Why Filaret is afraid of Zelensky

Head of the UOC KP Filaret fears that Vladimir Zelensky will provide equal conditions for the existence of confessions

What the leaders of schismatics and Uniates fear so much in the event the President of Ukraine changes.

“Honorary patriarch” of the OCU Filaret Denisenko is afraid that, following the results of the second round of the presidential elections of April 21, 2019, Vladimir Zelensky will come to power rather than Petro Poroshenko, the grantee of the Tomos.

Not only Filaret is afraid of this; a consonant statement was also made by Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Catholics of Eastern rite.

Why are the leaders of the Uniates and dissenters so afraid of the change of power in Ukraine and why does the Primate of the UOC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy, calmly calls on his flock to repentance and spiritual deeds during the Lent?

The second round of elections start before long. Sociological forecasts show disappointing figures for the current President: 71.4% of respondents are going to vote for Zelensky and only 28.6% for Poroshenko (data from the Rating group).

How the Tomos grantee expects to overcome the difference in more than 40% is unknown. However, let's not forget the popular wisdom: we will find out what will happen tomorrow on the day after tomorrow. In this situation, the leaders of some Christian denominations are making desperate attempts to influence the preferences of their flock and force it to vote for the “right” candidate.

Leader of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk issued an epistle on April 12, in which he instructed his flock regarding voting. Of course, he is not so stupid as to call specific names, an allusion to one of the candidates is read quite clearly in his appeal.

Screenshot of the official website of the UGCC

Earlier, the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Epiphany Dumenko, participated in the so-called Tomos-tour around the country's cities, which was held on the eve of the presidential election and had a pronounced campaigning print. Billboards with Poroshenko and Dumenko were hanging everywhere.

Billboard with Petro Poroshenko and Epiphany Dumenko

In all Epiphany’s appeals regarding the issue of voting at the presidential election, the incumbent president was guessed. In addition, he expressed the position of his electoral structure quite specifically stating that the OCU sees only Poroshenko as the president.

But the results of the first round of voting for the agitators of the current guarantor of the Constitution were diasppointing: 30.24% for Zelensky and 15.95% for Poroshenko. They saddened the Ukrainian schismatics, too. Their unhappiness was so great that the “priest” from the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, Petr Zinich, said: those who voted for Zelensky will burn in hell.

Screenshot of the publication from the Facebook page of Yuri Doroshenko

According to the Central Election Commission, 5.7 million voters voted for Zelensky. And the “clergyman” of the OCU sent them all to hell, for which he was not deprived of his “dignity” or banned in “ministry” – at least, they did not announce this.

And on April 12, Filaret Denisenko on the air of one of the Ukrainian TV channels makes rather a sad statement: “The Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate hopes that he (Zelensky – Ed.) will support it. And we think that he will support. The result may be that the unification will either end altogether or will be very slow.”

This statement is worth having an insight into it.

• First, the “honorary patriarch” believes that Zelensky as a president will support the UOC and that the UOC even hopes for it. Where did he get such information? To this day, the UOC has not shown any sympathy for Zelensky. Nor has it expressed any antipathies, though.

• Secondly, what Filaret calls a “unification” is in fact forcible seizures of the UOC temples, using administrative resources and national radicals.

• Thirdly, the support of the UOC should, according to Filaret, lead to the cessation of these violent seizures ("unification", in its terminology), i.e. the cessation of violence and lawlessness towards the UOC is regarded as its support from Zelensky!

One might well ask: is it perhaps no support? Maybe, this is an elementary guarantee of the right of citizens to freedom of conscience? The rights to freely choose which church to go to and which religion to profess? Isn't it what any president and any civil authority should ensure? This is an elementary guarantee of human rights – and support of the UOC is irrelevant here.

But Filaret is afraid this scenario. Epiphany is afraid of it, too. So is Sviatoslav Shevchuk and so on. Why then are they afraid that the authorities can stop meddling with church affairs (which is prohibited basically by the Constitution of Ukraine) and put everyone in equal legislative conditions?

The answer can be found if we recall that both the UGCC, the UOC KP and the UAOC were created at the initiative of the authorities, by the efforts of the authorities and in the interests of the authorities.

The Uniate Church arose as a result of the Brest Union in 1596, which was initiated by the Polish King Sigismund III in order to turn the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth into a mono-religious state.

In the 1920s, the new Ukrainian authorities created the UAOC in order to establish the independence of the Ukrainian People's Republic, and later the Bolsheviks used it to fight the Russian Church.

The UOC KP emerged at the initiative of the first President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, also to re-affirm the independence of the Ukrainian state and save the party money, which was transferred to the accounts of the UOC, which was then headed by Filaret Denisenko.

It is possible to argue against these historical precedents that the UOC also received its historical existence in 988 at the initiative and efforts of the secular authorities, the holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles. However, this is an example of a completely different kind.

The schismatic leaders fear that the authorities can stop meddling with church affairs and put everyone in equal legislative conditions.

The baptism of Rus was preceded by the deep sincere conversion of St. Prince Vladimir to Christ and the determination to follow His commandments, even if it goes against the personal interests or interests of the state.

We’ll give two small examples. Before his conversion, Prince Vladimir was an insatiable woman lover. The chronicle tells about the number of prince's concubines: "300 in Vyshgorod, another 300 in Belgorod, and 200 in Berestov, in the village". His character is characterized by the following words: "He was insatiable in fornication seducing married women and molesting maidens". But after his baptism and wedding with the Byzantine princess Anna, the prince dismissed all the harems and lived in marriage with one wife.

The other example concerns the death penalty. Prior to his conversion to Christianity, Vladimir, like any other ruler of that time, without hesitation executed the disobedient or guilty of whatever. But after the adoption of Christianity, he stopped the execution in general, which struck not only his relatives, the Russians, but also the Greek bishops who came to Rus. Here is how the chronicle speaks of this: “And the robberies greatly multiplied, and the bishops said to Vladimir, ‘The robbers have multiplied; why don't you execute them?’ He replied, ‘I am afraid of sin.’ They said to him, ‘You are placed by God to punish evil men and be merciful with good men. You should execute the robbers but upon investigation.’”

Holy Prince Vladimir used his power to plant the true faith in Rus. The creators of the Uniate and splitting denominations, on the contrary, used religion to safeguard their political interests. Thus, these confessions arose solely due to the administrative resource and existed thanks to it. If this administrative resource disappeared, the schismatic and Uniate structures were immediately “blown away”.

So it was the case with the Uniate Church when the influence of Poland weakened and then disappeared on the territory of Ukraine. It was the case with the UAOC when it turned out to be unnecessary to the Soviet authorities. In fairness it should be said that the UOC KP for its short (only 27 years) history has never been left without the support of the authorities. Even in the times of Viktor Yanukovich, there were many political forces that provided such support to the UOC KP. Therefore, it is impossible to say exactly what will happen with the offspring of Filaret when (or if) there is no political support. But it may be assumed.

The most correct thing that Vladimir Zelensky can do if he is elected president is to ensure respect for human rights in the religious sphere of Ukraine; not to give preference to one denomination and not put pressure on others; to ensure a fair trial in all conflicts; to fulfill the requirements of the Constitution and the Laws of Ukraine; to repeal the anti-constitutional and illegal law on the forced renaming of the UOC; to create equal opportunities for all citizens of Ukraine to practice their faith.

It remains to be seen whether Zelensky will become president, it is not known whether he will act in the manner described above. But we already know that this is precisely what the leaders of the Uniates and dissenters are very afraid of. Administrative and power support is the pledge and the basis of their existence.

The most correct thing that Vladimir Zelensky can do if he is elected president is to ensure respect for human rights in the religious sphere of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is not afraid of anything. Because the foundation of its existence is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is not afraid of either Poroshenko or Zelensky as president. The Church accepts the authority that God wants to bestow or let it be. That is why the rhetoric of His Beatitude Onufriy and other hierarchs of the UOC is quite different from that of the schismatics and Uniates.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy:

“We will now elect the president of our country, Ukraine. I would like the president, whom God will place in our country, to remember that the president is the person who should be a slave for everyone, who should sacrifice himself to people and not vice versa. This is a difficult ministry, a very sacrificial ministry, but if this ministry is performed in a God-pleasing manner, then it is very useful and salvific for a person.”

Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) of Borispol and Brovary:

“Evil is real – it is not lying politicians, but the sin as a free opposition of man’s personal will to the Divine. The rest of the evil, according to the teachings of the saint, is evil "imaginary" and is sent from God to prevent the generation of true evils. All human suffering and distress leads to the curbing of real sin being even necessary for their healing. With such "imaginary" sins, the Lord destroys evil. <...> Tests, on the contrary, are good, as they lead to the awareness of one’s sinfulness. Let’s do good, fight for love and strive for peace, because nothing is so characteristic of a Christian as peace-making; therefore, the Lord promised us the greatest reward for it."

Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa and Izmail:

“The greatest evil is the division into friends and foes. Ukrainian people must be united. Many nationalities live here, and the president should be for the whole nation, for all confessions. <...> Politicians come and go but traces of bitterness remain when some oppose others. And we are all brothers, we are Ukrainians. <...> People are not perfect, people are divided, someone wants to be first, and Christ said: if you want to be first, be a servant to all. The Apostle Paul said: Let love be in your debt. Unfortunately, in our time this love is in shortage, therefore, there is a lot of evil in this world that needs to be defeated by good. And people defeat evil because they know it will pass.”

In the run-up to the second round of the presidential election, the UOJ also does not call to vote for this or that candidate but to pay attention to the words of religious leaders and think about whose manifestos are more consistent with the Gospel.

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