Moscow, October 31, 2023
A circular was distributed to all the diocesan hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church on October 26, calling for special prayer for all those members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who “strive to preserve Church unity.”
The letter, written with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and signed by Metropolitan Gregory of Voskresensk, the Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate, recalls all the persecution the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church have faced over the past year and a half, including discriminatory laws, intolerance and hatred, the illegal seizure of church buildings, and searches at the homes of hierarchs and clerics.
“The clergy are subjected to brutal pressure through humiliating interrogations by special services, the pressure of an excited crowd, often uniting schismatics with the most exotic pagans and people who are generally alien to any faith,” the letter states.
Met. Gregory also recalls that the state has brought criminal charges against a number of hierarchs, several of whom are under house arrest. Orthodox communities are being expelled, with the Kiev Caves Lavra, in particular, under threat of closure.
Thus, Pat. Kirill calls for prayer for those UOC members who fight for unity with the Russian Orthodox Church:
With the blessing of the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, I ask all of you, dear hierarchs, following the Russian Bishops’ Conference addresses Ukraine, Constantinople, and other issues of Church lifeThe present Bishops’ Conference was mandatory for all hierarchs on the territory of Russia, while bishops from abroad were to come if conditions allowed.
“>Bishops’ Conference held on July 19, 2023, to call upon the clergy, monastics, and laity of the dioceses under your care to offer special prayers for the right reverend archpastors, pastors, monastics, and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who, despite threats, slander, and persecution, strive to preserve Church unity, especially for those who manifest a confessional feat, courageously raising their voices in defense of this unity.
Recall that in May 2022, the UOC held a council at which its Ukrainian Church statutes no longer have any connection to Russian Church, state official confirms“In an official letter, Metropolitan Onuphry clearly indicated that the UOC is no longer governed by the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the ROC, and officially announced its disassociation from the Moscow Patriarchate,” Elena Bogdan said.
“>statutes were amended to remove all connection to the Russian Orthodox Church. Following the Council, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine Met. Onuphry changes how he commemorates—reads diptychs of Orthodox primates (+VIDEO)Met. Onuphry didn’t commemorate His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia as the hierarch over him, but rather read the diptychs of primates according to the practice of the primates of the autocephalous Local Churches.”>ceased commemorating Pat. Kirill as the primate over him. The Russian Synod has expressed support and prayers several times since then (see Russian Synod warns of danger of schism within Ukrainian Church after status changeOnly a Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (including hierarchs, clerics, monastics, and laity) has the authority to change the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Russian Synod reminds in its resolutions from today’s meetings.”>here, Russian Synod expresses support for UOC, approves texts of prayers for soldiersThe Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has again expressed its support for the suffering people of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”>here, and Russian Bishops’ Conference addresses Ukraine, Constantinople, and other issues of Church lifeThe present Bishops’ Conference was mandatory for all hierarchs on the territory of Russia, while bishops from abroad were to come if conditions allowed.”>here) for those in the UOC who desires to see it remain within the Moscow Patriarchate.
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