The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church had some choice words recently for the nationalistic agitators who are driving deep divisions into suffering Ukraine.
The suffering caused by Ukrainian politicians, terrorists, and schismatics is not confined simply to the Slavic nation, but rather the perpetrators are enemies “also of all Orthodox Slavic peoples and the entire Orthodox world,” His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia resolutely declared at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral on Wednesday.
“The martyric Ukrainian Church—where the holy Prince Vladimir baptized the people of Holy Rus’—is now being defiled by the schismatics’ blasphemy, violence, and bloodshed,” His Holiness emphasized while accepting an award from the International Public Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox People, orthochristian.com reports.
The Orthodox faith has been a tie binding the various Slavic peoples together for 1,000 years, but there are forces in Ukraine that want to shatter those ties, as the Serbian primate’s words reflect.
Ukraine is currently home to three Orthodox churches: The canonical Church that is a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church and which is canonically recognized by the entire Orthodox world, and the so-called Kiev Patriarchate and The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, both of which are schismatic, recognized by no other Orthodox Churches.
The schismatic churches exist for the gratification of Ukrainian nationalists whose commitment to anti-Russian-ism is greater than their commitment to the Orthodox faith that has shaped the Slavic people for more than a millennium.
Radical nationalist groups like “Right Sector” and “C-14” are not afraid to use violence to get their message across, and have for years repeatedly attacked the clergy and faithful of the canonical Church and overtaken their parishes.
As The Duran previously reported, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople to grant a tomos of autocephaly to a united Ukrainian Church that would be made up of the clergy and parishioners of the two schismatic bodies.
That is, with the Verkhovna Rada’s approval, the president has sidestepped the Ukrainian constitution, which calls for a separation of Church and state, and appealed to the Orthodox Church’s First-Among-Equals to create a new Ukrainian Church, wholly independent of the Russian Church, which rightfully claims canonical jurisdiction over the Ukrainian Church.
Such governmental authorities are not content to let politics be politics and to let spiritually-minded people, such as Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev of the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, pastor the Ukrainian flock.
And what’s more, the nationalistic terror groups that often do the dirty work for these politicians have announced that Poroshenko’s appeal is a sign for them to ramp up their activities and seize even more parishes of the canonical Ukrainian Church.
Local Ukrainian authorities have even begun approaching Ukrainian clergy, pressuring them into backing this anti-Slavic and anti-Orthodox bid for a new church, orthochristian.com reported today.
The form presented to these poor priests, who simply want to serve their people, calls on them to declare: “As a deeply believing Christian and patriot of our homeland, I consider it necessary to support the given initiative for the development of a single Local Orthodox Church, as the foundation of an enduring Christian state.”
Those who resist, the authorities hint, will not be able to find “sufficient arguments in support of their churches” when nationalist radicals come to seize them. Those who acquiesce will, on the contrary, enjoy “good relations.”
“Patriot of our homeland,” “enduring Christian state”—again, politics over faith, and faith defined by borders—business as usual for Ukrainian schismatics and the politicians who are all too happy to bolster their standing in Ukrainian society.
Returning to Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Church, one can feel the pain in his words, and his true, heartfelt concern for the suffering Ukrainian people, and for the Church that is under siege every day there.
His Holiness is no stranger to such pain, the Serbian Church experiencing its own schisms both in the past and in the present day, and its spiritual heart of Kosovo and Metohije being desecrated daily by Albanian Muslims, and he has consistently spoken out in support of the canonical Ukrainian Church.
In December 2015 he wrote letters of support to both His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev, stating, “Special concern is caused by continued violent seizures of Orthodox churches by local pseudo-Orthodox schismatics and radical nationalists… Schismatics from the so-called ‘Kiev Patriarchate’ have long been renounced by Orthodox Churches and refer to Orthodoxy only by name. And their disdain for the norms of Christian morality and readiness to hate, to lie and to spill blood is living proof of it.”
He then sent an address to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the following February, pleading with him to put an end to the persecutions against the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the attempts to seize the Church’s holy sites, such as the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.
Unfortunately, the situation has only worsened since then, but the entire Orthodox world stands behind those suffering in Ukraine.
At Wednesday’s awards ceremony, the patriarch movingly stated,
Everyone knows the feat of hundreds of thousands of Serbs who fought to the death for holy Orthodoxy. Therefore, I do not need many words to explain how the Serbian Church relates to everything that is happening in Ukraine. Our response to this is the same as that of our ancestors: The Serbian Church fully supports the unity and integrity of the Russian Orthodox Church and strongly condemns the actions of the Uniates and schismatics who tear apart the robe of Christ at the baptismal font of Kiev, selling their people to the enemies of faith. Their end will be according to their deeds (2 Cor. 11: 15).
The entire Serbian Holy Synod also expressed its support for the martyric Ukrainian Church at its recent April-May session, saying, “The Assembly expresses full solidarity, in co-suffering brotherly love, with the martyred sister Church in Ukraine, exposed to the harshest persecution by the current regime in Kiev.”
“Anyone who helps the Ukrainian schismatics is an enemy not only of the Russian Church and the Russian world, but also of all Orthodox Slavic nations and the entire Orthodox world,” said the primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In conclusion, Patriarch Irinej wished that peace and harmony in truth would come to the Ukrainian land, that the faithful would build up and fill ancient and new churches, and that a united Holy Rus’ would continue its mission for the benefit of the entire Christian world with firmness and strength, Interfax-Religion adds.
Unlike the violent Ukrainian nationalists who are tearing their nation apart at the seams, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia has shown himself to be a friend to all Slavic peoples and to the entire Orthodox world.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.