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  1. Hierarchs and laity from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” are currently on what was advertised as “the first great pilgrimage to Greece after the recognition of our Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Greek Orthodox Church.” The trip is scheduled for November 9-15, and was originally to include visits to Holy Trinity Monastery on Aegina, where St. Nektarios’ relics repose, the Monastery of St. David of Evia, the relics of St. Alexei the Man of God, St. Philaret the Merciful, icons painted by the Evangelist Luke, the relics and cross of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle, and more. There were also statements that the hierarchs hoped to serve at the holy sites. However, according to media reports, that hope has not been realized, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Ironically, the two “hierarchs” in question are the only two bishops to have departed from the canonical Ukrainian Church to join the schismatic OCU, Simeon Shostasky and Alexander Drabinko. Had they remained in the canonical Church of Christ, they would have been welcome to serve the Liturgy. Although the majority of Greek hierarchs spoke in favor of recognizing the OCU at the Bishops’ Council on October 12, and although Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens has officially recognized the schismatics, not everyone in the Greek Church is ready to open their arms to the OCU, knowing that this will only exacerbate inter-Orthodox relations. Although the OCU representatives had announced that they planned to concelebrate on the island of Aegina for the new calendar feast of St. Nektarios of Aegina, the program was changed, and they did not even visit Aegina, the Ukrainian Church site reports with reference to social media reports. His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye also mentions that the schismatics were not allowed to venerate the relics of St. Nektarios. It was recently reported that Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina had reportedly asked the OCU hierarchs not to serve in the monastery, as many of his clergy were against it, and he wanted Holy Trinity Monastery and the relics of St. Nektarios to remain accessible to everyone. As the Ukrainian Church site reports, the Telegram channel Pravblog reports that a similar situation with the services occurred in Patras. It was previously reported that the local faithful in Patras intended to prevent the schismatics from entering their Church of St. Andrew. In connection with the protests of local clergy and changes in the schedule, the delegation went to the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri, but Shostasky and Drabinko were not allowed to serve there either at the Sunday service, though they were allowed to remain in the church. Schismatic hierarchs reportedly not allowed to serve Liturgies during pilgrimage to Greece ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM In connection with the protests of local clergy and changes in the schedule, the delegation went to the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri, but Shostasky and Drabinko were not...
  2. On May 25, the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) celebrated the 19th anniversary of the restoration of St. Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral in Kiev. The Liturgy was celebrated by a number of OCU hierarchs, about 100 priests, and two hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul and Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianople. As OrthoChristian reported on Thursday, also concelebrating was “Archimandrite” Boris Bojovic of the “Montenegrin Orthodox Church,” an unrecognized breakaway from the Serbian Orthodox Church that has long had relations with and enjoyed the support of the Ukrainian schismatics. The head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s public relations office told the French outlet Orthodoxie that given the large number of clergy present at the Liturgy, it was impossible for Met. Emmanuel to know who all of them are. While Constantinople was not responsible for Bojovic’s presence, it remains to be seen how the Patriarchate will deal with the fact that the OCU invited a schismatic cleric, causing the Constantinople bishops to inadvertently serve with him. Moreover, the “Montenegrin Church” is currently headed by “Metropolitan” Mihailo Dedeić, who was defrocked, excommunicated, and anathematized while serving as a priest of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Italy. Although President Milo Đukanović of Montenegro has publicly declared his intent to achieve autocephalous status for the tiny “Montenegrin Orthodox Church,” the public relations head stressed that Constantinople is in canonical unity with the Serbian Orthodox Church and recognizes only its jurisdiction on the territory of Montenegro. However, Constantinople also used to declare that it recognized only the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church and its canonical Ukrainian Church on the territory of Ukraine, while the events of the past year have shown that Constantinople can change its mind dramatically. The press service of Kiev Metropolia of the OCU has also responded to the reports about them serving with the schismatic “Archimandrite” Boris. Revealing a glaring lack of understanding about the Eucharist and the unity of the Church, the OCU explains that it has good relations with the “Montenegrin Church,” but argues that concelebrating and sharing the Eucharist with representatives of that church does not mean it has Eucharistic communion with that church. The OCU statement (published in Ukrainian and English) reads: Before receiving the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of autocephaly, the Church in Ukraine had a communication with those, who among the Orthodoxy wanted to communicate with it. Upon receiving Tomos, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has and maintains church-canonical communication with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and only with the Churches with which the Ecumenical Patriarchate communicates. The participation of the aforementioned person in the Liturgy does not mean that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will recognize the jurisdiction to which it belongs or whether the OCU has church-canonical communication with this jurisdiction. If someone was harmed by this event, then we assure you that this did not happen intentionally. In contradiction to the OCU’s argument, it is proper Orthodox practice to only share the Eucharist with those with whom there is Eucharistic communion. Further, the message states that the OCU hopes that all ecclesiastical questions in Montenegro will soon be resolved with the participation of Constantinople, and that the Serbian Church will soon recognize the OCU, “to which it is called by the Tomos of the Ecumenical Patriarch.” http://orthochristian.com/121880.html
  3. Ukrainian media has been reporting on trouble boiling under the surface of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) for several weeks now. Factions have formed between those who support the official primate “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko and those who remain loyal to and supportive of “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko and are indignant at his minimal role in the new structure. Denisenko has been the unrivaled leader of the schismatic autocephaly movement in Ukraine for 30 years but was relegated to the role of “Honorary Patriarch” in the OCU, forbidden to put his name in for primate by the Patriarchate of Constantinople which created the new church in cooperation with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. The first Synod meeting for the new “church” gave him control of Kiev churches—a far cry from the primatial leadership he had imagined for himself. Now the trouble has boiled over and Philaret has openly declared that he intends to restore the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) and take those hierarchs loyal to him with him. That is, the schismatic OCU, made up of two schismatic bodies, now faces the serious threaten of breaking down into two schismatic groups again. Despite promising Constantinople that the KP was liquidated just before the “unification council” on December 15 that united the KP with the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC) to create the OCU, Philaret has since then continually declared that the KP still exists. He has given awards on behalf of the KP and parishes of the canonical Church that decided to go into schism were re-registered to the KP, not to the OCU. He has also declared that the “unification council” was in no way a Ukrainian council, but was a function of the Constantinople Church. It has become clear that Philaret kept the KP alive as Plan B in case he wasn’t satisfied with the new OCU, and he’s openly not. “The Kiev Patriarchate exists, it does not need to be returned,” he said in a recent interview 1+1. “There is a patriarch, and if there is a patriarch, then there is a patriarchate, the Kiev Patriarchate. And there it does and should exist. And the time will come when it will be recognized. I am 100% certain,” he added. He went on to acknowledge that there is a division in the “Ukrainian Church,” but said, “We are creating a single church—the Kiev Patriarchate. Necessarily.” The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, on the other hand, has officially stated on May 10 that the KP no longer legally exists in Ukraine as of January 30. However, the evidence shows otherwise, as the KP (and the UAOC) remains active in the state register of legal entities, individual entrepreneurs and public formations. As mentioned above, the KP has continued to receive new parishes since January 30. Philaret has also declared that only he who created the KP can liquidate it. Epiphany Dumenko was the protégé of Philaret Denisenko in the KP. Denisenko forced another KP “hierarch,” Mikhail Zinkevich, to remove his name from consideration for the primatial slot so his loyal project Dumenko could be elected. Denisenko assumed continued loyalty from Dumenko and even declared that he would continue to rule the church in tandem with the much younger Dumenko. However, the frosting of their relationship became apparent when Denisenko recently invited a number of “hierarchs” of the OCU to join him at Kiev’s Vladimir Cathedral on May 14 to celebrate the memory of St. Makary of Kiev, whose relics are kept at the cathedral. The invitations were sent on behalf of the KP, and Dumenko was not among the invitees. It is widely expected that the revival of the KP will be discussed. The Ternopil Diocese of the OCU, formerly the Ternopil Diocese of the UAOC, offered the clever response of expressing its support for Epiphany Dumenko in a letter published on UAOC letterhead. Denisenko did eventually invite Dumenko, commenting to him that he had not initially invited him because “not once after your election as the primate of the UOC—for five months—did you celebrate the Divine Liturgy with me. I had the thought, perhaps it’s wrong, that you consider it humiliating to serve with Patriarch Philaret?” The fact that Dumenko has not served with his mentor and “Honorary Patriarch” for five months indicates the growing sentiment among mainly the younger members of the KP that the future is not with Denisekno—it’s time to move on. And Dumenko’s supporters are striking back. An appeal to the supporters of Philaret, “10 Theses for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” has appealed online, imploring them not to provoke a new schism. Additionally, the administration of the schismatic Kiev Theological Academy has forbade its students from attending Philaret’s May 14 service for St. Makary. The online appeal states: “Immediately after the unification council, strange processes incomprehensible to us began, which we connect with the unacceptable lust for power and ambition of some of the church hierarchs… First of all, we are talking about several interviews of the former Patriarch of the UOC-KP Philaret.” The Orthodox world has long known that Philaret Denisenko went into schism in the first place 30 years ago after he was passed over for the Russian Patriarchal throne. As the Metropolitan of Kiev and Locum Tenens following the repose of Patriarch Pimen, Denisenko fully expected to ascend the throne, but in the aftermath of Alexei II’s election and enthronement, he betrayed Christ in His Church and became an ideologue of schismatic nationalism. He was defrocked, excommunicated, and eventually anathematized for persisting in schism. On October 11, the Holy Synod of Constantinople declared the anathema against him null and void. Its spokesmen have justified the overturning of the anathema by claiming it was never justified in the first place. Moscow had simply taken revenge on Philaret for seeking Ukrainian autocephaly they claim—it had nothing to do with Philaret’s lust for power. However, now that the Ukrainian schismatic church has autocephaly from Constantinople (though it is recognized only by Constantinople), there seems to be no justification for Philaret’s ongoing provocations, other than his egocentrism and lust for power that His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania spoke of in a 2015 interview. For his part, Epiphany Dumenko, who will not attend Philaret’s gathering, has responded that a return to the KP would mean the loss of the tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople and the isolation of the OCU. The OCU is, in fact, currently isolated from the rest of the Orthodox world, though Dumenko recently expressed the hope and belief that this will change. The current state of the OCU is only a continuation of what has always been. Before the “unification council” in December, the “hierarchs” of the KP and UAOC could not work together and the Holy Synod of Constantinople was forced to write the statutes for the schismatic church and to convene the “council,” forcing a unification of incompatible groups. http://orthochristian.com/121136.html?fbclid=IwAR1M8S0t4Ttj44C33Or8c5_ZuTrBkDHvIK9qslV_vqxNJGiEuxeCGHCst-s
  4. USA; Germany, March 6, 2019 Updated March 6, 6:45 PM with information about the St. Nicholas Church According to conditions laid out in the tomos of autocephaly given to the Ukrainian schismatic church by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, all parishes outside of Ukraine itself are to be transferred to Constantinople’s jurisdiction. The tomos also stipulates that it is given on the basis of all the conditions mentioned therein. However, at least four parishes of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) are violating the tomos, having declared that they will not join Constantinople but will remain with the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) made up of the KP and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.” Meanwhile, the schismatic head, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko claimed in a recent interview that negotiations are already underway with foreign parishes and some are already read to transfer, though he did not name any specific parishes. He also said they will continue to negotiate with those parishes that are unwilling. The KP has parishes in Moldova, Greece, Australia, America, Canada, Russia, and throughout Europe. On Sunday, March 3, during a parish meeting, the community of Holy Trinity Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut made a unanimous decision to remain in the OCU, parish rector Oleksandr Dviniatin wrote on his Facebook page, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. He added that the parish will continue to commemorate “The primate of the OCU His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphany and His Holiness Patriarch Philaret.” “Regarding the foreign parishes of the OCU: The tomos is not the Symbol of Faith [the Nicene Creed—O.C.]; take it as a typikon,” the rector also said. He also noted that in his 11 years of service in America, no representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople ever invited them to a feast, although there is a parish 10 minutes away, and they never communicated with them except to ask for money. In the comments under Dviniatin’s announcement, another schismatic priest, Oleksij Holchuk of the Holy Ascension Church of the KP in Clifton, New Jersey, also said that his parish does not intend to switch to Constantinople. “Holy Ascension Church in Clifton, NJ is and will remain in the Ukrainian Church with its center in Kiev—the Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Our parish decided this many years ago. Nobody has the right to take people’s freedom away, including who to consider their primate,” Holchuk writes. St. Nicholas Church in Philadelphia has also made clear that it intends to remain with the OCU. The parish only joined the KP a few years ago after abandoning the Orthodox Church in America. According to the history given on the church’s website, the parish was officially proclaimed a stavropigia of the KP on June 27, 2017. According to the January 20th bulletin, “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko personally signed a document reaffirming the parish’s stavropigial status on January 7, the day after the tomos of autocephaly was granted in Istanbul. The About Us page lists Philaret Denisenko and Epiphany Dumenko as their bishops, and every bulletin proudly proclaims the parish as a “Stavropigia of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The German dean of the KP in Cologne, Vladimir Chaika, also announced that this parish voted on February 17 to remain with the OCU. He has already reported this decision to the schismatic primate Epiphany Dumenko in a meeting with him. http://orthochristian.com/119744.html?fbclid=IwAR20ncSQhhOVSb5_YxreN2cAvFzBi-DTpWD_t4bYDQylhg0QKZ6OqjR2x30
  5. Gnezdichno, Ukraine, March 5, 2019 Video has appeared online showing a “priest” of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and other activists of the schismatic church and the nationalist terrorist group Right Sector beating parishioners, including women, of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The video clearly shows “Father” Ivan Lesik, known for political racketeering, pushing and hitting women parishioners of the canonical Holy Transfiguration Church in the village of Gnezdichno in the Ternopil Province, and the same violence being used by the other schismatics and the Right Sector nationalists. The video also shows police standing idly by, not intervening. Despite the multitude of such cases, many of which have been caught on video, the hierarchy of the schismatic church continue to insist that no parishes are every forcefully converted. The press service of the Ukrainian Church stressed that the incident shows how unprotected believers of the canonical Church experience the gross violation of their rights and freedoms. Supporters of the schismatic church held a village meeting on January 13 at which part of the attendees to move into the schismatic church, though the parish community resolved to remain in the canonical Church. At that time, the parties managed to reach an agreement on peaceful co-existence. However, the schismatics returned and started a fight outside the church in early February, injuring the rector Fr. Stephan Balan at that time. The parishioners showed up to protect their church, though the police took the side of the provocateurs. Fr. Stephan warned at that time that they were likely planning to return and finally seize the church, which they did on Sunday. Though the church was to be sealed, with the communities alternating services on the street, they “for the third time broke their own conditions, opened the sealed church, and started celebrating the ‘Liturgy.’ When our faithful came to the church at the end of the service and asked to be given the opportunity to worship in the church, they were sharply refused,” Fr. Stephan explained. Negotiations continued for a while, while 15-20 Right Sector thugs blocked the entrance to the church. After some shouts and shoving, the supporters of the OCU, headed by the pseudo-priest Lesik, began to beat and throw the faithful of the UOC out of the church onto street, under shouts of “There will be no Muscovites here.” In a separate incident in the Ternopil Province, 15 schismatics surrounded the home of Fr. Yaroslav in the village of Trebukhovtsi, demanding that he and his family leave. They say the house also belongs to the church that was seized on February 28, reports the Ukrainian site Vesti. The schismatics have already removed Fr. Yaroslav’s belongings and plan to build a Sunday School in his house. Meanwhile, the priest and his family will have to move to Ternopil, an hour away from his parishioners. http://orthochristian.com/119723.html?fbclid=IwAR1MiMbF6cIE0zFLjNOEfmneNOUmMC13Hkx3KpjW6SXJOIctb6kTYgDn6hc
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