Is Pat. Bartholomew responsible for raiding of his children in Bukovina?
In Dumenko’s homeland, his relatives tried to seize a temple, which was ignored by the head of the OCU. Is this ordinary hypocrisy or a new theology of seizure from OCU?
On November 1, 2019, representatives of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine attempted to seize two temples in the Chernovtsy region – the Church of Sts. Gabriel and Michael the Archangels in the village of Staraya Zhadova and the Church of the Assumption of the Theotokos in the village of Mikhalcha.
Both seizures have so much in common and testify to the morale that prevails inside the OCU that we would like to elaborate on this further.
Staraya Zhadova: Dumenko's relatives attack an Orthodox church
At 17:00, believers of the UOC community in the village of Staraya Zhadova were informed of the presence of the unknown persons in their church, who later turned out to be several local residents and three "priests" of the OCU.
It is noteworthy that the lock on the door of the temple was personally cut by Mikhail Poliak, the husband of the godmother of the head of the OCU, Epiphany Dumenko. He cut it off after his accomplices had knocked down surveillance cameras with sticks.
Almost immediately, the UOC believers and the National Police squad arrived in time for the developments. 15-20 young people whom no one had seen in the village before came on a dark bus to support the OCU representatives.
After a heated argument and the claims of the OCU “faithful” to the church, supporters of the canonical Church had to remind Poliak that not so long ago his wife stole a significant amount of money from the church box. The police managed to calm down the representatives of the new religious structure, and the conflict was over, at least for a while, in Staraya Zhadova.
Mikhalcha: supporters of OCU make a ram-attack
On the same day, November 1, between 19:00 and 20:00, on the eve of the Divine Parent Saturday service, parishioners of the UOC church in the village of Mikhalcha (near Old Zhadova) heard strange sounds. As it turned out, it was the OCU activists who were knocking out the church door with a battering ram.
According to an eyewitness, about 30 adherents of the new church structure participated in the lawlessness. While several of them, holding a log with handles on each side, were breaking down the door, the rest did not allow the faithful of the canonical Church to the temple. Among the representatives of the OCU, five “priests” behaved especially aggressively.
An interesting moment occurred inside the temple, where several believers of the UOC managed to get along with the schismatics. “We came up close to everyone (representative of the OCU – Ed.) and began to cross them,” they say. “Without any violence, just crossing, we pushed them to the door. And in such a way, everyone was forced out one by one.”
Two hours later, this conflict was resolved by the forces of the National Police.
Seizures: common features and participants?
It is clear that both seizures were planned in advance and have much in common. In both Staraya Zhadova and Mikhalcha, along with the raiders from the local population, OCU “clerics” took part in the attacks on the temples. And this is not about one rural "priest" of this organization but about several ones who were at the right time in the right place. No less interesting is the fact that in both cases several dozens of young people, who arrived in Staraya Zhadova on a dark bus, participated in the seizures. According to believers of the UOC, these young people can be students of the Theological Department of the Philosophical and Theological faculty of the Chernovtsy National University. Moreover, one of the attackers was identified – this is the "deacon" Igor Lutsan.
Lutsan is a teacher of the Theological Department of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of ChNU. In addition, he is the regent of the student choir, and his "scientific" interests include studying the types and forms of religious conflicts in Bukovina in the XX-XXI centuries. Maybe it was for this purpose that Igor Lutsan travelled to Staraya Zhadova to, as they say, study these conflicts more closely in the field, and, if possible, participate in them, especially with the use of a medieval ram ... The dream of a real "scholar".
In both Staraya Zhadova and Mikhalcha, the OCU “clerics”, who were at the right time in the right place, took part in the attacks on the temples, along with the raiders from the local population.
It is known that at one time the Philosophical and Theological Faculty, which was supposed as a kind of alternative to the theological faculties of Europe, became only a branch of the Kiev Theological Academy of the Kiev Patriarchate. Back in the 1990s, theological students visited several villages in the Chernovtsy region in order to “help” local residents move to the “right Church”.
Today, the Kiev Theological Academy has nothing to do with the UOC-KP. It is located within the walls of the St. Michael Golden-Domed Monastery – now the residence of the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko. Therefore, it is quite possible that students of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty decided to present a “gift” to their “primate” in the form of an Orthodox church in his native village.
Moreover, the seizure of the Orthodox church, apparently, does not contradict the "theology" that they study in the walls of the Kiev Theological Academy of the OCU. Moreover, one can speak with full responsibility about the new, schismatic "theology of seizure" that thrives within this religious structure – with the use of grinders, hammers and medieval rams.
"Theology of seizure" from schismatics
Apparently, one of the main postulates of such a "theology of seizure" for the OCU is the belief that the temple is of no special value. This is just a room that is used for a meeting of people united by some ideological principles. For representatives of a new religious organization, it is no different from a village club (perhaps that is why they hold most of their meetings in clubs), which means it is not sacred. Accordingly, it is not worth treating it with some trepidation or reverence.
That is why, they are sure, the сhurch door can be broken down, locks can be easily cut off with a grinder, in the temple itself one can swear, fight, call names and humiliate one another.
For the OCU activists, the temple is of no special value. This is just a meeting room for the people united by some ideological principles.
The example of using a ram, even against this background, looks especially cynical – apparently, cutting the locks with a grinder for schismatics does not look so bright and brutal anymore. What's next? The burning of temples? Or even objectionable UOC believers?
The “theology of capture” clearly testifies: schismatics simply do not understand that the temple is the home of God, the place where they celebrate the Divine Liturgy, where the Lord Himself is present. However, the Liturgy also makes no sense to them. Otherwise, how to understand that in most cases they attack Orthodox churches precisely on the days of great feasts or occasions especially significant for the whole Church?
For example, in Staraya Zhadova and in Mikhalcha, they tried to take over temples on the eve of the memorial Demetrius’ Saturday, when every Christian prays for the deceased relatives and friends. This does not mean that on other days it is possible to seize temples, but it clearly testifies that the actions of the schismatics are driven by the enemy of the human race, who hates the Church.
OCU: words of love, deeds of hatred
Against this background, the words that from time to time the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko says sound especially cynical and false. On November 2, i.e. the day after the incidents in Staraya Zhadova and Mikhalcha, being well aware of what had happened, Dumenko wrote on his Facebook page: “On Demetrius’ Saturday, each of us commemorates the deceased relatives and friends. Our prayers are the best gift for them because this is how we show our love ... Prayer is our manifestation of love and faith in God.”
When you read these words, you catch yourself thinking that a person cannot be so hypocritical. Can’t Dumenko talk about love and prayer while his relatives and fellow villagers with a ram in their hands are breaking the door of an Orthodox church? But then you remember the words of Christ about the Pharisees and understand that he can: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matt. 23, 27)
Can’t Dumenko talk about love and prayer while his relatives and fellow villagers with a ram in their hands are breaking the door of an Orthodox church?
Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) commented very well on what was happening:
“Today there are many people in robes who speak and preach well. But what fruits does their preaching bring? Their supporters break down the doors of our temples, throw thrones onto the street, and beat parishioners. Does the gospel teach this? Can you imagine that the apostle Paul, in a drunken state and using curse words, would have broken down the doors of the synagogue? Did Christ once teach that it is necessary to kill fellow brothers and co-believers only because they have different political views? Can’t all these people with crosses and panagias, who want only one thing – so that as much blood as possible is shed in our long-suffering Motherland, serve the devil?
The Apostle John the Theologian gave us instructions on how to distinguish those who serve God from those who gave the soul to Satan. The only criterion for this difference is love. The man of God holds peace in himself and gives this peace to other people. The son of the devil holds hatred in himself and sows it around. No matter how well he knows the Bible and whatever theological sermons he says, he has one goal – to bring as many people to hell as possible. The same difference is between the Church and those organizations that call themselves the ‘Church’.”
An apple from an apple tree, or once again about family and family values
The family is often called the Small Church, and the Church itself is compared to the family. Not without reason we call our co-religionists brothers and sisters, and our spiritual mentors – fathers. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that one can be part of His family under the following condition: “Who is My Mother, and who are My brothers?” Pointing to His disciples, He said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.’” (Mat. 12, 48-50).
Christ clearly says that His family is those who do God's will. At the same time, John Chrysostom believes that spiritual kinship is much more important than carnal kinship: “Indeed, if it is no good for His Mother in the fact that she is a mother since she will not be virtuous, then kinship will save someone else. There is only one nobility – doing the will of God, and this nobility is better and superior to that (carnal) kinship."
St. Philaret (Drozdov), interpreting this passage of the Scripture, says: “Remember that God is your Father, that the Church is your mother, that all saints are your brothers; do not humiliate yourself before such a high kinship, do not excommunicate yourself from this kind and beautiful family; do the will of God instead of the human’s, and the Lord will point to you and say: ‘This is My Mother and My brothers.’”
In other words, besides a family by blood, every Christian also has or should have a family by spirit – the Church. The head of this family is the Lord Jesus Christ, and you can become a part of it only by doing the will of God.
Now let's recall that in Staraya Zhadova, the husband of Epiphany’s godmother, a person who, in the spiritual sense, is part of the Epiphany’s family, part of his “Church”, was directly involved in the seizure of the temple. In the same way, as a part of his “Church” are generally all those who break the doors of Orthodox temples, beat believers, and attack priests and bishops. Now these people and Epiphany himself have become part of the family of Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos.
Patriarch Bartholomew himself has repeatedly said that he granted autocephaly to the OCU because he felt responsible for all the people who were in the schism. Therefore, I want to ask: does he continue to be responsible for them when they make a ram-attack on an Orthodox church? Is he responsible for them when they beat other Orthodox Christians? And if he does carry the responsibility as the father should answer for his children, then where is the apology? Where is at least any reaction? After all, not noticing the excesses of his children, Patriarch Bartholomew says that in his family such behaviour is a norm. And this means only one thing – the OCU family has nothing to do with the family of Christ.