Kiev, June 20, 2019
The so-called Local Council of the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) is underway at St. Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev, aimed at reviving the KP, as distinct from the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), and rejecting the tomos of autocephaly given to the OCU by the Patriarchate of Constantinople on January 6.
At the same time, the OCU is holding a rival forum, intending to convey to Ukrainian society the need for unity within the OCU and aimed at preventing its own hierarchs from attending Philaret’s council. The majority of the hierarchs of the OCU came from the KP and were consecrated by Philaret himself. The OCU leadership earlier declared that Philaret has no right to convene a council of the KP and that it could bring canonical and legal consequences for him.
The Ukrainian outlet Strana.ua provides a timeline of the council’s events thus far.
The council began at 11:00 with about 100 people seated in the areas for “delegations” and “guests.” Journalists were initially blocked from entering the church, though they were eventually let in after some altercations.
At 11:30 it was declared that there were more than 200 delegates and 50 guests—enough for Philaret to address the crowd and declare the council officially open. “We have gathered in difficult times,” he said, “because the UOC is not now united, but divided, and a fight has begun against the KP, against its hierarchs, and against its clergy and the members of the church. We see how small the patriarchate is now, but that’s how it was at the very beginning of its formation.”
Philaret is certain that, although the KP has become small again, it will become great again. The four gathered hierarchs intend to consecrate a number of new hierarchs to continue growing the KP, Philaret announced.
In addition to the delegations and guests, three other “hierarchs” joined Philaret at the council: Archbishop Joasaph of Belgorod and Oboyan (in Russia), Bishop Philaret of Fălești and Eastern Moldova, and Bishop Peter of Valuisky (in Russia). No hierarchs from within Ukraine are currently in attendance at the council. There are also a number of archimandrites and other clergymen.
Philaret spoke about the deficiencies of the tomos from Constantinople, as he has many times, noting that he has no desire to go from dependence upon Moscow to dependence upon Constantinople. He also argued that the “unification council” of December 15 was not a Local Council of the Ukrainian church, as evidenced by the fact that it was presided over by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul from the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The crowd is listening attentively to Philaret’s impassioned speech, interrupting it with applause and shouts of “The KP exists!”
It is expected that the participants in the council will adopt an address to President Vladimir Zelensky.
Meanwhile, about 30 priests have gathered at the OCU’s forum at a hotel conference hall. “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko is not in attendance. The forum intends to adopt the text of an address to church authorities and the Ukrainian public.
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