Kiev, January 26, 2018
In an interview with the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (UNIAN) published today, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, has explained why the sacraments of the self-proclaimed “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) are not true sacraments and are unrecognized by the legitimate Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The founder of the KP, self-styled “Patriarch” Philaret (Denisenko), was legitimately ordained in the Moscow Patriarchate, and even served as the metropolitan of Kiev, and as long as he remained within the Church of Christ, all of the sacraments he celebrated were true and valid. However, as Fr. Nikolai explained, as soon as he perpetrated a schism, he was stripped of his clerical status, and from that moment, all of his rites became invalid.
“The logic is simple: If there is a valid priesthood, that means the Sacraments celebrated by such priests are true,” Fr. Nikolai explained. “An invalid priesthood brings with it invalid sacraments. Clergy who go into schism, and especially those who received ‘ordination’ in schism, according to the First Canon of St. Basil the Great, ‘became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it.’”
Fr. Nikolai also explained how someone can return to the canonical Church, having been outside of it for one reason or another. If they had been baptized in the true Church, they can return via repentance, as Baptism can never be repeated. This includes “Pat.” Philaret, who, although he is excommunicated, was baptized in a canonical Church, and thus could return to the Church by way of repentance, according to St. Basil’s canon.
“It is interesting, by the way, that Philaret himself, while yet the canonical metropolitan of Kiev, did not recognize, for instance, the sacraments of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). In particular, he said that ‘the Orthodox Church believes that all so-called religious rites which are celebrated by the priests and bishops of this ‘church’ are without grace.’ After that, he himself left the Church and defected into schism, and on the basis of the UAOC created a new confession—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate (KP). If the sacraments of the UOAC were invalid then, then how have they now become valid in the KP, which is also in schism? Nothing has changed in essence,” Fr. Nikolai said.
The issue of KP sacraments arose recently when a priest of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church declined to serve a funeral for a child from a family that belongs to the KP, stating that, as the KP is not a true Church, the child is unbaptized, and thus he could not celebrate his funeral. The family became very angry and the father attacked the priest. The incident quickly spread in the media.