Crisis of OCU: Why Epiphany cheated Filaret
Filaret and Petro Poroshenko agreed to deceive Patriarch Bartholomew and Epiphany during the creation of the OCU, but Filaret himself was left deceived.
Filaret is trying to take power from Epiphany and restore the Kiev Patriarchate, which still legally exists. The “honorary patriarch” no longer wants to be honorary but active and, therefore, talks about the lies and intrigues that accompanied the creation of the OCU.
It turned out that Filaret colluded with Poroshenko and Epiphany in order to deceive Patriarch Bartholomew before the “Unification Council”: they agreed that Epiphany Dumenko, an elected “primate” of the OCU, would be a purely decorative figure, while in reality Filaret would continue to lead it.
But everything turned out differently. Poroshenko with Epiphany tricked the "elder" and decided that Epiphany would manage the OCU for real. At the Synod of the OCU, Epiphany even tried to pension Filaret off. But it was not that easy. All this is not a script of the adventure film – this is an everyday life of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Filaret Denisenko decided to stage a coup in the OCU and take away power from Epiphany.
Hardly had Petro Poroshenko lost the presidential election, as Filaret launched an attack on the joint project of the former President and Phanar. The honorary patriarch said that the OCU was divided and he intends to reinstate the Kiev Patriarchate, which, as everyone assured, had been dissolved.
Filaret: “The Church split up. And therefore, my task now as a patriarch is to preserve the Kiev patriarchy, to preserve the Ukrainian Church ... There is no need to return the patriarchate – it is there!
TSN: Do you let the Church be divided? – I do. But we will create a single church – the Kiev Patriarchate.”
At the beginning of May, Filaret Denisenko sent an invitation to the OCU bishops to the meeting, where he planned to agree on the restoration of the status quo – i.e., Filaret-led Kiev Patriarchate. Invitations were printed out on official letterheads of the UOC KP.
Supporters of Epiphany began to sound the alarm immediately. All media resources led by TSN channel were mobilized, which only recently advertised Tomos and praised Filaret up to the skies. Now they are dragging a recent idol through the mud and accuse him of splitting.
TSN: “Does the one, who fought for the independent Ukrainian Church for so many years, really want to destroy it with his own hands?”
Owing to the media wave raised, the majority of the OCU “hierarchs” were afraid to go to the meeting with Filaret. As a result, only four "bishops" came to Filaret.
Such a failure could break down anyone, but not Denisenko. On May 15, he holds a press conference at which he makes a number of sensational statements.
”Unification Council” was Greek rather than Ukrainian
Filaret declares that the Unification Council, at which the OCU was born, was not Ukrainian but Greek, that the OCU is not a new structure at all, but the Kiev Patriarchate, which has not disappeared but continues to exist.
Filaret: “The statute that was adopted at the Council in Sofia on December 15 is a statute of the Greek Church, and its action ends up with the granting of the Tomos. We are not building a new church. We can hear it like we are beginning to build a new church. And the one that was before the Council – do we have no relation to this Church? Do we abandon it? No, we don’t, this is a continuation."
Filaret signed a document on dissolution of the OCU, but did not mean it
Asked if he signed the document on dissolution of the Kiev Patriarchate, Filaret says he did but it does not mean anything, since otherwise Ukraine wouldn’t have received the Tomos.
Filaret: “I signed it. Why? It was a temporary decision on order to receive the Tomos. Without it, the Eccumenical Patriarch wouldn’t have the right to grant the Tomos to us.”
Filaret does not care whether there is a Tomos or there is no Tomos
When a journalist asked whether Filaret was afraid that his actions would provoke the revocation of the Tomos, he responds completely indifferently – something like they may take it away or may not take it away.
Filaret: “Whether the Tomos will be taken away or not taken away – it does not depend on us. They may revoke it if there are grounds, or may not.”
It is clear that the Tomos, which in Ukraine has almost become an object of worship through the efforts of Petro Poroshenko and Filaret, does not interest Filaret inasmuch as the issue of recognition or non-recognition of the OCU. He cares only about power.
OCU is not recognized by Local Churches, since there are Moscow agents among its “hierarchs”
Whilst the Moscow’s hand in the rhetoric of Filaret, like the others in the Kiev Patriarchate, used to be exclusively bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, now, according to Filaret, it has penetrated into the OCU ranks. And the fact that not a single Local Church, except for Phanar, has recognized the new structure so far is explained with the above, in Filaret’s opinion.
Filaret: “None of the other Churches recognizes the Ukrainian Church not only as a patriarchate, but also as a Ukrainian autocephalous Church. So far we do not see the avenues that would lead to recognition. Why do they not recognize it? There are many reasons, but the main reason is Moscow. It acts in Ukraine now not through the Moscow Patriarchate, but through us, since our bishops stand against what they have created – against the Kiev Patriarchate.”
Epiphany does not act on his own. Others lead instead of him
Filaret claims that Epiphany is not able to lead the Church on his own – somebody else does it for him. Who it is – Filaret doesn’t say.
Filaret: “The truth is that he does not lead but he is led. He told me directly – not everything depends on me.”
Poroshenko and Epiphany cheated Filaret
Filaret claims that prior to the creation of the OCU, there was an oral agreement between him, Petro Poroshenko and Epiphany that Epiphany would be a kind of nonexecutive figure head to represent OCU in the international arena. In reality though, this structure was supposed to be led by Filaret.
Filaret: “The arrangements were made between me and the President, including Epiphany, and not only between three of us, but also with the bishops. And at the Council of Bishops there was an agreement that I continue to lead the Church in the territory of Ukraine together with Epiphany, while he represents the Church from outside. So we concluded such an agreement.”
However, Poroshenko with Epiphany deceived the gullible old man and removed him from the leadership of the new structure.
Filaret: “We did not have in writing, because I trusted both the President and Epiphany, but they cheated me.”
In fact, Filaret said that during the creation of the OCU, he and Poroshenko were trying to deceive Patriarch Bartholomew by electing Epiphany as a puppet primate. But in the end, Epiphany and Poroshenko conspired to outwit Filaret himself, having removed him from management.
Filaret: “I, as a patriarch, should lead the Ukrainian Church in the territory of Ukraine, but Epiphany tricked me and controls it himself. Moreover, at the first Synod they raised a question to retire me altogether! I trusted him absolutely. And if I had not campaigned for him at the Council, he would not have become a primate.”
How can one call the OCU in light of all these revelations? Perhaps, “scandal” would be the best term.
When the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, after the “Unification Council” of the OCU, warned that two groups of schismatics could not mechanically create the canonical Church, no one in Ukrainian society believed them.
Metropolitan Anthony, even in winter, at the time of the OCU’s triumph, said that all this would quickly end and it would end in disgrace.
Metropolitan Anthony: “There were a lot of such events in our history, events that were once assessed as great, and then became a disgrace for church history and for people who signed such documents. In general, there are different documents signed at different times – inaticons, unions, and tomoses. But very often, unfortunately, they eventuated for Christians difficulties in their lives. But in general, only those people who are engaged in church history are aware of them today.”
But why then, when everyone was shouting vigorously that the OCU would unite all the Orthodox, the hierarchs of the UOC already knew that this structure would soon collapse?
It would seem that everything was going perfectly with the OCU. Petro Poroshenko and many others stated that with the creation of this structure, the centuries-old aspirations of the Ukrainian people were fulfilled – a single Church was created, which was recognized by Constantinople and was about to be recognized by the whole world. Filaret made sure that its head was not an outsider from the UOC Simeon, nor authoritarian Mikhail Zinkevich, but Filaret’s loyal personal aide – Epiphany Dumenko. The government, in fact, created the OCU so that it would be its favorite court Church. Hundreds of churches were taken away from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and transferred to the OCU. Ideal greenhouse conditions were created. But, nevertheless, Poroshenko is gone and a split occurs immediately. As a result, the OCU turns out to be initially founded on intrigues and lies.
When politicians and deputies deceive the people and each other, we are no longer surprised, we are used to that. But this cannot be the case in the Church.
We see how violently people in politics rush to power and how hard it is for them to part with it.
We see how precious the power is to Filaret.
But Christ said something completely different: “Whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matt. 20:27).
Why can't Filaret leave? Because he cannot live by the gospel. And Filaret in OCU is not the only one. Mikhail Zinkevich directly and honestly said that he did not give up the intention to become the head of the OCU. The rest have the same mindset.
Why do not the OCU eparchies unite with each other, why do not the OCU members trust or even hate each other? Well, everything is simple – because although they wear vestments, they think in exactly the same way as MPs of the Ukrainian Parliament. The formal legalization on the part of Constantinople did not change them internally.
Christ said: “I will build my church on a stone, and the gates of hell will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). Indeed, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the days of the toughest pressure withstood and grew even stronger, while the OCU collapses itself despite the ideal conditions.
Is it a set of circumstances? Hardly.