Epiphany appears to be awarded by US for defending Phanar’s privileges
Epiphany Dumenko received the Patriarch Athenagoras Award for upholding and defending ecclesiastic and canonical prerogatives of Phanar.
On October 19, 2019, the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko received an award named after Patriarch Athenagoras in the field of human rights. As stated on the website of the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, the founder of the Award, "Metropolitan Epiphany has been a strong advocate for religious freedom and a key defender of the ecclesiastical and canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate."
In particular, it is reported that Dumenko was presented an award by the American Archbishop, Exarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople Elpidophoros, together with the Archon National Commander of the Order, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis.
In his welcoming address, Archbishop Elpidophoros noted that Dumenko is "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."
According to the Phanar representative, the head of the OCU "in Ukraine already showed the Solomon-like wisdom that was needed to reunify the Church, return to Eucharistic unity and establish it (OCU – Ed.) as an integral member of the group of autocephalous Orthodox Churches worldwide."
Anthony J. Limberakis also noted "Metropolitan Epiphany'a long record of defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate". According to him, "Immediately after the successful completion of the work of the Unifying Synod which was convened in Kyiv in December 2018 and which chose Metropolitan Epiphaniy as the Primate of the autocephalous and newly unified Orthodox Church in Ukraine, His Beatitude contacted His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in order to express his respect and to request the good wishes and blessings of the Mother Church so that his primatial ministry would bear good fruit. This epitomized His Beatitude’s understanding of the canonical position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Church, and his deep respect and love for His All-Holiness."
The Athenagoras Human Rights Award was established in 1986 by the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, archonists of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, and was named after Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople. The Award is presented every year at the Annual Banquet of the Order to a person or organization who takes care of the basic rights and religious freedoms of all people.
Previous recepients include former US President Jimmy Carter; former US President George W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; former US Vice President Joseph Biden; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, and mother Teresa from Calcutta.
Earlier, the UOJ wrote that, according to Epiphany Dumenko, the key to the unification of the OCU and the UGCC lies in Rome and Constantinople.