Kiev, December 16, 2020
While the Ukrainian state officially guarantees the separation of Church and state, in reality, this is obviously not the case, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” said yesterday.
In a recent interview, another OCU “bishop” spoke candidly about the creation of the OCU as a personal project of ex-President Petro Poroshenko, and Poroshenko himself recently spoke about his continuing role as a politician in the affairs of the OCU.
The OCU celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the “unification council,” at which the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” merged with the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” to form the schismatic OCU, with a moleben of thanksgiving at Kiev’s historic state-owned St. Sophia Cathedral yesterday, which was broadcast by the channel UA: First.
Following the moleben, Epiphany Dumenko thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for the “historic decision” to create the OCU on the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
In his presentation at the Bishops’ Council of the OCU that same day, Dumenko stated that, “More than once we have stressed before and must do it again: The local Ukrainian Orthodox Church has never been, is not, and does not want to be a ‘state church.’”
However, at the moleben, he presented a rather different emphasis: “Although, according to the constitution, the Church and state are separated from each other, in reality, it is impossible to draw a line between them that separates us.”
He also thanked Poroshenko who made “extraordinary efforts to make this event happen,” and wished him inspiration “for further work for the benefit of the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian Church.”
And according to Poroshenko, his continuing involvement in the life of the OCU is indeed bearing fruit. According to him, at least two more Local Churches are close to recognizing the OCU.
“I know for sure,” he said, “because I am holding negotiations now, using diplomatic opportunities,” he confessed on the program Countdown on UA: First.
“Why does a politician and businessman hold such high-level negotiations with religious organizations? Who authorized him to conduct such negotiations? Finally, what are the ‘theological’ arguments he has to offer?” ask the Orthodox analysts at Pravblog.
And in a recent interview with the Ukrainian outlet Glavkom, “Metropolitan” Michael Zinkevich of Volyn, one of the most authoritative “hierarchs” of the OCU speaks of Poroshenko’s own ambitions in creating the OCU and how it affected the people’s understanding of Church life.
“Petro Poroshenko had an interest, even an ideological one, in having a Local Church. He thereby shows that he influences not only state, but also church processes, and takes part in them. This vision of his then started to go south,” Zinkevich says.
And this affected the simple people, he confesses: “People began to perceive too much interference from the secular authorities in church affairs as the norm…”
“Too many secular people have entered the Church,” Zinkevich said. “They begin to build it as they want, and to use it in their own way. At the beginning of the creation of the Church, joining the church was a matter of pre-election benefits, but now this secular element has entered the Church out of habit,” he added.
And as OrthoChristian has reported before, many in Ukraine are now concerned about a change in President Vladimir Zelensky’s policy towards Church affairs. While he campaigned and began his presidency on a platform of non-interference, he seems to be moving backwards, towards the Poroshenko policy of open interference, and the OCU’s moleben in St. Sophia’s is another example of this shift.
A report on the site of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church notes that in October of this year, when the Church was celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence and self-governing status, the Ministry of Culture refused to allow it to serve in the state-owned St. Sophia’s Cathedral, allegedly because of the pandemic.
However, the schismatic OCU was given permission to serve in the historic cathedral yesterday, the despite the fact that the pandemic has only gotten worse since October.
The situation is just another example of the state’s double standard in relation to the Churches, His Eminence Archbishop Theodosy of Cherkasy of the canonical Church commented.
“Unfortunately, this is the reality of our life. It’s a crime, it’s beastly, it’s medieval, but it’s reality,” he lamented.
Recall that Makary Maletich, another of the most authoritative “hierarchs” of the OCU, earlier admitted that Patriarch Bartholomew granted a tomos of autocephaly to the OCU because he had the backing of the U.S. and other great Western powers.