Vilnius, May 3, 2022
The head of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania issued a new statement today, calling on a number of clerics to repent of the sin of schism.
Although His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius strongly condemned the fratricidal war in Ukraine in more than one statement, and although the Lithuanian Church held a procession for peace in Ukraine on Saturday, the given clerics say they have been canonically sanctioned by the Church for voicing anti-war opinions.
Conversely, the hierarchs maintain that the clerics were suspended and dismissed from their positions because they have long been agitating for a movement out of the Moscow Patriarchate and into the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has only become public now against the background of the events in Ukraine.
The new statement recalls that more than 1,000 people attended Saturday’s procession for peace and Church unity, “show[ing] that the clergy and laity of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania are committed to spiritual and canonical unity, devoted to the Orthodox traditions of Russian piety in the Lithuanian land.”
However, according to Met. Innokenty, the given clerics, who refused to attend the feast of the Vilnius Martyrs and the procession over the weekend, “have embarked upon the path of schismatic actions and violations of Church canons,” and “have now actually opposed themselves to the Orthodox Church of Lithuania and confirmed their position as schismatics in the eyes of the whole of society.”
One of the clerics even “insultingly called the ancient centuries-old Christian tradition of religious processions a ‘Kremlin flash mob,’” the statement informs.
“Such insults and slander are increasingly heard from their mouths, expressed in their statements in the media.”
According to the Church statement, the clerics’ tactic has already stopped working, as “the Lithuanian public has realized that the Orthodox Church of Lithuania condemns the war on Ukrainian soil and prays for its speedy completion, as well as for the suffering people of Ukraine.”
The act of schisming is “a particularly grave crime before God,” disastrous for souls, Met. Innokenty stresses.
“We fervently pray for them with pain in our hearts, asking the Lord for mercy to them so that He will grant them the spirit of repentance,” the hierarch continued.
In conclusion, His Eminence calls the given clerics to repentance, so there might be joy both in Heaven aind in the Lithuanian land.