Sofia, December 10, 2019
Yesterday, December 9, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikodim of Zhytomyr and Novograd-Volyn of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was received by His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Sofia, reports the press service of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Met. Nikodim greeted Pat. Neofit on behalf of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the Ukrainian Church, and spoke with the Patriarch about the spiritual life and in Ukraine and about his impressions of Bulgaria.
The Ukrainian hierarch noted that he had visited several Bulgarian monasteries and was warmly received everywhere.
The hierarchs also discussed the situation in world Orthodoxy, and Pat. Neofit noted that he is familiar with the situation in Ukraine and asked Met. Nikodim to convey words of greeting and support to Met. Onuphry, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Church.
Earlier during his visit, Met. Nikodom concelebrated with His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech and His Grace Bishop Gerasim of Melnishsk of the Bulgarian Church on December 6 at the Church of St. Nicholas in Sofia.
During the Liturgy, Met. Gabriel read a prayer for peace in Ukraine. Following the service, the Bulgarian hierarch spoke lovingly of his brothers in the Ukrainian Church:
I am especially glad that we served together with representatives of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. They are especially close to me now because they are confessors and martyrs, because they have proved their loyalty to the Church, the canonical Church. Of the entire composition of the Holy Synod of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, only two of its members could not resist the pressure and departed into schism, and all the others remained faithful to Orthodoxy. We also had a split in Bulgaria, and we understand very well what it costs a person. At the time of the schism, we did not know what would happen in the evening: Maybe people would come and take over our church. We were particularly worried about the documents we kept. Therefore, I have deep respect for the representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Church is one—the united Orthodox Church. Conventionally, there are Local Churches, but it is one and its head is one—the Lord Jesus Christ. We all receive the holy Sacraments, and everyone receives the Lord Jesus Christ in his heart according to his worthiness. And there is a special bond between us when God’s grace exists. Therefore we are brothers and sisters. And when one rejoices, all rejoice, and when one suffers, all suffer.
And turning his attention to Met. Onuphry, Met. Gabriel stated:
The Lord never allows more trials than a man or a Church can bear. In these difficult times, the Lord gave the Ukrainian Orthodox Church such a spiritual ascetic as Metropolitan Onuphry. I have known him for many years since I studied at the Theological Academy in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. He is a disciple of Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov), to whom Christians from all over the Soviet Union used to go to ask for his prayerful help. Metropolitan Onuphry has the same humility that Archimandrite Kirill had. And in his ministry he tries most of all to pray.
Although the Bulgarian Synod has not made any official pronouncements concerning the situation in Ukraine, Met. Gabriel has been outspoken about his unwavering support for the true Church in Ukraine.