Chernivtsi, Ukraine, May 27, 2021
Updated May 27, 11:30 PM
His Grace Bishop Benedict of Bistrița of the Romanian Orthodox Church went on pilgrimage to Ukraine earlier this week, where he visited the most sacred sites of Ukraine and met with hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
His Grace’s pilgrimage began in Bukovina, where, together with Archpriest Dimitrie Popescu, the rector of the Romanian parish at the Kiev Caves Lavra, he visited the chancellery of the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese and the St. Nicholas Church, reports the diocesan press service.
Speaking with the diocesan secretary, Archimandrite Nikita, His Grace noted that the bishops of the Romanian Church understand the problem of the Church schism in Ukraine and support His Beatitude Met. Onuphry.
The Romanian hierarch then visited the Holy Theophany-Kremenets Convent, where he met with His Eminence Metroplitan Sergei of Ternopil and Kremenets. He also had an opportunity to visit the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra.
And this morning, Bp. Benedict celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Kiev Theological Academy, after which he signed the altar Gospel in memory of his stay at the school and the service he celebrated.
The support of brother hierarchs is very important for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as it continues to face persecution from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and the Ukrainian authorities.
In January, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the leader of the schismatic organization, declared on Ukrainian television that several Local Churches were preparing to recognize his OCU as an autocephalous Church. However, his statement was refuted by the personal advisor to His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania on foreign and inter-Church relations.
Another Romanian hierarch, His Grace Bishop Andrei of Covasna and Harghita, also made his own pilgrimage to the holy sites of Ukraine and visited with hierarchs of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in January, at the same time that Dumenko declared the Romanian Church would soon recognize his schismatic organization.
Update: Since the time of this publication, Bp. Benedict has clarified that his statement was unofficial, not necessarily reflecting the stance of the entire Romanian Orthodox Church, and that he was not speaking as a spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church.