Belated congratulation: what Church of Greece addressed to Epiphany Dumenko
Analysis of the letter of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens to the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
On October 29, 2019, a letter of recognition from the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church (GOC), Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, was posted on the official website of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).
The content is not of particular interest. This is a standard so-called "peace missive", which is sent by the primates of the Local Churches to the newly elected primate of the Church. But a curious thing is that the letter was almost a year late.
Epiphany Dumenko was elected head of the OCU on December 15, 2018. But the head of the GOC sent him a congratulatory letter on October 21, 2019. For comparison: Metropolitan Onuphry was elected Primate of the UOC on August 13, 2014, and only three days later, on August 17, the Church of Greece not just sent a “peace letter” from Athens, but read it in public in the person of its representative during the enthronement of His Beatitude in Kiev.
The current document is the first "peace missive" to Epiphany, not taking into account the letters and Tomos from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. What did the Greeks write to Epiphany?
“Your Beatitude Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, our dear and beloved brother and concelebrant of our Modesty in the Lord Jesus Christ, kyros Epifanios, we kiss you with great pleasure and congratulate you festively. It was with great pleasure that we received patriarchal letter No. 1119 of December 24, 2018, from which we learned about the initiative and actions of the Mother See and the First-Throned Church of Constantinople, which favorably examined the issue in relation to you and the hierarchs in your surroundings, the holy clergy and people faithful to the Lord, and rectified the separation in the flock of our Archpastor, Lord and Savior. We also learned about the synodal consideration by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the declaration of autocephaly and self-government of the Holy Church of Ukraine, enjoying the same rights and obligations as other Autocephalous Churches do.”
Unfortunately, the Greeks followed Phanariots along the path of lies and deception. Well, how can one write in an official letter what will remain in the archives and someday become the subject of research by historians, i.e. that the initiative of Phanar “rectified the separation in the flock of our Archpastor”? What kind of agreement can be discussed if this very initiative of Constantinople not only failed to integrate the Orthodox faiths in Ukraine but caused even greater splits?
The Greeks followed Phanariots along the path of lies and deception. Well, how can they write that the Phanar’s initiative has led to agreement in Ukraine?
The UOC was the largest denomination in Ukraine and remains so. It did not unite with any schismatics despite the persistent orders of Phanar. Instead, the actions of Phanar appeared splitting for Phanar iself and for the entire Russian Orthodox Church, i.e. for nearly half of all Orthodox in the world. These actions brought about division among the Local Churches, Athonite monasteries, and even the episcopate of the Church of Greece. These are well-known and evident facts. Where is the “rectified separation” Archbishop Ieronymos writes about?
The letter says that the OCU enjoys "the same rights and obligations as other Autocephalous Churches do". But this is a lie, since the OCU has no right to:
- make myrrh;
- take decisions on important issues without Phanar;
- carry out church trials of its clerics in the last resort;
- assemble its own Council of Bishops, since such an authority is not provided for in the Tomos;
- provide spiritual guidance to its flock in the Diaspora.
Perhaps, the rights of the OCU are similar to those of the conventionally autocephalous Church of Greece, but to say that the OCU is vested with the same rights as other autocephalous Churches is a deliberate lie.
We now continue with the text of the letter.
“Then we gladly received your peace letters of December 17 last year, which notified us of the canonical election of you as Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, and we sent Your Beatitude our sincere congratulations personally from us, our holy hierarchy and pious clergy, the God-loving people of the Holy Church of Greece and wishes of the enlightenment and support by the Divine Trinity in the fulfillment of your new duties and responsibilities as the Primate of the Ukrainian Church.”
Beautiful words which sound as if Archbishop Ieronymos congratulated Epiphany Dumenko on his election as soon as he received peace letters from him on December 17, 2018. But this is not so: until the current letter of recognition dated October 21, 2019, neither Archbishop Ieronymos nor a single Greek hierarch sent any congratulations to Epiphany either personally or on behalf of the Church of Greece.
“The Holy Local Churches alongside the Church of Your Beatitude, participating in the sacred Eucharist from the Chalice of life through the unity, by observing the dogmas inspired by God, the Creed, and the Church canons defined by the Holy Ecumenical and Great Councils, are members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Therefore, we rejoice over the good news that our shared aspirations and actions were crowned with success and that the barrier that stood in the middle between you and us, the Orthodox and brothers in everything, the barrier that separated us causing sorrows, major scandals and great harm to the entire Church and the joint witness of Orthodoxy in the modern world was finally broken down, so we glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we give Him proper homage and offer prayers with all our hearts from our most Holy Apostolic Hellenic Church, sending Your Beatitude kissing of our brotherly love and holding out our hand of ecclesiastic communion."
It is said in the Gospel: “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). Archbishop Ieronymos writes that members of the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” are those who maintain “unity by observing the dogmas inspired by God, the Creed, and the Church canons defined by the Holy Ecumenical and Great Councils”. From this it follows that both the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece have already fallen away from this unity because they entered into deathly communion with schismatics.
The 10th Apostolic Rule states: "Whoever prays with those who are excommunicated from the church, even if he prays in the house: let him be excommunicated." The 11th, 12th, 32nd, 45th, 48th, 65th Apostolic rules, the 5th rule of the I Ecumenical Council, the 2nd rule of Antioch Council and the 9th rule of the Carthage Council touch on the topic of forbidding the communion with those who are excommunicated from the Church..
If we remain faithful to these canons of the Church, we must admit that all who entered into communion with Epiphany Dumenko and the OCU led by him excommunicated themselves from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The numerous violations of the canons by the Patriarchate of Constantinople were described in detail in the Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church dated October 15, 2019, and in a theological study of the non-canonical character of the OCU.
Both the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece have fallen away from this unity, since they entered into communion with the dissenters.
And finally, the last paragraph of the Greeks’ letter to Epiphany:
“In connection with the aforesaid, may our Lord, 'Who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility' (Ephesians 2:14), '...give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind' (Romans 15:5), give your ministry as the primate of the Church many fruitful years for the benefit of the sisterly Holy Church of Ukraine, and so that Your Beatitude will completely lift up from the Church of Ukraine the commotion which disturbed Her destroying Her unity, and fully restore peace, tranquility, and sustainability in the Church for God’s sake and the entire oikumena of Orthodoxy. Your loving brother in Christ, Ieronymos II of Athens, Primate.”
I wonder what commotion Epiphany is urged by Archbishop Ieronymos to lift up from the “Church of Ukraine”? What is the biggest trouble of the Epiphany-led OCU? Isn't it by chance the Ukrainian Orthodox Church? Isn’t it the fact that it does exist in Ukraine and its faithful children do not want to fall into schism even under pain of violence and repression? Then the words from the “peace missive” appear as a direct call for further persecution of the UOC.
Here is a "letter of recognition" sent by the Greeks to their beloved brother in Christ Epiphany Dumenko. Let's hope that someday they will be ashamed of it. They will be ashamed for having de facto betrayed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, for which they expressed support throughout the past few years; for having betrayed Metropolitan Onuphry, who was previously extolled by them as a holy man and a blessed archpastor; for having betrayed the canons of the Holy Church, which testify to the lawlessness in the actions of Phanar and now of the Greek Church.
But what is done for – for the sake of Hellenic solidarity? For the sake of asserting the superiority of Constantinople in Orthodoxy? Or rather for a supportive attitude from Washington? Whatever it might be, it seems that the Greeks understand everything perfectly well. After all, if they were convinced of the canonicity and graciousness of the OCU, they would have sent a “peace missive” to their beloved brother in Christ Epiphany ten months ago.