Why Filaret denies repentance

After the press conference of Mikhail Antonovich Denisenko, held under the vigilant supervision of the head of his Information Department Ivan Zoria, it became clear – there is no repentance, but there is hardness in the sin of schism. Quotes from his speech speak for themselves: "No repentance!", "Anathema does not bother me!" Then why did this notorious "repentant" letter appear?

Denisenko told the story with the appearance of a letter to the Bishops' Council in Moscow at the very beginning of the press conference, and even earlier it had been posted on the official website of the UOC-KP (which, however, malfunctioned) and on the Facebook page.

Sorry for being blunt, but the question, of course, arises: what idiots is all this nonsense aimed at? Could any fair-thinking person really believe in what was said at the press conference?

The version in short is as follows.

The hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate turned to Mr. Denisenko through the Russian Church Abroad with a proposal to lift the anathema and other disciplinary punishment from him? Сompletely ridiculous! And at the press conference, Mr. Denisenko stressed that it was the ROC who was burdened with the anathema imposed on Denisenko, racking brains about how to lift it from him as soon as possible in order to reconcile with the unrecognized schismatic group.

This is absolutely illogical. After all, Denisenko and alike constantly reproach the Moscow Patriarchate for indulging Russian imperial ambitions, because of which the ROC won’t grant autocephaly to the UOC. And reconciliation with schismatics will be just a big step towards this autocephaly. Here Denisenko contradicts himself. Why should Moscow reconcile with the KP, if this only speeds up the complete separation of the UOC?

Let's imagine that the ROC allowed Denisenko to be deceived, fell for his letter and reconciled with the UOC-KP. Then in Ukraine, there will be a religious structure, with the majority of its members standing for complete separation from Moscow. That’s no good to the ROC from the political point of view. But the fact is that the hierarchs – of both the UOC and the ROC – are primarily servants of the Almighty God. They stand for healing the schism because they care about saving the people’s souls, not about who they report to.

In their talks with Mr. Denisenko, Moscow representatives supposedly asked him to initiate a reconciliation process. Something like you send us a letter with the request to lift the anathema, and we will remove it quickly. Again – nonsense! Anathemas are not lifted this way. For 25 years, Mr. Denisenko, with all his false Church, has marred the canonical UOC, seized churches, and then writes a letter to the Council of Bishops, and the Council lifts the anathema from him that very day? Can anyone believe that? If this happened, the ROC would announce world-wide that it is possible to fall into schism many times and then simply say: "sinned by word, deed, and thought" – and the anathema will be lifted," "as if it never was". Even a clinically insane hardly hopes for such a development of events.

Further, the version was announced that the Moscow Patriarchate had allegedly been negotiating with Mr. Denisenko about the future autocephaly in Ukraine and, taking the opportunity, asked Mr. Denisenko to request the Council to lift the anathema from him. Nonsense! How can the Moscow Patriarchate and personally Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Alfeyev) be able to negotiate autocephaly with anathematized Denisenko?! If to discuss this issue, then with the hierarchy of the UOC and certainly not with Denisenko.

The question of autocephaly could not be discussed simply because within the UOC itself supporters of complete separation from the ROC are a minority. On the contrary, there is basically agreement that the current canonical status of the UOC completely meets today's realities and attempts to artificially change it will definitely lead to the emergence of new divisions.

But what really was true in the words of Mikhail Denisenko is the recognition that the UOC-KP is a purely political project. He described this in great detail and several times stressed that the need for autocephaly in Ukraine is due to nothing less than state independence, and vice versa. Thus, he told all his supporters that the structure he heads is not serving God, but the state.

And again, Mr. Denisenko tries to impose on all an ideologeme that the schism in Ukraine is exactly the same as it was in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, etc. That Churches there also separated from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, following the independence of these states from the Ottoman Empire. And that these schisms were healed precisely by the scenario that he, Denisenko, suggests.

It's a lie! The schism in Ukraine is radically different from all those examples that he gave at the press conference. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine has never been separated from the ROC. It was he, Denisenko, who separated from the UOC, which he had previously headed. No ruling bishop (!), no monastery (!), no diocese (!) followed him. All the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, whose support he had sought, refused to do so.

The present-day UOC-KP is an organization created in 1992 by fraud, deception and misappropriation of money and property of the UOC. Despite threats, political pressure and violence, the UOC did not fall inti schism and preserved its unity with the World Orthodoxy. Therefore, to compare the UOC-KP with the Romanian, Bulgarian or Polish Churches is absolutely wrong. The UOC-KP cannot be accepted into the family of the Local Churches, because in Ukraine there is already a canonical Church, recognized world-wide, – the UOC.

The next absurdity at the press conference is the following: Denisenko blamed the Bishops' Council for rejecting his hand extended to reconciliation, not wishing to make up with him and using his letter to expose the case as if Denisenko wanted to return to the ROC.

First, there was nothing like this. In the "Resolution of the Holy Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church 'On the Appeal of the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Filaret'", there is not a word about the accession of the UOC-KP to the ROC. And no one rejected the allegedly stretched Filaretov’s hand. On the contrary, the Resolution says, "After the grievous twenty-five years of strife, violence, mutual hostility, resentment and disruption that have arisen in Ukrainian Orthodoxy and Ukrainian society as a result of the schism, there finally appears the opportunity to take the path of restoring unity."

So immediately, to walk this path of restoring unity, a commission was created, which was to enter into negotiations with Denisenko. It turns out that Mr. Denisenko was offended that the Council of Bishops did not lift the anathema from him on the day of the letter announcement? But it was a priori impossible! He also rejected further negotiations. This is what he meant saying that negotiations can only go about creating an autocephalous Church in Ukraine.

In general, it makes nonsense. On November 30, the "repentant" letter is read at the Bishops' Council. The Council accepts it positively and is ready for further negotiations. Immediately the UOC-KP gets hysterical. First, they claim there was no letter. Then, when the fact cannot be concealed, they say that it was not at all repentant. According to the follow-up version, Patriarch Kirill appealed to Denisenko with this idea through the ROCA.

The next day this version is voiced word for word by Denisenko under the close supervision of Ivan Zoria. Zoria himself is red-faced, sleepy, wiping sweat from his forehead and continually discarding phone calls. Nervous for the fear his supervisee should say something wrong. But the latter is doing, as it was agreed. Denisenko has yet to apologize before the powerful, whom he almost set up, before radicals from extremist organizations and before his adherents. The question arises: why did he write this letter at all? The head of the super-patriotic confession wrote a letter to the Church of the "aggressor state". Why discredit yourself so much? To make excuses then? There is something fishy about it!

Here we are to offer our version of the developments.

First, Denisenko really does not want to go to a better world with anathema imposed on him, no matter how much he tries to convince everyone that excommunication does not mean anything to him.

Secondly, he does not want either to repent of a split and thereby lose face.

Thirdly, the entourage of Denisenko is actively preparing for his departure from life.

Fourth, in the process of this preparation, various groups are formed within the UOC-KP itself, which have different views on the further course of events.

One of these groups is set to reconcile with the canonical Church and pushes Denisenko towards this. The other, on the contrary, stands on irreconcilable positions and hopes that with the help of state pressure, as well as the support of the national radicals, they will be able to persuade the UOC to get untied with schismatics on their conditions.

The performance that we observe is nothing else than the result of this internal struggle of different groups of influence within the KP. First, on the eve of the Bishops' Council in Moscow, a group of "pigeons" (let us call them so) suggests that Denisenko take advantage of this moment to begin reconciliation with the Church. These people initiate contacts with the Moscow Patriarchate through the ROCOR and receive a favorable response. That is, at this stage the influence of "pigeons" on Denisenko dominates. As a result, he writes a letter to the Bishops' Council on November 16. The letter is formulated very streamlined and allows it to be interpreted in both directions.

It is voiced at the Council and receives that supportive answer, which might have been broached during the negotiations between the UOC-KP and the Moscow Patriarchate and held off the record. And then there is an information explosion. This entire story receives a sharply negative response from the political leadership of Ukraine. After all, Denisenko's appeal to the Moscow Council discredits the whole ideology of the struggle against Russia, the "Russian world", "Russian aggression", and the like. This extremely negative reaction is also not publicized, but it is precisely such a response that enables the group of "hawks" to dramatically increase their influence on Mr. Denisenko. Inside the Kiev Patriarchate, everything is turned upside down. In an urgent order, a fictional tale about how Patriarch Kiril dreams of removing anathema from Denisenko is whipped up, which is voiced subsequently at a press conference. It is said there that no other negotiations except for autocephaly will ever be conducted.

This means the disruption of all those preliminary agreements that were probably reached at negotiations unknown to the general public. The press conference completely disavows Denisenko's letter. "Hawks" triumph!

What can this situation entail?

First, it is the removal from Denisenko of all representatives of the "pigeons" group. As a result, we can soon hear about the transition of individual "hierarchs" of the Kyiv Patriarchate to other faiths.

Secondly, this is the consolidation of the "hawks" and radicalization of rhetoric against the UOC, increasing the promotion of anti-church bills and growing threat of raider seizures of the UOC temples.

Thirdly, it is freezing for a while even behind-the-scenes negotiations on the settlement of the split. After all, the present talks were so harshly disrupted by the efforts of the "hawks" group.

These are short term forecasts. In the more remote perspective, consolidation of the UOC-KP supporters on the settlement of the schism, the so-called "pigeon" group, is inevitable, since it is caused by objective reasons. Patriotic rhetoric alone is already impossible to get by, while from a religious point of view, the UOC-KP is not a Church, but a schismatic community, which is confirmed by all the Local Orthodox Churches. And the further it goes the more unambiguously and loudly it is affirmed. Prospects for recognizing by the World Orthodoxy of at least certain canonical status for the UOC-KP tend to zero. The UOC increasingly defends its religious rights both within the state and internationally. The illegal seizure of temples actually discredits the UOC-KP in the eyes of both the society and international organizations, including the UNO.

If no extraordinary events occur, the UOC-KP will be divided into "irreconcilables", which will become even more radical and aggressive, and those who will eventually perform penance and reunite with the canonical Church.

There is another disappointing outcome. Until Mr. Denisenko had opened his mouth at the press conference, all the Orthodox held their breath in anticipation of a miraculous repentance. Just a few believed in it, but most of the people cherished a “what-if” hope!

The miracle did not happen. "No repentance!” – Mr. Denisenko cut off any hopes. But he himself knows perfectly well that he initiated the split and thus should repent. This is a case in point of what many holy fathers and devotees of piety have written about: do not lull yourself with an idea that you can repent any time, even at the last moment of your life. One should repent without procrastination. Because there may come a time when a person will want to repent sins, but he will no longer be able to. The network of people he has created around him, the ideas he typifies, the pride he has cultivated in himself, will not allow him to do this.

This is exactly what happened to writer Leo Tolstoy. Shortly before his death, he came to Optina Pustyn monastery, intended to come to the John-the Forerunner ‘s skete, but did not come eventually. The Abbot of the monastery, Venerable Barsanuphius of Optina went himself to Astapovo station, where Tolstoy was already at death’s door, in order to try and reconcile the writer with the Church. He had spare Holy Gifts, and he received an instruction: if Tolstoy at least whispers to his ear only one word "I repent," he has the right to give him the Holy Communion. But St. Barsanuphius was barred from approaching Tolstoy by the people, for whom Lev Nikolaevich was a symbol, an icon of what Tolstoy had created himself, and they could not allow the writer to back out of his misbeliefs at the last moment of his life.

So, Mikhail Denisenko, who may have wanted to repent at heart, was opposed by the people who would otherwise lose their power, their ambitions and their ideological linchpin.

But while the person is alive, hope is alive. Perhaps, Mikhail Denisenko one day will whisper this salutary word: I repent.
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