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According to an order from Ukrainian Minister of Culture Evgeny Nischuk, the Uniates will be allowed to serve the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Sophia, one of the most ancient Orthodox churches in the city, on the feast of the Annunciation on March 25/April 7. The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics Svyatoslav Shevchuk announced the upcoming service during a service on February 17. As has been stated before, the common goal of the schismatic church and the Uniates is to create a single Kiev Patriarchate that will be recognized by both Rome and Constantinople. And on January 17, Shevchuk stressed his belief that no one church can lay claim to St. Sophia’s, but that it is “a meeting place for all descendants of the St. Sophia Church of Kiev.” The church currently belongs to the Ukrainian government. However, not everyone is happy with these plans. Philaret Denisenko, the “Patriarch” of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) and “Honorary Patriarch” of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” the ideological leader of the Ukrainian schismatic-nationalist movement, is concerned about how Ukrainian Orthodox will react, and, resorting to his typical Russophobia, about the possibility of provocations from the Kremlin. In an address to Shevchuk published on the KP website, Denisenko asked him not to serve in St. Sophia’s because “it’s like if one of the Orthodox primates celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Holy Apostle Peter in Rome.” The Ministry of Culture seems to have waivered in its decision following the statement by the ideological schismatic leader. In his message, Philaret calls the Uniate plans to celebrate Annunciation in the Orthodox cathedral “unusual,” because, he says, the Ukrainian Uniates have never served there, and he recalled that the enthronement of “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic church, was recently held there. Uniates contend, however, that St. Sophia’s was transferred to them for a time beginning in 1596. According to Orthodox ecclesiology and canons, it is forbidden for non-Orthodox to serve at an Orthodox altar, though Denisenko focuses only the possibility of negative reactions. He stresses that if the Uniates serve there, “it will cause resistance from Orthodox Ukrainians… At a time when there is a war for the independence and integrity of Ukraine in the eastern part of our country, we are called to testify and maintain peace and unity in society.” Moreover, the “Patriarch” fears, as he often does, how the Kremlin will respond: “There is a danger that this situation can be used by Russia to carry out provocations to harm the Ukrainian people.” Thus, Philaret urges Shevchuk to give up the idea of serving in St. Sophia’s and expresses hope that the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and the Uniates will continue to develop good relations. Interestingly, following the publication of Denisenko’s letter, the Ministry of Culture posted a message on Saturday that the Uniates were not allowed to serve in St. Sophia’s, as that would harm the great UNESCO monument, though the message was soon removed, reports the Ukrainian site Strana, with a screenshot of the removed message. Many Ukrainian leaders, including the Minister of Culture himself, and the Parliament Speaker Andrei Paruby, are Uniates. Yesterday, the Information Department of the Uniate church reported that they respect the opinions of their “Orthodox brothers,” and thus a meeting between Shevchuk and Dumenko will be held to resolve the issue. http://orthochristian.com/119564.html?fbclid=IwAR0FaVLey2T8b86_8yocmgt2NkSMgcwQxl-GkyM6fwgsKA7olXZyTeyESow
Ovruch, Ukraine, February 25, 2019 The Soviet times were a time of totalitarian pressure on the human conscience, just as now there are lying attempts to involve people in the new ‘church,’ said His Eminence Metropolitan Vissarion of Ovruch and Korosten in a new interview on the diocesan site. “In those days, several teachers and the military Commissar told me: ‘You believing Church people work for the West, America, the CIA.’ Now they tell my team and I another lie: ‘You work for Moscow, the Kremlin,” Met. Vissarion said, showing the similarities between Soviet Ukraine and today’s Ukraine. The hierarch recalled how the KGB threatened to arrest him for distributing morning and evening prayers, and now the authorities harass him for standing firm in his loyalty to the true Church of Christ. The Ovruch Diocese overwhelmingly declared its loyalty to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine on December 10. Among other things, the authorities created a fake Facebook page in his name to spread schismatic propaganda. They also installed a fake billboard in the city with his photo and text claiming that he blessed the creation of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” Met. Vissarion also said that only 4 of the 220 clergy in his diocese moved into the schismatic church after its creation on December 15. Vladyka Vissarion suspended them for breaking their priestly oath, after which a new wave of slander crashed upon him. Now, as in the years of Soviet oppression, it is necessary to protect the flock and read special prayers. “We say: Our Church in Ukraine—it’s not Putin’s, not Poroshenko’s, but our Lord Jesus Christ’s; its administrative center is in the Kiev Caves Lavra, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. And this Church is recognized by Patriarch Theophil of Jerusalem and all the Local Churches,” the Ovruch hierarch explained. He also stressed that the Church’s mission is to help people be purified and grow spiritually. “Through our Church there is the possibility, by God’s grace, to put on Christ and to go into eternity with such joy,” Met. Vissarion said. He also reminded those that have threatened him, including by text message, that God’s judgment awaits us all. “Having received about 10 foul-mouthed text messages, at the end they even wrote: ‘666 is coming soon…’ Let us recall from the Gospel: There will be a Second glorious Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Dread Judgment of the living and the dead,” the canonical hierarch concluded. http://orthochristian.com/119552.html?fbclid=IwAR2EdwzIwklsRLyhXczMI_bqHp9Xt0IOGWjVj_MKgqEQXjckplS9rUoBDU8