Australia’s Greek Orthodox bishops offer support to Ukrainians, set canonical boundaries

At their 13th meeting, the Greek Orthodox Bishops of Australia pledged to support migrants fleeing fighting in Ukraine and offered 30 scholarships to children of Ukrainian families. They also clarified issues regarding Ukrainian-Australian communities in relation to the Archdiocese of Australia.

The decision to support Ukrainian migrants was taken on Monday, March 28, the first day of the Episcopal Assembly of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia chaired by Archbishop Makarios of Australia. The bishops said scholarships and additional support were a priority.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the bishops expressed the Australian Church’s grief for the events unfolding in Ukraine and called on clergy and people to pray for an end to the war.

“Beyond our prayers and our moral support for our Ukrainian brothers, we also strive to be practically at their side. For this reason – and among others – we are offering 30 scholarships to children of Ukrainian immigrants, on a priority basis, to study in schools in the Holy Archdiocese of Australia,” they said in the statement.

They called on those responsible for events in Ukraine to “assume their responsibilities before God and before history”.

Patriarch Cyril of Moscow has asked for mediation to end the fighting between two Orthodox peoples.

The bishops also clarified the canonical boundaries of the Archdiocese of Australia in relation to the “so-called and never canonically recognized ‘kyiv Patriarchate'” to which some Ukrainian-Australian communities had claimed allegiance.

They announced that the Ukrainian parish communities of St Sava in Sydney and St Basil the Great in Newcastle would join the Archdiocese of Australia. The decision came after Archbishop Makarios appointed a special committee to look into the situation after Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople issued the tomos of autocephaly (autonomy decree) to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. in 2019.

The Australian Archdiocesan Committee has studied the situation and considered the legal conditions for the incorporation of Ukrainian communities under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese.

In their statement, the bishops announced this week that: “We lovingly remind other Ukrainian communities that the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine under Metropolitan Epiphany has no canonical jurisdiction within the boundaries of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia. and that the commemoration of the bishop is not a matter of choice for each clergyman but a canonical matter which for centuries has been regulated by the Church through the decisions of Ecumenical Councils.

They went on to say that the establishment in Australia of a vicariate “under the so-called ‘kyiv Patriarchate’ and by the self-proclaimed ‘Patriarch Philaretos'” has not been recognized by any canonical Orthodox Church nor by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. .

In response to the decision, the “Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Patriarchate of Kyivan in Australia and New Zealand” said in a press release on its website that: “We categorically protest against the reference that the Patriarch Philaret is “non-canonical”.

On a separate issue, the Bishops announced in their statement that the 12th Congress of Lay Clergy of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia will take place in January next year, with the Archdiocesan Council due to announce further details after its meeting on the matter. .

A national meeting of priests is due to take place in Sydney in October.

The communiqué also announced that a national association of Philoptochos of Australia had been formed under the leadership of Archbishop Makarios. Central associations of Philoptochos were being established in all the sees of the archdiocesan districts under the bishops concerned.

* Updated: 1:13 p.m. on April 1, 2022

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