Statement of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine

Source: (UOC-USA)

To the Venerable Clergy, Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox  Church in Diaspora:

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!

We write to you all having been informed about recent events in Ukraine surrounding the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  If you have not yet heard or read anything about these events, which are filling the social websites and media in and beyond Ukraine, we hereby inform you that the President of Ukraine met in a day-long audience with His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on Bright Monday – 9 April 2018.  The result of this meeting was the beginning of the Patriarchate’s long-awaited consideration of Autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Upon his return to Ukraine, President Poroshenko immediately began the process of rallying the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament).  All the hierarchs of two of the three jurisdictions and the vast majority of the Rada responded to the President’s emotional appeal to support the process of asking His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod of Constantinople to move forward with the process of granting a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Church in Ukraine, which has for 1030 years been the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, since 988 when our nation was baptized and confirmed into the Holy Orthodox Faith.

Not even under 332 years of non-canonical and often tortuous subjugation to a foreign Orthodox patriarchate could the faithful of Ukraine be convinced that they did not belong to the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  This is simple history, as documented by generations of Patriarchs and Synods of Constantinople, which never abandoned its canonical rights and privileges in Ukraine.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, through releases on its own website and through the media has confirmed that the process of considering the Autocephalous status of the Church of Ukraine has begun, which will continue through the next meeting of the Holy Synod to be held in May.

President Poroshenko in all his public appearances and statements about these current events has been incredibly enthusiastic about the possibility of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine being granted even by the 1030thanniversary in July 2018 of the Baptism of Ukraine into the Orthodox Faith in 988 by Equal-to-the-Apostles, Great Prince Volodymyr.

The Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine has written a strong letter of support for the actions being taken by His All-Holiness and the Holy Synod of Constantinople regarding the possible granting of a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.  We have assured His All-Holiness of the unceasing prayers of not only the hierarchs, but also the millions of Ukrainian Orthodox clergy and faithful in and beyond the borders of Ukraine, for him personally during this process.

We invite our faithful to join us in this prayer: 

Prayer for the Unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

O Lord our God, You can see, as the invisible and visible enemies divided the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and with it all Ukrainian people. Help us to promote the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy into a single Church, putting the cornerstone of apostolic rule that orders us to know that every nation, and among them the Ukrainian people, must have its first hierarch.

O Lord, inspire our separated brethren, so that they will unite around the Throne of Kyiv into a single Church and that Christian love would prevail among all of us, because You said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.

Look upon us, Lord the Lover of all mankind, and do not punish us for our iniquities, voluntary and involuntary, committed in knowledge and in ignorance. Let us have a true love amongst us, forgive us our trespasses and do not remember our transgressions.

Great Merciful Master, protect and preserve Ukraine from those who encroach on its independence and wants to divide it, as you have always protect the Christian countries. Let a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church be a strong spiritual foundation for the indivisible Ukraine and the unity of our people, let it enemies be scattered and let peace, harmony and unity prevail in us.

O Lord, You said: “For without me you can do nothing.” Hear, o God, prayer of your faithful and bless the begun matter of the unity of the Orthodox in a single Church of Ukraine to lead to a successful conclusion. To His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ukrainian Orthodox Hierarchs, the President, the Verkhovna Rada, and all those who work for this, send wisdom and inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, and in the good cause of the recognition of the Ukrainian Church to bring everyone to close conclusion. For Yours it is to have mercy on and save us, our God and we glorify You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

With Archpastoral Blessings,

+YURIJ, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada

+ANTONY, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora

+JEREMIAH, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchies of Brasil and South America

+DANIEL, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Western Europe

+ILARION, Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada

+ANDRIY, Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada

On the 84th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Holodomor

Source (UOC):

It is with a heavy heart that we call to recollection one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century, namely, the tragic events in Ukraine during the years 1932-1933. Today, our Ecumenical Patriarchate joins Ukrainians across the globe in prayerful commemoration on the 84th anniversary of the Holodomor. Surrounded by the members of our local Ukrainian Orthodox Community and representatives of various nations serving in our City, we will preside over the celebration of the Divine Liturgy as well as personally offer a memorial service for the millions of people who inhumanely lost their lives during the orchestrated man-imposed famine.

Our Mother Church of Constantinople—which transformed centuries ago the river waters of the Dnieper into the sanctified living waters of rejuvenation and life eternal—was forever bonded spiritually to the Christ-loving nation of Ukraine, continuing to actively share in its pride and its joys, but also in its sorrows, always demonstrating Pauline ecclesiology: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

In the spirit of sharing intimately in the life of Ukraine, the Holy and Great Church of Christ stands in prayerful silence and solidarity with the victims of the Holodomor, contemplating the magnitude of death and destruction carried out by the oppressor.

“You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And it is the truth of the Lord that liberates. For, the world witnessed in Ukraine the destruction and death of millions of people due to falsehood and a godless ideology, but it continues to recognize the rejuvenation, baptism, and eternal life offered centuries ago by our holy predecessors, the saintly and wise Patriarchs of Constantinople. The “water road” of the Dnieper River system was transformed into a bridge leading to heaven.

While prayerfully commemorating the atrocity of famine, we would also like to make a prayerful appeal to all people of goodwill for the cessation of the war, aggression and ongoing violence in Ukraine, as well as to underscore the importance of respecting human rights and dignity, most especially of the prisoners of war, for whose safety and release we Orthodox pray for at every divine service. The aggressions and crimes witnessed in the early 20th century should not be repeated once again; rather, we should strive to be mechanisms of reconciliation and rapprochement, especially having fresh in our minds the disastrous results of the conflict and hostility 84 years ago. Let us all, each from our own standpoint, personally and collectively, work to de-escalate tension and cultivate dialogue and mutual understanding, so that the dark chapters of the early 20th century will never reappear before us.

Eternal be the memories of the victims of this travesty. And may peace and prosperity be granted unto Ukraine.

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “On the 84th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Holodomor,” Phanar, November 25, 2017.

Remembering the Victims of Genocidal Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933

Source (UOC): The 2017 Annual National Holodomor Commemoration took place on the eve of the 85th anniversary of this human tragedy at St. Patrick Cathedral, New York City on 18 November 2017 with 2,000 people participating. The day began in Ukrainian Village on the lower southeast Manhattan as about 1500 people stepped off in an awareness march from 7thStreet and Third Avenue and walked about 3.5 miles to 51st Street and Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick Cathedral.

The procession up Third Avenue was 2-3 blocks long and there were an abundance of placards describing what the march was all about and young Ukrainian students walking along the sidewalks passing out pamphlets explaining to those who observed the march that the Holodomor Ukas an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation and her people. It was perpetrated by Josef Stalin and his henchmen in the fall of 1932 and the spring of 1933 and murdered seven to ten million innocent people – solely because Stalin though he was losing his grip on Ukraine and he needed to bring the nation back into line with the Soviet mindset. This march takes place on every fifth anniversary of the Holodomor and was led this year by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church and His Grace Bishop Paul of the Stamford Eparchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The climax of the march was the Memorial Service conducted in St. Patrick Cathedral with the participation of the above mentioned hierarchs together with Metropolitan Stephan and retired Bishop Losten of the Ukrainian Catholic Church as well as His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and clergy from both churches.

Prior to the beginning of the Memorial service, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony addressed several thousand people in attendance stating:

At present, when our native homeland of Ukraine is enduring perhaps its greatest trials since achieving independence, we Ukrainians in the Diaspora and in Ukraine remember the Holodomor of 1932-33, this most sorrowful and tragic event in our Ukrainian history. Together, we prayerfully honor the memory of millions of innocent people who were martyred by hunger in Ukraine.

Today, much scholarly research have been conducted, and many scientific studies have been completed. They confirm unequivocally the fact that the Famine in Ukraine in 1932-33 was deliberately created by a totalitarian regime whose aim was to deliberately destroy the Ukrainian nation. Only a godless and atheistic government would contemplate the extermination by famine of the Ukrainian people – a time-honored and traditionally agricultural people, who also have been bearers of deep spirituality, culture and traditions. The communist regime attempted to mercilessly decimate the entire population by destroying it without concern for children, the young or the elderly. By creating an artificial famine and, thereby, physically destroying the Ukrainian people, the Bolshevik regime aimed to destroy and eradicate the reviled Ukrainian language, culture and the religious identity of the people. Therefore, the communist government was undoubtedly a godless regime which had built a paradise on earth without God. The Holodomor demonstrated that such an authority, in which there is no room for God, will only shed a sea of blood and build a living hell for millions.

The Holodomor is a wound that will always be a painful scar on the body of our nation. The magnitude of this tragedy is immense. We shall reap its “fruit” for centuries to come. For decades, this totalitarian system has been doing everything in its power to cover up and to erase this tragedy from the cultural memory and history of the Ukrainian nation. Without exaggeration, this famine is a tragedy not only for the Ukrainian people, but for all of humanity.

Today, we need to continue to expend great efforts to convey the truth and the real history of this, our national tragedy, to the furthest corners of the world where this truth may not yet have reached, or where it may have been heard in a distorted form. It is no secret that the forces of evil continue, even now, to try to hide, silence or distort the historical truth about the horrors of the Holodomor in Ukraine in the 20th century.

It is within our power and it is our duty to preserve the memory of the death of the millions of our brothers and sisters. Let this sorrowful day when we remember the terrible tragedy of the past century always be one of personal prayer and remembrance for all of the victims of the Holodomor. On this day of remembrance of the victims of the Holodomor, let us each light a candle for our countrymen who were exterminated. With sincere prayers to the Lord, let us entreat Him to give them rest in His Kingdom of Heaven and forgive them their sins. May He give us His blessing to preserve and support our independent Ukraine which the God-loving Ukrainian people currently are defending and protecting at great cost.

The Dumka Ukrainian Choir sang the responses for the memorial service as it has for many years. Immediately preceding the Memorial Service, survivors of the Holodomor – just two of them, from Holy Trinity Cathedral on Broome Street in NYC – Alexander and Nadia Savaryn, approached a table before the altar to place candles and Ukrainian children followed with blades of wheat, candles, wreaths and flowers to place at the table – all in memory of the victims of the Holodomor.

Following the requiem service, representatives from the United States government were offered an opportunity to deliver remarks. Among the speakers was Mrs. Tamara Gallo Olexy, previous president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, which along with the National Holodomor Committee and the Churches organizes the event each year. She introduced Senator Charles Shumer who represents the state of New York in the US Senate. The Senator is a regular participant in this commemoration for at least the last ten years and always makes an emotional and stirring condemnation of the genocide and those responsible for it, but calls not only Ukrainians but people of all ethnic backgrounds to join in remembering the victims and aiding in stopping the acts of genocide that still occur in other countries around the world today.

Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA, His Excellency Valeriy Chaly and Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko spoke about the horror of the genocidal Holodomor and made references to the historic event of opening and dedications of the National US National Holodomor Memorial in Washington, DC which took place on November 7, 2015.

Bishop Paul of Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, CT closed the commemoration expressing gratitude to all the hierarchs and clergy, to the speakers, and to all present in the Cathedral and finally to His Excellency Cardinal Dolan who, along with his predecessors for nearly two decades invited the Ukrainian-American community to conduct the commemoration in the Cathedral.

The Dumka Choir, under the direction of maestro Vasyl Hrechynsky chanted solemn responses to a Memorial Panakhyda for the Famine victims. The Memorial event concluded with the singing of “Bozhe Velykyj”.