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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
The head of the UOC KP still does not recognize its anathema as valid and therefore, does not believe that the Constantinople Patriarchate removed it in 2018. Filaret Denisenko does not agree with the fact that he is "the former metropolitan of Kiev" (Phanar calls him that way), but declares that all the years of the existence of the Kiev Patriarchate was the patriarch and is now. He stated this in an interview with the Ukrainian radio in the program Persona Grata. Filaret said he did not recognize his anathema from the very beginning, and he assures the whole Ukrainian nation did not recognize it either. It was this confidence that helped him ordain a large number of bishops for the UOC KP. However, in his opinion, arguments about lifting anathema from him in 2018 undermine the belief that these ordinations were legal. “It’s good if the Ecumenical Patriarch removed the anathema from me in 2018,” reflects Filaret. Yet, until 2018 – was I anathematized or not? If I was, it means that all these hierarchs (OCU – Ed.) are invalid. And Epiphany is not only cannot be a metropolitan – he is not even a priest. If the Ecumenical Patriarch removed the anathema from me in 2018, then the entire episcopate is invalid!” Earlier, Filaret said that the real unification of all Ukrainian Orthodoxy in the OCU did not happen, since the two bishops of the UOC (Simeon and Alexander), who jumped on the OCU's bandwagon, had virtually no parishes. https://spzh.news/en/news/62919-jesli-ja-byl-pod-anafemoj-to-jepifanij--dazhe-ne-svyashhennik--filaret?
Philaret Denisenko’s “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) does not and has never existed, Patriarch Bartholomew told a group of Ukrainian journalists in Istanbul last week. “As for [Ph]ilaret, he was restored to his episcopal dignity as former Metropolitan of Kiev. The so-called ‘Patriarchate of Kiev’ does not exist and never existed,” the Patriarch told the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. The head of the Union, Sergei Tomilenko, wrote about the meeting on his Facebook page and published the full text of Pat. Bartholomew’s English speech. The declaration comes against the background of Philaret Denisenko’s active attempts to garner support for the revival of the KP, which he loudly proclaims never ceased to exist, despite his promise to liquidate it on the morning of the “unification council” in Kiev on December 15. The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the KP was never liquidated and continues to exist, at least in the eyes of the state. Moreover, the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” which united with the KP to create the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), was also not liquidated before the council. Thus, there are now three schismatic bodies in Ukraine, rather than the two that existed before the “unification council.” A battle has begun between Philaret Denisenko, the “Patriarch” of the KP, considered the “Honorary Patriarch” of the OCU, and the primate of the OCU “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, that only further delegitimizes the OCU in the eyes of the Orthodox world and threatens to tear apart Pat. Bartholomew’s personal creation. While the Orthodox world has never recognized the legitimacy of the KP, it does not deny its existence. Moreover, in the same speech, Pat. Bartholomew himself speaks of the separation of Ukrainian Orthodoxy into “three separate entities,” and states that “This reality, the existence of two schismatic groups, was a real agony.” The rest of Pat. Bartholomew’s speech is largely a reiteration of the same points he and other Constantinople representatives have been making since the summer. He states that the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine was a purely pastoral matter on the part of Constantinople, to free Ukraine from the oppression of being part of the Russian Church and to create unity within Ukraine. The Synods, primates, and hierarchs of other Local Churches have, however, noted that Ukrainian Orthodoxy is only less unified since Constantinople’s interference there. He also repeats the historical claim that the Kiev Metropolis never transferred to the Russian Church—an assertion that only the Patriarchate of Constantinople accepts. Further, he states that “The issue in Ukraine was timely. That is, the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not suddenly decide to intervene,” although he had denied numerous appeals from schismatic clergy and state authorities over the preceding three decades, changing his mind only after the unsuccessful Crete council in 2016. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, has tied Constantinople’s interference in Ukraine to Pat. Bartholomew’s disappointment that the Russian Church did not participate in the Crete Council. Pat. Bartholomew further states: “As we have maintained, there are no more schismatics in Ukraine because they have been restored to communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” However, to date, the OCU is in communion only with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, not with the Orthodox Church as a whole. They have been explicitly rejected as schismatics by several Local Churches. http://orthochristian.com/121591.html?fbclid=IwAR12vr6wJNpNvByH8txIEr8X_vQXe-kVpv516GgsNGD1zDILzsNqiZ7tAgg
The consequences of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s creation of a new schismatic church in Ukraine and the granting of autocephaly to it continue to reverberate throughout the entire Orthodox world, and the monastic enclave of Mt. Athos is no exception. The issue has divided the monasteries, some of which have accepted and concelebrated with the visiting representatives of the new “church,” and some of which categorically reject them as schismatics. OrthoChristian recently published a translation of the opinion of the representatives of four Greek monasteries that sharply criticized the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mt. Athos. Now a letter from 12 Athonite elders from various sketes and cells has been published in Greek by Romfea and in Russian by the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. The letter is dated March 17—a month after the first schismatic delegation visited Mt. Athos and celebrated Liturgy in several monasteries. “With great sorrow and concern we learn about what is happening in the Orthodox Church as a whole because of the non-canonical granting of autocephaly to the schismatics of Ukraine without the consent of the canonical autonomous Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphry, which continues to consider the new autocephalites as schismatics, having no communion with them and, on the basis of the sacred canons, with all of those who have communion with the schismatics,” the letter opens. The Patriarchate of Constantinople granted autocephaly to a group within another Church’s jurisdiction, in clear violation of the holy canons, the Athonite fathers write, and thus the Russian Church has broken communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the authors’ view, Constantinople’s actions threaten a schism on the scale of the 1054 split between Rome and Constantinople. The Church is still bleeding from the wounds from the ecumenist council of Crete in 2016, and now there has been inflicted a new wound, “for which the Ecumenical Patriarchate is solely responsible,” the letter reads. Further, this justification of schism places people’s souls in danger of damnation because the Holy Spirit is not active in schism, the fathers write, with reference to the teachings of Sts. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. Heresy and schism are the work of satan, the Athonites write categorically. “When [the devil] fails to thwart salvation through heresies, then he works to provoke schisms,” they assert. The occasion of the writing of this letter, the authors write, is that they do not want to fall into this soul-destroying work of the devil. The Athonite elders continue to recognize the schismatics precisely as such, and they reject the historical revisionism of Constantinople which claims that Ukraine has always been its territory: We have left the world and the pleasures of the world and we use our souls and bodies for ascetic podvigs, to obtain the mercy of God. Would it not be inexcusable negligence and folly to render our labors and aspirations worthless by communing with the Ukrainian schismatics who are removed from Eucharistic communion and defrocked by the Russian Church to which they belonged for more than three centuries, according to the unchanging, continuous, and general recognition of all Orthodoxy, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate? The fathers then point to canons from the ecumenically-recognized councils of Laodicea and Antioch to demonstrate that joint prayer with schismatics is prohibited, and that those who enter into communion with the excommunicated ought themselves to be excommunicated. Further, only the Church that excommunicates someone can receive him back—a rule clearly broken by Pat. Bartholomew, the fathers write, which according to the Council of Antioch, makes him subject to excommunication. “In 1686, by an act of Patriarch Dionysius IV, [Ukraine] entered the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, which according to pan-Orthodox consent has remained for 333 years until this day,” the letter reads. Later, after the fall of communism, Philaret Denisenko went into schism after he lost the election for Patriarch of Moscow and was subsequently defrocked and anathematized. Thus, the Athonite ascetics reject the historical revisionism that says that Philaret was punished simply for desiring autocephaly. Additionally, the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” of Makary Maletich traces not only to schismatics, but even to those wholly devoid of any apostolic succession, the letter states, and thus they are recognized as schismatic by all, except for Constantinople. However, the canonical Church remains that headed by Met. Onuphry, according to the Athonite elders. And the problem did not begin with the Ukrainian situation: “It has long been known that Pat. Bartholomew does not have any particular respect for the sacred canons, which he has violated and violates, especially with regard to relations with heretics, and now with schismatics.” The entire construct upon which Pat. Bartholomew’s invasion of Ukrainian Church territory is built is like a house built on the sand of inept advisors: At first, relying on insufficiently-educated or self-serving theological consultants, he tried to justify his invasion by referring to the concept of ekkliton (ἔκκλητον), that is, that he alone, as a second pope, can accept appeals and petitions from other autocephalous Churches, as he is, allegedly, according to the recently-appeared prevailing opinion of the pseudo-theologians of the post-Patristic era, not the first among equals (primus inter pares), but the first without equals (primus sine paribus). And further: But this argument immediately crashed with a bang, because it contradicts the conciliar system of Church governance, in which all patriarchs and primates are considered equal to one another, with Constantinople having only a primacy of honor, not power, as claimed by the Pope. The right to hear appeals extends only to those of his own jurisdiction, and not to the jurisdiction of other patriarchs. The fathers then refer to the comments on the 9th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the “God-moved” St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, “one of our greatest theologians and canonists,” to substantiate their argument about who has the right to hear which appeals. The Athonite elders then point to Constantinople’s changing tactics in regard to the Ukrainian situation: When Patriarch Bartholomew realized that he couldn’t rely upon ekkliton in his cross-border intervention within the bounds of another’s jurisdiction, then with the help of his own advisors, ready to serve him, he discovered 333 years later that Ukraine is within the jurisdiction not of the Russian, but of the Constantinopolitan Church! His inattentive or militant theologians concealed and misinterpreted many documents and opinions in order to come to the ridiculous conclusion about the temporary nature of the transfer of Ukraine to the Russian Church (a temporary character of more than three centuries!), and that now this concession is canceled. Despite these games on the part of Constantinople, every Local Church recognizes the Church in Ukraine as that headed by the “wise and modest” Met. Onuphry, as the elders write, which did not request autocephaly. As autocephaly was given to a minority group of schismatics, against the pan-Orthodox opinion, the autocephaly is highly problematic. The authors of the letter also consider it unjust and devoid of basic logic to “place a magnifying glass” on the nationalistic or ecumenistic tendencies of some in the Russian Church (past and present), though not of the canonical Ukrainian Church they note, in order to justify Constantinople’s anti-canonical invasion. The elders then testify that the majority of the fathers of the Holy Mountain rejoiced with great joy when the Sacred Community decided not to send a delegation to the enthronement of the schismatic “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko or even to send him a congratulatory letter. But they were very upset by the minority of monasteries and fathers which still participated in the enthronement. The same torn feelings were caused by the visitation of the delegation of the schismatic church to the Holy Mountain: “The exact same feelings of joy filled our hearts because many monasteries prevented the visit of ‘bishops’ and ‘clerics’ of the new false Church, but bitterness and dispassionate anger towards those, fortunately, few who courteously accepted them and/or served with them!!!” Due to the seriousness of the issue, and for the sake of the high authority that Mt. Athos enjoys in the Orthodox world, and for the sake of ensuring inter-Athonite unity, the authors of the letter entreat that the schismatics be denied access to the Holy Mountain, or at the least that their “clerics” not be allowed to serve, until a pan-Orthodox resolution is reached, given that, despite the extreme pressure, no Church has recognized the schismatics over the past three months. This decision should be made as soon as possible given the news about the schismatics planning more visits to Mt. Athos, the fathers write. Moreover, the founders of the Ukrainian schismatic movement are not only condemned by the Church, but also have the condemnation of civil courts for grave moral crimes, unthinkable even for non-Christians, the letter reads. They are also weighed down by involvement in the recent Bulgarian schism, ties with the Ukrainian Uniates, and persecution against the canonical Church, especially after Constantinople recognized them. They also lament Epiphany Dumenko’s recent statements about softening on the sin of homosexuality. Moreover, the schismatics visiting the Holy Mountain are not spiritually, but are rather politically motivated—looking only for acceptance of their illegitimate group that they can then advertise to the Orthodox world, “and to achieve their wicked plans,” the Athonite elders write. In conclusion, the fathers emphasize that they will not jeopardize their salvation by entering into communion with the excommunicated schismatics and that they will not promote the present schism on the local or global Orthodox level. “We fear an inter-Athonite schism if we do not make correct and courageous decisions,” the Fathers conclude. The letter is signed by: Elder Hieromonk Arsenios with the brotherhood of Panagouda cell of Koutloumousiou Monastery; Elder Hieromonk Abraham with the brotherhood of the kallyva of St. Gerasimos of Koutloumousiou Skete; Elder Hierodeacon Theophilos with the brotherhood of the cell of the Holy Unmercenaries of Grigoriou Monastery; Elder Nicholas of the cell of St. Demetrios of Hilandar Monastery; Elder Joseph with the brotherhood of the cell of St. Theodore of St. Paul’s Monastery; Elder Savva with the brotherhood of the cell of the Holy Archangels of Hilandar Monastery; Elder Nikodemos of the cell of St. Nektarios of Stavronikita Monastery; Elder Gabriel of the cell of St. Christodoulos of Koutloumousiou Monastery; Elder Euphrosynos with the brotherhood of the cell of St. John the Forerunner of Koutloumousiou Monastery; Elder Paisios with the brotherhood of the cell of the Holy Archangels of Hilandar Monastery; Elder Nikodemos of the cell of St. John the Theologian of the Great Lavra; Elder Arsenios of the kallyva of the Holy Monk-Martyr Gerasimos of Koutloumousiou Skete. http://orthochristian.com/120863.html?fbclid=IwAR1zff4SNu49qZZFj35lUMS7iPxGUBWZJPaVCfkYqZxCxm1KlS58nFcR1GA
Serbia has not implemented in a satisfactory manner any of the thirteen recommendations provided by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) to the country in July 2015, according to the new compliance report published today. GRECO specifically recommended that measures be taken to further improve the transparency of the parliamentary process, including through ensuring adequate timelines for submitting amendments and using the urgent procedure as an exception and not as a rule. A need to introduce transparency regulations on parliamentarians’ contacts with lobbyists and other third parties, given the great risk of undue influence, was underlined. Only limited progress has been achieved as regards transparency of the activity of the National Assembly, GRECO says in today’s compliance report. More determined action is necessary in this regard, as well as on the adoption of a code of conduct and the introduction of rules for members of parliament on how they interact with lobbyists and other third parties. Among other recommendations of 2015 were strengthening the independence and role of the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutorial Council; amending the procedures for the recruitment and promotion of judges, court presidents and prosecutors, in particular by excluding the National Assembly from this process and ensuring merit-based recruitment; and continued reform of the system of appraisal of judges’ and prosecutors’ performance. As far as judges are concerned, in the compliance report GRECO welcomes the measures taken to further develop the role of the High Judicial Council, improve the objectivity and transparency of the procedures for the recruitment and promotion of judges, as well as to train judges on ethical issues. Beyond a necessary constitutional reform in order to change the composition of the High Judicial Council and exclude the National Assembly from the process of recruitment of judges, GRECO expects a review of the system of appraisal of judges’ performance. Prosecutors are in a situation largely similar to judges. Some steps have been taken to strengthen the role of the State Prosecutorial Council, to review the performance appraisal system for prosecutors and to train them on ethical issues. Further progress is conditioned by the upcoming constitutional reform. GRECO reiterates its call upon the Serbian authorities to review the criteria for the recruitment and promotion of prosecutors. In view of the above, GRECO concludes that the overall very low level of compliance with the recommendations is "globally unsatisfactory". GRECO therefore asks the Head of the Serbian delegation to provide a report on the progress in implementing all the pending recommendations as soon as possible, but at the latest by 31 October 2018. http://www.coe.int/nl/web/portal/-/serbia-has-not-implemented-any-of-the-recommendations-on-preventing-corruption-among-parliamentarians-judges-and-prosecutors https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/1680792e56