Udine, Italy, April 8, 2022
The Holy Cross Church in Udine, Italy, has switched jurisdictions, from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, according to a statement from the rector Fr. Volodimir Melnichuk on April 3.
“From now on, our Archpastor is His Eminence Metropolitan Polycarpos [of Italy],” the priest writes.
Recall that last month, the clergy and parishioners of the Church of St. Nicholas in Amsterdam also expressed their desire to move to Constantinople, though there have been no updates on the parish website for a few weeks, and the parish clergy are still listed on the site of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of the Hague and the Netherlands.
According to Fr. Volodimir’s statement, the move was occasioned by the fratricidal war launched in Ukraine on February 24, and Patriarch Kirill’s and the Russian Church’s response to it.
The Patriarch has not only not spoken out against the war, but has sanctioned it with his blessing to the military for military operations and his homilies about a metaphysical battle for Christian morality against fascists, Fr. Volodimir says, expressing the view of the parish council. Other Russian hierarchs made similar statements or were simply silent, he continues.
“We see the fruits of this today in Bucha, Irpen, Vorzel, Gostomel, Mariupol.”
“All this has clearly shown that the Patriarch of Moscow can no longer be considered either the Father or Patriarch of Orthodox Ukrainians,” Fr. Volodimir believes.
While a number of dioceses and churches and monasteries within Ukraine, including the famous Pochaev Lavra, have ceased commemorating Patriarch Kirill in the services, and some have called for the convocation of a council to formally request autocephaly for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, other hierarchs have spoken against such calls, and it remains to be seen if a council will be held and what the fullness of the Church will decide.
The church in Udine has always been multinational, “and in order to preserve peace and Eucharistic unity among believers of different nationalities,” Fr. Volodimir and the parish council made the decision to join Constantinople’s Metropolis of Italy. Constantinople is the common mother for the Kiev and Moscow Churches, he states.
The parish informed Metropolitan Anthony of Korsun, the Patriarchal Vicar of Western Europe, of its withdrawal from the Russian Church, and has already received a letter of acceptance into the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The church’s traditions will remain the same, Fr. Volodimir writes.
“We are aware that there are parishioners who, for various reasons, may not support the decision of the church community. God created us free, so that He doesn’t impose Himself upon man. Accordingly, we are obliged to honor the freedom of our parishioners not to agree with the community (parish), as long as it doesn’t cause any disturbances in it,” the rector concludes.