Vinyantintsi, Ukraine, December 12, 2018
As the so-called Ukrainian “unification council” draws nearer, tensions between Constantinople’s “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) jurisdiction and its “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC) jurisdiction are flaring up and becoming more obvious.
The two sides have been unable to work together to prepare for the council, which resulted in the Synod of Constantinople writing the new church’s charter for them, and they disagree about who should participate in the work of the council, with the head of the UAOC agreeing with Patriarch Bartholomew that clergy and laity should participate, while the Synod of the KP declared that only bishops should participate, though they later tried to soften their stance after media reports of the disagreements.
One UAOC hierarch even recently stated that he is worried the council will simply result in a fight.
Now video and reports have surfaced, showing that a fight already broke out during a church service after a parish switched from the one Constantinople-Ukrainian jurisdiction to the other.
The Holy Dormition parish in the village of Vinyantintsi in the Ternopil Province of Ukraine switched from the UAOC to the KP about two months ago, reports the Ukrainian news site 20 Minutes. That would have been just around the time that both schismatic groups were subsumed into the Patriarchate of Constantinople by decision of its Holy Synod on October 11.
The fight broke out on December 6 when “Archbishop” Tikhon Petranyuk of the UAOC entered the church during a service to read out a decree banning the “priest” John Boiko from serving.
Thus, one Constantinople bishop issued a ban against a priest for switching to another Constantinople bishop—whose jurisdictions are planning to unite into one church anyways on December 15—just 9 days after the fight broke out.
Parishioners were outraged that the UAOC bishop had come to read the decree and shut the doors of the church before him. However, despite threats and calls to the police, “Abp.” Tikhon still entered the church and began to read his decree, shouting over the people. In response, the parishioners took and broke his staff and threw themselves into a fight—throwing fists, tearing clothes and robes, ripping off crosses, and shedding blood—all of which occurred in front of young children.
Rector John Boiko suffered a brain concussion and fractured ribs.
As of yesterday, December 11, “Bishop” Paul Kravchuk of the KP, who received the parish two months ago, has declined to comment on the situation beyond confirming that he received the parish.
Moreover, “Abp.” Tikhon himself had once been the KP hierarch for Ternopil but was banned from serving after he set a church on fire to cover up his financial embezzlement and stole $100,000 from a local resident. At that time, in December 2010, the KP declared that he was banned until he offered his “full and true repentance”—something which Constantinople did not require of Philaret and Makary before receiving them into its jurisdiction.
As the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports, political analyst Kirill Molchanov had warned about such conflicts between the KP and UAOC back in October, saying, “The relations between Makary and Philaret,” the leaders of the UAOC and KP respectively, “are so conflictual that I doubt their representatives can even gather in one room.”
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