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On June 3, Philaret Denisenko, the “Patriarch” of the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) and “Honorary Patriarch” of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), met with rectors of the parishes of the OCU’s Kiev Diocese, where the possibility of convening a Local Council of the KP was discussed. At today’s “For the Ukrainian Orthodox Church! For the Kiev Patriarchate!” forum, Philaret announced that a Local Council of the KP will indeed be held, on June 20, reports BBC News Ukraine. Philaret thus intends to fully restore the KP that he had nominally agreed to liquidate on December 15 before the start of the “unification council” that created the OCU out of the KP and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC). The Patriarchate of Constantinople had previously lifted the Moscow Patriarchate’s anathema placed upon Philaret for his schismatic actions and received him into its jurisdiction on October 11, claiming that the sanction had been placed upon him unjustly, though Patriarch Bartholomew had previously recognized the anathema. “We are convening a Local Council that will not approve the decision of this council on December 15, 2018. That means it is not mandatory for us. We will thereby show that the Kiev Patriarchate was, is, and will be. We are convening the council on June 20,” Philaret announced during today’s forum, stressing that it will be a Local Council of the KP, not the OCU, which is headed by “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko. “There was no Local Council of the Kiev Patriarchate on December 15, but a collection of signatures under the resolution of the local council. We will reject this resolution at the Local Council and it will be invalid for us,” Philaret further explained. The Patriarchate of Constantinople insisted that both the KP and the UAOC vote to liquidate themselves before the “unification council” on December 15 in order to unite into a new structure. Amidst Philaret’s loud statements about restoring the KP, Makary Maletich, the primate of the UAOC, announced that his structure also continues to officially, legally exist. Given that Constantinople’s pre-conciliar stipulations were not met, the status of the OCU is unclear. The OCU is legally registered with the state, and thus, as OrthoChristian has previously reported, the “unification council” resulted in two schismatic structures becoming three, rather than one. Moreover, Philaret repeated that had he known the contents of the tomos of autocephaly written by Constantinople, that leave the OCU dependent upon Constantinople in important ways, he would not have accepted it. However, he went further this time, declaring that “We do not accept this tomos… Had we known the contents, we would not have voted for autocephaly on December 15, because we don’t need to go from one dependence to another,” reports Gromadske. “The Moscow Patriarchate serves the interests of Moscow, the OCU serves the Greeks, and who will serve Ukraine?” Philaret asked. “Epiphany is a servant of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He established a Greek vicar bishop to watch and transmit information to the Ecumenical Patriarch, to transmit through him instructions on what to do,” Philaret said, referring to Archimandrite Epiphanius (Dimitriou), formerly of the Greek Orthodox Church, who was “consecrated” as a “bishop” of the OCU. With references to its sources in the OCU, BBC reports that the Local Council could be attended by “Metropolitan” Joasaph of Belgorod, who has also publicly criticized Epiphany Dumenko, and perhaps another “bishop” of the former KP parishes in Russia, and a small part of the clergy of the Kiev Diocese of the OCU, which is headed by Philaret himself. However, Philaret remains undeterred. The Local Council, he says, will allow them to “preserve the Kiev Patriarchate. Though it will be small, it will grow into a large church.” The participants in today’s forum also intend to address President Vladimir Zelensky and ask him to “support the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate against any encroachment.” http://orthochristian.com/121774.html?fbclid=IwAR1jeZMQNxzx69uWtw9LDcksiBHDYn1fdKUb-h9nkouN3mUbGnj7BXZyTug
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
Cherkassy, Ukraine, March 14, 2019 Criticizing the tomos of autocephaly given to the Ukrainian schismatic church by the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now being seen as a criminal offense in Ukraine. Seven employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), the nation’s successor to the KGB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Prosecutor’s Office spent four hours searching the apartment of Ukrainian writer Oleg Slepinin, accused of publishing articles under a pseudonym in Russian outlets, the Security Service’s press service reports. The search took place yesterday, resulting in the officers confiscating several personal items. He is accused of condemning the creation of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and the granting of the tomos of autocephaly on January 6. “In the Cherkassy Province, the SSU blocked the spread of provocative anti-Ukrainian materials, aimed at inciting religious enmity,” the statement reads. The Security Service also earlier accused hierarchs and priests possessing a pamphlet explaining the schism in Ukraine of inciting religious enmity and even treason. The computer, laptop, phone, flash drives, diplomas, books with autographs, and business cards, etc. of the winner of international literary awards were seized during the search, religious scholar and historian Dmitry Skvortsov reported on Facebook. According to him, Slepinin has no lawyer. He had just been released from the hospital a week prior, having been treated for hypertensive crisis. He suffered a repeat attack during the four-hour search, though he refused hospitalization. http://orthochristian.com/119901.html?fbclid=IwAR3TcX8suB7uGQrtaeFOLlU0QvgTS_AIQOa2ZNsqHbrJimVzss7f6fdU9g8
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