Constantinople group gives human rights award to Epiphany as his church continues to persecute Ukrainian faithful

New York City, October 21, 2019

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The primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, traveled to New York City to receive a human rights award from the Archons-Order of St. Andrew of Constantinople on Saturday.

Dumenko was solemnly awarded the Athenagoras Human Rights Award, given every year “to a person or organization that has consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication, concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people,” during the annual banquet of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle.

In choosing to award Epiphany, the Archons are, like the Patriarchate of Constantinople at large, completely ignoring the faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church who have been suffering at the hands of the schismatics for years, and especially over the past year since the OCU was created. Their churches are stolen, whether violently or with the help of local administrators, and clergy and laity are routinely beaten.

In fact, OCU activists have been known to assault bishops, priests, monastics, and laity, old and young alike, of the canonical Church, which is to be expected, given that Dumenko himself has openly declared that he is a proud follower of the nazi Stepan Bandera, who he considers a “genius, creating the Ukrainian nation and spirit.”

The OCU is full of such people, as OrthoChristian has previously detailed.

The facts of such persecution have even been recognized by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights for the United Nations, and the choice of Epiphany is certainly a provocation against the canonical Ukrainian Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.

In his speech upon awarding Epiphany, Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America emphasized not so much Epiphany’s human rights record, but the greatness of Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the struggle of a section of the Ukrainian people to have an independent Church.

As OrthoChristian previously reported, while the award is officially for those who have a “concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people,” the focus is often on what the person has done for the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

According to Archbishop Elpidophoros, Epiphany Dumenko received the award for his support of the Patriarchate: “His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios has been a staunch defender of the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, even as its prerogatives have been challenged and even rejected outright by some, and as it has been placed under tremendous pressure from others.”

“Tonight we celebrate not only your person, Your Beatitude,” Abp. Elpidophoros began on Saturday, “but we celebrate as well the pious and faithful people of Ukraine, whose aspirations for religious independence and control over their own future and spiritual destiny were realized by the loving, pastoral, and indeed maternal care of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople.”

The restoration of millions of Ukrainians and the creation of the OCU “is an accomplishment of the highest order. For this you deserve our heartfelt congratulations and we proclaim you AXIOS!” Abp. Elpidophoros exclaimed.

He then presents a polemic in defense of Constantinople’s decision to invade the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, proclaiming that, “These are historical facts that cannot be denied, except by those who choose to willfully live in denial.”

Epiphany has a difficult task, Abp. Elpidophoros states, of guiding the newly-created OCU and building the future of Ukraine, which is laboring under external pressures, which “affect the many other Ukrainian faithful who are still under the Moscow Patriarchate.”

In closing, Elpidophoros reveals that Epiphany is receiving the award because of their faith in the future of his ministry: “We know that you will uphold the human rights of all Ukrainians, whether they are of your flock or not, because the human rights of any given person are the human rights of every person.”

In his own speech, Epiphany begins by saying that he does not consider himself worthy of the award, but that he is accepting it on behalf of all those who have struggled to create the OCU, which is currently recognized only by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The history of the 20th century was particularly dramatic in Ukraine, Epiphany continues, noting the millions that were killed, including martyrs for Orthodoxy, patriots in the struggle for national identity, and the millions who suffered from the manmade famine engineered by the Georgian leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.

He also notes how impressed he was on a previous trip to the U.S. by the various memorials in Washington, D.C., including that to “the martyred Reverend Martin Luther King,” which are united by a common theme: “Freedom is not free.”

Freedom from the devil, sin, and death came at the high price of the life of the Jesus Christ, he notes. Fighting for truth, freedom, love for country and people, is intertwined with the Lord’s words to Love your neighbor as yourself.

Epiphany also glorifies Pat. Bartholomew, praising his “act of such true love” in giving a tomos of autocephaly to the OCU on January 6, which he did “In full realization of how much courage would be required and how much he would suffer in the future from adversaries and lovers of lies.”

“I am convinced that His All-Holiness is a worthy heir to the throne of the Holy Hierarchs of Constantinople: the great fighter of heresy Gregory the Theologian, the ardent defender of truth John Chrysostom, the builder of the Church under tragic circumstances Gennadius Scholarius, and the martyr for the people Gregory V,” Epiphany added.

And drawing on the famous speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., Epiphany states: “I also have a dream: A dream of a day when all Local Churches—without exception— follow the canonical resolution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and recognize our Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine as their sister Church.”

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today, where the tragic persecution of the Ukrainian faithful at the hands of Epiphany’s church is sure to be discussed.

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