Varsha, Ukraine, October 14, 2019
The “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), newly-recognized by the hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church, continues to flaunt the canonical norms of Orthodoxy and serve with various other schismatic groups and even Catholics.
Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the OCU, has openly spoken of moving ever closer to the Ukrainian Uniate (Greek Catholic) church, as has the Uniate head, Svyatoslav Shevchuk, with the end goal being a united Orthodox-Catholic church that would be recognized by both the Pope of Rome and the Patriarchate in Istanbul.
According to the canons of the Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christians, and especially clergy, can pray only with other Orthodox Christians. Common prayer is not a path to unity, but rather a fruit of it. However, this salvific order was turned on its head again yesterday as “Metropolitan” Epiphany consecrated a new church in the city of Varash in the Rivne Province.
In the pictures published on the OCU’s official website, a Roman Catholic priest is clearly seen standing in the altar during the service. That is, he was not merely standing in the church as a guest, as often happens, but was behind the iconostasis, in the altar with the OCU clergy.
A similar situation occurred in March, when a Catholic priest stood vested in the altar while an OCU priest served the Liturgy. Additionally, the Liturgy was served for a new OCU parish community in Slovenia, which is the canonical territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to the tomos of autocephaly granted to the OCU by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it may not have parishes outside of Ukraine.
A few days prior, on October 8, a hierarch of the OCU openly concelebrated with a Uniate hierarch and a priest of the Roman Catholic Church at a memorial service for the reburying of victims who were tortured in June 1941 by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union in the Dubno prison.
According to the site of the Lutsk Diocese of the Roman Catholic church, the service was celebrated by “Archbishop” Hilarion of Rivne of the OCU, the Exarch of the Lutsk Diocese of the Uniate church Josaphat, and the dean of the Rivne Deanery of the Lutsk Diocese of the Roman Catholic church Fr. Vladislav Chaika, and other local priests.
OCU hierarchs earlier served with an archimandrite of the schismatic “Montenegrin Orthodox Church.” The Kiev Metropolia of the OCU later explained that they concelebrated with the archimandrite despite not having communion with his church.
In August, a cleric of the OCU also concelebrated with a cleric of the schismatic “Belarusian Orthodox Church.”
Thus, since receiving a tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople, the OCU has concelebrated with Uniates, Roman Catholics, Montenegrin schismatics, and Belarusian schismatics.
The hierarchs of the Greek Church voted to recognize the OCU on Saturday.