Kiev, January 23, 2019
As OrthoChristian has previously reported, Philaret Denisenko, the head of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) that united with the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC) on December 15, presumably in a new structure, in fact considers the union simply an expanded version of his KP.
Now, perhaps for the first time, Denisenko has stated this conviction publicly—that a new church was not created, but, in fact, the tomos of autocephaly was given to the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate.”
Denisenko is the former Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine who was defrocked and anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church at the recommendation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for his schismatic behavior after he lost the Moscow patriarchal elections in 1990.
The Kiev-based Union of Orthodox Journalists has obtained audio in which Denisenko, who was said to be but the “honorary Patriarch” of the new church on December 15, the day of the “unification council,” instructs his interviewers about the “correct” way to present information about the church in the media.
“So-called theologians have begun to say that a new church was created,” the KP says ironically. “What new church? The church is not new but is a church that has existed for more than 25 years. And if not for this church of the Kiev Patriarchate, then who would the tomos have been given to—these two Moscow bishops without parishes? Or to the Autocephalous Church, with its 500 parishes? It’s clear that they gave the tomos to the Kiev Patriarchate. Therefore, it’s not a new church. Therefore, you must refuse to use this terminology, that it’s a new church.”
OrthoChristian reported yesterday that parishes that defect from the canonical Church are not joining the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” which does not even exist legally, but the KP, which continues to legally exist despite Denisenko signing a statement dissolving his church on the day of the “unification council.”
Addressing the head of the KP’s publishing department, Philaret instructs him to “eradicate” the name “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), as the new structure was named by its creator the Patriarchate of Constantinople. “The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is not our name. We are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, like others: Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Serbian, and so on. ‘The Orthodox Church in Ukraine’ means it’s not the ruling church but just one of the churches in Ukraine… But we are the ruling church in Ukraine.”
Denisenko also instructs the curator of the KP’s website to write that there will be no information about the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” but only about the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
“Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” however, is the legally-registered name of the canonical Church in Ukraine that has existed since the Baptism of St. Vladimir.
The canonical Ukrainian Church commented on the situation via its “Pastor and Flock” Telegram channel: “That is, now, in fact, there are in Ukraine not two, but three schismatic groups: the UOC-KP, the UAOC, and the OCU. And someone said he wanted to unite everyone, but he was told that it’s impossible to unite schismatics—they can be united to the Church only through repentance. They didn’t believe it. But that’s what they have now…”
Philaret has already disputed the church’s name before, although according to the tomos granted by Patriarch Bartholomew on January 6, any changes concerning the new church must be coordinated with Constantinople.
He also recently released a decree instructing clergy of the schismatic structure to commemorate him first at the services as the “Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” then followed by “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, who was actually elected as the primate of the schismatic structure on December 15.
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