Athens, November 7, 2019
The pilgrimage of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” to holy sites in Greece, planned for November 9 to 15, has reportedly caused a great stir among the hierarchs of the Greek Church who are afraid to further promote the schism in the Orthodox world.
While it recently became known that Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens officially recognized the OCU and its primate Epiphany Dumenko, following on the decision of the Greek Bishops’ Council on October 12, the fact that the OCU immediately planned a pilgrimage, billed as the “first great pilgrimage to Greece after the recognition of our Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Greek Orthodox Church,” and furthermore, that it is to be headed by Simeon Shostasky and Alexander Drabinko, the two bishops who willingly left the canonical Ukrainian Church to unite themselves with the schismatics, has proven to be too provocative.
As the Union of Orthodox Journalists learned from its own sources within the Greek Church, the announced pilgrimage has caused extreme concern and even indignation among the Greek hierarchs, who were not ready “to take responsibility for the consequences of the recognition of the autocephaly of the OCU by the hierarchs of the Greek Church on October 12.”
“In the Archdiocese of Athens, there are many voices against recognition, albeit belated, but at least now they have understood and it is clear that they are not ready to take on all the burden and responsibility for schism, which is very quickly reaching the Greek clergy and believers who oppose it,” the source said.
According to the source, Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina was one of the first to oppose the intentions of the schismatic bishops and pilgrims to service in the holy places in Greece. According to the program, the schismatics intend to serve in Holy Trinity-St. Nektarios Monastery on the island of Aegina, where the great saint’s relics are housed, on his feast day, though Met. Ephraim reportedly informally contacted the OCU representatives to ask them not to serve in the monastery.
“This position of the Metropolitan is due to the fact that among the clergy of his metropolis there is an extremely ambiguous attitude towards the OCU, and he feels responsible for a possible schism,” the source stressed. “He wants the Monastery of St. Nektarios to remain accessible to all Orthodox, which may be hindered by concelebration with representatives of the OCU.”
However, Romfea reports today that Met. Ephraim did not tell anyone that the schismatic bishops have asked to serve in the monastery.
Recall that the Holy Synod of the Russian Church responded to the Greek Bishops’ Council of October 12 with the announcement that it would maintain communion only with those Greek hierarchs who remain firm in their Orthodox confession of faith against the schismatics, and that it could not bless pilgrims to visit the dioceses of hierarchs who support the schismatics. An initial list of 6 such dioceses was recently published.
It has also become known that the local faithful intend to prevent the entry of the schismatics into the Church of St. Andrew in Patras.
An open letter and petition against recognizing the OCU circulated before the Bishops’ Council, gathering thousands of signatures from faithful Greek clergy and laymen.