Philaret continues to defy Constantinople—schismatics won’t make foreign parishes comply with tomos

Kiev, March 25, 2019

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The “hierarchs” and flock of the Kiev Patriarchate (KP) outside of Ukraine cannot be forced to move under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” says Philaret Denisenko, the “Honorary Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine” of the Ukrainian schismatic church.

Although one of the conditions of granting the tomos of autocephaly by Constantinople to the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) was that all KP parishes outside Ukraine would necessarily be transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the KP cannot force its foreign dioceses to fulfill this obligation, Denisenko said in a recent interview with Glavkom.

Specifically asked about the KP dioceses in Russia, Philaret responded: ““Yes, there is such a requirement. But they themselves do not want to transfer to Constantinople. This is a requirement not only for those bishops in Russia, but also for those in Canada, the USA, Latin America, and Europe. But they don’t want to go to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. And no one can be forcibly separated from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

OrthoChristian previously reported on four parishes abroad that were refusing to switch to Constantinople. The extent to which foreign parishes are taking a stand against changing their jurisdiction is unclear. “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic church, has declared that negotiations are already underway for transferring foreign parishes, while Philaret Denisenko seems to present the situation as if no parishes will make the move.

This is but one of the many ways in which the schismatic church, and Philaret Denisenko in particular, has been defying Constantinople and violating tomos of autocephaly granted to it on January 6 in Istanbul. Notably, he continues to style himself as a patriarch, and the schismatic church continues to honor him as such, although Constantinople explicitly received him only as a metropolitan.

Philaret has continually proclaimed that he was, is, and always will be a patriarch, and maintained in his new interview with Glavkom that as he is a patriarch, that means the KP still exists. Constantinople stipulated that the KP and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” had to dissolve themselves before merging into a new nationalist church on December 15.

“There is no Kiev Patriarchate legally, but in reality there is, because there is a patriarch,” Denisenko said. The OCU’s status as a metropolitanate is only a transition to a patriarchate, he is sure.

Conversely, Epiphany Dumenko has explicitly stated that the KP does not exist anymore.

While the Holy Synod of Constantinople explicitly stated on October 11 that there should be no violent and forceful seizures of churches and monasteries, Philaret has stated that, on the contrary, there’s nothing unusual or wrong about the state participating in forcing parishes to transfer from the canonical to the schismatic church.

And further, in the first part of his interview with Glavkom, Philaret stated his belief that the OCU needs to change its statutes and no longer use those written by the Holy Synod of Constantinople. He contends that the OCU has the right to amend its statutes as it wishes, though Constantinople has made it clear that all changes need to be coordinated with them.

“The statutes do not satisfy me personally. Therefore we should hold a meeting at the next Local Council and adopt statutes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—not the Kiev Metropolia within the Patriarchate of Constantinople, since we now use these statutes, these Greek statutes. As an autocephalous church, we must have our own Ukrainian statutes,” Philaret said, expressing confidence that Constantinople would not object to any changes, and that it had even told them they could change the statutes at will.

However, the text of the tomos itself stipulates that the statutes must comply with the provision of the tomos, as a requirement for Constantinople to grant and bless the autocephaly of the OCU.

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