Appeal of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the USA and Canada
Reverend Fathers, Highly Respected Heads of Parish Councils, Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Archpriest Victor Poliarny, Rector of the parish of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bloomingdale, Illinois, made a personal decision to resign as Secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.
In response to this decision of the former clergyman of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Patriarch of Kyiv and Al Rus-Ukraine Philaret by his Decree № 2 of February 2, 2021, dismissed Archpriest Victor Poliarny from the post of Secretary of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the USA and Canada.
The Decree of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate reads: “After secession from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, the rector of St. Andrew the First-Called Church in Bloomingdale, Illinois, in the United States, Father Victor Poliarny, is relieved of his post as secretary of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate in the United States and Canada. In connection with the release of his post, Father Victor Poliarny undertakes to return the antimensions signed by His Holiness Patriarch Philaret issued to him for the Church of St. Andrew the First-Called in Bloomingdale, Illinois, in the United States.”
In order not to leave the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes without the opportunity to govern and progress in missionary activity, His Holiness Patriarch Philaret appointed me, his humble novice, the new Secretary of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the United States and Canada.
First of all, I thank His Holiness for trusting my unworthiness to oversee the Orthodox communities throughout the North American continent. I will make every effort to justify the great trust of the Primate of the Church in me. And may the Almighty God in the Trinity glorify me and all the saints help me in this.
Therefore, today, for the first time, I am addressing you, venerable Brothers and Sisters, highly respected Heads of Parish Councils, Friends, and Ukrainians, as the Secretary of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the United States and Canada.
In difficult times we had to live, defending the Orthodox faith and the holy canons of the Church from being trampled by ungodly forces that prefer to divide us into small factions and exterminate us alone. We must persevere by showing considerable courage and obedience to the Holy Church.
When we are faced with the question of choosing landmarks and directions of movement, the best solution is to follow the path of truth, of which the holy prophet speaks in the Psalms: “Grace and truth have met, truth and peace have kissed” (Ps. 84:11). After all, only in God can justice, which requires immediate retribution, be combined with mercy, which shows indulgence in our infirmities.
It is also a wise decision for each of us to follow the holy canons that call us to maintain the unity commanded by Christ the Lord while maintaining obedience to our Bishop. Let us recall the 34th Apostolic Rule, which commands us to acknowledge our Bishop. Let us remember that the preservation of the unity of our community has the same mystical, spiritual nature as the unity between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is based on love, because “God is Love” (1 John 4:16).
The Kyiv Patriarchate is a real Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which serves in Ukraine for believers of all nationalities, not just Ukrainians. Similarly, in the countries of the diaspora, not only Ukrainians belong to the parishes of the Kyiv Patriarchate. Therefore, all of us, as true sons and daughters of the one Mother, must show love for our Motherland and its people, because this is a natural fulfillment of Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors.
However, the commandment of love is “two-sided” and calls on all of us to show love and mercy not only to friends but also to enemies. Such love, which was not shown by the authors of Tomos about the autocephaly of the OCU [Orthodox Church of Ukraine], leaving more than 20 million Ukrainian communities on all continents without visible signs of manifestation of this virtue. I say this by citing the text of Tomos, which ascribes spiritual authority over all of us to a jurisdiction that is neither native nor desirable to us.
In the Tomos we read: “By this signed Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos we recognize and proclaim the Autocephalous Church established within the territory of Ukraine as our spiritual daughter and call on all world Orthodox Churches to recognize her as a sister and to mention her under the name “Holy Church of Ukraine” and as such has as its department the historic city of Kyiv, cannot appoint bishops or establish parishes outside the state; the existing ones are now subject, according to the order, to the Ecumenical Throne, which has canonical powers in the Diaspora, because the jurisdiction of this Church is limited to the territory of the Ukrainian State.” In this way, they tried to uncompromisingly tear us away from the first capital Kyiv, our Jerusalem.
That is why Archpriest Victor Poliarny, who claims to be under the direct authority of the Primate of the OCU, Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv, is grossly mistaken. After all, no one is waiting for him there. The OCU is limited by the Tomos and does not have the courage to raise the issue of the Ukrainian diaspora before Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Therefore, I tell you, Father Victor, it is not too late to repent and reconcile with His Holiness Patriarch Philaret and return to the family of the Vicariate of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the United States and Canada. This is the only opportunity for you to stay in your native Ukrainian Church.
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, I urge you to remain firm in the faith and conviction that we are fulfilling the voice of truth that calls us to remember our mentors who preached the word of God to us (Heb. 13: 7). Our Primate and ruling Bishop invariably remains His Holiness Patriarch Philaret, who for more than two decades has been gathering Ukrainians scattered around the world and is not going to leave his flock during total retreats and betrayals.
As sons and daughters of Ukraine, we are all also subjects of the United States, so we must boldly reject the destructive influences from outside our country that have already shaken the heads of the most experienced among us, bringing misunderstandings and crises into our peaceful environment.
Finally, Reverend Fathers, I would like to convey the assurances of His Holiness Patriarch Philaret that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate remains open to dialogue on the formation of a single Local Orthodox Church, where all members of the Church – those in Ukraine and those around the world – will feel equal.
Secretary of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the USA and Canada Rector, St. Nicholas Stavropigia Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Archpriest Very Reverend Bohdan Zhoba