Kiev, May 15, 2019
“Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko of the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) considered the “Honorary Patriarch” of the new “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) published an official appeal “to the entire Ukrainian Orthodox flock” on the KP website yesterday regarding the mounting tensions in the new schismatic church and his desire to revive the KP.
The OCU is an amalgamation of the KP and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC), created in December by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and President Petro Poroshenko. Just before the “unification council” that brought the two groups together, Philaret agreed to liquidate the KP, though since then he has insisted that it still exists, which it legally does in the state register.
In his new address, he explains that the promise to dissolve the KP was “situational” and necessary for the “theoretical” transition of the new church structure under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Constantinople since granted the group autocephaly on January 6.
Philaret is displeased with much about the new OCU, especially that he does not have the leadership role he expected, and thus he is now actively talking about reviving the KP.
In his address, Philaret says there was an agreement with “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the OCU, at the time of the establishment of the OCU that the “patriarch” would lead the group. Other bishops were aware of this agreement, which is why they were willing to accept Constantinople’s condition that Philaret’s name not be on the ballot for official primate, he says. He voluntarily accepted “humiliation,” he says in order to receive the tomos of autocephaly.
Thus, the way to resolve the mounting tension, heal the problems in the OCU, and to move ahead, is for Epiphany, known as Philaret’s protégé in the KP, to submit himself to Philaret.
“To correct the situation, and it can be corrected, it is necessary to fulfill the agreements that were reached before the Council in the presence of President P. A. Poroshenko and the bishops. And that means the primate bears responsibility for the external representation of the UOC [the OCU—Ed.], and the Patriarch answers for the internal Church life in Ukraine, but in cooperation with the primate,” Philaret writes.
The primate ought to do nothing without the consent of the “patriarch,” who is also to provide over the Synod and Council meetings of the OCU, Philaret insists.
“This agreement has been violated and is not being carried out in practice. Therefore, a division has arisen in the Church,” Philaret emphasizes.
Epiphany speaks publicly about unity, but acts to the contrary, doing everything possible to lead to the tomos of autocephaly being withdrawn, Philaret believes. In a press conference held today, Philaret added that Epiphany does not even communicate with him. “I advised him at first what to do, but he did the opposite. And now he doesn’t communicate with me,” the “patriarch” explained.
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