Kiev, February 17, 2021
Because of his anti-canonical invasion of Ukrainian Church territory, Patriarch Bartholomew is personally responsible for what is happening there today, believed His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia.
During a meeting with a Ukrainian Church delegation at Archangel Michael Cathedral in Belgrade, the recently-reposed Serbian primate “openly stated in front of everyone that he had met with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and directly told him to his face: ‘Through your non-canonical and harmful actions, you are personally guilty of what is happening in Ukraine today,’” His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church recalls.
Bp. Viktor, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s delegation to European international organizations, spoke about this in a recent interview for the journal of the Serbian Patriarchate, also published online by the Information-Education Department of the UOC.
“These are direct words, without any diplomatic phrasing. It was a great support for us at that time, hearing that we were not alone, that other Local Churches support us on the basis of the age-old canonical Church structure,” Bp. Viktor said.
Only the structure that is built on a firm foundation will stand, Bp. Viktor commented, referring to the Lord’s parable of houses built upon rock and sand.
Pat. Irinej openly expressed his strong stance against Constantinople’s invasion of Ukrainian Church territory several times. Pat. Bartholomew gave into a serious temptation and “threw a bomb” into the house of the worldwide Orthodox Church, the Serbian primate said. He also spoke of anyone who helps the Ukrainian schismatics as an enemy to all Orthodox Slavs and the entire Orthodox world.
The Ukrainian hierarch also recalled his personal meetings with His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije, who made a big impression on him, as “a man of the Church who had deep faith, loved his people, and all of himself to serve the Church,” as well as the nighttime processions in Montenegro that he will remember forever.
His Grace also emphasized that the canonical UOC is always ready to dialogue with the schismatic structures, but under the same conditions it has stipulated since 1992: the return of seized churches and property and the cessation of hate speech against the UOC.
To conclude the interview, Bp. Viktor spoke of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine, the predecessor to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, whom he remembers as “a very gifted man from God.”
“Vladyka was deep in thought and subtle in communication, but at the same time very simple. He was able to combine deep ecclesiasticism with true patriotism without admixture of nationalism, with true love for his homeland,” Bp. Viktor recalled.
And while schismatics often try to paint Met. Vladimir as their sympathizer, Bp. Viktor emphasizes that he never did anything that could harm the Church, and repeatedly stressed the optimality of the UOC’s status as autonomous and independent in its administration, as laid out in the gramota granted to the Ukrainian Church by His Holiness Patriarch Alexiy II in 1990.
“Metropolitan Vladimir laid a solid canonical foundation on which His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry continues his ministry today,” Bp. Viktor said.
OrthoChristian earlier published a letter of Met. Vladimir to Pat. Bartholomew from 2008 in which he explained that creating parallel jurisdictions would never heal the schism.