Simferopol, November 16, Interfax - Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea Lazar has expressed support for Metropolitan Onufry, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, on behalf of Crimea's Orthodox Christians.
"The clergy and flock of the Simferopol and Crimean Diocese speak with one heart and one mouth for the preservation of the canonical unity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and they also ask the Lord to prevent division," Metropolitan Lazar told Interfax on Friday.
The Crimean Diocese remained in the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as part of the Moscow Patriarchate after Crimea joined Russia.
The head of the Simferopol Diocese said Crimea's Christians thank God daily for Metropolitan Onufry, "our experienced helmsman, who ceaselessly looks after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," and ask that he be "strengthened in his service."
"A special prayer" for peace in Ukraine is said at every liturgy in all churches in Crimea, Metropolitan Lazar said.
Kiev is now preparing for a unification assembly, whose purpose is to create a church independent of Moscow. Metropolitan Emmanuel, vicegerent of the Western European Exarchate of Constantinople, arrived in Kiev on Thursday. He was ordered to complete the process that began in September, when Patriarch Bartholomew proclaimed Ukraine his canonical territory and said he intended to grant it "autocephaly."
A majority of Ukraine's Orthodox Christians belong to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The country's authorities have initiated and are supporting the process of creation of "a unified local church."