Iași, November 27, 2019
Faithful from the Rivne and Sarna Dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, including parishioners persecuted by the church seizures of activists of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” are on a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Romania and Bulgaria.
The pilgrimage group, headed by His Grace Bishop Pimen of Dubna, vicar of the Rivne Diocese, began their trip on November 24, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
The pilgrims will visit dozens of holy Orthodox sites during their week-long pilgrimage.
They report that they crossed the Ukrainian-Romanian border without any problems and began their journey in the Romanian city of Suceava, where the relics of St. John of Suceava are located.
Vladyka Pimen presented the abbot of the monastery, Archimandrite Bartholomew, with a “Seven Arrow” Icon of the Mother of God made of amber. In turn, Fr. Bartholomew gave each pilgrim a book on the life of St. John of Suceava and the history of the monastery.
The pilgrims then traveled to Iași, where they were warmly received by Metropolitan Theophan (Savu) of Iași and Moldova and Bukhovina.
During the meeting with the Romanian hierarch, Bp. Pimen and the pilgrims told Met. Theophan about the events taking place in Ukrainian after Constantinople gave a tomos of autocephaly to the OCU, including the forcible seizure of canonical parish churches and the fate of those communities that are forced to worship outside on the streets.
In turn, Met. Theophan confirmed that he recognizes only the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, and encouraged the Ukrainians to maintain unity around their primate.
The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has not officially recognized or rejected the schismatic OCU. In October of last year, before the OCU was created and given autocephaly, the Romanian hierarchs called for Moscow and Constantinople to resolve the Ukrainian issue together, which they reiterated in February of this year.
At the February session, the Synod also noted that the provision of the tomos did not achieve the unity that Constantinople envisioned. The bishops also expressed concern for the many Romanian communities living in Ukraine, mainly in Bukhovina, and expressed the desire to see a Romanian vicariate created within the Ukrainian Church.
In July the Synod of Bishops of the schismatic OCU declared that it would create a Romanian vicariate—an attempt to gain recognition from the Romanian Church—though there is no evidence of any Romanian parishes having joined their structure.
In September, it was reported that the OCU is putting severe pressure on Romanian priests and laity to fill up their Romanian vicariate.