Kiev, December 12, 2019
The Synod of Bishops of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” headed by “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, gathered in Kiev on December 5, announced amendments to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy aimed at bringing the OCU’s liturgical practices closer to that of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In particular, it was decided that the reading of the troparion of the Third Hour during the Eucharistic Canon in the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great would be optional, and that the Litany of Catechumens would not be prayed in parishes that do not have any of their own catechumens, reports the official OCU website.
The OCU “hierarchs” noted that the decision regarding the Troparion of the Third Hour corresponds to a long tradition “that is now followed by the rites of the Divine Liturgy in the Greek language.”
The Synod also stated that, “taking into account the liturgical practice of other Local Churches, in particular, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, it was decided to pronounce the Litany of the Catechumens only in parishes where there are catechumens—those who are preparing for Baptism and are being catechized.”
In this way, the Liturgy will better correspond to the needs of those present, the Synod writes.
The bishop’s use of his staff during the services is also “streamlined,” taking into account the practices of other Local Churches.
The Synod’s decisions are not without controversy. “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, the head of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate,” whom the OCU still considers to be a member of its own Synod, stated that, “The Synod of the OCU demonstrated its dependence on the Greek tradition by making changes in the Divine Liturgy, and, it seems to me, is unconsciously preparing a religious war in Ukraine.”
The liturgical practices adopted are legitimate practices, in use by other Local Churches, though the Synod’s decision comes against the background of OCU hierarchs and laity having demonstrated their motivation of becoming more like Constantinople and moving away from Ukrainian traditions in order to be less like Russia several times.
In Lutsk, a group of activists asked a blessing to celebrate the Nativity of Christ according to the New Calendar on December 25 in order to differentiate themselves from “the aggressor Russia.” Their request found the support of “Metropolitan” Mikhail Zinkevich of Lutsk and Volyn, and the issue has since been backed by several other OCU clergymen.
Last December, Epiphany Dumenko himself, the primate of the OCU, stated that the Ukrainian Church should change its stance on LGBT issues to move away from the “Russian conservative tradition.”