Serbian bishop: Recognition of OCU is result of U.S. bulldozer diplomacy

Meeting of the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and Archbishop Abp. Ieronymos. Photo:

The hierarchs who recognized the Ukrainian schismatics did so after meeting with U.S. officials, Bishop Irinej of Bačka emphasized.

The U.S. uses crude “bulldozer diplomacy” to convince Orthodox hierarchs to transgress their conscience and throw their weight behind the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its anti-canonical actions in Ukraine, says His Grace Bishop Irinej of Bačka of the Serbian Orthodox Church in a recent interview with the Serbian outlet Pechat.

When asked by a journalist about the schism in Orthodoxy, Vladyka Irinej replied that “circumstances are such that there is not much use in ‘diplomatic language’ and euphemisms”.

“It is better, of course, and more elegant to use as subtle expressions as possible, but in the face of bulldozer diplomacy, that has lost its meaning,” he said.

The Serbian hierarch gave a concrete example of such diplomacy. He did not name the Local Church, which he spoke about, but it can be assumed that it was about Greece.

“The following example shows how this looks in practice. The Chairman of the Synod of one of the leading Orthodox Churches, as well as the majority in its episcopate, clergy, monastics and people, did not show any enthusiasm for the decisions of the Mother Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, regarding the Church crisis in Ukraine, for the decisions already made and implemented that allegedly overcome the crisis and restore the unity of Orthodoxy in that country,” the Serbian patriarch noted.

“But the devil does not slumber, and after about a year of silence from the eminent Archbishop and the hierarchy of his Local Church, Mr. Brownback, the U.S. ambassador who monitors the state of religious freedom not only on the territory of his country but also on all other meridians, comes on the scene. After some seven or eight visits to the Archbishop and conversations with him, probably on theological topics, especially on issues in the field of canon law, we have a Copernican turn in the attitude of the Archbishop and the Synod around him. The result? A lightning-fast formal recognition of the schismatic structure in Ukraine as the real Church, despite the fact that many eminent canonists and theologians of the Church in questions perceive things quite differently,” Bishop Irinej of Bačka resumed.

And the same is happening in other Churches, he notes: “Similar scenes took place during meetings of American officials with the leaders and high representatives of some other Orthodox Churches. The mentioned officials, after all, openly and publicly, in the name of their truly great and powerful state, interfere in the internal religious and ecclesiastical problems of certain Orthodox Churches, although such activity is not in accordance with the spirit and letter of the democratic constitution of their own country.”

As reported by the UOJ, the head of the US State Department, Mike Pompeo, said that he made sure that the United States of America supported the international recognition of the OCU.

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