Communiqué of the Council of the Archdiocese

Communiqué of the Council of the Archdiocese

The Council of the Archdiocese, meeting on 16th November 2018, under the presidency of His Eminence Archbishop John, took note of the recent events that have taken place in the parish of Florence (Italy).

On Sunday 28th October 2018, Archpriest George Blatinsky, Rector of this parish, ceased commemorating in the Liturgy the canonical authorities to whom he is responsible, the Ecumenical Patriarch and his diocesan bishop, Archbishop John, an act contrary to all the canons. At the end of the celebration, he explained to the faithful present that from that Sunday the parish had been placed within the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (Patriarchate of Moscow), and he justified this change of jurisdiction on the pretext that the Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople had fallen into “schism” as a result of its intervention in the Ukraine. According to our information, this decision, taken unilaterally by the Rector of the parish, had subsequently been presented as being the result of a unanimous vote of a “general assembly of the parish”, contrary to ecclesiastical norms and the civil statutes of the parish (no assembly having been convened for that day in accordance with the rules).

At the request of Archbishop John, a delegation of the Archdiocese travelled to Florence on 31st October to meet with the clergy and lay leadership of the parish and clarify the situation. During this meeting Father Blatinsky and the parishioners who accompanied him sought to justify their position, saying that the Ecumenical Patriarch was violating the canons and persecuting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and therefore being a “schismatic”. Some parishioners also said that, if they remained in the Archdiocese, they feared reprisals when they go to Russia. Father Blatinsky also indicated that Metropolitan Hilarion had assured him, by telephone, that he did not need any letter of canonical release to receive him into his jurisdiction since, according to him, “all those who depend on Constantinople are schismatics” (sic!).

Faced with this situation, Archbishop John imposed the sanctions advocated by the canon law of the Orthodox Church, by placing under a ban a divinis (suspension of priestly functions), with effect from 1st November 2018, Archpriest George Blatinsky and Priest Oleg Turcan, the second priest of the parish. Archbishop John also sent a letter of protest to Metropolitan Hilarion in New York on 5th November 2018, to which he has not received a reply to date (see text in appendix).

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The Council wishes to express its dismay and disapproval faced with the misrepresentations and deceitful intrigues of Father George Blatinsky, who has drawn the community of Florence to follow his misguided lead. The Council hopes that good order will be swiftly restored, that the parishioners will understand that they have been abused by Father Blatinsky, and that the Church of Florence will find its place again as soon as possible within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese, from which it has been separated in a non-canonical and illegal way, so that the liturgical life there can resume in peace and harmony.

The Parish of the Nativity of Christ and of Saint Nicholas in Florence was founded in 1920, at the beginning of the Russian emigration, under canonical obedience to Metropolitan Evloghiy and his successors, and all the successor priests in this parish up to this day have always been appointed by the archbishops leading the Archdiocese. Thus it was that, having received a letter of release from the bishop who had ordained him to the priesthood in Russia, Father George Blatinsky was received into the clergy of the Archdiocese on 20th November 1994, by decree of Archbishop Serge of Eukarpia, then appointed acting rector of the Parish of Florence by decree of 6th March 1997, confirmed in this office by decree of the same archbishop dated 5th February 2001, and raised to the dignity of Archpriest by the decision of Archbishop Gabriel of Comana, dated 6th November 2003.

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