You shall know them by their fruits: about the personnel policy of OCU

Epiphany Dumenko is not choosy when it comes to personnel policy. Photo: UOJ

Who makes Ukrainian schismatic organizations.

Church schisms have always and everywhere attracted various kinds of chancers. Leaders of schismatic associations have to turn a blind eye to the low morale of their subordinates because in most cases worthy people do not go into schism.

Imagine a leader of the schism, whom those in power promise administrative and sometimes even forceful support. By hook or by crook, they re-register parishes to the schism or simply document them on paper, offering buildings, often illegally taken from the canonical Church. There are people who agree to identify themselves as members of the community. But there is a problem: where to get "priests"?

"But the overseer (in the ancient Church, the degree of priests and bishops/overseers did not differ – Ed.) must be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything…" (1Tim. 3, 2-11).

These are the requirements for candidates for holy degrees, written by the holy Apostle Paul. There is a whole set of canonical rules which develop and clarify these requirements. There are people who generally meet these rules and can be ordained to the priesthood. But those who possess the above qualities are, as a rule, in the canonical Church. Their church consciousness enables them to understand that schism is the way to destruction and death. And why should people who lead a godly life go to destruction? That is why priests who have already been ordained and those who meet the canonical priesthood requirements remain in the canonical Church for the most part.

So what do poor schismatic leaders have to contend with? Filaret Denisenko, when he was a canonical Metropolitan of Kyiv, gave a very vivid description of the then Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), the only schismatic organization at that time. He called this structure "the sewerage into which all the wastewater drains". Leaders of schisms have to attract into their structures those fathers from the canonical Church who committed any canonical offences and were banned from the priesthood by their bishops. Or to "ordain" those who express such a desire, despite their motives, education and moral character. As long as there’s someone.

Those who meet the apostolic requirements are usually found in the canonical Church. Their church consciousness enables them to understand that the schism is the way to destruction.

Not so long ago, "Metropolitan" Daniel Kovalchuk of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) simply begged everyone to go to them as "priests". "We implore – look for the men in the villages who are worthy to serve God in the Holy Church. The men who can take on the priesthood burden – take it for the sake of your children's future, our Church and state," he wrote on the “Orthodox Bukovina” Facebook page.

Again, those who, as Kovalchuk writes, "are worthy to serve God in the Holy Church", as a rule, do not go into schism but join a true canonical Church. The schismatics have to pick up everything else and turn a blind eye to the low moral level of such "priests" and their often absolute theological illiteracy.

If we read the decisions of the "Holy Synod" of the OCU, we can only be surprised that its highest "ranks" do not know the church canons at all and write in their decisions all kinds of nonsense, like an expulsion from the "episcopate" of the "hierarchs" who have fallen into error, instead of banning them from the "priesthood" or defrocking them, according to the canons. And if the leadership of the OCU demonstrates such ignorance, what to say about their subordinates.

There is no need to go far for examples of low moral level either.

The OCU parishioners in vlg. Matviivka of the Ternopil region complain ... to the President of Ukraine about their miserable rector and his "matushka": the "matushka" refused to accept Easter cakes, saying that they have "bad energy"; the "father", while reading the Gospel, is distracted by phone calls, goes to the altar, talks, then returns to the ambon, after the Cherubic Hymn makes the choir sing folk songs; the holy bread is covered with mold; he has dismissed the treasurer and other responsible persons and has placed his own; he calls those who disagree "Moscow agents", etc. All this looks like a bad anecdote, but it is an official letter to Vladimir Zelensky.

An appeal of OCU parishioners to President Vladimir Zelensky. Photo:

These parishioners expelled from the community the UOC priest who refused to shift to the schismatics and brought an OCU "priest" to the village. For their money, they hired a car to move him in, provided him with housing, etc. As they say, what they fought for has been their undoing.

OCU "chaplain" Andrey Fomenko and "hegumeness" Cleopatra. Photo:

And this photo captured a happy couple – the OCU “priest-chaplain” Andrey Fomenko and the “hegumeness” Cleopatra (Nadezhda Muzychko), who, according to media reports, escaped from the monastery in 2018, taking the monastic money.

If the owner of the “Love-Carrot” wedding agency had not posted this and other embarrassing photos on social networks, the leadership of the OCU would hardly have noticed such canonical offences. But since the matter came out, the ruling "bishop" of the OCU, Photius, banned Andrey Fomenko from the "priesthood". The latter, without thinking twice, simply moved from one schism, the OCU, to another one – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP). Filaret Denisenko also needs his own personnel, even with such a record.

It is indicative that the adherents of the OCU reproach Fomenko not for the "wedding" with the "hegumeness", but for the fact that he left the OCU for Filaret.

A screenshot of Andrey Fomenko's Facebook page

We can remember how the OCU "priest" Alexander Dediukhin, who, by the way, received an award from Patriarch Bartholomew, told a joke about the prayer "Our Father" at a pro-Poroshenko rally. How Volyn "clerics" of the OCU "blessed" water in the framework of the pagan holiday of Ivan Kupala and many other things.

But even these fruits are enough for us to know the essence of the tree on which they have grown. And if to define it in one word, probably, "non-graceful" will be the right word. The religious organization created for nothing else but serving the idea of Ukrainian statehood cannot breed the true piety of its ministers. Within the framework of this idea, not a violation of God's commandments and ignoring centuries-old church canons, but a step away from the principle "Ukraine above all” is considered a sin.

Filaret Denisenko, when he was a canonical Metropolitan of Kyiv, gave a very vivid description of the schismatics: "the sewerage into which all the wastewater drains".

Looking at all this, here's what you should think about.

First, it is necessary to approach the question of ordinations and monastic vows in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with increased attention so that such "chaplains" and "hegumenesses" do not get through. “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22), the holy Apostle Paul instructed. Violation of this advice leads to very disastrous consequences. Unworthy shepherds destroy their own souls, and for those who wish to be saved, they become a temptation. "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom. 2:24)

Secondly, when the OCU project is completed and many OCU "bishops" and "priests" head for the canonical Church, there will be a problem of how to receive them. After all, they will want the same episcopal and priestly places for themselves, and, of course, we would like to hope for their sincere repentance, but ...

In conclusion, let’s return to the letter to the President from the residents of the village of Matviivka. They complain that because of the unworthy behavior of their OCU "priest" many parishioners, especially the young, have changed for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. But instead of complaining about that, they should follow their example, because one can find salvation, Grace, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit only in the true Church.

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Should the UOC be involved in peacemaking in the Donbass?
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