What is Filaret for you? 5 questions to the Churches that recognized OCU

В альтернативной реальности Фанара ПЦУ - "единая церковь". Фото СПЖ.

The Phanar insists that the OCU is “one and united” but in fact, there is also the UOC-KP led by “canonical” Filaret. What is he for the Phanar, Hellas, and Alexandria?

Patriarch Bartholomew, Epiphany Dumenko and other participants of the project "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" (OCU) declare the unity of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.

"Restored in communion with the Church" Filaret Denisenko now heads the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP). He lives his own life different from the UOC, "ordains" "bishops" and dissociates himself from participation in the newly formed structure.

And if ignoring the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and its Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, has already become "good manners" for the Phanar and those that recognized the UOC, what about the existence of "Honorary Patriarch" Filaret Denisenko and his structure? What are they for Constantinople, Hellas, and Alexandria?

* * *

Еpiphany Dumenko and his current spokesman Eustratiy Zoria are doing their best to solve this problem for "senior comrades" simply by destroying Filaret’s structure. They cheerfully report on the removal of the UOC-KP from the state registration. On December 14, 2019, during the "Bishops' Council" of the OCU, Dumenko announced the final liquidation of the UOC-KP (and the UAOC). Zoria cited screenshots from the website of the State Register of Legal Entities as proof on his Facebook page.

Filaret does not give up and fights with the OCU in courts. And because they drag out disputes, he writes messages to the President with a request to extend state registration. He complains that banks close the accounts of the UOC-KP, which makes it impossible for the organization to pay utility bills during winter.

The UOJ already wrote that Filaret has almost 100% prospects of winning litigation against the Ministry of Culture, which removed the UOC-KP from registration but only on one condition: the courts will make decisions based only on the provisions of the law, not on political considerations. And since there is a problem with this in our country, the courts are waiting for the state policy to be determined towards the UOC-KP and other religious organizations to make their decisions in accordance with it. And this “party policy” is not clear yet.

But now it’s not about the judicial prospects of the "Honorary Patriarch" but about his religious status in the eyes of those Local Churches that recognized the OCU.

Filaret has almost 100% prospects of winning litigation against the Ministry of Culture if the courts only rule in accordance with the law.

Let’s recall the wording of the decision of the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate dated 11.10.2018, by which he recognized Filaret Denisenko “restored to communion with the Church”:

“To accept and review the petitions of the appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych, and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clerics from all of the Autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church.”

Zoria then reported that with these words the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognizes as “hierarchical” the priestly rank of UOC-KP and UAOC “clergy” and all “sacred actions” performed by this “clergy” while in schism.

It seemed unbelievable to almost all Local Churches, but the further actions of the Phanar and all those who supported it showed that Zoria was right: Constantinople really recognizes all these schismatic false consecrations and even concelebrates with their holders.

Therefore, let's try to take the Phanar’s position and see what status Filaret and his structure (UOC-KP) have from the point of view of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

By the decision of 11. 10. 2018, Filaret Denisenko was reinstated canonically reinstated to his hierarchical rank, i.e. he is a “legitimate”, “gracious” “bishop”. This means that he can completely “legally” “ordain” other “bishops”. And these “ordinations” of his should be recognized both by the Phanar and by all the other Churches that recognized the OCU.

But on June 20, 2019, Filaret held his own, separate from the OCU “Bishops' Council,” at which it was decided to break with the OCU and resume the activities of the “Synod” of the UOC-KP. Filaret declared the UOC-KP an independent “Church”, including from the OCU.

In response to this demarche, the UOC "Synod" gathered on June 24, 2019, and decided to take away from Filaret the leadership of parishes and monasteries of Kyiv and the Kyiv Eparchy, to recognize all his orders on behalf of the UOC-KP invalid but leave him as part of the “episcopate” of the OCU – in the same status of a “legitimate”, “gracious” “bishop”.

That was a reprisal unprecedented for the canon law. For the fact that Filaret, from the point of view of the OCU, organized an "unauthorized gathering", he was neither banned from "priesthood" nor deposed, nor faced any usual for such cases reprisal measures. He was only urged to write a letter to Epiphany Dumenko, asking him to consider his future in the OCU, which he had left.

Explanatory quote: "Honorary Patriarch Filaret may, through a letter to the Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphany of Kyiv and All Ukraine, address the Holy Synod regarding the conciliar consideration of his future position in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

All this clearly indicates the extremely low awareness of "Professor of Theology" Epiphany Dumenko and his supporters in canon law.

But the most surprising thing is that Patriarch Bartholomew did not react to Denisenko's demarche either. He neither banned him from ministry nor excommunicate him from the Church. Accordingly, for the Phanar, Filaret still remains a "gracious bishop". And not only for the Phanar but also for those Local Churches that recognized the Phanar’s decisions on Ukraine – Alexandria and Hellas.

Having broken relations with the OCU, Filaret did exactly what he has been doing since 1992 when he fell into schism – he began to hold his "Councils" and produce "bishops".

On the occasion of the anniversary of the "Unification Council" held on 15.12.2018, when the OCU was established, Patriarch Bartholomew sent an official congratulatory letter, which was read by Metropolitan Emmanuel (Adamakis) of France, and which, among other things, contained the usual lie about the "single unified Church".

And at the same time, the "Honorary Patriarch" ordained as "bishops" two interesting personalities: Nikodim Kobzar and Daniel Kudibin. The angry Zoria wrote on his Facebook page about the latter that he is "a travelling scammer, who in his life has changed his "jurisdiction" many times,  has been a member of both the UAOC and the UOC-KP, where he awaited and sought to be a bishop (because his title previously received from impostors could not be recognized!)".

Filaret still remains a "gracious bishop" for the Phanar, as well as for those Local Churches that recognized the Phanar’s decisions on Ukraine – Alexandria and Hellas.

As for “a travelling scammer”, Zoria may be right, but on the whole, his indignation demonstrates the same ignorance of canon law as the OCU Synod does. Here is what he writes:

“Both the unlawfully appointed ‘bishops’ and those who use senile passion to divide the Church are subject to condemnation.

Let me remind you once again that the Holy Synod of the OCU (Journal No. 30 of the session dated June 24, 19) decided: ‘To determine that clerics accepting the ordination of the bishop without being elected 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 to the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.’

So, let those blasphemers who are now taking advantage of the weakness of the Honorary Patriarch and leading him to more and more new mistakes do not expect anything but the possibility of just spending time in repentance as a monk.

And whoever still has conscience and common sense, let them come out of self-isolation and return to obedience to the legitimate Primate Metropolitan Epiphany.”

A screenshot of Eustratiy Zoria’s Facebook page

However, the question is why Zoria wrote the word "bishops" in inverted commas? Doesn't he recognize their bishop rank? But they, like Zoria himself, Dumenko and all other “bishops” of the OCU, were ordained by the same Filaret. If they are in inverted commas, then Zoria should be placed in inverted commas, too. As the "Honorary Patriarch" once said: "If I was under an anathema, <...> then the whole episcopate is null and void." And if Filaret Denisenko is a "legal", "gracious" "bishop", then his "ordinations" are also valid. So how can Zoria offer them the prospect of repenting as "ordinary monks" until the end of days?

And the very ruling of the OCU Synod is absolutely ridiculous. The OCU threatens all those who have accepted the "ordination" from Filaret with a categorical rejection "to be admitted to the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine". But how could you call for the unity of the whole Orthodoxy in Ukraine and at the same time declare that you will refuse these people to be admitted to the "episcopate" of the OCU?

The reference to "Rule 22" in Zoria’s message is a masterpiece. The spokesman for the OCU quotes a rule according to which Denisenko and all "ordained" “bishops” should be excommunicated (from the Church as we understand). So why don’t you excommunicate them? Are you waiting till their number increases? 

Because Filaret does not sit idly, every month his "episcopate" is growing in number. The "Honorary Patriarch" showed back in 1992 how he can develop his structure.

What if the "travelling scammers" (according to Zoria) "ordained" by Filaret decide to come to Alexandria or Athens to serve with the bishops there. Should they be refused? On what grounds? Aren't they "gracious" in their eyes?

And no matter what Patriarch Bartholomew says about "unity", the reality is that in Ukraine, in parallel with the OCU, there is another jurisdiction recognized by the Phanar as "gracious". And sooner or later Constantinople will still have to decide how to deal with it. What if the "travelling scammers" (according to Zoria) "ordained" by Filaret decide to come to Alexandria or Athens to serve with the bishops there. Should they be refused? On what grounds? Aren't they "gracious" in their eyes?

In general, while these Filaret "bishops" of a new call-up or even he himself have not yet made any visits to the Local Churches that have recognized the OCU, we suggest the hierarchs of these Churches reflecting on the following issues:

  1. If Filaret Denisenko is “legitimate”, “gracious” “bishop”, then how “gracious” are those whom he has “ordained” now?
  2. Is the UOC-KP another “Church” or a schism? If it is a “Church”, then how true are the words of Patriarch Bartholomew about the OCU as “a single Ukrainian Church”?
  3. If the UOC-KP is “gracious,” do they have every right to serve with both the Mother Church and the other Churches that recognized the OCU?
  4. If Filaret Denisenko is now not in schism with the OCU, then what is schism in the eyes of the Phanar, Hellas and Alexandria?
  5. If, nevertheless, the “newly ordained” by Filaret “bishops” are placed in inverted commas (that is false bishops), then who is Epiphany Dumenko and the other “episcopate” of the OCU? And in general, what is Filaret?!

And if it is difficult to answer these questions, would it be better to stop all these political games around the OCU and call everything by their proper names: sin is sin, schism is schism, anathema is anathema? And repentance is repentance, not a letter of verification from Patriarch Bartholomew.

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