.
In May, an archimandrite from the Metropolis of Demetrias and Almyros transferred to the schismatic OCU and was consecrated as a “bishop” for them. He was likely given a canonical release by the ruling hierarch, Metropolitan Ignatius, although it is canonically impossible to release a cleric to an unrecognized church with whom there is no Eucharistic communion.
Met. Ignatius later oversaw the development of a summer training program for seminarians from the schismatic OCU, hosted at the Volos Academy of Theological Studies in his diocese.
Although it was initially expected that the Greek Council of Bishops would discuss the Ukrainian issue at its upcoming October session, it is not on the agenda at this time.