In an escalation of tensions between the churches of the Ukraine, the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church has released a press statement reporting that its chairman, Metropolitan Hilarion, has been declared persona non grata by the Ukraine and forbidden to enter the country.
On 10 May 2014, Metropolitan Iriney of Dnepropetrovsk celebrated his 75th birthday.
With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, arrived in Dnepropetrovsk on the 9th of May, to take part in the celebrations dedicated to the jubilee of the esteemed hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Meeting the DECR chairman at the Dnepropetrovsk airport were Metropolitan Iriney of Dnepropetrovsk and Pavlograd, Bishop Yevlogiy of Novomoskovsk, vicar of the Dnepropetrovsk diocese, and the diocesan clergy.
At the border control, Metropolitan Hilarion was detained. The DECR chairman was kept waiting for a long time and then got an official notification which forbade him from entering Ukraine. No reasons were given for such ban.
Unable to cross the state border of Ukraine, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk read out to Metropolitan Iriney of Dnepropetrovsk and Pavlograd the message of greetings from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the border control point of the Dnepropetrovsk airport and presented him with a high church award, the Order of the Holy Right-Believing Prince Daniel of Moscow, 1st class.
Metropolitan Iriney asked the DECR chairman to convey his deep gratitude to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church for greetings and the award and expressed his profound regret over the fact that His Holiness’ representative would not be allowed to participate in the celebrations. Metropolitan Hilarion cordially congratulated Metropolitan Iriney on his 75th birthday and wished him good health and God’s help in his archpastoral ministry in the difficult for Ukraine time.