Kiev, May 24, 2019
Despite his meeting with Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on Tuesday, Philaret Denisenko is continuing his self-interested behavior, declaring that the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) will not fulfill the terms of the tomos of autocephaly granted by Constantinople and refusing to pledge loyalty to the OCU.
Philaret and his public statements as of late were one of the main topics of the Synod of Bishops’ session in Kiev today. He has continually declared his desire to revive the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) that he led for nearly three decades, that the primate of the OCU “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko and former President Poroshenko deceived him at the “unification council” in December, and that the tomos of autocephaly imposes subjection to Constantinople upon the OCU.
As Epiphany Dumenko announced at a press briefing aired live by TSN following the hierarchical session today, Philaret was the only bishop to refuse to sign a statement of loyalty to the statutes of the OCU.
“We decided that the OCU will be guided by the Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, and the statutes adopted on December 15 here within the walls of St. Sophia’s in Kiev. It is sad that the last decision was not signed by only one member—patriarch Philaret,” Epiphany said, noting that despite Philaret’s abstention, the document still passed.
During the session, people who still consider themselves parishioners of the KP organized a picket in support of Philaret outside St. Sophia’s. They bore posters with the messages: “Philaret is our patriarch” and “Epiphany, don’t destroy the church,” among others, reports pravda.com.ua.
Philaret has declared that the mounting tension within the OCU would be resolved if Epiphany would submit to him, as he had agreed to do at the “unification council.” However, others within the OCU have pleaded with Philaret not to destroy their church.
Meanwhile, in an interview with currenttime.tv published yesterday, Philaret declared that had he known the contents of the tomos of autocephaly granted by Constantinople, he would have rejected it. He further stated that the OCU will not fulfill three points of the tomos.
“We at the council did not know its contents,” Philaret said. “We found out only after the unification. Had we known the contents of this tomos, we would not have agreed to such a tomos.”
The first of three points unacceptable to Philaret is the stipulation that all parishes abroad must transfer to Constantinople. Philaret has complained about this many times and several parishes of the KP abroad have openly refused to join Constantinople.
The second point is the stipulation that the OCU receive its Chrism from Constantinople. Traditionally, making Chrism is an external sign of a Church’s autocephaly, though Constantinople prefers to keep Churches dependent upon it for the sacramental oil.
“The tomos says that we have no right to make myrrh. If we have to receive myrrh from Constantinople, from Istanbul, it means we are dependent,” Philaret commented. “We are an autocephalous Church by name, but in fact we are dependent.”
It was widely reported in the media even before the “unification council” on December 15 that the statutes and tomos written by the bishops of Constantinople would not grant true independence to the OCU.
The third point is the stipulation that any conflicts within the OCU be resolved by Constantinople.
“Three points that take the rights of an autocephalous Church from us. By name we are autocephalous, but in fact we are dependent on the Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” Philaret summarized.
Thus, the OCU will not fulfill these points, Philaret declares: “We are not refusing the tomos, but we will not fulfill these three conditions written in the tomos. We will not fulfill them.”
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