Ukrainian schismatics continue to defy Constantinople: Philaret orders to be commemorated before primate, disputes church’s name stipulated by Constantinople

Kiev, January 21, 2019

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Though Constantinople is the First See in the Orthodox world and the Church that granted autocephaly to the Ukrainian nationalist church, the Ukrainians have continually shown that they intend to do things their way.

Despite being rehabilitated officially as a “former Metropolitan” by Constantinople and instructed to stop presenting himself as a patriarch, and despite not being elected as the primate of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Philaret has publicly stated several times that he was, is, and always will be a patriarch.

Philaret further cemented his position with a decree issued on January 16 that calls for him to be commemorated in the services as “Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” followed by the commemoration of “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko who was elected as the head of the nationalist church at the “unification council” on December 15. Philaret, however, claims the December council is the basis for this new liturgical order.

It was previously announced that Philaret would be considered the “Honorary Patriarch” of the Ukrainian schismatics, though at the same time he insisted he would lead the church along with Dumenko. According to his new decree, the “Honorary” has been dropped and Philaret is again a full-fledged “Patriarch,” in his eyes.

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The decree was published by Deacon Andrei Kuraev on his Facebook page and his personal blog.

Press Secretary for the Patriarch of Moscow Archpriest Alexander Volkov commented on Russian radio: “These schismatics can declare themselves whatever the want—even the Patriarch of All Rus’, even of All Africa, even of the whole Galaxy. It’s all like a circus, nothing else. There can be no other sane assessment of these ridiculous actions.”

In a recent interview with the BBC, Constantinople Exarch to Kiev Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia spoke of how he had asked Philaret to please let Epiphany operate as the primate, though it is clear that request has been denied.

It is noteworthy that the decree was published on “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) letterhead, the schismatic organization that Philaret headed before the “unification council.” Philaret signed a decree dissolving the KP on the morning of the “council,” though it still legally exists and continues to operate separately from the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” with which it united on December 15 and which also “dissolved” itself yet continues to exist.

It is also noteworthy that Philaret refers to the schismatic church as the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” (the legal name of the canonical Ukrainian Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine) in his decree. Following the December “council,” the new structure was being referred to as the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” while the tomos granted by Constantinople on January 6 defined its title as the “Most Holy Church of Ukraine.”

Philaret addressed this topic in an interview with the Ukrainian site TSN yesterday.

“The incorrect title of ‘OCU’—the Orthodox Church of Ukraine—is being spread now. Correct would be the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” Philaret said. “We don’t say the ‘Orthodox Church of Russia,’ or the ‘Orthodox Church of Bulgaria.’ It must be corrected.”

To the journalist’s comment that the name is official, the schismatic head objected that it is a bad translation and “it is necessary to speak correctly—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

However, the tomos stipulates that the statutes of the nationalist church must agree with the tomos in all matters. Moreover, in his BBC interview, Abp. Daniel also stated that any changes to the statutes, no matter how small, must be introduced through Constantinople.

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