Vinnitsa, Ukraine, December 31, 2018
The pressure, persecution, and legal attacks against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the wake of October 15’s “unification council” continue with the news that Simeon Shostatsky, the former Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Bar who abandoned the Orthodox Church to join the Constantinople-architected Ukrainian nationalist church, is suing the canonical Ukrainian Church and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine to get his former diocese back and protect his “honor.”
On December 28, Shostatsky appealed to the Vinnitsa city court of the Vinnitsa Province with a statement of action demanding he be restored to his position as the ruling hierarch of the Vinnitsa Diocese. The statement was published the next day on the official site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian site Strana.
Shostatsky was one of two former hierarchs of the canonical Church who attended the “unification council” and joined the new nationalist church. He was quickly suspended, dismissed, and replaced in his former diocese.
He apostasized from the Church with ambitions of becoming the primate of the new church, with the backing of Constantinople and the Ukrainian state, though everyone was outsmarted by Philaret Denisenko, the head of the now-dissolved “Kiev Patriarchate” who ensured that his protégé was elected.
In particular, in his suit the former hierarch entreats the court to cancel Met. Onuphry’s decree from December 17 by which he was released from the administration of the Vinnitsa Diocese and prohibited from serving as clergy. He also asks to be restored as the ruling bishop of the diocese and the to be again appointed as the managing director of the diocese.
He sent a parallel request to forbid all agents of state registration from taking actions concerning changing the leadership of Church organizations regarding the UOC’s Vinnitsa Diocese. He therefore also asks that the new ruling hierarch for the Vinnitsa Diocese, His Eminence Archbishop Barsanuphius, be forbidden from taking up his duties.
The court satisfied Shostatsky’s claim and prohibited any changes to the register of legal entities in the management of the Vinnitsa Diocese of the UOC. An appeal can be filed within 15 days, and, according to Strana, the UOC intends to appeal immediately.
The news that Shostatsky wanted his diocese back led to speculation online that he was repenting and returning to the canonical Ukrainian Church, though that was always unlikely given the reckless and cruel way he has spoken about the UOC since abandoning it.
He has declared that Met. Onuphry, who is recognized as the legitimate primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the entire Orthodox world except for the unilaterally-acting Constantinople, is, in fact, a schismatic, that the canonical Church has no love and therefore no God, and that soon there will be only one Ukrainian church in Ukraine, meaning the new nationalist church.
An indignant Shostatsky responded yesterday, December 30, via the website of his schismatic diocese, saying there is no question of him returning to the canonical Church.
“We are unequivocally not talking about returning to the UOC-MP!” the former hierarch of Vinnitsa declares. “Following the October 11 decision of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the UOC lost its legitimacy, and therefore its further decisions have no canonical force.”
With this declaration, Shostatsky reveals his own lie. He was the sole bishop at November 13’s meeting of the Bishops’ Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to dissent and not sign the resolutions produced there that condemned the actions of Constantinople and the state of Ukraine. In response to unrest in his diocese following the news of his dissent, Shostatsky declared that he would implement the Council’s decision, “because they are binding on all bishops, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
As his further actions and the explicit words of his latest statement make clear, the former hierarch did not believe his own words when he said the Council had to be obeyed. As he himself admitted on a television interview two weeks ago, he spent the 22 years of his episcopal ministry in the canonical Ukrainian Church lying: “We, unfortunately, including me, lied to people that we are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, not adding that we are the Moscow Patriarchate.”
In his latest statement, Shostatsky further explains that he appealed to the court because the decree signed by Met. Onuphry on his ban from serving can be interpreted as a punishment for evading his duties and that he cannot have his “human qualities, such as decency and honor” being questioned.
“I am not a schismatic, and I will not allow myself to be called that! My statement of claim is a step to protect my human dignity and honor,” the apostate hierarch writes.
He also states that he has prepared an appeal to the Church bodies competent to consider such issues. “Finally,” he adds, “I will stand before the judgment of God, which does not release from positions, but establishes and shows everything as it is!”
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