Zahlé, Lebanon, November 9, 2020
On November 5, with the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, His Eminence Metropolitan Barsanuphius of Vinnitsa and Bar of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church arrived on a fraternal visit to the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lebanon.
After being greeted at the airport by Archimandrite Philip (Vasiltsev), rector of the Moscow Patriarchate’s representation church in Beirut, the Metropolitan visited Abdullah and Tatiana Sarrav, an Orthodox couple that helps many Orthodox churches in Lebanon, reports the Vinnitsa Diocese press service.
His Eminence then visited the Monastery of the Mother of God in Arbeia, where he and his delegation were met by the founder and abbot Archimandrite Nikodimos (Mashroki), who conveyed words of support to the hierarchs and faithful of the Ukrainian Church. Met. Barsanuphius served a moleben in the monastery church and prayed for Met. Onuphry on his birthday and for peace in Ukraine.
The next day, Met. Barsanuphius and the Ukrainian delegation met with His Eminence Metropolitan Elijah of Beirut at his residence in the capital and handed him financial aid collected by the clergy and the faithful of the Ukrainian Church for the Antiochian Church after the massive explosion in the city over the summer. Met. Barsanuphius also gave a copy of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God to his Antiochian brother bishop.
During the meetings, the hierarchs discussed the Church schism in Ukraine, the life of the Metropolis of Beirut, and various theological topics.
A priest and representative of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations also visited Lebanon last month, giving Met. Elijah financial assistance at that time as well.
On Sunday, November 8, Met. Barsanuphius and the Ukrainian delegation served Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Zahlé together with the local ruling hierarch Metropolitan Anthony and Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis, the Antiochian representative in Moscow.
During the service, the hierarchs commemorated Met. Onuphry, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Church.
Following the service, Met. Anthony gifted Met. Barsanuphius an episcopal Panagia, and, in turn, Met. Barsanuphius gifted Met. Anthony a copy of the Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God and Met. Niphon an icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov.
Later that day, the three metropolitans held a meeting during which they discussed the situation in Ukraine due to the interference of the authorities in the affairs of the Ukrainian Church. In particular, Met. Barsanuphius spoke about the violent seizure of churches both in the Vinnitsa Diocese and throughout Ukraine.
Met. Barsanuphius has even been physically assaulted by the nationalists of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” that enjoys the patronage and support of Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In turn, the Antiochian hierarchs expressed their indignation at the actions of Pat. Bartholomew in Ukraine.
In October 2018, the Holy Synod of the Antiochian Church strongly criticized Pat. Bartholomew for his unilateral actions in Ukraine, and His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch rejected Pat. Bartholomew’s call to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics.
Met. Niphon also spoke about the current situation of the Church in Lebanon and recalled his visits to Ukraine and his strong friendship with the late Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan).