Church and Simulacrum: what those recognizing OCU turn into
Why the recognition by several Local Churches does not make schismatics the Church of Christ.
The word "simulacrum" comes from Latin, which means fake, fraud, in other words, something that has signs of a signified object which does not exist in reality. In the title of the article, this word is capitalized, because this is how we will denote the religious community growing from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Patriarchate of Constantinople and everyone who has opted for it.
Watching the Churches of Greece and Alexandria (anybody else in the queue?) recognize the OCU, it is difficult to get rid of the feeling that certain particularly smart and prudent think-tank is behind all this. It looks like all the developments are not accidental and subject to internal logic.
A year and a half ago, when the whole trouble with the creation of the OCU was burgeoning, few could have imagined that Patriarch Bartholomew would dare do that. The creation of autocephaly in Ukraine in the form of the canonical Church was hindered by three points:
- The position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which refused point-blank to participate in the OCU project;
- The “episcopate” of the UOC-KP and UAOC having lack of canonical hierarchal ordinations;
- The inability for Constantinople to grant autocephaly to structures within the jurisdiction of another Local Church.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople did not solve any of these problems on the way to canonical Ukrainian autocephaly and did not even try to do it.
Instead of convincing the episcopate of the UOC of the need to overcome the Ukrainian schism by creating a single autocephaly, Patriarch Bartholomew simply ordered His Beatitude Onuphry and other UOC hierarchs to come to the “Unification Council” on December 15, 2018. Instead of raising the question of re-appointing the “episcopate” of the UOC-KP and UAOC, he simply recognized them in the Episcopal dignity, which nevertheless did not make this dignity valid at all. And instead of convincing the Russian Orthodox Church to grant Ukraine autocephaly along with Constantinople, he simply claimed our country to be his canonical territory.
Just by one word of Patriarch Bartholomew, the laity became “bishops”, Ukraine changed its church jurisdiction, while the multimillion UOC simply ceased to exist. One cannot but recall: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created” (Psalm 148:5). However, Patriarch Bartholomew is not the Lord, is he?
Could a truly canonical autocephalous Church be created in Ukraine? Sure. Such an opportunity and even a hypothetical scheme were repeatedly voiced by the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, including in the decrees of the Council of Bishops: first, the return of schismatics to the fold of the Church and only then autocephaly.
Someone may object that it was impossible, because representatives of the UOC-KP and UAOC did not want to return to the Church through repentance, the only known way of return.
Just by one word of Patriarch Bartholomew, the laity became “bishops”, Ukraine changed its church jurisdiction, while the multimillion UOC simply ceased to exist.
The following can be said to this: if even one tenth of the pressure from the state and the media that was exerted on the UOC were exerted on the UOC-KP and the UAOC, they would have obeyed without the least effort. They would have written a “repentant” letter in which they would repent “as far as it goes” like Filaret Denisenko did in November 2017: “I, as your brother and co-minister, apologize for everything I have sinned in word, deed and all of my feelings and I also sincerely forgive everyone from the heart.”
This letter was addressed to Patriarch Kirill and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and read out at the Council of Bishops which, despite such a general wording, immediately resolved to create a commission to deal with the further issue of the return of schismatics to the fold of the Church.
But as we recall, literally a few days later Denisenko was forced to renounce this timid little step in the right direction, which he announced under the watchful eye of the then head of the Information Department of the UOC-KP Eustraty Zoria. Actually, this letter was no less than the first step towards the implementation of that very scenario: returning to the fold of the Church – canonical autocephaly for Ukraine.
Among the episcopate of the UOC, the situation was approximately the following: a third of the hierarchs was for autocephaly, a third was against it, and another third – undecided. But “for” meant for the canonical autocephaly rather than what is now called the OCU. Had there been made the right steps on the part of both Constantinople and other participants in the events in Ukraine, it would have been quite possible to create a single canonical autocephalous Church.
Why was it prevented then? There would indeed be the second largest Local Orthodox Church in the world, with the canonical episcopate and tens of millions of believers. Because the canonical Church in Ukraine was not necessary to the conventional think-tank which had elaborated the OCU project. Those powerful forces behind the OCU project do not need the Church, they need a Simulacrum. Why? Because the Church is ruled by Christ, while the Simulacrum is ruled by its creators.
One can hardly refute the claim that any heretical or schismatic community is a simulacrum. It looks similar but it’s not the Church. Such simulacra were also the schismatic UOC-KP and UAOC: namely from these simulacra there was created one Simulacrum – the OCU.
Let’s recall the signs of the Church. She is "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic." Unlike the Church, the OCU is characterized by the following:
- The Episcopate of the OCU does not have canonical hierarchal ordinations, i.e. apostolic succession. Therefore, it is not Apostolic.
- The components of the OCU, the UOC-KP and the UAOC, each at one time, broke themselves away from the One Church, as evidenced by the canonical penalties from the Russian Orthodox Church, confirmed earlier by all Local Churches. This separation from the One Church cannot be overcome with a single piece of paper from Constantinople. Thus, the OCU is not One.
- The OCU cannot be holy, since the Holy Spirit cannot be inherent in this organization due to the previous two points, upon that we will keep silent about the personal "holiness" of Filaret Denisenko, Epiphany Dumenko, Eustraty Zoria, Alexander (Drabinko) and others. Thus, the OCU cannot be called Holy.
- The concept of conciliarity in the Church implies two aspects: firstly, it is a collection of all believers in Christ without any national, ideological, cultural and other signs of discrimination. Secondly, it has conciliar administration. In the OCU, however, the assembly of its members is not based on faith in Christ but on the faith in Ukraine, the Ukrainian nation and statehood. Can someone imagine people with different political convictions as part of the OCU? Hardly. As for the administration of the OCU, there is no such body as the Council of Bishops in its statutory document – Tomos. The “hierarchy” of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is obliged to turn to the Patriarch of Constantinople to resolve all important issues. Thus, the OCU cannot be called Catholic (in the meaning of conciliar – Ed.).
From all the aforesaid it follows that in the person of the OCU we are not facing the Church but the real Simulacrum. One can add the following:
- The OCU was created by the efforts of secular authorities, by the people of a different faith or by religious polyglots like former president Petro Poroshenko, who participated in religious rites with many faiths, including the Jews at the Wailing Wall.
- The OCU was created by methods of violence and deceit when the temples of the canonical Orthodox Church are either taken away or transferred to the OCU under fraudulent schemes, or both.
- The OCU was created as a pillar of Ukrainian statehood, as its creators had repeatedly stated publicly.
This conclusion becomes even more obvious.
In Ukraine, it was possible to create a real Local Church, but instead they created the Simulacrum. Without the canonical episcopate and without the goal of leading people into the Kingdom of God.
When former president Petro Poroshenko, exploiting all the power of the state (and not only state) coercive leverage, tried to get Metropolitan Onuphry and the hierarchy of the UOC to participate in the creation of the “holy” Orthodox Church, the Lord enlightened our hierarchs and they realized it was about the Simulacrum, not the Church .
The canonical Church in Ukraine is not necessary to the think-tank which elaborated the OCU project. Those powerful forces behind the OCU project do not need the Church, they need a Simulacrum. Because the Church is ruled by Christ, while the Simulacrum is ruled by its creators.
Here are the words of His Beatitude Onuphry pronounced on the eve of the “Unification Council” of December 15, 2018: “I would not like to be a prophet but I think that lawlessness gives birth to lawlessness. It never leads to good. May God let the good happen so that people would understand their shortcomings and not unite around the evil but around the good. This latter is good, useful and saving. Uniting around the evil leads people to perdition. <...> There will be new schisms and new splits in World Orthodoxy."
And now this Simulacrum is being recognized by the Local Churches. It is said that the OCU thus enters the family of Local Churches, but in reality everything is exactly the opposite. It is not the OCU that becomes part of the family of Local Churches but those, who recognize the OCU, join it, i.e. join the Simulacrum.
What happens if you mix the sinful with the righteous, a barrel of honey with tar? If we dilute the false consecrations of the “bishops” of the OCU with valid consecrations of the bishops of Constantinople, Greece and Alexandria, what will happen? What is the percent of grace in such a mixture? Isn’t it in the end just a lie and mockery of hierarchy and priesthood?
Entering the Church is accomplished only by renunciation of the sin: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Joining the Simulacrum is accomplished only by renunciation of the Truth of God. This renunciation manifests itself in two points:
- The betrayal of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, guided by Metropolitan Onuphry;
- Violation of the canons of the Church, which explicitly prohibit the actions committed by Constantinople.
Just a year ago, all Local Churches without any exception recognized the UOC as the only canonical Church in Ukraine and Metropolitan Onuphry as its Primate. And now, both the UOC and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine ceased to exist for the Churches of Constantinople, Greece and Alexandria.
The question no one is able to answer is: what canonical violation did the UOC with its Primate commit so that they could no longer bear it? What made the aforementioned Churches reject the millions of faithful children of the UOC and fold the unrepentant schismatics in their arms? What made them turn away from His Beatitude Onuphry and recognize Sergei Dumenko as “metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine,” the man who has got neither episcopal consecration nor monastic tonsure? It is nothing short of betrayal.
In the decision of Constantinople to create the OCU, as well as in the decisions of the Greek and Alexandrian Churches to recognize it, there is not a single canonical justification that this can be done. Not a single canon allows such lawlessness to be created, while many canons directly prohibit it. The whole rationale boils down to the fact that Constantinople had the right to do so because it is Constantinople.
Therefore, with the recognition of Epiphany Dumenko, the OCU does not become the Church, but on the contrary, the Churches that recognize it become false. Before our eyes, Simulacrum stepped outside Ukraine and began to grow on a global scale. This burgeoning Simulacrum has already acquired features that clearly distinguish it from the Church, namely:
- Recognition of supremacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Church.
- Recognition of false consecrations of the “hierarchy” of the OCU.
“Christ is the head of the Church” (Eph. 5:23). “I am with you all the days until the end of the century. Amen” (Matt. 28:20). This is how the Church is defined.
“In general, we consider Christ to be the Head of our Church. But on earth this is the Ecumenical Patriarch” (Metropolitan Eustathios (Spiliotis) of the Greek Orthodox Church. This is a simulacrum.
The Church, which has been professing its Head of Jesus Christ for two thousand years, cannot suddenly declare that His authority does not extend to the earth because the Patriarch of Constantinople dominates there. But the Simulacrum can.
What are false consecrations and what are the consequences of their recognition can be read in the Book of Numbers (16:1-3, 23-35). This is a story about how the earth swallowed alive Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who dared to arbitrarily appropriate the priesthood. “They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” (Numbers 16:3).
How it is in tune with the current situation: “Why do you say that only the UOC is canonical? Here are the OCU and Epiphany too.” "But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once'" (Numbers 16: 20-21).
In the decision of Constantinople to create the OCU, as well as in the decisions of the Greek and Alexandrian Churches to recognize it, there is not a single canonical justification that this can be done. The whole rationale boils down to the fact that Constantinople had the right to do so because it is Constantinople.
In this context, one detail of this biblical narrative is crucial, namely, that the Lord ordered all people to move away from these self-ordained in the Old Testament : “He warned the assembly: ‘Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins’” (Numbers 16:26).
What are the Greek hierarchs who recognize the OCU doing now? They are acting directly contrary to what the Lord says in the Scripture.
So, we can see how the Simulacrum, which existed in Ukraine in the form of the schismatic UOC-KP and UAOC, strengthened and began to seize the Local Churches. The real creators of the Simulacrum, who are fully aware of what they are doing, are convinced that even respected and authoritative hierarchs can be forced to fulfill somebody’s requirements violating God's commandments, church canons and their own words spoken recently (as is the case with the Patriarch of Alexandria).
What the creators of the Simulacrum may demand from such damaged bishops further and what its future fate may be – read in the following publications of the Union of Orthodox Journalists.