Tomos ignorance and Filaret removal: “Funny” decisions of the OCU “Synod”

The “Synod” of the OCU took the Kiev Eparchy away from Filaret. Photo: UOJ

Insight into the Resolution of the “Holy Synod” of the OCU on the punishment of Filaret Denisenko and other members of the Kiev Patriarchate.

On June 24, 2019, the “Holy Synod” of the OCU decided to punish its “honorary patriarch”, head of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret Denisenko, and all participants of the event, which took place on June 20, 2019 in St. Vladimir Cathedral and was pathetically called “Local Council” of the UOC-KP.

But in fact, it turned out not to punish but once again to prove its perverted and anti-church consciousness, ignorance of the sacred canons and just the infinite distance from the Church.

It is known that a lie, apart from being a violation of the commandment of God, is also very difficult to fulfill, for it requires certain skills and virtuosity. As they said in a famous film, in order to lie, you must always remember what you lied, when you lied and whom you lied. The members of the OCU Synod did have problems in this respect.

When making a decision on Filaret Denisenko, they did not bother to remember what was written in their own Tomos, nor what was decided at their own “Unification Council” of December 15, 2019, nor what they themselves had decided at previous meetings of their own "Holy Synod".

Thus, we will now analyze the text of the decision of the OCU “Synod” of June 24, 2019.

To Whom the ruling bishop might concern

“The Holy Synod had considerations regarding the meeting of three bishops, a small number of convened clerics and laity, which took place on June 20, 2019 in St. Vladimir Cathedral of Kiev.

As a result of the discussion, the following decisions were made:

1. Owing to the failure of the Honorary Patriarch Filaret to implement the Synod’s preliminary decision within a one-month period established by the Holy Synod: “In pursuance of the decision of the Holy Synod (Journal No. 9 of the session of February 5, 2019), to oblige the diocesan bishops to register Statutes of the respective Diocesan Administrations and within a month to submit the necessary documents for approval by the Primate, the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, for further registration according to state legislation” (Journal 21 meetings dated May 24, 2019) and failure to submit relevant documents, taking into account numerous requests of parishes and monasteries in Kiev, to the Primate, His Beatitude Epiphany, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, for him to accept them under his direct jurisdiction, as it is prescribed by canonical rules, to cancel Section 4 of Journal No. 1 of the meeting of the Holy Synod of February 5, 2019, and transfer all the parishes and monasteries of the city of Kiev to the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine as their immediate diocesan bishop, which until December 15, 2018, were part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate, and according to the decision of the Local Council of the UOC-Kiev Patriarchate (15 December 2018) and the Unification Council (15 December 2018) are now part of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU)."

Even in minor details, the members of the Synod of the OCU appear as fools. The decision to register the statutes of the diocesan administrations of the OCU during the month was taken at the meeting of the Synod of the OCU on May 24, 2019. This period ended on June 23, respectively. And the very next day, June 24, Filaret Denisenko was punished for not implementing this decision. But the last day of the established deadline, i.e. June 23, was Sunday, a day off. And if the last day of the term falls on a non-working day, the next day is considered to be the last day. Thus, until the end of Monday, June 24, the “honorary patriarch” had the full right to submit for registration the statute of his diocese. But as early as the morning of the same day he was severely punished – illegally, however.

Next point: The Synod claims that the parishes and monasteries of Kiev are part of the OCU by virtue of the decision of the “Local Council of the UOC - Kiev Patriarchate (December 15, 2018)”. However, this event in no case can be considered a Local Council, according to the Statute of the UOC-KP, which was in force at that time. The UOJ described it in detail in the article “War of the Councils: Has Filaret Really Reinstated Kiev Patriarchate?”

Filaret had the full right to submit for registration the statute of his diocese. But as early as the morning of the same day he was severely punished.

Consequently, the parishes and monasteries of Kiev cannot legally enter the OCU. Most likely, Filaret will soon file a lawsuit on the recognition of the "Local Council of the UOC - Kiev Patriarchate" (December 15, 2018)" invalid. From a legal point of view, his chances of winning this case are 100 percent unless, of course, politics intervenes.

The phrase that the parishes and monasteries of Kiev are transferred to the juridiction of the head of the OCU, Epiphany Dumenko, “as it is prescribed by canonical rules”, deserves a broad smile. For some reason, the members of the OCU Synod forgot about the canonical rules when they adopted their own statutes. And now, when Filaret began to call a spade a spade, they suddenly recalled them. Why did this happen? Because everything was initially built on a lie. They invented some kind of two-headed primacy in their religious organization, but now they do not know what to do with it.

On the contrary, in the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church it is written in black and white: "The Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine is the diocesan bishop of the Kiev Diocese and the Holy Archimandrite of the Kiev-Pechersk and Pochaev Lavras, as well as a number of other monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church" (section V, paragraph 11).

It’s noteworthy that similar formulations are spelled out in the Statutes of all Local Churches – the Primate of the Church is the ruling bishop of his jurisdictional diocese.

And this is what is written in the statute of the OCU: "The Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine bears canonical responsibility for the pastoral guidance of the people of God in his own bishopric region."

Screenshot of the OCU statute. Photo: pomisna.info

Nothing is said here either about Kiev, or about the Kiev diocese, or about the right of the ruling bishop. What does “own bishopric region” mean? Where is it? What does this strange phrase mean – “canonical responsibility for pastoral guidance”? What exactly is this "pastoral guidance"? The authors of the statute of the OCU did not even bother to write at least "archpastoral". Moreover, Epiphany Dumenko, according to his own statute, does not even implement this elementary “pastoral guidance”. He is only responsible for this. Absolute nonsense. However, it appeared in the statute of the OCU with the sole purpose – to somehow contrive and embed Filaret Denisenko as an “honorary patriarch” into the administrative system of the OCU.

Now, since the OCU statute prescribes such absurdities and it is not clearly written that the "Metropolitan of Kiev" is the diocesan bishop for Kiev, in order to transfer Dumenko as the diocesan bishop all the Kiev parishes and monasteries, it is necessary to make changes to the statute of the OCU. Can the Synod of the OCU have the right to make such changes? No: this can be done only by the “Local Council” of the OCU (section II, paragraph 4 of the OCU statute).

Therefore, the first paragraph of the decision of the Synod of the OCU dated June 24, 2019 was completely illegal and completely illiterate. This is a feeble attempt to rectify the untruth of the consequences of the untruth on which the OCU was created. Let’s go ahead. 

Dismissal as a new kind of punishment in the Church

 “2. For active participation in the actions aimed at outraging opposition in the church environment, deliberate opposition to conciliar decisions, violation of the 34th Apostolic Canon, participation in the implementation of ordinations in another diocese contrary to the Statute and canonical rules – His Eminence Joasaph (Shibaev), Metropolitan of Belgorod and Oboyan, and His Grace Peter (Moskalev), Bishop of Valuisk, Vicar of the Belgorod Diocese, shall be excluded from the Episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from June 24, 2019. The above hierarchs can appeal in writing within one month to the Holy Synod through a petition addressed at the Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

As long as members of the Synod of the OCU mentioned the 34th Apostolic Canon, it would not be superfluous to cite it in full:

“The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.”

So who is this “first among them” for the Ukrainian people? Dumenko can consider himself the first “bishop” only perhaps within the framework of his religious organization, i.e. the OCU. And if Joasaph Shibaev and Peter Moskalev did something within the OCU, without Epiphany’s consent, they are definitely wrong. But they didn’t and couldn’t do anything within the OCU for the simple reason that they have never been part of and are not part of the OCU. For the same reason, it is impossible “to exclude them from the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from June 24, 2019”.

Epiphany Dumenko, according to his own statute, does not even implement “pastoral guidance” but only bears responsibility for that.

Messrs Synodals of the OCU – have you not read your own Tomos? After all, it is written there in black and white: “The Holy Church of Ukraine <...> cannot ordain bishops or establish parishes outside the state; the existing ones shall now obey in the prescribed order to the Universal Throne.” How can you exclude "from the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine" the "hierarchs" of the dioceses, which are located in Russia and, according to the Tomos, are subordinate to the Constantinople Patriarchate?

With your “canonical” penances, you do nothing more than invade the borders of the Constantinople Patriarchate. You dare punish the "hierarchs" subordinated to Patriarch Bartholomew. Do you think His All-Holiness will let you go?

And how do you punish them? What is this “canonical” punishment about – “excluding from the episcopate”? Canon law knows the following interdictions: banning from the priesthood, defrocking, excommunication (anathema). Any of them suggests that the person subjected to them is not allowed to serve.

Joasaph Shibaev and Peter Moskalev were expelled from the “the episcopate” they had never been part of. But are they still “bishops” or not? Can they perform "Sacraments"?

In the present Church, if a priest violates a canon, he commits a sin and can no longer begin service before he properly repents; however, in the OCU there is obviously no such thing as sin. Accordingly, there is no proper punishment.

This “Church” is more like a corporation. The head of the department was dismissed from firm “A”, but he can perfectly get a job in firm “B”. The same is true in the OCU: “to exclude from the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine”. It is not a ban, deposition or anathema – it is simply a dismissal like go, they say, to a rival firm.

For example, the Bishops' Council in Kharkov in 1992 acted as follows: the Council deposed Metropolitan Filaret (Denisenko) from the post of Primate of the UOC and banned him from the priesthood. Everything is clear.

Laity at best

“3. The monk of the Holy Theodosius Stavropegial Monastery of Kiev city, Archimandrite Andrei (Marutsak), who is banned from the priesthood from June 22, 2019, by the decree of Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine and the cleric of Kharkov Diocese, hieromonk Ilya (Zelensky), banned from the priesthood from June 21, 2019, by the decree of Metropolitan Mitrophan of Kharkov and Bogodukhov, who, in flagrant violation of the canonical rules and the Statute of the Church, despite the ban, took part in the ministry, can submit a petition to the Holy Synod in writing within one month addressed at the Primate, Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine, to have their cases considered. To define that the ordination of the clerics  to the episcopal rank without the election by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the basis for a categorical refusal to satisfy their possible future requests to be admitted as part of the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

"The monk of the Holy Theodosius Stavropegial Monastery of Kiev city, Archimandrite Andrei (Marutsak)", cannot be "banned from the priesthood from June 22, 2019, by the decree of Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine", since his ruling "bishop" at that time was Filaret Denisenko, not Epiphany Dumenko. Here is a quote from the No. 1 journal of the Synod Session of the OCU of February 5, 2019: “His Holiness Patriarch Filaret continues to lead Kiev Diocese made up of parishes and monasteries of Kiev (with the exception of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev).” This paragraph was canceled only on June 24, 2019, but it was in force before.

How can the OCU exclude "from the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine" the "hierarchs" of the dioceses, which are located in Russia and, according to the Tomos, are subordinate to the Constantinople Patriarchate?

The “Local Council” of the UOC-KP of June 20, 2019, decided to “consecrate” Andrei Marutsak and Ilya Zelensky “bishops”. What does Epiphany-led Synod threaten them with? With their inability to join the "episcopate" of the OCU. But they do not belong to the OCU anyway – they are in the UOC-KP. But are their “ordinations” valid or not from the OCU’s point of view?

In the present Church, if someone is ordained bishop in spite of a conciliar decision and canonical rules, this is the basis for declaring such an ordination invalid. Why did not the Synod of the OCU declare that the “ordinations” of Marutsak and Zelensky would be invalid? Simply because if the OCU Synod members recognized them invalid, they would have to recognize their own “ordinations” as invalid too.

After all, Epiphany Dumenko, Eustraty Zoria, and basically almost all the “bishops” of the OCU were “ordained” by Filaret Denisenko, who was also violating the canonical rules. To recognize the “ordinations” of Marutsak and Zelensky as invalid means to acknowledge that the entire “episcopate” of the OCU is just laity, at best. So the two “bishops” were pointed a finger – the OCU will not admit them into its “episcopate”. Well, but they don’t need it!

How OCU wipes out a “sin of schism”

"4. To determine that the meeting of the persons invited by Honorary Patriarch Filaret on June 20, 2019, to St. Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev did not have any decision-making authority, in particular regarding the decisions of the Local Council of the UOC - Kiev Patriarchate (December 15, 2018), which, according to the Statute of the UOC-KP, immediately took effect after being signed by the Presidium of the Council, headed by Patriarch of Kiev and all Russia-Ukraine Filaret,. Considering the above, but also taking into account special merits before the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the past, to state that Honorary Patriarch Filaret remains within the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, but loses his canonical rights and duties related to the administration of the diocese. Honorary Patriarch Filaret can, via the letter addressed at the Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine, make an appeal to the Holy Synod regarding the conciliar consideration of his future position in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

Does the Synod of the OCU take into account the merits of Filaret before the Ukrainian Orthodox Church? The Church which banned him from the priesthood and then anathematized? It’s hard to believe it, of course, but here is a screenshot.

Screenshot of the website pomisna.info

The fact that, according to the statute of the UOC-KP, the “Local Council” of December 15, 2018, was absolutely illegal, is written above. But if Filaret is so guilty in your eyes, for in fact he announced that he was splitting up, breaking away from the OCU, then why don't you apply to him those punishments that are spelled out in the sacred canons?

For example, the 14th canon of the Second Council of Constantinople directly speaks of a similar case: “If a bishop finds a pretext to blame his metropolitan and break the communion with him before a conciliar consideration and will not make a mention of his name at the divine sacrament, the council makes the following judgment of this bishop: let him be deposed once he has been exposed that he supposedly retreated from his metropolitan and created a schism.”

Why don't you depose Filaret Denisenko? You know why – because having deposed him now, you will confirm his overthrow in 1992 and all subsequent canonical punishments imposed on him. And as the “honorary patriarch” himself said, “I was anathematized – but Epiphany is not even a priest.” Therefore, you dodge and come up with some unknown "canonical" rules of canonical law like expulsion from the "episcopate" or, as in Filaret’s case, the deprivation of "canonical rights and duties related to the administration of the diocese".

"I was anathematized – but Epiphany is not even a priest."

Head of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret Denisenko

Once more – there is defrocking, there is resignation, there is banning from priesthood, there is anathema – but the canonical church law does not know such a thing as dismissal.

And what do you offer to Filaret? In the present Church, those who violate canons are offered repentance. In the OCU, however, such a person is offered “to make an appeal to the Holy Synod regarding the conciliar consideration of his future position in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine”. Again, gentlemen of the OCU club, you show that the concept of "sin" is unknown to you. If a person, and especially a bishop, has sinned, he must repent. And you offer to a person, whom you consider to be a “bishop,” for his committing schism, i.e. a sin, which, according to the patristic teaching, is not even washed away with martyr's blood, not to repent of this sin but to ask you how to get a better job in the OCU. Here is your church consciousness!

P.S. Do you really think that 90-year-old Filaret will rush to young Epiphany with such a letter?

Comeback of the Kiev Patriarchate

And, finally, the last paragraph of the engaging document.

"5. To testify that the plentitude of the UOC - Kiev Patriarchate, as well as the plentitude of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, according to their decisions of the Local Councils of December 15, 2018, and the Unification Council of December 15, 2018, united into a single Local Orthodox Church, which is the only historical, canonical and legal heir and successor of their activities. No decisions, orders or other documents, issued on behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate under the name of its statutory bodies after the legal registration of the Kiev Metropolis of the UOC (OCU) on January 30, 2019, have canonical and legal force being a priori invalid and not subject to execution."

Again, you, gentlemen, the synodal members of the OCU, run the risk of falling on your face. You link the invalidity of all orders and documents of the UOC-KP with the registration of a legal entity under the name "Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine)". But on June 18, 2019, the Kiev District Administrative Court accepted the UOC claim on invalidation of such registration. Purely in legal terms, the likelihood of the court cancelling the registration of this very “Kiev Metropolis of the UOC (OCU)” is close to 100%. Unless, of course, politics intervenes.

The court will be obliged to cancel the registration of the Kiev Metropolis of the UOC (OCU) at least on the grounds that there is no such name in any constituent document of the OCU: neither in the Tomos nor in the statute. It is referred to as OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine) or HCI (Holy Church of Ukraine). And the statute it is called just OCU.

First page of the OCU statute. Photo: pomisna.info

There is no UOC (OCU)! Therefore, the court will be obliged to cancel the registration. And then it turns out that all Filaret’s orders published on the UOC-KP letterheads will become valid again.

In general, the decision of the "holy" Synod of the OCU causes only bitter laughter and great surprise. How much should one be illiterate and short-sighted to write such texts! How much should one neglect not only the sacred canons of the Church, but even those documents that “underpin” the OCU: its Tomos and its statute.

Anyway, all this is clear. What is based on a lie can only spin off another lie. The members of the OCU Synod are getting even more entangled in their own decisions and resolutions. One lie overlaps another and draws the need for a third one. And so it will be infinitely. The sight is very pitiful but understandable. “The foolishness of the ignorant is foolishness” (Pr. 14, 24).

But there is one incomprehensible in all this. What is the former Metropolitan Simeon (Shostatsky) of Vinnitsa still doing in the Synod of the OCU, among these lost people? Has he not yet been fed up with these "pods that the pigs were eating" (Luke 15:16)? Has he not yet remembered that "How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!" (Luke 15:17)? Does he not miss the pure, bright, and gracious, which he left in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church? Isn’t it high time for him to say to himself, “I will set out and go to my father” (Luke 15:18)?

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