Hydra, Greece, September 24, 2019
On Sunday, September 22, several Greek clerics concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in Kiev with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and offered him and all the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church their prayerful support.
The clergy included Archimandrite Theologos from Grigoriou Monastery on Mt. Athos, now the abbot of the Monastery of St. Elijah on the island of Hydra, Archpriest Nicholas Savvopoulous, the former representative of the Greek Church to the EU, and Hieromonk Hierotheos Savvopoulos, who received a blessing from His Eminence Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina to go on pilgrimage to Kiev, reports Romfea.
The Greek priests entreated the faithful of the Ukrainian Church to remain faithful to Christ in His Church and to cling to and support Met. Onuphry, the only canonically-recognized primate in Ukraine.
They also appealed to their own Greek hierarchs, who could discuss the Ukrainian issue at the upcoming session of the Bishops’ Council in October, not to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics. However, the fathers were also then censured by their hierarch for conveying this message to the Ukrainian Church.
In their letter given to Met. Onuphry, the monks write that they are humbled to be visiting the much-suffering Ukraine and convey to the people a message of love and Orthodox brotherhood, noting the Greek people’s special appreciation for the humble example set forth by the Ukrainian primate.
Further, in visiting Ukraine, the Greek clerics write that they have experienced the podvig of the Ukrainian people who remain faithful to Orthodoxy despite the fierce persecution against them.
To have communion with those who created and continued in schism is “as an extreme expression of selfishness, surely leading to spiritual death,” the priests write.
And the schism was largely brought about by external pressure, appearing to come from international politicians, they write. A strong, global Orthodox Church is not pleasing to those who wish to impose a one-world religion.
The clerics also recall the important fact that the Patriarchate of Constantinople broke communion with His Beatitude Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece in 2004 and threatened to revoke the Church of Greece’s tomos of autocephaly because it elected three metropolitans for dioceses in the “New Lands” without consulting the Patriarchate.
“Apparently, the same threat hangs today over the bishops, who will be called upon to work out a decision on Ukrainian autocephaly,” Frs. Theologos, Nicholas, and Hierotheos writes.
The situation has divided the Church of Greece and Mt. Athos, with some bishops ready to follow Constantinople into non-canonical areas, while others stand firm and refuse to concelebrate with those who have already concelebrated with the Ukrainian schismatics.
The clergy also note the sad fact that tensions are being created between the Slavic and Greek-speaking Orthodox Churches, which have no real basis in the simple faithful and clergy. Faithful Greeks are proud of their connection with the Slavic Orthodox world, they write. The pressure to follow Constantinople and recognize the tomos granted to the Ukrainian schismatics, because that is supposedly their duty as Greeks, is the heresy of ethnophyletism the fathers write.
Moreover, Constantinople’s ecclesiological theory of “First Without Equals” is false, thus the fathers will listen instead to the other primates and hierarchs who have bravely spoken out against Constantinople’s lawlessness in Ukraine.
Only the path of conciliarity can bring a resolution to the ongoing Ukrainian problem the fathers write, in concert with hierarchs from around the world.
And in conclusion, they write: “Concluding this humble greeting, we extend a humble appeal to all who love our Orthodox faith and desire its unity, and we address this appeal in particular to our bishops in Greece and throughout the world: Bow down and listen to the pain, crying, grief and tears of millions of our Orthodox brothers in Ukraine.”
After the fact of their concelebration with Met. Onuphry and their letter to him was publicized, the Greek clerics were strongly censured by their hierarch, Met. Ephraim of Hydra, who writes that they had concealed from him their true intentions for traveling to Kiev, reports Romfea.
“They hid their fraudulent plan to concelebrate with Metropolitan Onuphry and their intention to declare loyalty to the Patriarchate of Moscow and condemn the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” Met. Ephraim writes, though it should be noted that their letter says nothing of loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate.
The fathers, it is claimed, are guilty of misconduct and deception of their Metropolitan and could be punished according to canon law.
They continued their pilgrimage to Chernigov, where they met with His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrose, who told them about the persecution against the Church in his diocese.