Zaporozhye, Ukraine, June 1, 2022
Against the background of the fratricidal war in Ukraine and the upheavals and major changes in Church life there, the most important thing is to maintain peace and fidelity to the Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye exhorts.
Moreover, the Ukrainian Church needs to maintain fidelity to its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and preserve unity with God, the hierarch writes.
On Friday, a Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church resolved to amend the Church’s Statutes, removing all mention of any connection with the Russian Orthodox Church. Unsurprisingly, reactions both within and without the Ukrainian Church came immediately and varied greatly, with some even declaring that the Ukrainian Church has gone into schism.
A few dioceses have publicly stated that they disagree with the Council’s resolutions and will continue to live according to the old statutes, and one has even announced that it has ceased commemorating Met. Onuphry. They haven’t said, however, that they are leaving the Ukrainian Church.
At his diocesan clergy meeting in preparation for Friday’s Council, Met. Luke expressed his view that the Ukrainian Church doesn’t need to change its status at all, and several reports indicate that he publicly expressed his disagreement with the proposed changes to the Statutes during the Council.
Nevertheless, he is committed to the unity of the Church.
Met. Luke’s new statement reads in full:
By God’s providence, we have been given to live in times of pandemics, wars, and other upheavals, in which our trust in God and our willingness to keep the Gospel commandments are tested in such a harsh and difficult time. We see how the enemy of the human race has taken up arms today not only against our long-suffering Ukraine, but also against our holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church. As a ruling bishop, I am responsible before God for the fate of the flock entrusted to me, which is now on different sides of the front line, as well as for preserving our unity with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I especially draw your attention to the fact that the devil, who as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pt. 5:8), wants to bring confusion to the souls of men in order to create another schism within the Church. Here and there, publications appear concerning the events that took place at the Council. They accuse the clergy of allegedly causing a schism and so on. With all sense of responsibility, I want to say that all this is not so. When crucial issues are being resolved, you can’t instantly label someone or make them an enemy of the people. This is confirmed by the decision of the Synod of the ROC. After all, it is clear to everyone that the decision of any Council must undergo reception (acceptance or rejection by the clergy and the people of God), after which it takes root in the life of the Church, or is rejected.
In His High Priestly prayed, the Savior expressed the will of God: That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me (Jn. 17:21). Therefore, I call everyone to peace, to fidelity to our Mother Church, its canons, our primate and to preserve unity with God and with one another in God, through the prayers of the Theotokos and all the saints, including our Zaporozhye saints!
May the joy of the Risen Lord never be found wanting in your hearts.