Chernigov, August 20, 2019
Last September, the head of the “Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (BAOC), “Archbishop” Svyatoslav Login declared that his church supported Patriarch Bartholomew’s then-plans of creating a new Ukrainian church and granting it autocephaly.
In his view, the Ukrainian situation could and should be applied in Belarus as well: “We, of course, support this decision. Our goal is also to be legalized in Belarus and officially receive autocephalous status… If they recognize the Ukrainian Church, the next steps should be in regard to the Belarusian Church. It gives us an example and shows that the situation is developing according to the canons.”
In this vein, a conference was held over the weekend in Chernigov, Ukraine, dedicated to the issue of the hoped-for autocephaly of the BAOC, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists, with reference to the Telegram channel “Religion Today.”
However, while the Ukrainian schismatics at least represented millions of people and thousands of parishes, the BAOC has one bishop, with 3 parishes in America, 1 in Canada, 3 in Australia, and 1 in England. It has no official churches in Belarus, though there are religious communities there. It was created in American in the second half of the 20th century through the efforts of Vladislav Rizhii-Rizhskii, a priest of the so-called “American Orthodox Catholic Church.” Its headquarters are in New York.
As part of the conference program, a joint memorial service for the reposed members of the Ukrainian armed forces was served by BAOC head Login and Eugene Orda, the rector of the Cathedral of the Great Martyr Catherine of the Chernigov Diocese of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), created by Constantinople in December and given a tomos of autocephaly in January.
The representatives served together despite the fact that the OCU and BAOC are not in communion with one another. Moreover, at the instructions of Patriarch Bartholomew, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the OCU, commemorates His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia during the services. The BAOC is a schism from the canonical Belarusian Church, which is an exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Pictures from the panikhida were posted on social media by local OCU supporter Raisa Shanskaya. According to the schedule published by the Chernigov Monitor, the joint panikhida was an official part of the conference program.
The key speakers at the conference were “Archbishop” Login and “Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya of the OCU, the once loyal sidekick to “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko in the “Kiev Patriarchate” whose allegiance has shifted to Epiphany Dumenko.
It was Zorya who traveled to Montenegro just a little over a month ago to apologize to His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro of the Serbian Orthodox Church after the OCU and hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople concelebrated with an archimandrite (now bishop) of the schismatic “Montenegrin Orthodox Church.”
It is reported that the main supporter of Belarusian autocephaly is the nationalist intelligentsia, which is counting on the support of the OCU.
One of the speakers, Alexander Shramko, noted that the slogan “Glory to the nation! Death to our enemies!” was shouted at the conference.
Thus, since its creation, representatives of the OCU have concelebrated with representatives of two other schismatic groups, and at least three schismatic groups (the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” and the “Montenegrin Orthodox Church,” in addition to the BAOC) have expressed their desire to receive autocephaly in the same way as did the Ukrainian schismatics.