Prague, Czech Republic, December 19, 2019
The Holy Synod of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia gathered in Prague on Tuesday, December 17, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav. The hierarchs discussed a number of topical issues concerning the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s recent actions in Ukraine and in the Czech Republic.
In particular, the Synod forbade members of other Local Orthodox Churches from creating their own stavropegial institutions on the canonical territory of the Czech-Slovak Church, according to the resolutions published on the official Church site.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople created a legal entity, “Association: Holy Patriarchal Stavropegial Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos,” in August, which was registered by the Provincial Court of Ostrava, Czech Republic on October 1.
Metropolitan Arsenios of Austria of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is legally recognized as the Chairman of the “Association,” and Bishop Isaiah of Šumperk of the Czech-Slovak Church as the Deputy Chairman.
According to the “Association’s” statutes, Constantinople intends to create such centers throughout the entire country.
Interestingly, the new monastery/association is legally registered at the same address as an existing Dormition Monastery of the Czech-Slovak Church, though none of the members of Constantinople’s group have any relationship to the existing monastery.
Met. Arsenios claims that the institution was created with the full knowledge and blessing of the Czech-Slovak Church, including Met. Rostislav himself, but His Eminence Archbishop Juraj of Michalovce and Košice, a member of the Holy Synod of the Czech-Slovak Church, countered that the Synod never discussed the issue as none of the hierarchs on the Synod, including Met. Rostislav, have ever been properly informed of what Constantinople is doing.
Met. Arsenios’ “statement is full of inaccuracies,” Abp. Juraj commented.
The connection between Met. Arsenios and Bp. Isaiah goes back at least to 2015, when Met. Arsenios and Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul, also of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, decided that then-Archimandrite Isaiah would be consecrated as a bishop for the Czech-Slovak Church in an effort to create an “alternative Synod,” which took place on February 22, 2015, without the primate’s or Synod’s blessing. He was accepted as a bishop by the Czech-Slovak Church as part of the compromise in 2016 whereby Patriarch Bartholomew finally agreed to recognize the canonically-elected Met. Rostislav as the primate of the Church.
Bp. Isaiah is also the hierarch who concelebrated with the Ukrainian schismatics in November, despite the warning he received from Met. Rostislav beforehand. Bp. Isaiah even gifted relics of St. Wenceslaus, the Duke of Bohemia, to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Addressing the concelebration, the Czech-Slovak Synod refers to the incident as a “misunderstanding” and renewed its call for all its members to “fully respect the resolution on the restrained attitude to the OCU” until a pan-Orthodox consensus is reached. In his warning to Bp. Isaiah, Met. Rostislav reminded him that he too signed the resolution.
The Synod also adopted a resolution in support of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem’s initiative to convene a pan-Orthodox council in Jordan in February.