Walled-off priest wins trial. Slap in the face for Metropolis

Romanian walled-off priest Ioan Ungureanu wins eviction lawsuit against the metropolis of Moldavia and Bukovina This is a translation of an article that appeared in Greek here on Sunday, March 17, 2019.

The Metropolis of Moldova and Bukovina of the Romanian Orthodox Church had filed a lawsuit to evict walled-off priest Ioan Ungureanu, parish priest of the parish Schit-Orăşeni, which is located in northern Romania, in the prefecture of Botosani. This priest was already deposed since August of 2016 on account of having ceased commemoration of his Bishop, Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bukovina Teofan, who had signed the heretical texts of Crete.

This week the Court of the first instance of Suceava dismissed the lawsuit of the Metropolis as unfounded, giving the applicant a statutory period of five days to appeal.

If the decision is upheld by the appeal court and becomes final, the parish Orăşeni will be the first parish in Romania where the priest and the faithful are fighting together against Ecumenism and the Synod of Crete and the ecumenist ecclesiastical authorities will no longer be able to chase the named priest, not even with the help of the secular authorities, since he was defrocked uncanonically.

The priest, Ioan Ungureanu, has been the priest of the church of Schit-Orăşeni for 18 years, a church he built almost from scratch. He ceased to commemorate his Metropolitan in August of 2016, and since then has kept a correct patristic line of walling off, being one of the signatories of the document “Let us stand well, let us stand in awe, let us be attentive”1 of January 2018, which became known and respected in Greece.

In May of 2017 the Metropolis attempted to expel the priest from his parish by force, but the villagers resisted. In July of 2017, Metropolitan Teofan defrocked him and in November of 2017 the parish church was attacked by a group of employees from the Metropolis, and were accompanied by the local gendarmerie. With the support of the people the priest endured.

The church of Orăşeni is a historical monument, the old original hermitage was built by hermits who came in from Russia in the seventeenth century. The protector of the Skete is Saint Silas, a monk who began his spiritual life in the Skete Orăşeni. Of the 400 faithful in the region, 324 filed a petition for judicial intervention in favor of the priest.

Metropolitan Teofan possesses one of the most important metropolitan thrones of Romania, the holder of which, according to tradition, becomes the patriarch of the country. Despite the fact that his appearance is traditional, he participated in the Ecumenistic Synod of Crete, and signed its documents. He has faced resistence by a number of hieromonks and priests, but also by a considerable number of lay believers, and has become one of the harshest persecutors of walled-off clergy in the Romanian Patriarchate, expelling monks and nuns from their monasteries, priests from their churches, and deposing two priests, one of whom is Father Ioan Ongureanu.

In December of 2018, the Metropolitan stunned the whole country, when he took part in the dedication service of a synagogue in the city of Shasi, during which he was “crowned” from the rabbi with the pompous title, “Prince of the Church,” while next to him was the representative from the Roman Catholics of the city.

  1. https://www.katanixis.gr/2018/01/blog-post_288.html
Translated by Fr. E.H. and A.H.

Article editing and illustrations by Anthony Hatzidakis.

1 thought on “Walled-off priest wins trial. Slap in the face for Metropolis”

  1. Father, bless!

    As I have mentioned before, I was in doubt about where to look for a parish and spiritual father who take Orthodoxy seriously. I was recommended to join these people who are walled off, as you say, but there was something off.

    However, I have just read a letter by Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, from his book about ecumenism and old-calendarism (I don’t know the Greek title or the English one, if there is a translation). Fr. Epiphanios explains to a spiritual son how the (in)famous canon concerning the cessation of commemoration works and also how a priest who is defrocked, even abusively, should wait to be rehabilitated before returning to the altar. This is what the saints did, while the schismatics did the opposite.

    So, while I have gathered (or rather, received from above) the courage to look for a spiritual father, now I know for sure that this spiritual father will not be among the ones who attempted walling off and got deposed, but among those who are in good standing. Of course, I’d like to meet a priest who is worthy, although, perhaps, prefers to keep a low profile and not challenge the hierarchy publicly.

    The thing is that in my country, we are not original. In Crete, the Romanian delegation followed the lead of Constantinople. For Ukraine, there is no official position because they are still waiting to see what happens. (There is hope because a Romanian delegation went to the meeting in Amman, although Constantinople and several satellite Churches refused to go.) So, the Patriarchy will not listen if a tiny group of priests, monks and laypeople tells them they are wrong, but rather if they can be in line with important Churches, other than Russia.

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