The Ecumenical Patriarch exercised his right of appeal and reinstated five Lithuanian priests
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew used his canonical right of appeal in relation to five Lithuanian priests who had submitted a complaint to St. Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for unjustly placing under prohibition by the Miter of Lithuania. Innocent, head of the diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate in Lithuania. These are archpriests Vladimir Selyavko and Vitaly Motskus and presbyters Vitaly Dauparas, Georgiy Ananiev and Gintar Sungaila.
In the decision of St. The synod said the hearing of the appeal was made possible because there was a definitive end to the ecclesiastical case against the five clerics and a decree of excommunication issued, which the priests are contesting. The decision was not based on church canons, but politically motivated, which is why their appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch was satisfied and they were reinstated in holy rank. They will continue to serve, but as clerics of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In the decision of St. The Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is called:
“A few months ago, His Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople – the New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew were approached by the Lithuanian archpriests Vladimir Selyavko and Vitaly Moskus, as well as the presbyters Vitaly Dauparas, Gintar Sungaila and Georgiy Ananiev, who were subjected by the Moscow Patriarchate to the penalty of demotion from the priesthood, and , as having the right, resorted to an appeal before him.
Our Patriarch, proceeding exclusively from the divine and sacred canons (Rule 9 and Rule 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council) and from the sanctified practice of the Church, as well as moved by responsibility to the right of appeal, carefully examined their case.
After a careful examination of the cases in question, it was found, on the one hand, that they were finally condemned by their ecclesiastical authority, which pronounced the sentences, and, on the other hand, that the reasons for which they were condemned were based entirely on non-ecclesiastical criteria , and the just disagreement of the specified clergy with the war in Ukraine. For this reason, His Holiness, after considering these appeals as a last resort, recommended to St. Synod that the ban imposed on them with deprivation of rank be revoked and that they be restored to the previous ecclesiastical degrees, which was decided unanimously.
Also, after the immediate restoration, the Ecumenical Patriarch, at their request, accepted the clerics in question under his honorary omophorus, in accordance with the rights given to his chair, as recorded in the interpretation of the Patriarch of Antioch, Theodore Valsamon, on Rule 17 and Rule 18 of the Council of Trulli and Rule 10 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (“And from this canon, note, it expressly follows that only the Patriarch of Constantinople is permitted to receive foreign clerics, and that without a letter of absolution from him who ordained them”).”
The decision of St. A Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople means that the five clerics will be able to serve in Lithuania, but under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The Orthodox Church in Lithuania has the status of a diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, it has 50 parishes and 39 clergy (priests and deacons in total). The five priests who were banned from serving were among the most active clergy in the diocese and close to the Lithuanian Metropolitan. Their refusal to justify Russia’s war in Ukraine with religious arguments and publicly stated criticisms of the position of the Moscow Patriarch led to the breakdown of relations with their diocesan metropolitan and their removal from ministry in July. Even then they declared that they would take advantage of the right of appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch provided for in the canons.
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