Balamand and Warsaw, October 26, 2023
Holy Synod of the Antiochian Patriarchate. Photo: antiochian.org
Hierarchs and Synods throughout the Orthodox Church have repeatedly spoken up in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, which is currently facing serious persecution from state authorities.
Falsified criminal charges have been brought against a number of hierarchs and clergy, and one, Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchin, was even sentenced to five years in prison, though he is appealing the court’s decision.
And most recently, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada voted on a bill that aims to wholly ban the Orthodox Church on the territory of Ukraine. The draft law passed in its first reading, and will go through a second reading before it is established as law.
Given this situation, the Holy Synod of the Antiochian Patriarchate, which met in Balamand, Lebanon last week, stated:
The Fathers reiterated their call for an end to wars and conflicts all over the world, especially in Ukraine, praying for Metropolitan Onuphry, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a confessing Church whose children are being persecuted by local authorities for their faith.
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and the Antiochian Patriarchate as a whole have always stood by Met. Onuphry and the canonical Church. Pat. John wrote to Met. Onuphry “We are near to you in spirit,” Patriarch of Antioch tells Metropolitan Onuphry and Ukrainian ChurchHis Beatitude Patriarch John and the Patriarchate of Antioch offer continuous prayers for the much-suffering Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
With great pain of heart, we observe from afar the persecution that you and your holy Church are enduring for the sake of Christ. While we are physically a long distance away from you, we are near to you in spirit, and we extend our hand to you at this dark hour: you and your flock are in our constant prayers as we implore the Lord for the quick cessation of this tragic war and the end of all threats to your holy Church.
The Council of Bishops of the Polish Orthodox Church, which met in Warsaw on Tuesday, also addressed the persecution of the UOC:
The current state of the ecclesiastical life of the Local Orthodox Churches has been assessed, pointing out the need for the unity of the Church, which has been violated by the non-canonical ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine.
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church has received with great bewilderment the information about the de-legalization of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the state authorities. The Council of Bishops especially notes the fact that the Church of Christ has an ontological dimension and is not subject to human legal regulations. It is governed by Jesus Christ Himself, our Savior. In accordance with the call of Apostle Paul, If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18), the Council of Bishops calls for fervent prayer for peace in Ukraine and the Holy Land, where fighting has begun, resulting in the loss of innocent lives.
The Polish Church has also repeatedly shown itself to a true friend to the canonical UOC and a defender of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
The Antiochian Synod also addressed what is happening in Palestine:
The position of the Church of Antioch, expressed by her Patriarchs and Synod since long and until today, is clear, bright, and well-known. It affirms the importance of Jerusalem in the conscience of every Christian and Muslim, and the right of return of the Palestinian people and the establishment of their independent State.
The Church of Antioch condemns the siege imposed today on the Palestinian people and on the Gaza Strip in particular, and strongly denounces the genocide committed there, right before the eyes of the world. The violence that is taking place is the result of violating international laws and resolutions which are intended for the application of justice. It is a continuation of the falsification of the identity of the land and history and an attempt to obliterate the outstanding Palestinian cause.
Therefore, the Synod Fathers offer fervent prayers to the King of Peace and Lord of Mercies, to wipe away every tear from the eyes of the Palestinian people, and to remove all injustice, oppression, homelessness, and displacement. They call on all their children and Antiochian parishes to dedicate next Sunday to praying for justice, and for peace to prevail in the country of peace, and to collect aid for the relief of these afflicted people.
And since the troubling situation requires intensified prayer and cooperation, the Antiochian Synod ruled to restore communion with the Jerusalem Patriarchate, which was severed in 2014. Antiochian Patriarchate restores communion with Jerusalem PatriarchateThe Holy Synod of the Antiochian Patriarchate resolved to restore Eucharistic communion with the Jerusalem Patriarchate today, after nearly a decade of broken communion.
“>OrthoChristian reported on this positive development last week.
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