Kiev, May 21, 2019
While the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) has stated that the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP), one of the two groups that were united to form the OCU, was dissolved on December 15, the day of the “unification council” put on by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and former President Poroshenko, “Honorary Patriarch” of the OCU and primate of the KP Philaret Denisenko continues to insist that the schismatic jurisdiction, in fact, still exists.
And, according to the latest ministerial statement, Denisenko is correct, at least from the legal point of view.
According to the Ministry of Justice, no one has applied to the state registration authorities to dissolve the KP, and thus, in the eyes of the state, it still exists. Moreover, its website continues to function and Denisenko continues to act on behalf of the KP.
Moreover, as the Ministry of Justice told the Ukrainian outlet Gordon, the KP can be liquidated only by decision of a Local Council, including hierarchs and clerical and lay representatives, or in court.
The Ministry of Justice clarified that although two orders from the Ministry of Culture from 2016 and 2017 on the registration of the charter of the KP were recognized as no longer in force on the basis of the “unification council” on December 15, and although the OCU was itself entered into the state registry on January 30, at the same time, as of May 15, no decision to terminate the activities of the KP had been submitted to the state registration bodies.
Meanwhile, on May 16, the OCU published the decision of the “unification council” that approved the new structure’s charter and speaks of the self-dissolution of the KP.
Philaret Denisenko, the ideological leader of the Ukrainian schismatic autocephaly movement, has repeatedly voiced his discontent with the charter and leadership of the OCU, publicly stating that there was an agreement between him, the primate of the OCU “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, and President Poroshenko, that while Epiphany would be the official head of the structure, he would de facto continue to rule.
Dumenko has denied that such an agreement was made. However, “Metropolitan” Michael Zinkevich, who also had dreams of becoming the primate but was forced to withdraw his name in deference to Epiphany, said in a recent interview that such an agreement did, in fact, exist. “This position was voiced to us at the Bishops’ Council, and it was stated that they agreed. This is true,” Zinkevich said.
He also said that the majority of the “clerics” of the OCU believed these agreements and agreed to have a kind of dual-power in the new structure. Philaret has publicly complained that despite the agreements, Epiphany deceived him and has taken sole power of the OCU. The structure’s problems would be resolved, Philaret believes, if Epiphany would submit to him.
As for the tomos of autocephaly and charter written by the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the OCU, Philaret points out, as have others, that they do not provide full independence, but maintain a measure of dependence upon Constantinople. Philaret explained in a recent interview that the OCU has no right to make its own Chrism, which is traditionally the right of an autocephalous Church, and has no right to have a diaspora, as do other Churches. And the KP’s diaspora is indignant about the requirement to move to Constantinople, Philaret said. Several parishes have voiced their refusal to join Constantinople.
The “Honorary Patriarch” even went so far as to say that the tomos of autocephaly is the reason for the current division in the OCU.
“Instead of the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, we received the division of what had been one. What is this basis for this division? That having received a tomos of autocephaly, this tomos records that we are subordinate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Do we need that kind of autocephaly?” Philaret asked.
It is difficult for the OCU to truly unite, Philaret explained, because the bishops have different goals—some seeking full independence, while others seek to “change the subordination from Moscow to Constantinople.
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