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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
The “hierarchs” and flock of the Kiev Patriarchate (KP) outside of Ukraine cannot be forced to move under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” says Philaret Denisenko, the “Honorary Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine” of the Ukrainian schismatic church. Although one of the conditions of granting the tomos of autocephaly by Constantinople to the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) was that all KP parishes outside Ukraine would necessarily be transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the KP cannot force its foreign dioceses to fulfill this obligation, Denisenko said in a recent interview with Glavkom. Specifically asked about the KP dioceses in Russia, Philaret responded: ““Yes, there is such a requirement. But they themselves do not want to transfer to Constantinople. This is a requirement not only for those bishops in Russia, but also for those in Canada, the USA, Latin America, and Europe. But they don’t want to go to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. And no one can be forcibly separated from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” OrthoChristian previously reported on four parishes abroad that were refusing to switch to Constantinople. The extent to which foreign parishes are taking a stand against changing their jurisdiction is unclear. “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic church, has declared that negotiations are already underway for transferring foreign parishes, while Philaret Denisenko seems to present the situation as if no parishes will make the move. This is but one of the many ways in which the schismatic church, and Philaret Denisenko in particular, has been defying Constantinople and violating tomos of autocephaly granted to it on January 6 in Istanbul. Notably, he continues to style himself as a patriarch, and the schismatic church continues to honor him as such, although Constantinople explicitly received him only as a metropolitan. Philaret has continually proclaimed that he was, is, and always will be a patriarch, and maintained in his new interview with Glavkom that as he is a patriarch, that means the KP still exists. Constantinople stipulated that the KP and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” had to dissolve themselves before merging into a new nationalist church on December 15. “There is no Kiev Patriarchate legally, but in reality there is, because there is a patriarch,” Denisenko said. The OCU’s status as a metropolitanate is only a transition to a patriarchate, he is sure. Conversely, Epiphany Dumenko has explicitly stated that the KP does not exist anymore. While the Holy Synod of Constantinople explicitly stated on October 11 that there should be no violent and forceful seizures of churches and monasteries, Philaret has stated that, on the contrary, there’s nothing unusual or wrong about the state participating in forcing parishes to transfer from the canonical to the schismatic church. And further, in the first part of his interview with Glavkom, Philaret stated his belief that the OCU needs to change its statutes and no longer use those written by the Holy Synod of Constantinople. He contends that the OCU has the right to amend its statutes as it wishes, though Constantinople has made it clear that all changes need to be coordinated with them. “The statutes do not satisfy me personally. Therefore we should hold a meeting at the next Local Council and adopt statutes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—not the Kiev Metropolia within the Patriarchate of Constantinople, since we now use these statutes, these Greek statutes. As an autocephalous church, we must have our own Ukrainian statutes,” Philaret said, expressing confidence that Constantinople would not object to any changes, and that it had even told them they could change the statutes at will. However, the text of the tomos itself stipulates that the statutes must comply with the provision of the tomos, as a requirement for Constantinople to grant and bless the autocephaly of the OCU. http://orthochristian.com/120150.html?fbclid=IwAR1u_p9wM3NDJ0LU-GYisFn5Flgl6eSihXQXYrR5GWPKYUFoTjHFl7CVdXM
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