Thursday, February 2, 2023

    OCU can deploy priests abroad to serve refugees – Ecumenical Patriarch’s Exarch

    The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is not allowed to have a parish outside of Ukraine, although can send its clergy to other countries to minister to refugees. The initiative should come from the people and the OCU.

    That’s according to Bishop Michael of Koman, who spoke in an interview with

    “As per the Tomos, the OCU cannot have a parish abroad. But it can second its clergy to the local metropolitan. So who should think about it? Do we really have to come (to the OCU, – ed.) and say: ‘Give us your priests’? Such issues need to be resolved through direct contact with local hierarchs because the situation in varioous countries is different and there is no template,” said Bishop Michael of Koman.

    He added that the process should be coordinated by a local hierarch abroad.

    “If a priest is deployed, the congregation must provide for him. Also, he could get a job there and provide for himself, which is a very common practice in Europe (when a priest, in addition to serving in the church, also has a job). After all, a priest is also a person with needs, especially if he is married and has a family. Unfortunately, there are no funds that would support the clergy,” said the bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    He advised how to solve the problem of the shortage of priests for refugees abroad.

    “… Human resources are needed. Where to get them? If there is a community, people feel the need, come to the local bishop and say that they want to organize things, so give us a priest. He says: ‘Where can I get him for your?’ – ‘We have one in Ukraine.’ Then it is necessary to turn to Kyiv, let him be assigned to the metropolitan in whose metropolis there is a need for the ministry of a Ukrainian-speaking priest. You see? In addition, a believer residing in another metropolitan area automatically becomes a spiritual child of the local bishop. Therefore, they are not loyal to the OCU, the serfs, so to speak, they are Orthodox parishioners of the local Orthodox Church, on the territory of which they found themselves. And there are many Orthodox parishes in other countries,” noted the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch.