Kiev, May 29, 2019
At its first session in February, the Synod of Bishops of the schismatic-nationalist “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) gave control of the Kiev Diocese to the “Honorary Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, the head of the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP), which formerly joined the OCU at the “unification council” on December 15.
Since then, as OrthoChristian has reported, Philaret has repeatedly insisted that the KP still exists, despite his promise to liquidate it just before the aforementioned “council.” Though he has served as the ideological leader and center of the Ukrainian autocephaly movement for 30 years, Philaret has found little vocal support for his continued desire to rule as patriarch as of late. He lamented that the most recent session of the Synod of Bishops was aimed entirely at destroying his KP jurisdiction, which the Ministry of Justice confirmed does still legally exist in Ukraine.
“You will see what I will do!” Philaret exclaimed, refusing to back down, despite niceties exchanged with Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul of the Patriarchate of Constantinople who was sent to try to rein in the increasingly defiant Philaret.
The Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally lifted the anathema against Philaret in October, claiming he had been unjustly sanctioned by the Russian Church for his desire for Ukrainian autocephaly rather than for his schismatic activities, driven by his desire for power.
Now, Philaret has gone on the offensive, taking control of churches and monasteries and suspending clergy who are not loyal to his dream of continuing the KP, and the Orthodox world is seeing what he is doing.
The schismatic Philaret sent a cleric of the St. Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, Boris Tabachek to take the OCU’s Holy Protection Church in Kiev under control, OCU “Bishop” Adrian Kulik announced, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists with reference to the “hierarch’s” Facebook page.
Until yesterday, the rector of the Holy Protection Church was Alexander Trofimlyuk, whom Philaret suspended for being loyal to the new OCU rather than the KP. The entire parish community supports its former rector, not Philaret, according to “Bp.” Kulik.
The order of suspension was printed on KP letterhead and published on cerkva.info, the KP’s still-active website. Trofimlyuk was also the rector of the OCU’s Kiev Theological Academy, a position in which he succeeded “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko.
Trofimlyuk responded that the KP no longer exists, and “as a cleric of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine), any orders published on behalf of the UOC-KP, I consider invalid,” reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
Meanwhile, “Bp.” Kulik also reports that Philaret plans to require an oath of allegiance to himself and the KP from the “monks” of the St. Theodosius Monastery today.
“Philaret plans to visit the St. Theodosius Monastery in Kiev today, and on the program of his visit is to force the inhabitants/monks of the monastery to sign an oath/document of loyalty to Philaret and the ‘Kiev Patriarchate,’” Kulik writes.
Further, Philaret reportedly intends to oust a former loyal ally and a priest with a growing family from the monastery. “Philaret ordered the abbot of the St. Theodosius Monastery to expel Archbishop Evtraty from the monastery and his priest Sergei with his family. Sergei’s wife is in her last month of pregnancy, awaiting her second child,” Kulik writes.
“Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya previously served as the speaker for the KP and could be seen constantly at Philaret’s side. Now he has aligned himself with OCU primate “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko and the “younger cabal” that has formed, as opposed to those who remain loyal to Philaret.
The suspended “priest” Trofimlyuk was also once a Philaret-KP loyalist, having been ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by Philaret and having served as the head of the KP’s press center and administrator of the official KP website. He has also served as head of the KP’s publishing department and as vice rector of the theological academy, before being appointed the rector on February 5. Philaret also bestowed a number of awards upon Trofimlyuk.
The OCU was created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople together with the Ukrainian government, and the current turmoil within the group have those politicians worried. Andrei Yurash, the head of the Department of Religious and Ethnic Affairs of the Ministry of Culture, commented: “Disturbing and very unpleasant news has started coming from the parishes of the Kiev city diocese of the local UOC [the OCU—ed.]: A movement has supposedly begun, making a conscious disorganization, aiming to create a structure beyond the control of the legitimate church center.”
“If this information truly takes place,” Yurash continues, “then there is no other option than the urgent convocation, literally tomorrow, of an extraordinary Synod of the church and the search for appropriate answers to actions that could destroy church unity.”
Meanwhile, the canonical Ukrainian Church sees in Philaret’s behavior only further confirmation that they made the right decision at the Kharkov Council in 1992 where the bishops deposed Philaret, previously the canonical metropolitan of Kiev, after he had been passed over for the Moscow primatial throne, and appointed His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) in his stead. It was then that Philaret went into schism to hold onto power.
“27 years have passed since the Bishops’ Council in Kharkov, and we are more and more convinced of how right the bishops of our Church were when they made their choice: The Lord placed the only correct decision on their hearts,” His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary, the chancellor of the canonical Church, recently commented.
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