Source: Union of Orthodox Journalists
The official statement emphasizes that the only Church that the Serbian Patriarchate recognizes in Ukraine is the canonical UOC.
The full translation of the document, published by the Press and Mass Media Bureau of the Serbian Orthodox Church, is available on the DECR website of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The text of the document below is given in full.
As far back as in November last year, the Serbian Orthodox Church was the first among the autocephalous Orthodox Churches to react officially, at the highest level (Council of Bishops), to the intentions of the Constantinople Patriarchate to rule arbitrarily and autocratically as the “first without equals” (primus sine paribus) rather than “the first among equals” (primus inter pares) with regard to ecclesiastic issues on the Ukrainian land, and asked His All-Holiness not to do this, but instead actually help solve the crisis via the fraternal dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church and in consultation with the other Churches.
Unfortunately, the voice of the Serbian Church remained “a voice in the wilderness”: there was no response from Constantinople – only deathly silence. Then the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church turned to Constantinople with a new call not to speed it up, but to act in the spirit of unity, fraternal love and responsibility not only for the Church in Ukraine, but also for the unity of Orthodoxy as a whole. The reaction was the same – total silence. Then the Most Holy Patriarch of Serbia in Thessaloniki personally pleaded verbally with the Patriarch of Constantinople about the same thing – unfortunately, with the same result. It should be noted that the Serbian Church has always informed all the Local Sister Churches on its position and steps taken.
After all that the Patriarchate of Constantinople committed in Kiev – Kiev being, as you know, the “mother of Rus cities” – the position of the Serbian Church, which is also officially reported to all the Local Orthodox Churches, is as follows:
1. The Serbian Orthodox Church does not recognize the non-canonical “incursion” of His Holiness Patriarch of Constantinople into the canonical territory of the Most Holy Russian Church, since the Metropolitan of Kiev cannot be identified in the least with today’s “Ukraine” including dozens of other church dioceses. It was transferred in 1686 to the Moscow Patriarchate, which can be concluded from the documents of Patriarch Dionysius IV of Constantinople, from the decisions of his successors, from the official “Tacticons”, “Syntagmatias”, “Diptychs”, “Calendars” and “Yearbooks” that were published not only by other Churches, but also by the Constantinople Patriarchate and which arises even from personal statements and rhetoric of the current Patriarch of Constantinople, made before April last year.
2. At the same time, the Serbian Orthodox Church does not recognize the proclaimed “Autocephalous Church of Ukraine”, which from the canonical point of view does not exist, but in fact is forced upon, being an artificial “confederation” of the Ukrainian splitting groups (which are at the moment zealously opposing each other and uncontrollably moving towards separation). The schismatics remained schismatics. He who once became a dissenter is a dissenter forever, except in cases of sincere conversion and deep repentance. The only Church that the Serbian Church knows and recognizes is the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kiev and All Ukraine.
3. Further, the Serbian Church does not recognize the Kiev “council”, incorrectly called as “unification”, in which not a single hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church took part (given that the day before His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew had enrolled Alexander Drabinko and Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa into his Church, without a canonical dismissal letter from the their Church, the UOC). The scenes, the entourage and the backstage of this strange gathering, not to put it more harshly, are more or less familiar to everyone. This, in essence, is about an anti-unifying, disuniting and splitting pseudo-council, which dug deeper into the moat of alienation and disintegration of the society of the unfortunate country of Ukraine. Owing to the above reasons, the Serbian Church considers the decisions of the “council” to be anti-canonical, invalid and, therefore, not at all binding.
4. The Serbian Church does not recognize the schismatic episcopate as an Orthodox episcopate and the schismatic clergy as an Orthodox clergy, since those who belong to Denisenko’s wing came to exist from the defrocked, excommunicated and anathematized hierarch (the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew officially recognized at the time himself), whereas those belonging to Maletich-led grouping are deprived of apostolic succession and priesthood as a whole. No document, not a single, so to say, stroke of a pen makes it possible to cancel what was the case in the past and to turn the unreal into the real. Consequently, the Serbian Church does not recognize that mister or citizen Dumenko (Epiphany) is even a hierarch, let alone the primate of the autocephalous Church (this last position is not even recognized by his “spiritual father”, mister or citizen Denisenko, “actual primate” and, on top of that, lifelong “patriarch”).
5. And finally, the Serbian Church is naturally compelled to recommend its hierarchs and honest clerics to refrain from liturgical and canonical communication not only with the above-mentioned Mr. Epiphany (Dumenko) and others like him, but also with the hierarchs and clerics who communicate with them, according to the principle of the sacred canons that those, who have communion with the banned from ministry, place themselves outside the communion as well.
The Serbian Orthodox Church asks and implores His All-Holiness Patriarch of Constantinople to reconsider his decisions made to this day and restore the blessed peace and unity of the Local Holy Divine Churches, because there is nothing so necessary and precious as love, peace and oneness between the brothers.
Earlier, in his official letter to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kiev and All Ukraine, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia stressed that the UOC is the only Church in Ukraine which the Serbian Church will maintain fraternal relations and serve with, whereas all decisions of the “unification council” where the “head” of the OCU was elected, are deemed by the Serbian Orthodox Church null and void.