Vilnius, May 2, 2022
Thousands of Orthodox faithful from across Lithuania participated in a cross procession for peace in Ukraine and Lithuanian Church unity held in Vilnius on Saturday, the feast of the Vilnius Martyrs.
The announcement for the procession quotes His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius and All Lithuania:
Today, our Church has been hit by a barrage of unfair accusations. They are trying to discredit it and cause a schism. Unfortunately, the instigators of this were our brother priests, who have already stopped hiding that their goal is to create a parallel church structure in Lithuania under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The procession began from the Holy Spirit Monastery with prayers to the Lithuanian martyrs and all saints of Lithuania, reports the Lithuanian Church.
The holy march headed for Holy Dormition Cathedral, where a moleben for Church unity and the cessation of the fratricidal war in Ukraine was served.
A special petition was included for those clergy who recently went into schism: “We also pray for the mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, visitation, forgiveness and remission of the sins of the servants of God, Archpriest Vitaly, Archpriest Vladimir, Priest Vitaly, Priest George, Priest George, Protodeacon Victor, and Deacon George, and all those here commemorated.”
During the Divine Liturgy celebrated before the procession, His Grace Bishop Ambrose of Trakai emphasized that “the worst thing that happens during a schism is that people stop praying for one another. Let us be united in prayer for the unity of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania and for the end of the war in Ukraine.”
Although the Metropolitan has made multiple strong statements against the fratricidal war in Ukraine, a number of clerics began to claim last month that they were dismissed and canonically sanctioned for their anti-war stance. His Eminence responded that, in fact, the given clerics have long been planning to leave the canonical Church in Lithuania under the Moscow Patriarchate and join the Patriarchate of Constantinople, although the clerics counter that they only began to think about joining Constantinople once they fell out of favor with the Russian Church.
The Church is also facing the possibility of government interference. Vilnius Mayor Remigius Simasius has blamed the Church for causing the war in Ukraine and declared it illegal that the Church in Lithuania belong to the Moscow Patriarchate. Its parishes could be given to other jurisdictions the mayor claimed.
The Church then issued a statement strongly condemning the interference of secular authorities in the Church’s internal affairs.