Serbian Patriarch Irinej on the Ukrainian Church situation

In his interview given to the leading Belgrade newspaper “Politika” of the 29th September 2019 His Holiness expressed his opinion on the Ukrainian Church situation:

What is the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church among other local Orthodox Churches? We have seen in the "Ukrainian crisis" that with both Moscow and Constantinople top-level meetings have been held.

The care and responsibility that our Church has for the unity of the Orthodox Church, its conciliarity  (sobornost) and faithfulness to the Sacred Tradition and canons, has obliged us to strive to make it clear to the protagonists that their activities not only harm the Church in Ukraine, but seriously threaten the unity of the Orthodox Church. And I did this, both in writing, repeatedly, or orally in direct conversation with the Patriarch of Constantinople.

In doing so, I must point out on this occasion that our Church did not opt because of a Slavonic closeness to the Russian Church and, of course, not for any political or similar interests, but solely viewing the problem from the  ecclesial, Tradition-bound  and canonical side. If another local Church, say Russian or any other, did anything similar, we would act in the same way.

Many co-brothers bishops of our Church have grown spiritually in Greece, upon Hellenic theology and culture. I feel obliged and insist on the deepest gratitude to the Mother Church and the most holy Throne of  of Constantinople Patriarchs, and with our most learned Bishops I share  love for the Greek people, the Church and their culture. But neither does this love gives me or them any right, not to indicate some uncanonical and unacceptable actions, in the same way as some Greek theologians and hierarchs, by the way, do. We will not give up that position.

It was reported in some Ukrainian media that state authorities had declared me an undesirable person. For them I am persona non grata. I don't know if that is reliable news. I have not received anything official, but it will not diminish my support for Metropolitan Onufrije and the God-loving Ukrainians, neither my wish nor prayers that the schism in Ukraine might be really healed. The way how the Phanar and the Kiev authorities act, with encouragement of non-Orthodox powers, will only deepen the schism.