Ukrainian hierarch calls prodigal defector bishop to return to Father’s house in the Church

His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol has written a heartfelt letter to the former Metropolitan of Vinnitsa Simeon Shostatsky, who departed from the Church of Christ when he attended the scandalous “unification council” on December 15 and joined the schismatic body created there. Invoking the Gospel parable of the prodigal son, Met. Luke calls upon the former hierarch to come to himself and return to his father’s house.

The letter reads in full:

Beloved brother in the Lord and our former concelebrant!

In this period of preparation for the salvific days of Great Lent, when the main themes and texts of the Divine services celebrated in the Church remind us of the renunciation, exodus, and return of the prodigal son to the house of his merciful father, we sorrowfully recall your departure to “a far country,” where in the shortest amount of time can be expended that blessed inheritance that you obtained in your Father’s house. The younger son of the Gospel parable struck his own father from his life, demanding a portion of his property during his lifetime. He demanded it with the hope of receiving the “freedom” to realize those priorities and intentions which by their nature were poorer and lower than the relations he had in the house of his father. This freedom-loving son, unfortunately, spent his time away from home, living wantonly, prodigally, or if to literally follow the Greek text of the Gospel of Luke (Lk. 15:13)—“asotos,” that is, non-salvifically. And after he had wasted everything, he was in great need. Of course, this waste and ruination “helped” him. Not only harlots, but his new “friends” that appeared, who are images of those people who, having been enticed by the possibilities of a life free from its former high authorities, facilitated the extreme impoverishment of the son’s soul.

I repeat all of this not because I doubt your familiarity with this Gospel story, but in order to call you to repentance for that prodigal choice that you made, having left your Father’s house and having fallen in among “new friends.” The Father ever awaits you in the house of the Church of Christ. Our Father ever awaits you—the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church—His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, who visibly manifests the love and forgiveness of the Heavenly Father. The servants of the house also await your return—your concelebrants, ready to meet you with the fatted calf of the bounty of your native home. No one will behave petulantly as did the older brother of this parable, certain of his own righteousness and not ready to see his brother in the sinner who had returned. All of us, inhabitants of our common home, hope for your return to the gracious fullness of the Lord Who filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23), to together carry out the salvific work of the episcopal edifying of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).

Even having left the Church, Shostatsky sued to be reinstated as the ruling hierarch of the Vinnitsa Diocese and to block his replacement from assuming his duties, though the Vinnitsa court of appeals ruled in favor of the Church in early February.

Met. Luke also earlier wrote open letters to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in response to the invitation to the attend the robber “unification council,” and to His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia, pleading with him to hear the lamentations of the suffering Ukrainian people and to not recognize the Ukrainian schismatics.