His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije has today addressed all the Heads of Orthodox Churches, Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union Bishop Mariano Crociata, Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches, human rights organizations Amnesty International and Freedom House, with a request to utilize great esteem they enjoy throughout the world and take action to secure the release of Metropolitan Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Pavel – the Hegumen of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, so that he may continue his evangelical mission, which can only bring good to the parties in the conflict, and especially to the people of Ukraine.
In the letter of the Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, among other things, it is stated that in times of great, difficult, and perilous historical changes, as is the time we are living in today, it is the duty of every man who seeks justice — regardless of his religious affiliation, nationality, ideological, or political orientation — to point out injustices committed against individuals and their fundamental human rights. These injustices often serve as a paradigm of the overall situation in an area affected by conflicts and suffering.
A prime example of this today is His Eminence Metropolitan of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl kyr Pavel, who has been imprisoned by the Ukrainian court. It is certainly obvious to persons with knowledge of the situation in the world that the respective judicial decision cannot be and is not based on any law valid in even moderately legally organized states. This decision is, on one hand, a product of the tense atmosphere in Ukraine, which is engulfed in the flames of war, and on the other hand, a result of the current authorities’ intention to seize the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, one of the most significant holy sites of the entire Orthodox world.
Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, on his part, addresses these distinguished religious leaders and leaders of significant global institutions, with pain and bitterness, and expresses his position that Metropolitan Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Pavel, who has always called for peace, the cessation of conflicts, and for finding solutions through dialogue, cannot be condemned and imprisoned due to, for example, political beliefs or verbal delict, let alone for an offense due to opinion. Metropolitan Pavel has been incarcerated, and this is a glaring example of human rights’ violations, based on who he is and his personal and religious identity. He is imprisoned because he is an Orthodox Hierarch, faithful to his Ukrainian Orthodox Church and ecumenical Orthodoxy. As such, he is an unwavering guardian of the Monastery where he holds the position of Hegumen, and consequently, he represents an insurmountable obstacle preventing the seizure of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra by any other structure, even if, in order to gain the semblance of legality and legitimacy, it claims to be ecclesiastical.
Therefore, Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, in conclusion, once again calls upon the religious and societal leaders of Europe and the world to advocate for the release of Metropolitan Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Pavel, to be set free.