Kiev, August 22, 2019
Evstraty Zorya, Philaret Denisenko, and Epiphany Dumenko. Photo: TSN
The drama and battle of Constantinople’s Ukrainian jurisdiction continues with more legal maneuvering from all sides.
Though the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP), headed by Philaret Denisenko for 30 years, united with the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” on December 15 to form the new “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), Philaret Denisenko became increasingly discontent with his diminished role in the new structure, until he finally departed from the OCU and reignited his KP with a Local Council on June 20.
The OCU, headed by Epiphany Dumenko, Philaret’s former protégé, retaliated by officially liquidating the KP, though it is unclear how it acquired the legal right to do so.
Now, Philaret has brought a suit against “Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya, who once served as his loyal sidekick and Speaker of the KP but changed his allegiance and now works as an apologist for the OCU.
Recall that the Patriarchate of Constantinople gave its official stamp of approval to all these men as “hierarchs” on October 11 of last year.
Zorya learned of the upcoming proceedings from a letter received from the Schevchenko District court, he wrote on his Facebook page.
Philaret brought the suit against his former devotee for the “protection of his honor and dignity” after Zorya publicly claimed that the Philaret was reviving his KP because a disease had addled his brain to the point where he was no longer recognizable as the same man he had served for so many years and turned him into an anti-tomos ally of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Zorya explained that last fall, during the preparations for the “unification council,” Philaret was given medications to help him stay healthy and keep the unity of the KP together so that it could join the OCU. However, one of the drugs had a deleterious effect, leaving him barely unable to speak or move. After he stopped taking the drug, he recovered within a week, Zorya stated in an interview with Ukrinform.
Elsewhere, Zorya claimed that whatever disease Philaret is fighting has turned him into a Russian ally, as evidenced by the fact that he gave an interview to a Russian news station. “A healthy Ukrainian person does not give an interview to Russia-24,” Zorya wrote, invoking the ethnophyletism that underpins the Ukrainian schismatic movement.
Meanwhile, following upon the decision of the OCU Synod of Bishops to officially liquidate the KP, which was confirmed by the Ministry of Culture, Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the OCU who grew up in the schismatic KP under the tutelage of Philaret, moved to have the KP’s bank accounts closed.
The closure of the accounts by Oschadbank at the request of Epiphany became known today when an open letter to Epiphany was published on the official KP website, asking him to withdraw his request “and not to interfere in the affairs of the UOC of the Kiev Patriarchate in the future.”
In the letter, Philaret recalls that he withdrew the KP from the OCU on June 20, and therefore neither Epiphany nor the Synod of the OCU have any right to make any decisions that effect the KP.
“Fear God,” Philaret exhorts, “and if you don’t believe in Him, at least have a human conscience!”
Philaret earlier declared that Epiphany wanted to liquidate the KP to steal its money.