Phanar has done its duty, Phanar can go

21 March 2019 16:56
Filaret no longer needs Patriarch Bartholomew Filaret no longer needs Patriarch Bartholomew

After the formation of the OCU, Filaret and his followers made statements directly contradicting the provisions of the Tomos. Can Patriarch Bartholomew resist this?

“The moor has done his duty, the moor can go,” is a quote from Friedrich Schiller’s drama “Fiesco's Conspiracy in Genoa” (1783), which tells how the moor helped Count Fiesco to revolt Republicans against Doge (King) Doria. And this is also one of the main messages of Mr Denisenko, which he actually expressed to the address of Patriarch Bartholomew in a recent interview with the “Glavсom” news agency.

On March 15, “Glavсom” published the first part of a long interview with Filaret under the eloquent title: “Patriarch Bartholomew: The order proposed by the Greeks does not suit us. Our Church needs a new Statute.”

A screenshot of the site "Glavcom"

In this interview, Mr Denisenko expressed dissatisfaction with the model of governance of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which was formulated by Constantinople in the Tomos, and also announced a local Council of the CCU, which would change this model. That is, the “honorary patriarch” of the OCU has openly stated that the OCU will violate the conditions for the existence of the OCU stipulated in the Tomos of its alleged autocephaly.

We cite a fragment of the interview to “Glavсom”:

Correspondent: “How does the Ecumenical Patriarchate look at the fact that Ukraine wants to amend the Statute, which was agreed with Constantinople?”

Mr Denisenko: “They told us this: for the time being, accept this Statute, which we offer to you, and when you receive the Tomos, you are an autocephalous church and you adopt such a statute that you need”.

Correspondent: "That is, there are no restrictions and conflict?"

Mr Denisenko: “No. We act legally, not against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We are grateful to the Ecumenical Patriarch for what it did. But if we are an autocephalous church, then we must act in the interests of our church, our people, and our state.”

Tomos says one thing, Filaret's speeches – completely different 

We do not know what the Phanariots told Mr Denisenko or the negotiators from Ukraine, but the Tomos set off the exact opposite of what Mr Denisenko is voicing. According to this document, the provisions of the Statute of the OCU "must fully comply with the provisions of this Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos". That is, there is nothing in the Statute of the OCU that could contradict the Tomos. However, the OCU is already actively violating the Tomos and not only with its Statute. More on this later.

In the meantime, I would like to comment on Mr Denisenko’s phrase that “we must act in the interests of our church, our people, and our state”. The phrase, clearly designed for people mistaken about the "grandfather of the OCU", as the former Exarch, Archbishop Daniel Zelinsky, called Mr Denisenko. One of the most obvious disagreements to date between the Phanar and the OCU is the formation of the Synod of the OCU. Constantinople insists that the "hierarchs"-members of the Synod should occupy their places according to the seniority of "ordinations". The Tomos says that the Synod "annually comprised of Hierarchs invited by rotation and seniority from those serving within the geographical boundaries of Ukraine". And the “honorary patriarch” insists on quite the opposite: “The most important thing is to change the number of permanent members of the Synod. We need not three, as it is now (the Tomos does not provide for permanent members at all – Ed.) but more, about 12. For others, there will be the possibility of being temporary members of the Synod by rotation. Permanent members of the Synod should be authoritative hierarchs from different regions, from the Centre, the West, the East, the South and the North.” Why does the "grandfather of the OCU" want to have permanent members in his Synod, and, moreover, such a significant number? The answer lies on the surface: as he put his man on the post of the head of the OCU, so he also wants to make up the Synod of his people. There is no doubt that the Synod will be formed in such a case according to the criterion of personal loyalty of the “bishops” to the “honorary patriarch”. Such "interests of our Church, our people and our state" are being pursued when adopting a new Statute of the OCU.

Mr Denisenko is not quite sincere, saying that there is no conflict between the Phanar and the OCU. There is a conflict and enough disagreements even at the level of official documents and statements.

Recall the decision of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople of October 11, 2018, by which it allegedly revoked the transfer of the Kyiv Metropolis to the jurisdiction of the Russian Church in 1686. Paragraph four of this Decision reads: “Revoke the legal effect of the Synodal Letter of 1686, issued in the circumstances of the time, which entitled the Patriarch of Moscow through oeconomy to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev, elected by the clergy and lay meeting of his eparchy, who at any celebration will commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as First Hierarch, declaring and reaffirming its canonical dependence on the Mother Church of Constantinople."

As you know, the Phanar "revoked" the transfer of the Kiev Metropolis on the grounds that the Metropolitan of Kyiv did not "commemorate at every celebration the Ecumenical Patriarch as First Hierarch". Today, after three months of the alleged existence of the OCU, it is possible to assert with certainty that the OCU is far more seriously violating the regulations stipulated in the Tomos. Today, this Tomos can be cancelled with a true heart, based on the significant violations committed by the OCU. It is quite possible that it will be so in the end.

In order to facilitate the work of Phanariots, we list some of the most significant violations.

Violation 1: the name

There are three names used in the Tomos, which is a bit weird. It can be assumed that such a triality arose as a kind of compromise between different points of view of the participants in the process of creating the OCU. According to the Tomos, in the Diptych of the Local Orthodox Churches, this structure should be referred to as the Most Holy Church of Ukraine: “Moreover, we recognize and declare this Autocephalous Church, established within the boundaries of the sovereign territory of Ukraine by means of this signed Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos, as our spiritual daughter, and recommend that all Orthodox Churches throughout the world acknowledge and commemorate it by the name ‘Most Holy Church of Ukraine’.” Further in the text, the Tomos calls the OCU differently: once the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine: “In addition to the above, we declare that the Autocephalous Church in Ukraine knows as its head the most holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne...”. And two times the Orthodox Church of Ukraine: "At the same time, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, through its Primate or else the canonical locum tenens on the Throne of Kyiv ..." and "Consequently, on the basis of all the above and on the basis of these conditions, our Holy Great Church of Christ blesses and declares the Orthodox Church in Ukraine as Autocephalous ...". Only the Holiest Patriarch knows which of these names is correct, but the name under which this structure was registered in the Ukrainian State Registry of Legal Entities is different from what the Tomos says: "The religious organization "Kyiv Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine)". Moreover, Mr Denisenko stated that “The Tomos was given to the Kyiv Patriarchate” and so this structure should not be referred to as the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” but as the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church”. However, in the Tomos, there is no such a name – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Violation 2: Local Council

Mr Denisenko announced the convention of the Local Council, which traditionally consists not only of bishops but also of representatives of the clergy and laity. Here is the quote from an interview with “Glavcom”: “And therefore we must hold a meeting at the next Local Council and adopt the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” However, the Tomos does not provide for the local council as the governing body of the OCU in principle. Neither is the bishops’ council provided for. The Tomos indicates that the OCU should be governed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Metropolitan of Kyiv and the Synod of the OCU. That’s all! However, Mr Denisenko wants not only to hold meetings of an illegitimate governing body but also to adopt at these meetings the Statute of the OCU, which will contradict the Tomos.

Violation 3: Composition of the Synod

This has already been said above: the Tomos determines the order of membership in the Synod by rotation and seniority of "chirotonies". And the “grandfather of the OCU” wants to have 12 permanent members of the Synod under his control. Even the “Glavcom” correspondent was surprised at such arrogance and tried to draw Mr Denisenko’s attention to this discrepancy, as well as to the fact that this Tomos regulation is already violated: “According to the provisions of the Statute and the regulations of the Tomos, the head of the Ukrainian Church may determine candidates for the Synod, guided by the principle of seniority of chirotonies. But in the first composition of the Synod, there are no many bishops who had been ordained before those who elected.”

It didn’t bother the OCU’s grandfather, and he replied that the Greeks are mistaken and we know better how to manage the Church: “As I have already said, the tradition that has developed in the Ukrainian Church – this applies, by the way, to the Moscow Patriarchate – is that members of the Synod represent the regions. This is the first. Secondly, authoritative bishops. In ordination, he may be the most senior, but in fact, incapable of governing. We have such hierarchs and not one. They have been serving for a long time but do not have the appropriate abilities. Such ones cannot govern the whole Church. And this principle, by seniority of chirotonies, is wrong.”

Violation 4: Parishes outside homeland

In the Tomos, there is an obligation for the OCU to transfer all overseas parishes of the UOC KP and the UAOC to the jurisdiction of Constantinople: “... with its see in the historic city of Kyiv, without being henceforth entitled to establish bishops or found extraterritorial altars in regions already lawfully dependent on the Ecumenical Throne ...”

However, contrary to this unequivocal demand, some overseas parishes have already announced that they are not going to move to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. So, the parishes of the UOC KP in the American cities of Bridgeport, Clifton, Chicago, the parish of the UOC KP in Cologne decided at their parish meetings to remain under the jurisdiction of the OCU (actually the UOC KP). At the same time, Alexander Dviniatin, the parish rector in Bridgeport, stated that the Tomos is not the Symbol of Faith but something like the Typicon (a liturgical charter), which can be shortened or amended at its discretion.

Of course, one can always say that it is impossible to force believers to go to another jurisdiction, which they do not want to be under. However, we did not hear from the "hierarchs" of the UOC KP / OCU a single appeal to their subordinates to follow the provisions of the Tomos.


Having received a formal "legalization" in the form of the Tomos, Filaret and his spiritual pupils- "hierarchs", did not acquire either Christian obedience or humility. They act as they have been used to all these years – “to be friends” with the allies, as long as it is profitable, and then push them aside when they are no longer needed. In other words – just like unscrupulous businessmen and politicians do. In the lexicon of this category of people, there is a well-known verb “to screw up” for such operations. Alike Ukraine, where everyone got used to such methods of Filaret and his followers, for Patriarch Bartholomew this attitude is new.

How will His All-Holiness look at all these tricks of the OCU, which is only three months old? He is most likely to ignore them. More precisely, His All-Holiness looks at them negatively but can do nothing. The Phanar has cornered itself. The “grandfather” of the OCU turned out to be more cunning than the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Phanar accepted schismatics from the UOC KP and the UAOC, granted them the Tomos, quarrelled with the Russian Orthodox Church down to the break of the Eucharistic communion, alienated all the Local Churches with its papal claims, etc. And in the end, it got the disobedience of its newborn daughter – the OCU. And in fact, Mr Denisenko voiced the real state of things today: the Phanar has done its duty, the Phanar can step aside and watch Filaret governing this structure "in the interests of his Church, his people and his state".

What should His All-Holiness do? Revoke the Tomos? But this is a scandal and loss of reputation. This means to publicly admit that he is wrong and agree with the opinion of opponents. Patriarch Bartholomew is unlikely to do this because the Phanar’s actions are pure politics. And in politics there are neither “mothers” or “daughters” (in the sense of churches); in politics, there are not even friends and enemies (permanent). There are only interests and opportunities. And whatever expert in the field of church policy Patriarch Bartholomew could imagine himself, in comparison with Filaret, he looks like a pupil of a children's sports school against a professional boxer.

But it would be good for His All-Holiness to remember that he is not a politician but a primate of the Local Church, and act not according to the laws of this world, but according to the Gospel. Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone is able to humble pride and recognize them. The Apostle Peter told us: “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5: 5). And, it seems, by his actions, Filaret helps Patriarch Bartholomew realize the truthfulness of these words.

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