Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine Meets
Moved by the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and throughout the world, the hierarchs of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine convened at their annual meeting on 9-11 September 2014 in Clearwater, FL.
The meeting was hosted by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and ruling hierarch of the Eastern Eparchy, along with His Grace Bishop Daniel, President of the Consistory UOC of USA and ruling hierarch of the Western Eparchy. The bishops in attendance were His Eminence Metropolitan Yurij, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada and the Ruling Hierarch of the Central Eparchy of UOCC, His Grace Bishop Ilarion, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of UOCC, His Grace Bishop Andriy, the Ruling Hierarch of the Eastern Eparchy of UOCC. His Eminence Archbishop Ioan of Australia and New Zealand and His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah of the Eparchy of South America were not able to be present for the meeting.
Among the various topics discussed at the meeting were the reports on the ongoing political, economic and ecclesiastical difficulties that exist in Ukraine, Middle East and in other countries, where Ukrainian Orthodox Christians live outside of their ancestral homeland. The daily reports of conflicts, turmoil, bloodshed and violence can leave no one indifferent and unconcerned. The bishops stated that they share a special bond with their brothers and sisters in Ukraine, especially with the clergy who continue to guide their precious faithful and care for them in the most difficult of circumstances. The hierarchs adopted a Pastoral Letter to the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church throughout the world beseeching their prayers for an end to the war conflict in Ukraine and the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukrainians. Although the war in Eastern Ukraine has been called in many realms of life in Russia as a “civil” war, the bishops state clearly that the world fully understands that the war is the result of the invasion of one nation by another – even to the point of the invading nation “annexing” portions of sovereign Ukrainian territory.
In the Pastoral Letter, the hierarchs express concern, stating that “…When innocent women and children are slaughtered in Ukraine and other places in the world, when journalists are kidnapped or killed pursuing their profession, when the defenseless are cut down on their way to work or even in their homes, then those responsible must be brought to justice before world courts. Violence, more often than not, leads to further violence. War is always a loss for humanity whether, regardless of how it begins.
“In a time of political uncertainty, economic suffering and social and cultural crisis, men and women of good will must reach across the divisions that have separated them and become peacemakers refusing to be caught up in the whirlwind of hatred and death that violence sustains…”
The bishops also expressed their concern over the continued ecclesiastical division in Ukraine in spite of an opportunity as the nation is under attack and call upon the hierarchs of various Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine to live out the Words of the Gospel in order to bring unity and healing to the wounded Body of Christ. The disunity, which is already decades old, has severely damaged souls while their spiritual leaders debate about who is good, who is right and who has the greatest number of clergy, faithful and parish communities. If the divisions are not ended, one of he largest Orthodox Churches in the world may be so crippled that not decades, but centuries may pass before she once again becomes the moral conscience of the Ukrainian nation, as she always was throughout history.