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Metropolitan Hilarion: Attempts to split up t…

Metropolitan Hilarion: Attempts to split up the Orthodox community in Lithuania are doomed to failure

DECR Communication Service, 06.06.2022. 

The other day the news have become known about two events having a direct bearing on the church life of the Orthodox faithful in Lithuania: the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has set up a commission for considering a change to be made in the status of the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania; in addition, it has become known that the authorities of that country submitted a proposal to the Patriarch of Constantinople to accept into his jurisdiction the clergy who would be ready to split off.

Commenting on these events at a request of the anchor of the TV program ‘The Church and the World’, Yekaterina Gracheva, the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, stated that the situation as it has developed in Lithuania is very painful, including for him personally: ‘I know the Diocese of Lithuania very well; it is there that I began my service in the Russian Church. I took monastic vows in the Vilnius Monastery of the Holy Spirit; it was in the Diocese of Lithuania that I was ordained as a deacon and then a priest’.

His Eminence recounted, ‘Until recently nothing betokened such a development. However, it should be stated that the political situation has made a great impact on the developments in Lithuania today: a few clergymen have used this situation to come out against the ruling bishop - Metropolitan Innokentiy of Vilnius and Lithuania. They appealed for help to the Patriarch of Constantinople and they were supported by the Lithuanian leaders by appealing as well to the Patriarch of Constantinople on their part’. Overall, serving in the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania are a few tens of priests.

Speaking about possible scenarios of further developments, the DECR chairman noted, ‘We will see how the Patriarchate of Constantinople will respond to these appeals, but in recent times, it has never lost a chance to cause damage to the Russian Orthodox Church where such a chance arises’.

At the same time, His Eminence expressed confidence that ‘the attempt to split up the Orthodox community in Lithuania, small as it is, is doomed to failure - anyway, a majority of Orthodox believers will remain in the canonical Diocese of Vilnius-Lithuania of the Russian Orthodox Church’.

‘The support given by the Lithuanian authorities to a minor split that has arisen now in the Diocese of Lithuania is, in my view, a great mistake. A similar mistake was made a few years ago by Ukrainian President Poroshenko, and we can see what that support of the schism has led to in Ukraine’, the archpastor stressed.

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