Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, December 30, 2020
On December 27, Fr. Ioannis Fortomas announced on Facebook: “Started New Job at Russian Orthodox Diocese of Montreal and Canada.”
He was formerly a priest of the Orthodox Church of Greece, under Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, on loan to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, serving in Budapest from December 2018 to January 2020. He is now under the omophorion of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, serving in his native Hamilton.
Yesterday, Fr. Ioannis, who was previously a fervent supporter of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, published a video explaining why he changed jurisdictions:
As he states in the video, his conscience would no longer allow him to stand with Constantinople and the Church of Greece following the Patriarchate’s scandalous invasion of Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the ensuing violence against the Ukrainian faithful.
Fr. Ioannis emphasizes that Constantinople chose to unilaterally grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatics, “at the expense of the canonical church in Ukraine headed by his Beatitude, Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and all Ukraine.”
This led to the illegal and violent seizure of churches, in which priests and believers were often severely beaten—all of which is easily verifiable online, Fr. Ioannis said.
“So, a very, very unchristian behavior, contrary to the Gospel, was enacted in Ukraine and was rubber-stamped indeed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” he emphasized.
And when one part of the Body hurts, all parts hurt, Father notes, referencing Scripture, and so we see the results of the schisms “trickling down today within Greek Orthodoxy.” But, “at some point, somebody has to stand up and say, ‘Stop!’”
The Ukrainian schismatics have neither true Sacraments, nor Apostolic Succession, Fr. Ioannis affirms.
And the whole Ukrainian affair is not merely an abstract idea for him:
I saw the results of the schism in Ukraine playing out right before my very eyes in the time that I served as a priest in Hungary, on loan to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I saw the results of the schism, and I came to a point where I could not with a clean conscience serve the Patriarchate of Constantinople after it went forward and committed such acts against the Gospel, and against the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, setting itself up more or less as a type of Eastern Papacy.
Fr. Ioannis came to understand that he could no longer serve the Liturgy under such conditions: “And each Liturgy, believe me, was torture. It was torture, literal torture, trying to get through it. And I came to a point where I could not serve under these conditions anymore.”
At the same time, the Greek bishops soured towards Fr. Ioannis as they came to realize his views and feelings on the matter, “So it comes as a very natural decision to join the Russian Orthodox Church.”
As he explained to OrthoChristian, Fr. Ioannis received permission from Met. Ephraim, blessing him to join any canonical Orthodox Church.
Fr. Ioannis highlights that Abp. Gabriel of ROCOR has blessed him to continue serving in Greek, according to the Greek typikon—a practice that, in fact, has a rich history in the Russian Church. “There are many examples throughout recent history where it has done so, and where it has enabled them to live their Greek Orthodox faith freely, without any external pressures or with indeed without any demands, so I am very thankful for this opportunity,” Father says.
He then announces that, at this point, he is serving the Divine Liturgy Saturday according to the Greek usage in Hamilton, with the ultimate goal of forming a Greek-tradition parish within ROCOR.
Yesterday, OrthoChristian reported that Archimandrite Philemon (Castro), formerly a priest of the Patriarchate of Constantionple, joined the Moscow Patriarchate in the Philippines, bringing the Church of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-creating Cross of the Lord with him.
Since the beginning of Constantinople’s present invasion of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, several clerics and parishes have left Constantinople to join the Moscow Patriarchate directly or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The entire Jamaican Orthodox Mission was received into ROCOR. And in November of last year, the Archdiocese of Russian Churches of Western Europe, which was dissolved by Constantinople, reunited with its Mother Church in Russia.