Kiev, July 29, 2021
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, was blessed to celebrate the feast of St. Vladimir the Great and the Baptism of Rus’ with hierarchical representatives from several fraternal Local Churches, who were impressed by the deep faith of the Ukrainian people of the canonical Church. Several Orthodox primates also congratulated the Church with the 1,033rd anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ and offered words of support and praise for Met. Onuphry and the Church.
As OrthoChristian reported earlier this week, the celebrations began with a moleben and procession through the streets of Kiev that drew an estimated 350,000 Orthodox faithful.
The Divine Liturgy for the feast of St. Vladimir was celebrated on the square in front of Dormition Cathedral at the Kiev Caves Lavra. The service was celebrated by Met. Onuphry, together with a host of Ukrainian hierarchs, and their guests from the Antiochian, Serbian, and Czech-Slovak Churches.
His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary, the chancellor of the UOC, congratulated everyone on the feast. Noting that the previous day’s procession had gathered people of all ages, social standing, and political beliefs from all across Ukraine, he exclaimed: “Despite all the statements and artificial sociological studies, we see that the Ukrainian Church is flesh of flesh and blood of blood of our people,” reports Patriarchia.ru.
Met. Anthony also noted how joyous it is for the Ukrainian Church to celebrate with brother hierarchs from other Local Churches, especially in this time when some, motivated by ideology and politics, and are striving to create a new vision for Orthodoxy and to overturn Church history in Ukraine.
At a briefing after the Liturgy, the visiting hierarchs shared their impressions of the celebrations and conveyed the greetings of their respective primates.
His Grace Bishop Ephraim of Seleuica of the Patriarchate of Antioch emphasized that, “What we saw here yesterday was a special experience for us. We felt love, and we felt that we are brothers, as if we’ve known you for many years. But we also saw deep faith in the eyes of the hundreds of thousands who took part in the procession yesterday.”
“We will carry this richness of love and faith that we felt here with you home with us, to our country, to the Patriarchate of Antioch,” he added.
Earlier, at the end of the Liturgy, Bp. Ephraim read the greeting of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, which compared the Dnieper to the Jordan River and Kiev to Jerusalem. It is St. Vladimir’s adoption of Christianity “that we have come to celebrate today and draw from the greatness and wealth of Slavic Orthodoxy,” the Antiochian primate wrote.
His Grace Bishop Stefan of Remesiana of the Serbian Patriarchate noted that the Serbian delegation was honored to take part in the feast of St. Vladimir with so many people. If we follow such saints, we will live the life free of sin that God intends for us, His Grace preached. “God is with us! He is and ever shall be! When trials come, it means that God is with us, that God loves us.”
In an interview with the First Cossack YouTube channel, Bp. Stefan also spoke about how the Lord has granted the Ukrainian Orthodox people to be the ones to preserve the Orthodox world. If the situation in Ukraine is resolved correctly, then it will be easier for other Local Churches to solve similar problems, should they arise.
But, “If it doesn’t work out, there will be a huge problem in the Orthodox world, which hasn’t been for 20 centuries,” he warned.
In his greeting read out at the Divine Liturgy His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia praised Met. Onuphry as a “symbol of the loyalty and unity of the Orthodox Church in a bold confrontation with temptations.”
By remaining faithful to the canonical order and unity of the Church, Met. Onuphry has, in fact, repeated the choice of St. Vladimir, the Serbian primate proclaimed. Thus, Met. Onuphry and the entire Ukrainian Church have become an example for the faithful Serbian people, His Holiness stressed.
His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Prague of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia emphasized how glad he was to be in Kiev again, and noted that, “In our diocese, at every Divine Liturgy, we pray for peace, tranquility, and mutual understanding in Ukraine, so that everything would be how Christian people should live. We pray for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its canonical primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry.”
Earlier, at the Divine Liturgy, the hierarch of Prague addressed the Ukrainian primate: “Your Beatitude, dear Vladyka! I tirelessly pray to our Lord Jesus Christ to preserve, protect and strengthen the holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church, legally and in accordance with the canons, guided by Your Beatitude. May the good Lord give you strength, patience, and wisdom to protect the Orthodox Ukrainian people and the holy Church.”
In his greeting read out at the Liturgy, His Beatitude Metropolitan Rastislav of Prešov of the Czech-Slovak Church emphasized his prayerful gratitude that the people of Rus’ were grafted into the Body of Christ by the fateful choice of St. Vladimir the Great.
At the end of the briefing following the Liturgy, Met. Anthony expressed the Church’s gratitude to its guests, noting: “You felt the pulse of the life of the faithful Ukrainian people. You saw how people love their land, how they love their primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, how they love their Church. We thereby also showed our unity. Despite some powers’ efforts to break pan-Orthodox unity, by the power of humility and prayer we confirm that it’s impossible, because we believe in Christ, we believe that He is one and unchanging.”
Meanwhile, representatives from the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria and the Church of Cyprus concelebrated with the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” on the anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ yesterday. They also offered conveyed the greetings of their respective primates—Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who created the schismatic OCU together with ex-President Petro Poroshenko and the U.S. State Department, and Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, both of whom followed the will and example of Pat. Bartholomew and unilaterally entered into communion with the schismatics.