Kiev, December 26, 2018
The Patriarchate of Constantinople held the long-awaited Ukrainian “unification council” on December 15, in which two groups of Ukrainian schismatics united into one group dubbed the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
President Petro Poroshenko introduced the new primate, “Metropolitan” Epiphany, that night to the crowd gathered on Sophia Square in Kiev bearing Ukrainian flags rather than crosses or holy icons.
Social media has been flooded with congratulations to the new “church” from various corners, and congratulations have come in from various American governmental offices and personalities, though, notably, no congratulations have come in from any Orthodox Church other than that of Constantinople.
Among the groups offering their congratulations on the occasion was KyivPride, a gay activist group based in the Ukrainian capital.
The organization posted a message on several platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, reading:
KyivPride congratulates all LGBTI Orthodox believers on the formation of a united and independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and reminds everyone that love does no harm to others! Also remember that article 35 of the constitution of Ukraine states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of personal philosophy and religion. This right includes the freedom to profess or not to profess any religion.” Human rights above all!
The picture accompanying the post shows three people holding a sign that reads: “Whoever loves is born of God and knows God. God is love. (John 4:7-8)” in rainbow-colored letters.
These congratulations came just one week before “Met.” Epiphany Dumenko revealed in a phone call that he believes the new Ukrainian church needs to move away from the conservative Orthodox views that the Russian Church upholds in order to move closer to Europe.
The conversation concerned not simply welcoming gay people into the Church, which every Church does, but of changing the Church’s teaching and attitude towards LGBT issues. The callers speak of “tak[ing] liberal values” and “develop[ing] liberal values,” to which Epiphany responds that it is a difficult issue, but they “need to work on it, so Ukrainian society would accept it.”
At first glance it is not clear why a gay activist group would be concerned about two schismatic groups melding into one, but Epiphany’s words perhaps give us the key: The group already understood that a move away from the canonical Ukrainian Church and the Russian Orthodox Church within the broader context of the Ukrainian state’s westward run would mean an inevitable softening on the Church’s teachings about homosexuality and related issues.
KyivPride has come up against the canonical Ukrainian Church before, which firmly holds to the Church’s moral tradition.
An LGBT “March for Equality” was held this summer in the Ukrainian capital as part of the 11-day KyivPride 2018 program. As a true pastor with a loving heart, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine released a message concerning the march, in which he wrote:
Once again, our Church emphasizes that holding such events is public and open propaganda of sin, in particular sexual perversions. It can inflict irreparable harm on the pure hearts and souls of our children, and moreover, draw the wrath of God upon the Ukrainian land, where the innocent blood of Ukrainians has already been spilled for several years in a row. Sacred Scripture resolutely condemns the sin of sodomy and any other unnatural deviations.
“We respect other people’s worldviews and interests,” Met. Onuphry wrote, “However, they should not propagandize sinful perversion.”
According to a 2016 poll, nearly 70% of Ukrainian citizens believe that gay relations should be totally prohibited in Ukraine, 15% believe that they should be substantially restricted, and only 8% are against any restrictions.
In the phone call, Epiphany also spoke of his phone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying the U.S. had offered very tangible support in the creation of the new church, and that cooperation would continue between the church and America.
Follow us on Facebook!