Questions on OCU "canonicity" from its "hierarch": Mikhail Zinkevich’s view

Mikhail Zinkevich asks questions to which the OCU has no answers. Photo: UOJ

Mikhail Zinkevich states that Epiphany and the “hierarchs” of the OCU adhere to the ostrich tactics and asks questions to which there are no answers.

On the second anniversary of the so-called "Unification Council", at which the OCU was created, one of the "hierarchs" of this organization, Mikhail Zinkevich, gave an interview to the "Glavcom" agency, in which, on the one hand, he raised rather uncomfortable questions, and on the other hand, admitted that there are no answers to these questions. The interview is called: "The OCU does not have answers to many questions: everyone has a head in the sand." We study the revelations of Mikhail Zinkevich and draw conclusions.

Mikhail Zinkevich. Photo "Volynski Novyny" ("Volyn News")

For a start, what is Mikhail Zinkevich? Many people know him by the odious saying that every candle bought in the temple of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a bullet for Ukrainian soldiers in Donbass. This statement is odious, firstly, because it is a lie, and secondly, because Epiphany himself uses the products of the Russian enterprise Sofrino in his “services”. And thirdly, how, in this case, to assess the activities of the main sponsor of the OCU Andrei Matsola, the founder of the “Persha Privatna Brovarnya” brand, who, according to media reports, annually invested $ 70 million in the Russian economy, paid taxes to the Russian budget, and so on.

In general, this statement by Mikhail Zinkevich already gives a sufficient idea of his personality, but here are a few more touches to the portrait. He worked at the Pochaev Lavra, was a sexton at the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Cherkassy, studied at the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, and then – a career in schism (UOC-KP): 1997 – a "deacon", 2000 – a "bishop", 2018 – one of the main candidates for the post of the head of the OCU. At that time Filaret Denisenko and Petro Poroshenko persuaded him to withdraw his candidacy. In his interview to Glavcom, Zinkevich did not ignore this moment either.

To the reporter's question: "Are the events at the Unification Council in 2018 a defeat for you?" Mikhail Zinkevich replied: "A defeat is when you lose, and when you are blackmailed, it is not a defeat." Thus, the failed head of the OCU admitted that he was blackmailed, being forced to withdraw his candidacy. The fact that there is blackmail on Zinkevich (as well as on other members of the OCU) is not a revelation, it is common knowledge, but the following theses are really interesting testimonies of a person who knows the backstage of the OCU from the inside.

Revelation 1: Tomos really was a pig in a poke, which disappointed many when it got out of the bag

Mikhail Zinkevich says about it this way: “When there was talk about the Tomos, we talked about it as a sound, because we did not see its content – what is written in the text. <…> But when the text of the Tomos appeared, it did not satisfy everyone. Patriarch Filaret makes claims: we expected to see in this Tomos not what is written there. Starting with the name of the Church, where we make myrrh, and especially the irritating moment was the question of the parishes located outside Ukraine. They, according to the document, do not belong to Ukraine."

In these words, the "Metropolitan" of the OCU actually confirmed what many church observers and analysts wrote: Phanar's relationship with the Ukrainian authorities and Ukrainian schismatics is a “who-deceives-first” game. The score in this game is still a draw: the Phanar promised full-fledged autocephaly but actually made a structure out of the OCU dependent on itself. Ukraine, in turn, promised to pay off the Phanar with the most ancient monasteries and temples in the form of stauropegia but so far has only given St. Andrew's Church in Kyiv.

As for foreign parishes of Ukrainian denominations, it is unlikely that Mikhail Zinkevich and other "hierarchs" of the UOC-KP and UAOC were unaware of the conception that the Phanar has been promoting for about a hundred years, namely: the entire diaspora around the world should be under the Phanar. So, there was simply no chance of retaining foreign parishes.

Revelation 2: behind-the-scenes agreements between Filaret, Epiphany and P. Poroshenko really existed

Mikhail Zinkevich: “And of course, these were personal agreements between the Patriarch (Filaret – Ed.) and the circle that was then in the Kyiv Patriarchate. We discussed these issues: functions and powers. There were certain agreements. When these agreements were not fulfilled, it became an additional irritant to the written text of the Tomos. <...> I heard that Honorary Patriarch Filaret accuses Poroshenko that he allegedly deceived him. This means that there were some agreements between them .... "

Confirmation of the existence of behind-the-scenes agreements means the recognition of the fact that the OCU was originally built not on the basis of the canonical traditions of church governance existing in Orthodoxy but on the personal agreements of the founding fathers of the OCU, each of whom tried to have his own benefit.

Also, Mikhail Zinkevich’s words confirm the validity of those claims that Filaret Denisenko made against his former protégé S. Dumenko and former president P. Poroshenko. In general, the entire interview of M. Zinkevich to the “Glavcom” is permeated with sympathy for Filaret Denisenko and the position he currently holds. And in these sympathies, Mikhail Zinkevich is far from being alone.

Revelation 3: the number of OCU “bishops” sympathizing with Philaret is growing 

Mikhail Zinkevich: “… how many bishops sympathize (with Honorary Patriarch Filaret – Ed.)? Today, sympathy is beginning to show more and more. At least there is an upward trend. There is a tendency among the metropolitans to support what Honorary Patriarch Filaret says."

Let's recall – what is Filaret talking about now? His main message is that the OCU is not an autocephalous structure: it is subordinate to the Phanar. M. Zinkevich indirectly agrees with this statement: “The Patriarch (Filaret - Ed.) says: the OCU is the Church of Constantinople. But if we are an independent Church, why don't we make myrrh? There is no answer to this question."

Here, it is not so much the essence of the question: who and where makes myrrh but the fact that M. Zinkevich brings this argument in support of Filaret's position is indicative. After all, the "metropolitan" knows (should know) that, for example, the Greek, Albanian and even Jerusalem Churches, do not make myrrh themselves but receive it from Constantinople. And this does not prevent them from having the status of Local Churches. At least the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is a full-fledged autocephalous Church, albeit with its own characteristics. If M. Zinkevich did not take Filaret's point of view, he would easily refute his own argument about myrrh-making.

There is one more interesting point in the passage about myrrh-making. The fact is that the Patriarchate of Constantinople believes that myrrh-making is not an indispensable attribute of the autocephalous church, but the Russian Orthodox Church believes differently: together with the status of autocephaly, the Church should receive the right to cook myrrh. Accordingly, in the Acts of autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, the Orthodox Church of America, which received autocephaly from the ROC, the right of these Churches to make myrrh is indicated. As we can see, M. Zinkevich's point of view coincides with the approach of the Russian Orthodox Church to this issue. Disloyalty, however.

Now let's think about the consequences of the growth in the number of "bishops" of the OCU who:

  1. disappointed with the content of the Tomos;
  2. dissatisfied with non-fulfilment of backstage agreements;
  3. sympathize with Filaret.

This can lead to the conflict in the OCU moving from a latent phase to an open one. Epiphany Dumenko is not the kind of person who can resolve conflicts in his structure. He owes his position in the OCU entirely to Filaret Denisenko, who, in order to put Epiphany in the chair of the leader, went both against P. Poroshenko, who wanted to see his protege, the former Metropolitan Simeon (Shostatsky) of Vinnytsia, as the head of the OCU, and against Mikhail Zinkevich, running for this post himself.

Let's be honest: Dumenko is practically nothing without Filaret. Neither experience, education, nor political instinct. Epiphany quarrelled with his only patron but did not acquire other patrons. It is not difficult to answer the question: why Epiphany still remains the head of the OCU. There are many who want to remove him, but they all turned out to be hostages of the initial choice. The resignation of Epiphany now, both on his own initiative and against his will, would mean an admission of the failure of the OCU project. And nobody is ready for this yet. But as soon as the curators of the OCU admit that Epiphany harms the project more than brings benefits, his chances of staying in his post will be almost zero. And then both Mikhail Zinkevich and Simeon (Shostatsky) will have a possibility to compete for the chair of the OCU head.

Questions on the "canonicity" of the OCU, to which there is no answer in the OCU

Now about the questions posed by Mikhail Zinkevich and to which no one in the OCU wants to answer, including himself. There are three such questions:

  1. Why were parishes in the diaspora taken away from the OCU?
  2. Why can't the OCU make myrrh?
  3. What to do with the "myrrh" that has already been prepared in the UOC-KP and, most importantly, what should it be considered at all?

There is only one answer to the first two questions: because the OCU is not an autocephalous Church (if such wording is generally appropriate to the community of graceless schismatics) and is subordinate to the Phanar. As for the third question, it deserves to be considered in more detail.

Mikhail Zinkevich formulated it as follows: “And thirdly – what to do with the myrrh that we have already made and taken away from Patriarch Filaret? Do we use it or what shall we do with it? It is still sacred. What to do with it, what is it to be considered now? True myrrh, which we anoint in baptism or consecration of thrones, or is it no longer myrrh? How to take it now?"

What shall the myrrh consecrated by Filaret in the UOC-KP be considered? True myrrh, which we anoint during the baptism or consecration of thrones, or is it no longer myrrh? How to take it now?

Mikhail Zinkevich, OCU "hierarch" 

In fact, this is a question that brings to the surface both Mikhail Zinkevich himself and all schismatics in general. Myrrh is a special substance consisting of olive and other oils and spices, brewed in a special way and consecrated by a host of bishops headed by the primate of the corresponding Local Church. The anointing with chrism in the sacrament of chrismation sanctifies the newly baptized with the Holy Spirit, which in the earliest times was accomplished by the laying on of the apostolic hands.

“But look, don't regard this myrrh as simple. For just as the bread in the Eucharist, at the call of the Holy Spirit, is no longer simple bread but the body of Christ: so this Holy Myrrh is no longer simple, lower, if someone said, ordinary by calling: but the gift of Christ and the Holy Spirit, by the presence of His Divinity being true. It symbolically anoints your forehead and other instruments of the senses. And when the body is visibly anointed, then the soul is sanctified by the Holy and Life-giving Spirit” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).

Accordingly, only the canonical gracious bishops can communicate this "gift of Christ and the Holy Spirit" to the world. And thus, Zinkevich's question – whether the myrrh made under the Kyiv Patriarchate is true – obviously turns into a question about the grace of the "bishops" of the UOC-KP in general. From the point of view of Patriarch Bartholomew, this “chrism” is not chrism, since “the so-called ‘Kyiv Patriarchate’ does not exist and has never existed” (from the statement of June 2019). And since, according to the text of the Tomos, the OCU is obliged to adhere to the opinion of the Phanar on controversial issues of a "church, dogmatic and canonical" nature, then the OCU should also consider so.

Zinkevich's question – whether the myrrh made under the Kyiv Patriarchate is true – obviously turns into a question about the grace of the "bishops" of the UOC-KP in general.

Doubts and even direct denials of the grace of the schismatics legalized by Patriarch Bartholomew are contained in the statements of almost all Local Churches. Here are just some quotes from the official statements.

“The two-thousand-year experience of the Church of Cyprus and the entire Orthodox Church as a whole gives us reason to doubt the possibility of legalizing “retroactively” those ordinations that were performed by the forbidden, excommunicated and anathematized bishops. The ban, ex-communication and anathema of individuals who initiated the Ukrainian crisis were recognized by all Orthodox Christians” (from the communiqué of the Synod of the Church of Cyprus of 21.02.19).

“We ask the Ecumenical Patriarchate to clarify the problem of non-canonical hierarchs and priests who belonged to the ‘Kyiv Patriarchate’” (from the statement of the Synod of the Romanian Church of 21.02.19).

“Persons from whom the episcopal and presbyter's orders have been removed cannot be leaders in establishing peace in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Their actions become the cause of even greater disorder and temptations” (the Council of the Polish Church, 15.11.20).

“All the time while he was defrocked and under anathema, Mr Filaret performed non-canonical rites, which were not valid sacraments. Therefore, the ordinations performed by him are invalid, empty, devoid of divine grace and the action of the Holy Spirit. Among them are consecrations to deacon, presbyter and, as a result, to the bishop of his secretary – Sergei Dumenko, now Metropolitan Epiphany. Your letter dated December 24 says: "... having reinstated them to their hierarchical or priestly rank." However, we ask ourselves the question: how did the ordinations performed by Mr Filaret, who was under ex-communication and anathema, retroactively, without canonical consecration, acquire in the Holy Spirit the legitimacy and the true seal of apostolic succession?" (Letter from the Primate of the Albanian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Anastasios to Patriarch Bartholomew of 07.03.19).

And the most interesting thing is that Filaret Denisenko thinks in exactly the same way, only from his pulpit: “Well, if the Ecumenical Patriarch removed the anathema from me in 2018, was I under anathema until 2018 or not? If I was under anathema, then it means that all these bishops are invalid. And Epiphany is not only not a metropolitan – he is not even a priest. If the Ecumenical Patriarch removed the anathema from me in 2018, then the entire episcopate is invalid” (from an interview with the Ukrainian Radio in the “Persona Grata” program of 17.06.19).

The ostrich pose of Sergei Dumenko

Let's return to M. Zinkevich's interview.

Correspondent: “Is the Church leadership searching for the answers to these questions? And what way of solving these problems do you see?

M. Zinkevich: "Now nothing is being searched for, now the head is in the sand: like, everything will pass, or someone will decide."

Correspondent: "Who has the head in the sand?"

M. Zinkevich: “Everybody does”.

Correspondent: "That is, Metropolitan Epiphany, too – he is the primate?"

M. Zinkevich: "Everybody ..."

***

It seems that these questions should be answered by none other than Patriarch Bartholomew. If he says that the myrrh of the Kyiv Patriarchate is not real, then it means that Filaret Denisenko, Epiphany Dumenko, Mikhail Zinkevich and all the others are not bishops but graceless impostors. And they still are. And if the head of the Phanar says that all the “sacraments”, including “ordinations” in the Kyiv Patriarchate, were valid, then he must explain why he supported the defrocking and anathema of Filaret all the years up to 2018, why he published documents which said that the UOC-KP was not the Church.

And in conclusion, I would like to cite a quote from the Proverbs of King Solomon, which characterizes this situation in the best possible way: “He that stays himself upon falsehoods, attempts to rule the winds, and the same will pursue birds in their fight <...> and he gathers barrenness with his hands” (Proverbs 9: 12).

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