Nyeri, Kenya, November 24, 2020
Yesterday, November 23, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa paid a visit to the Diocese of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya, where he called on the assembled clergy to remain loyal to the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
The Patriarch arrived in Kenya on Saturday for a 10-day pastoral visit. His trip comes just two weeks after His Eminence Archbishop Leonid of Vladikavkaz and Alan, the Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, stated in a radio interview that hundreds of appeals have come from African clergy asking to be received into the Russian Church.
The impetus for their appeals is Pat. Theodoros’ recognition of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Abp. Leonid explained. Last December, a month after the Patriarch made his unilateral decision to recognize the schismatics, 27 priests from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia issued an open letter voicing their opposition to their Patriarch’s move.
The priests noted that while the majority of the clergy and laity of the Patriarchate are Africans, their opinion on the matter was never sought and thus not taken into account. Many African priests have also expressed that they feel like second-class citizens in the Church under their Greek hierarchs.
For voicing their opinion, the priests were then threatened with sanctions from their hierarchs, including the cutting off of their salaries, suspension in their priestly ministries, and excommunication. Nevertheless, many more priests continue to appeal to the Russian Church, although, as Abp. Leonid explained, the Russian Church is committed to respecting the territorial integrity of the Local Churches.
Arriving at the diocesan center, the Patriarch was greeted by Bishop Neophytos of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya and 80 priests, and the traditional Doxology and Artoklasia services were celebrated, reports the Alexandrian Patriarchate.
Bp. Neophtyos, one of the 5 African bishops in the Patriarchate that has more than 40 bishops, spoke about the missionary work of his diocese and its recent achievements, including five schools and three medical centers. In turn, the Patriarch expressed his admiration for the work accomplished in such a new diocese. He also called on the priests to always be near “the Bishop in their area as he represents the Church of St. Mark, the founder and patron of the Church of Alexandria and to be proud because they belong to an historic and ancient Patriarchate which is the only one that has jurisdiction and ecclesiastical regularity in the region and throughout Africa.”
Bishop Neophytos quotes the Patriarch on his Facebook page: “We may have different skin colors, but we were all created in the image and likeness of God and He has called all of us to serve His Church in the continent of Africa.”
And the Patriarch, who was a vocal proponent and ally for the Ukrainian faithful before he suddenly became to commemorate the schismatics, continued: “Don’t be destructed with voices of deceit. Be faithful to your call, love one another and remain committed to the Patriarchal Throne of Alexandria.”
The report on the Patriarchal website does not indicate whether the Patriarch heard the voices of his clergy on the question of the recognition of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”