Kythira, Greece, February 13, 2020
While the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” has been celebrating its first anniversary together with its small group of supporters, the canonical Orthodox Church, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, continues to face persecution, His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kythira of the Greek Orthodox Church reminds.
The Greek hierarch, who has been outspoken in favor of the canonical norms of Orthodoxy against the background of the Ukrainian crisis, published a pastoral appeal on Romfea yesterday, speaking of the serious canonical violation involved in recognizing unordained schismatics.
Moreover, while the OCU schismatics were celebrating with hierarchs of Constantinople and representatives from Alexandria, Greece, and Mt. Athos, Met. Onuphry and his millions-strong flock were simply ignored, Met. Seraphim writes, as they have been by Constantinople since 2018.
“All autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches, except for three, do not accept this huge canonical violation—the recognition of the ‘autocephalous church,’ consisting of schismatic, excommunicated, and unordained persons, while the canonical Metropolitan Onuphry with a host of canonical hierarchs and millions of Ukrainian believers who are subjected to persecution are ignored,” Met. Seraphim writes.
Ever since the “unification council” in December 2018, which Met. Onuphry did not attend, Patriarch Bartholomew considers him and his hierarchs to be non-canonical, as he expressed in a letter to Met. Onuphry before the council.
“And while the canonical Church in Ukraine is being persecuted, abused, and harassed, they’re celebrating the anniversary of receiving ‘autocephaly!’” the Greek hierarch writes with exasperation. Met. Onuphry enjoys great authority as a holy hierarch throughout the rest of the Orthodox Church.
“I humbly believe, along with the 11 autocephalous Churches, that this gaping wound, which has been traumatizing the Body of the One and only Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church for a long time, will not heal if this painful canonical issue is not resolved at the pan-Orthodox level, through a pan-Orthodox council,” Met. Seraphim writes.
In November, Met. Seraphim and three other Greek metropolitans addressed all the primates of the Local Churches, calling on them to convene in a pan-Orthodox council to address the bleeding wound of the Ukrainian crisis. His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem stepped up and invited all the primates for a fraternal gathering later this month in Jordan, though it remains unclear who will attend, as Pat. Bartholomew and other primates of the Greek world who are loyal to him have rejected the invitation.
“The pressure exerted, the pompous services, and the concelebration with the non-Orthodoxy deepen the wounds instead of healing them,” Met. Seraphim emphasized in his new statement.
The hierarch of Kythira also calls on all to use the upcoming period of fasting to repent and daily pray for “the restoration of the unity of the Holy Spirit and the communion of all the Local Orthodox Churches that make up the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”