Belgrade, May 20, 2021
During a meeting with a delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church yesterday, His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia reaffirmed the Serbian Orthodox Church’s strong canonical stance on matters of Church unity, especially as regards the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.
And speaking with journalists, the Serbian primate emphasized that the Church is above party politics. Thus, the Serbian Church did not choose to take the “side” of either Moscow or Constantinople, but simply chose to stand with the canons.
Asked whether a return to the previous state of affairs from before Patriarch Bartholomew granted a tomos of autocephaly to a group of unrepentant schismatics is possible, His Holiness expressed the conviction that there is no point of no return in the Church.
This idea “doesn’t take into account the fact that the Church is not an ordinary human organization, guided by different interests and influenced mainly by the human factor, but is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic reality,” His Holiness said, reports the Metropolis of Montenegro.
“Our Church didn’t choose the ‘side’ of Moscow or Constantinople or anyone else, but always remained faithful to the canonical order and determined to respect this order and bear witness to it,” the Patriarch emphasized, echoing the stance expressed by his predecessor Patriarch Irinej.
At its Bishops’ Council in November 2018, the Serbian Church officially rejected Constantinople’s acceptance of the unrepentant Ukrainian schismatics and has firmly stood against the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
But, with faith in God, every attempt will be made to restore order and Eucharistic communion between the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople, the Serbian primate added.
Following a meeting between Pat. Porfirije and a delegation of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church yesterday, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Head of the UOC’s Department for External Church Relations, reported that the Patriarch “stands firmly on the side of canonical order and support for the UOC.”
His Holiness has addressed the Ukrainian issue several times before. In January 2020, then still Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, he emphasized that Constantinople’s “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” is neither autocephalous nor even canonical, and its members cannot be considered members of the Orthodox Church.
In his first major interview as primate of the Serbian Church, Pat. Porfirije voiced the same idea: that the Serian Church stands for canons, which Constantinople violated in Ukraine. “When it comes to the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine, they do not agree with the tradition of the Church,” he said.