On Tuesday the 17th of December, an open letter of 27 African Orthodox priests from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia was published. In this letter, the signatories express their disagreement with the decision of the Patriarch to recognize the schismatic ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’ and to commemorate its archbishop Epiphanios Dumenco.
An open letter Of African Orthodox Priests
To our astonishment and awkwardness, we, the Orthodox African priests, were informed about the decision of the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore B’ to recognize the so called ‘Orthodox Church Of Ukraine’.
This sudden decision is contrary to the previous position which our Patriarch had held , and puts in danger the appropriate good relationships which have been developed during the last decades between our Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics is being criticized by many Local Churches and that means the split from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which most of the Orthodox Ukrainian belong. As far as we know, the decision was taken without the opinion of the African Clergy to be asked, despite the fact that the Africans consist the majority of the Alexandria Patriarchate clergymen and parishioners. We would like to express our view and state that we don’t agree with the above decision. We respect our Patriarch and we obey our bishops, but as many priests, even more and bishops, in the Church of Greece expressed their disagreement with an alike decision of the recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics, we believe that we have the same right to do so and express our view. We are sad for the unexpected decision of the Patriarch of Alexandria and we desire to see this decision reconsidered.
A day after the publication of the letter, the OrthoCristian was informed by f. George Maximov, a missionary priest, who is in touch with many African priests, that they had already been threatened with sanctions by their archpriests, such as cutbacks in their salaries, suspension from their hieratic duties and excommunication.Few days later, we were informed by one of the signatories that they had already been suspended. Though, this and other priests stated in social media that despite the threats or the punishments, they will continue to stand by the side of the canonical Church of Ukraine. There is a video which saw the lights of publicity ,on Tuesday the 24th of December, in which father George points out that the Greek archpriests, the Metropolitan bishop of Kenya, Makarious, the Metropolitan bishop of Eirinoupolis ,Dimitrios (Tanzania) and the Metropolitan bishop of Arousa and Central Tanzania, Agathonikos, began immediately to move against their priests who signed the open letter, demanding to sign a statement of support to the ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’. ‘As soon as they refused, they were suspended and threatened with defrocking’ , f.George mentions. Furthermore, f.George notes that, only just the previous summer, the Metropolitan bishop Dimitrios travelled to Kiev for the 1030th anniversary of the babtism of the Ros, where he expressed his support to the canonical Ukrainian Church and to the archbishop and his Grace Metropolitan of Kiev and Ukraine Onoufrio. The Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodoros, the previous year expressed his strong support to the canonical Church of Ukraine. Also, f.George mentions that as far as he knows, there have not been any sanctions or threats by the Very Reverend Metropolitan of Kampala, Iona (Uganda) – one of the few African Prelates of the Patriarch of Alexandria- against the priests who signed the open letter. In a publication of “Telegram” on the 19th of December, f.George pointed out that many priests of the Church of Greece phrased a stronger contradiction and criticism about the recognition of Ukrainian schismatic, but they have never faced any sanctions. He points out : And the fact that the African priests are being chucked out
of the Church for a mild and kind letter, indicates without doubt the double standards of the Greek bishops, who face the African clergymen as second – class human beings. Naturally, these defrockings are not canonical, because the fathers had done nothing to deserve them. They did not stop to commemorate Patriarch Theodore, they did not refuse to obey their bishops; they have just expressed their opinion. But according to the Greek bishops, the Africans have no right to do so. Even this right.
Ps. ‘O.T’ : He ‘cossets’ Brasavil m. Arathimon, while he overwhelms the suffering priests ! That proves the real face of the Patriarch of Alexandria.