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Bishop Irinej of Bačka: “The Canonical Church in&n…

Bishop Irinej of Bačka: “The Canonical Church in Ukraine remains to be the largest and predominant"

On December 31, 2021, the Serbian weekly news magazine “Pečat” published an interview with Bishop Irinej of Bačka, in which, among other things, he shared his thoughts about similar historical ways of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches, underlining the importance of maintaining fraternal relations between these two largest Local Orthodox Churches of the Slavic world.

Touching upon the involvement of the Russian Orthodox Church in the beautification work in the church of St. Sava in Belgrade, Bishop Irinej said it was of “no small importance” that the “construction of the church of St. Sava in Vračar has been completed jointly by the Serbian and Russian master craftsmen and artists.” In this context, the bishop said: “The historical unity of the great and fraternal Russian people with our people of the same faith is the guiding light showing us the way to the future. It is important that the small Serbian boat continue to be securely tied to the big and powerful Russian ship.”

Bishop Irinej devoted a large part of his talk to the sameness of the problems encountered by the canonical Churches in Ukraine and Montenegro. “The state of church affairs in Montenegro is just a miniature replica of the situation in Ukraine: the ethnic “engineering” is being employed in both cases,” he pointed out. “They in Montenegro are making desperate attempts to perpetuate the recently formed Montenegrin identity based on the negation of the Serbian roots and the centuries-long Serbian ethnic consciousness of the Montenegrins.”

 Bishop Irinej compared the situation in Montenegro with Ukraine and said: “Rus’ is the ancient historical name of the great Eastern Slavic country, which Peter the Great “Europeanized” and changed it to the literary word ‘Russia.’ Now, we can see the word Rus’ in the title of the Patriarch of Moscow and in the title of the schismatic ‘patriarch of Kiev,’ as well as in the name of people calling themselves Rusyns, or Rusnaks, who live in the Carpathian region and here in Bačka and the Srem district. As far as the word Ukraine is concerned, it was only in the late 19th century that it started to oust by little and little the original name of pre-Petrine Rus’ and the Russians. In the 20th century the Bolsheviks, who proclaimed internationalism in theory, but in practice created the new and often artificial nations rooted in the anti-Russian matrix, granted the official status to the word ‘Ukraine,’ having made it the only permissible name of the country.”

The hierarch underscored that the formation of the schismatic ‘Churches” on the basis of nationalist ideology had been a key tool in the struggle against the canonical Churches in Ukraine and Montenegro. He continued to say: “The designers and founders of new nations in the 20th and the 21st centuries were often atheists or people indifferent to religion who developed an idea to either enslave the existing Church and harness it to their cart, or, if it turns out to be impossible, to establish a new “Church” of their own. They did it using the principle “snatch whatever comes to hand” while neglecting any rules, let alone adhering to the norms of church law. Trying to cover their bases, they resorted to gross distortion of historical facts with the purpose of ascribing the imaginary historical continuity to the pseudo-church or church-like structures that they had established. This is happening both in Ukraine and in Montenegro. What a black humour indeed: Petr Poroshenko, who is a baptized person, but with a dubious confessional belonging, and Milo Ɖukanović, an unbaptized atheist, are deciding which Church is ‘older,’ which one was ‘autocephalous,’ and so on and so forth.” The hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church pointed out that people in Ukraine and in Montenegro have shown the anti-church “churchmen” their proper place in a very convincing manner.

Referring to the mass processions with the Cross that were held in Montenegro in 2019-2020 in defense of the Orthodox shrines, the hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church drew the attention of the readers of the magazine to the fact that “The canonical Church in Ukraine also organizes mass processions with the Cross on Orthodox feast days bringing together up to 250,000 of its faithful, while the schismatics are unable to “reach out” even to 50,000.” Bishop Irinej underlined that “despite pressure, persecution and insults, the canonical Church in Ukraine remains to be the largest and predominant,” while “the schismatics’ position is still the same as it had been before the uncanonical Constantinople’s interference and “recognition” unrecognized by world Orthodoxy.”

DECR Communication Service

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