Archimandrite Nektarios (Bakopoulos), the Secretary of the
Tamassos Diocese (Orthodox Church of Cyprus), paid a visit to the parishes of
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which were raided by supporters of the new autocephalous
Church, in the dioceses of Rivne and Volhynia, Western Ukraine.
On June 6, Archimandrite Nektarios, accompanied by Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, visited eight parishes in the Rivne diocese, which suffered attacks from supporters of the new autocephalous Church.
During the day, the two priests prayed during the Liturgy in the parish house of the Kopytov village, Koretsky district, supported the faithful of Kurozvany and Mnyshyn villages, Hoshcha district, and spoke with the inhabitants of P’yatyhory and Hlyns’k, Zdolbuniv district. The day ended in the village of Rozvazh, in the Ostrog region.
In his address to the faithful, the Archimandrite emphasized that the Church of Cyprus was one of the first to express its full support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its primate, Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv. “I can assure you, he said, that our primate Archbishop Chrysostomos has made a series of trips to visit the primates of the other Orthodox Churches, in order to discuss, to find ways to resolve the Ukrainian ecclesial issue, and to heal the wounds of the schism. All the problems that overwhelm you now must not shake your faith in God. You must become more dynamic and more ardent. The Lord is testing you this way, to see your faith and show others what it is to believe in God.”
The archimandrite’s discussions with people who have
suffered the violent seizing of their churches, the insults and rejection by
inhabitants of the same village, were warm and open. The faithful told their
host about their pain, they asked for advice and spiritual support.
“I have received more strength than I have given you, because you live in a church that is being persecuted. Your struggle will produce spiritual fruit. You are already an example of confession, a witness of faithfulness to the Church of Christ. The confession of your faith is an example not only for the Church of Cyprus, but for the whole universal Church living in conditions of great religious comfort,” concluded Archimandrite Nektarios.
On June 7, he went with Archpriest Nikolai Danilevitch to the
diocese of Volyn. The visit of the representative of the Orthodox Church of
Cyprus began with the meeting with diocesan bishop Nathanael of Volyn and Lutsk,
who spoke about the parish communities forced to leave their churches and
celebrate in premises transformed into chapels.
The two priests visited the priests and Orthodox faithful in the villages of Bronytsya, Nuino, and Rakov. Kamen-Kashira district. In the temporary chapels set up by the faithful for their services, the Archimandrite, together with the clergy of the diocese of Volyn, celebrated intercessory services for peace in Ukraine and for the unity of world Orthodoxy.
“You are in the true and canonical Church, so you have nothing to fear,” said Archimandrite Nektarios to those faithful in the diocese of Volyn. “I am here precisely, he stressed, in order to see the situation in Ukraine, not on the internet, but to have a personal experience, personal impressions of the situation, and to pass on this experience to the Christians of Cyprus, so that they have first-hand information on what is happening in Ukraine”.
Archimandrite Nektarios also told the faithful they could be
assured that sooner or later. they would return to their churches. “I
understand your pain and your affliction, but the Lord sees everything. Be
certain that this issue will be resolved. The time will come when you can again
celebrate the Liturgy in your church. Injustice will not win,” he said.
At the end of his stay, he declared, “I was impressed, as a priest, by the faith and piety of your faithful. The difficulties created by the devil within the Church have given the faithful the opportunity to develop and grow spiritually, and to strengthen their relationship with God. My personal contact with the parishioners and the residents of these parishes has shown me that these people have deep faith. They are dedicated to the Church, they trust in the Church, they believe in their Church. I experienced deep emotion and a special grace in seeing this faith, this strong faith of the faithful during the Divine Liturgy. I return to Cyprus enriched by a spiritual experience and by all I have seen. And I will talk about it there, so that our faithful hear what is happening in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” he concluded.
You can watch Archimandrite Nektarios’s statement here (in Greek, with Russian translation).