To All Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Orthodox Church
Our Masters, Archpastors, and Shepherds in Christ
As Bright Week draws to a close, I greet each and every one of you with the joyous proclamation of the triumphant resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ from the dead:
Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Хрїстосъ воскресе! Христос воскрес! Hristos a înviat!
!المسيح قام ქრისტე აღსდგა!
May your hearts be filled with the Uncreated Light shining forth from the grave, for Christ is risen, and death has lost its sting! Christ is risen, and Hell is no more victorious! Christ is risen, and Hell is overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave! For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
And yet, and yet…if you hierarchs have beating hearts of flesh bestowed upon you by the Holy Spirit, and not cold, lifeless hearts of stone, has this not been the most painful, the most traumatizing, the most terrible Pascha that you have ever experienced in your lives as our Shepherds after the likeness of Christ our true God, our One Good Shepherd? How can your Paschal joy be complete when your eyes fixate day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, on the horrifying images, as you read the heart-wrenching news, coming out of Ukraine, as Orthodox brothers inflict upon Orthodox brothers the most terrifying, most murderous brutality ever in Orthodox history? How can your Paschal joy be complete when you know—you know—that your brother in archpastoral ministry gives his unreserved blessing to this bloodbath, week by week, in his Sunday homilies? Patriarch Kirill of Moscow blesses the murders, the genocide, the rapes, the tortures, the kidnappings of little children, the executions of civilians, the bombings of maternity hospitals and civilian refuges and his own churches and monasteries when they do the work of Christ in giving shelter to the terrorized homeless, the widow, the orphan. Your brother in Moscow has blood dripping from his hands up to his elbows as his subdeacons vest him in his omophorion to the intonation of “And He took the lost sheep upon His shoulders and brought it home to His Father,” as he blesses his flock with blood dripping from his dikiri and trikiri, as clergy and laity press around him to kiss his blood-soaked hands—not only the blood of Ukrainians, but of his own Russian Orthodox soldiers on the battlefield, of his own Russian Orthodox sons and daughters living and worshipping and standing faithful to him until now on Ukrainian soil.
How can your Paschal joy be complete when this is happening on your watch? Yes, the watch of each and every one of you?
In shocked disbelief and growing contempt, your Orthodox sons and daughters around the planet, together with the whole world outside the Orthodox Church, behold your despicable cowardice, collectively and individually, to stand up to the most murderous, most genocidal, most blood-drenched hierarch in the two-millennia history of the Orthodox Church. You know this. You have heard the outcry grow louder day by day, not only from simple Christians and other believers, but from the highest echelons of ecclesiastical, denominational, and spiritual leadership in every community of faith, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and all the rest. Your cravenness makes a mockery of the Orthodox Church and of our Holy Faith in the eyes of the world, indeed more and more in the eyes of Orthodox Christians. How can your Paschal joy be complete? How do your sleep at night? Haven’t your own hearts joined secretly in the outcry as you hide from their voices behind your Byzantine emperor garb, as you drown out their voices with Eis polla eti, Despota here and Eis polla eti, Despota there, everywhere Eis polla eti, Despota?
It’s not too late. Break communion with the Patriarch of Moscow and the entire Russian episcopate. Drop his name from your diptychs. Refrain from sending him Paschal greetings; and if you have already, issue widely disseminated public retractions and acts of contrition and repentance. Receive at last Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv into communion as your full brother. Accept the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s grant of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, now indisputably proven to be ecclesially and politically necessary by the Kremlin and its puppet patriarchate. Denounce the diabolical “Russian world” heresy that provides the religious cover to the bloodiest Orthodox vs. Orthodox violence in history.
Denounce also Kirill’s shameless, equally diabolical scapegoating of LGBTQ children, youth, women, and men as the main danger necessitating Holy Mother Russia’s utter decimation of her Orthodox brothers and sisters, their babies and children and Babas and Didos, their cities and towns, their animals, the very landscape of Ukraine.
Finally, return the rubles, every last one of them, that have paid for your complicit silence.
Do all of this in the most public ways possible. For the sake of Christ, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the Most-Pure Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and all the saints and angels of heaven, for the sake of the Orthodox Church, for the sake of every Ukrainian child murdered in cold blood or witnessing their parents murdered in cold blood.
Then may your Paschal joy be a little more complete. Then may your flocks kiss your hands of blessing with love and respect, and no more with disgust. Then will your collective and individual Shepherdhood shine forth as the Unfading Light from the Empty Tomb.