Brno, Czech Republic, December 7, 2021
The Orthodox faithful of the Church of St. Wenceslaus in the Czech city of Brno gathered with their rector, Archpriest Jozef Fejsak, to celebrate the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple on December 3 and 4.
Instead of being allowed to pray, they were insulted, physically attacked, and driven out by the guards hired by Bishop Isaiah (Slaninka) of Šumperk, who enjoys the support of Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople and who has been on a long campaign to drive Fr. Jozef out and take over the parish.
Fr. Jozef has been the beloved pastor of the parish for decades. Meanwhile, Bp. Isaiah was consecrated by hierarchs of Constantinople without the blessing of the Holy Synod of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and has concelebrated with the graceless schismatics of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
In September, OrthoChristian reported that Fr. Jozef and his parishioners were forced to physically defend their church against seizure by Bp. Isaiah after they learned that Bp. Isaiah changed the statutes of the church and wanted to change the locks.
Last month, Bp. Isaiah organized a fictitious parish meeting at which he liquidated the existing parish community and created a new community with himself listed as rector. He also appropriated the community’s funds, which he is using to pay the private security company that is now preventing the faithful from praying in their own church.
On the evening of December 3, Fr. Jozef and his parishioners gathered on the territory of the church to celebrate the All-Night Vigil for the feast of the Entrance. However, at the order of Fr. Rafael Moravsky, the priest sent by Bp. Isaiah, the guards drove them away, and eyewitnesses testify that they were especially rude to Fr. Jozef and his wife, reports hlaspravoslavi.com.
Fr. Rafael declared that they would have no choice but to bow down to Bp. Isaiah.
However, Fr. Jozef and the faithful returned the next morning to celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the feast. Fr. Jozef read out an official document from His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Prague, a member of the Czech-Slovak Holy Synod, which stated that he was authorized to celebrate the services at the Church of St. Wenceslaus.
In response, Fr. Rafael again turned the guards on the faithful, who this time left an altar server with a bloody face. The guards calmed down only when the police arrived.
Unfortunately, Bp. Isaiah, who is known to promote the policies of the Patriarchate of Constantinople over and against those of the Czech-Slovak Church itself, is no stranger to scandal.
He was consecrated in 2015 by decision of Constantinople hierarchs Emmanuel of Gaul and Arsenios of Austria without the blessing or recognition of His Beatitude Metropolitan Rastislav or the Czech-Slovak Holy Synod, in order to create an “alternative Synod” in the Church.
Constantinople also interfered in the elections that saw Met. Rastislav ascend the primatial throne in 2014 and refused to acknowledge him as the canonical primate until the Patriarchate was forced to reconcile with the Czech-Slovak Church to assure that it would attend 2016’s Crete Council. It was then that Bp. Isaiah was accepted as a hierarch of the Church as part of the reconciliation.
Bp. Isaiah caused multiple controversies in late 2019. In November, he celebrated with the Ukrainian schismatics in Kiev, in defiance of the stance of the Holy Synod and the warning of his primate, Met. Rastislav. That same month, it was reported that Bp. Isaiah was cooperating with Constantinople to establish a monastery and legal association in the Czech Republic without the blessing or even knowledge of the Czech-Slovak Holy Synod, which later strongly condemned this invasion by Constantinople.