Upon witnessing the shameful politicization of the memory of Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) by his secretary Alexander Drabinko, anyone who truly loved Vladika Vladimir cannot remain silent.
Alexander Drabinko, erstwhile Metropolitan of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, has yet again dishonored the name of the ever-memorable Vladimir1 (Sabodan), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.
Drabinko has gifted possessions most close to Met. Vladimir’s heart—his Panagias2—to schismatics and uniates—the persecutors of the church Vladika Vladimir long served!
Alexander Drabinko (born 18-03-1977) is one of the only two canonical Bishops who betrayed the canonical Ukrainian Church, by joining the schismatic OCU created by Constantinople, which is filled with clergy who, among other sinful things, serve with Uniates at funerals for Nazis.
He was also the longtime secretary and aid to Metropolitan Vladimir, to whom—one could say without exaggeration—he owes his entire career: in late August of 2006, Metr. Vladimir ordained Drabinko a priest and by December of 2007, a bishop3. By 2013, the same Primate, by then suffering from Parkinson's disease for some time, elevated him to Metropolitan.4
Indeed, as Metropolitan Vladimir’s health rapidly failed, he naturally relied more and more upon his secretary. As a result of the inevitable influence he held, some have taken to viewing Drabinko as a sort of Éminence rouge (Red Eminence) à la Cardinal Richelieu, though this is a bit sensational. Drabinko never held such power or influence. It would be more accurate to describe him as a Éminence grise (Grey Eminence) like François Leclerc, Richelieu’s adviser, whispering in the ear.
Wherever Metropolitan Vladimir was, in his later years, you could be assured Drabinko “the Grey Eminence” was there right behind him.
By the time Metropolitan Vladimir was very ill, and eventually confined to a wheel chair, Drabinko was essentially his gatekeeper.
Due to his very close relationship with the Metropolitan, Drabinko received many of his possessions after his repose, and this included several of his panagias.
After his fall into schism, Drabinko has been shamefully using these panagias, and by extension the blessed memory of Metropolitan Vladimir, to attempt to raise the legitimacy of schismatics and Uniate hierarchs. He previously gifted them to OCU Head, Epiphany (Dumenko), and now to a Uniate bishop.
Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) of Kiev and All Ukraine, of thrice blessed memory, is without a doubt a powerful symbolic figure—the first canonical Primate of modern Ukraine. He led the Ukrainian Orthodox Church through many storms from the 1990s, up until the beginning of the violent Maidan coup in 2014. He survived the Soviet regime with true faith—thank God—he didn't have to live through this mess into which godless revolutionaries would yet again plunge his country. Metropolitan Vladimir was a monumental man, buried in the shadow of the beautiful academy church he helped restore in Kiev Caves Lavra.
Now Drabinko has given away his possessions to representatives of "churches" whose "clergy" maim and attack his parishioners, support Nazis, call for terrorism, and declare they will forcibly seize the Lavra where he is buried.5
Drabinko literally gives his panagias to leaders of sects who openly work to destroy the Church he led, and to which he gave every last bit of his remaining strength, fighting to save it from those who would trample that beloved vineyard of the Lord in which he labored.
When the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, the ungodly divided His garments and cast lots for them (see John 19:24), but His betrayer had enough shame not to stand among them.
Even Judas Iscariot, he who sold his Savior, felt enough guilt after his betrayal of the Lord that he threw away the silver and killed himself.
That was of course the wrong thing to do; the Lord is always ready to receive those who come with true repentance, but that being the key to everything; Judas felt shame, though like the devil, he could not bring himself to repent.
Drabinko on the other hand shamelessly divides up and gifts the possessions of a bishop of Christ to the torturers of His Church—His Body...and he does it with a smile. The same Drabinko known for publishing his casual vacation photos, casually serves with schismatics who work to destroy the Ukrainian Church which was led by a man he claims to love.
Drabinko is known for his relaxed public image, taking many photos shown across social media in completely casual, non-clerical clothing, even after becoming a monk and bishop. In many ways, he promoted himself as a sort of “church celebrity”.
By gifting Metropolitan Vladimir's personal possessions to Uniates and schismatics, he hopes to not only increase their legitimacy. He is using his close proximity to the venerably Metropolitan in order to perniciously imply that the Primate somehow secretly supported the idea of schismatic Ukrainian autocephaly, or even more ridiculously, that he somehow now blesses the Uniates from “the clear white shores beyond the grave”.
It's almost as bad as ordination from a dead hand, a practice Ukrainian schismatics have historically used.6
In life, he took advantage of the metropolitan’s kindly and trusting nature to benefit his own career, and in death, he uses his panagias to support those who attack his flock.
When Epiphany was seen wearing a set of Met. Vladimir’s panagias, it became blatantly obvious to Ukrainian insiders, even before any announcement was made, where he got them from—Drabinko. Epiphany of course, was the protegee of Philaret (Denisenko), and Metr. Vladimir was the Primate who immediately replaced Philaret, after the latter’s fall into schism.
Does Drabinko expect people to believe that Met. Vladimir secretly would have wanted the protégée of his greatest rival to inherit his panagias?
It is also ironic, that in some ways, Drabinko was understood to be to Metropolitan Vladimir what Epiphany was to Philaret, the young secretary-protégée who abandoned his mentor in the end.
Epiphany also has a habit of politicizing other people's panagias—he famously stole Philaret's ancient Byzantine panagias, assumingly from Zlatoverhi monastery, after becoming the new schismatic Primate. He claimed the relics of the old Kievan Metropolitans that Philaret basically stole before him.7
Finally, he betrayed the trust of Philaret, to whom he owes his career. Epiphany, unlike Drabinko, was ordained in schism by Philaret, never having possessed a canonical ordination at any moment.
Now, just recently, Drabinko is yet again giving away Met. Vladimir’s possessions, this time, to “bishops” in communion with Rome—to the Uniates! To be clear: these people don’t even self-identify as Eastern Orthodox!
Drabinko attended the ordination of Uniate Bishop Stefan Sus, as the Union of Orthodox Journalists reported on January 13. There he declared that he felt the fullness of the church laying hands on the Uniate bishop, to whom he presented the Panagia.
This follows in the pattern of Epiphany and Uniate leader Shevchuk, who declared that the ultimate goal of the Unia and the Ecumenical movement is to create a single church recognized by both Rome and Constantinople. That is nothing short of heresy, and an insult to all the saints brutally martyred by the Uniates in Ukrainian history.
It is very ironic and telling that Drabinko seeks to use the image of a hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate to lend legitimacy to schismatics and Uniates.
We remind you that once, during the annual All-Ukrainian Cross procession, the schismatics used the picture of the current canonical Metropolitan Onuphry in an attempt to lure people to their cross processions; they took his image, and simply wrote “Cross Procession” with the address and time of the schismatic procession.8
This all serves to demonstrate the powerful spiritual authority among the Ukrainian people that the primates of the canonical Ukrainian Church hold by right of their office, and also the great love and admiration the Ukrainian people have for the persons of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Vladimir, and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onuphry.
If schismatic sects had any true spiritual authority to begin with, there would be no need to strengthen them by giving them possessions of primates from the "enemy" jurisdiction.
If Metropolitan Vladimir had truly supported these Uniates and schismatics—who, we repeat, were working to destroy the canonical structure he led for decades—then his former secretary wouldn't need to give away his possessions after his repose to them; he could have easily given them such gifts in life, or willed them after his repose.
Drabinko conveniently only starts giving them away after his fall into schism, five years after the repose of Metropolitan Vladimir. He has now been championing the revisionist idea that Metropolitan Vladimir was a secret advocate for autocephaly all these years.
Why would Met. Vladimir not have simply made this position clear in life, if he truly held it? Could he have been under any pressure to hide his views? Not in the slightest!
There would have been no easier position in this entire conflict, either for Met. Vladimir then, or for Met. Onuphry today, than to simply support autocephaly.
Literally every major political power in Ukraine, and most importantly in the US and EU, would have supported it.
The path taken by the canonical church brings them virtually no earthly benefits, and a great many problems. They are not under political influence to remain in the MP, they are in fact resisting very powerful political influence to leave. This cannot be overstated.
All this talk of Moscow influence is ridiculous—there is virtually nothing Moscow, either ecclesiastically or politically, can do to harm or control the UOC. The Ukrainian Church actually has more influence in Moscow than Moscow has ever had on the UOC since its formation in the 1990s. All Ukrainian bishops vote in the Bishops Council of the ROC, no Russian bishops vote in the Bishops Council of the UOC.
Needless to say, especially after 2014, the very idea of Moscow has very little political support in the wings of power in Kiev.
Met. Vladimir could have easily voiced pro-autocephaly positions in life if he held them; it certainly would have made his life easier, and he would have probably succeeded. He was, after all, considered a likely candidate to become Patriarch of Moscow until he declined.9 He certainly doesn't need Drabinko to speak for him now that he is beyond the grave
Now, by giving the panagias to a Uniate, Drabinko has crossed a second line, joining in with Epiphany and the Uniate leader Shevchuk in their idea claim that there is no difference between the Greek Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox—besides, as we know, centuries of Uniate persecution against Orthodox people.
Drabinko however, considers the Uniate Bishops to be his brothers in the fullness of the church. To this end, he is also citing a meeting between Met. Vladimir and former Uniate leader Huzar, as alleged proof that Met. Vladimir supported Uniates. This was a position that Met. Vladimir, again, never held in life. It’s natural for leaders of two major religious organizations to meet and discuss matters within their country. Of course, there is always the general hope that individual Uniates will renounce papism and receive Orthodoxy, as tens of thousands of Carpatho-Rusyns have done both in America and in their homeland, but Met. Vladimir never had any intention of uniting with them.
Drabinko himself is an unreliable narrator to say the least. Who can forget how he once claimed to be the creator of the very idea of the "Russian world", which of course he now opposes...
He even stated once that had he known of the internal problems the OCU and their “unification council”, he may not have even attended.
Drabinko is a man of many hats (literally), who seems to change his positions like fashions, as they become convenient to him.
The young “bishop” is known for a rather liberal lifestyle, which probably makes him rather fun at parties, though he doesn’t exactly behave like a monk. There are many photos of him in secular clothing, even in casual jeans and shorts. He is a man most unorthodox in lifestyle and personal views; one may say his orientation is not exactly straightly Orthodox to begin with.
Of course, it is not the business of this author to concern himself with the wardrobe and lifestyle of a (formerly canonical) hierarch. It is relevant only in that it speaks to a certain transient, fluid, and literally unorthodox lifestyle. Drabinko is a person who one morning can serve a Liturgy as a hierarch, and the next night be seen at the local tavern, or on the beach. It just seems that in his lifestyle he is rather confused, as if he can’t decide whether he wants to be a bishop or a celebrity.
Drabinko, thanks to his high position, served on numerous councils within the Russian Church; he served with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Jerusalem, he served with ROCOR on a visit, and now he serves with schismatics and uniates. At one time he ridiculously claimed to be the creator of something as old and metaphysical as the Russian world, and now he's a passionate fighter against it.
What seems more likely: that a Primate would secretly want his possessions to be given away to people who are persecuting his Church, or that his secretary, after betraying that Church and joining those same persecutors, is simply lying?
In any case, let’s not end this article with thoughts of Drabinko.
Let’s better remember Metropolitan Vladimir. There is an inscription on his grave of great meaning. It reads, “I never asked for anything in this life, nor did I refuse anything. Glory to God for all things!”
Anyone who remembers that wonderful Christian saying can almost feel Vladyka’s presence, because it so perfectly described his character and personality. He never asked for anything, nor did he ever deny any hardship or misfortunes that fell upon him, nor refuse any person in need; but he accepted whatever happened to him in life, giving glory to God as long as he lived.