Filaret's "ordinations" and pro-OCU Greeks: boomerangs always return

By recognizing Filaret, Phanar launched chaos in the Church. Photo: UOJ

Filaret “ordained” new “hierarchs” for the UOC-KP, including the cleric of the GOC who was banned from priesthood. Will he be considered a bishop by Phanar and Greece?

On December 13, 2021, the UOC-KP held its “bishops' council”, which resolved to “ordain” two “bishops” and accepted the Greek schismatic metropolitan into its jurisdiction. The strengthening of the Filaret structure on the eve of the anniversary of the “unification council” of the OCU looked like a mockery of Phanar, Dumenko and the Churches that recognized this religious structure. But a day later the situation appeared much worse for them – Filaret and his associates performed a “episcopal ordination” of the cleric of the Church of Greece who was banned from the priesthood (the one that was declared a metropolitan by the UOC-KP). And now, according to the logic of Phanar and its satellites, they are obliged to recognize this "consecration" as canonical. After all, according to their position, Filaret is a legitimate bishop. Neither Phanar nor the OCU or Greece knows what to do with all this, yet the decision lies on the surface.

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"Bishop's'" Council of the UOC-KP on December 13, 2021. Photo: press service of the "Kyiv Patriarchate"

Boomerang to Filaret Denisenko

In 1992, Filaret Denisenko, then still the legitimate Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, at the Council of Bishops in Moscow, before the cross and the Gospel, swore an oath that upon returning to Kyiv, he would leave the post of primate of the UOC and convene the Council of Bishops to elect a new primate. He broke his oath, not even denying the fact of taking it. He said it was irrelevant and pronounced for diplomatic purposes.

In the same 1992, Filaret Denisenko backslid into schism and broke away from the Church of Christ; his activities were no longer aimed at bringing people to God. However, with the help of the secular authorities of Ukraine, he created rather a successful project – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP). Moreover, he created it practically from scratch, because only two bishops left the Church with him – one ruling and one vicar. Not a single monastery, not a single educational institution followed him. The number of priests who left the Church after Filaret was minimal, as was the number of parishes. By the time of the unification of the UOC-KP with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) in 2018 and the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), Filaret Denisenko's organization numbered more than 30 “bishops” and about 4,500 parishes. This achievement does credit to Filaret as a politician and organizer, but for the Church of Christ this is a negative result. After all, those people who followed the schismatic ended up outside the saving ark of the Church.

Filaret educated practically all of his "bishops" of the UOC-KP, put them on their feet, provided them with the appropriate position and materiel. However, he could not teach them the most important thing – living according to the commandments of God.

Filaret educated practically all of his "bishops" of the UOC-KP, put them on their feet, provided them with the appropriate position and materiel. By and large, they owe everything to him. However, he could not teach them the most important thing – living according to the commandments of God. To teach this, one must first of all live according to these commandments himself, because any teaching is effective only when the student sees the living example in his teacher. Filaret Denisenko set a very striking example for his “bishops”. The election of Sergei (Epifaniy) Dumenko as head of the OCU at the so-called "unification council" on December 15, 2018, gave him a great chance to show what his teacher taught him. And he did indeed.

A few months after the "council" Filaret accused Sergei Dumenko of betrayal and breaking his promise. According to him, the head of the OCU and former president of Ukraine P. Poroshenko cheated the "patriarch" and removed him from the real leadership in the new organization. Filaret loudly slammed the door, left the OCU and announced the re-creation of the UOC-KP project. He was very offended by his "pupil" Sergei Dumenko, but could this boomerang of treachery not return to the one who launched it at a time? The words of Holy Scripture: “A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6: 7) are forever topical.

Boomerang to Sergei Dumenko

After the creation of the OCU project, Filaret Denisenko thought he would actually head this structure, as he had previously headed the UOC-KP, with the only difference that the attribute “honorary” would be added to his previous title “patriarch”. Dumenko was supposed to act like the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the words of Drabinko – "Queen of England". However, Sergei Dumenko turned out to be a worthy apprentice of his teacher Filaret and actually removed the latter from power, thereby launching his own boomerang, which is returning to him today. Probably, Sergei Dumenko assumed that the 90-year-old “old man” would put up with his position as an honorary pensioner and would not muddy the waters, but he miscalculated. Filaret again “ordained” himself “bishops” and returned under his control many parishes of the UOC-KP abroad. However, the most important asset of the "honorary patriarch" is an ideological victory. Filaret said that the OCU is not at all an autocephalous or national church. And he is absolutely right. According to the Tomos issued to the OCU, this organization is subordinate to Phanar in key aspects: law of the court, receiving myrrh, recourse to Phanar on the most important issues, and so on.

 So the head of the OCU simply does not know what to do with his former teacher. When Filaret announced his resignation from the OCU, i.e. in fact, he went into schism with the schismatics, he was not expelled from his dignity, nor was he anathematized or even banned from the "priesthood". He was only removed from his leadership of the Kyiv diocese of the OCU. “To state that Honorary Patriarch Filaret remains in the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, but lost his canonical rights and duties related to the administration of the diocese” (from the Journal of the Holy Synod meeting of the OCU dated June 24, 2019). Consequently, the OCU considers Filaret a canonical bishop, which means that all his "sacred rites" are valid from the point of view of the OCU.

The OCU considers Filaret a canonical bishop, which means that all his "sacred rites" are valid from the point of view of the OCU.

So on December 13, 2021, at a meeting of the "Bishops'" Council of the UOC-KP, it was decided to "ordain" two "bishops" for foreign parishes, but in fact it was about three (more on that later).

“The Secretary of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate in the USA and Canada, Hieromonk Luka (Zgoba), shall be elected Bishop of Philadelphia, Vicar of the Kyiv Diocese. <...> At the request of Archbishop Filaret of Falesti and Eastern Moldova, to elect Archimandrite Aviv (Panku) as Bishop of Riscani, Vicar of the Eastern Moldovan Diocese" (Resolution of the Council of Bishops of the UOC-KP dated December 13, 2021).

On December 14, in the Vladimir Cathedral, Luka Zgoba received  a "episcopal consecration".

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"Consecration" of Luka Zgoba in the Vladimir Cathedral in Kyiv. Photo: press service of the UOC-KP

In October 2021, when Filaret tonsured Bogdan Zgoba as a "monastic" in view of the upcoming "consecration", Sergei Dumenko responded to him with his Decree of 30 October 2021, in which he made a fool of himself. He stated that "Honorary Patriarch Filaret remains in the episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, but lost his canonical rights and duties related to the administration of the diocese." That is, S. Dumenko actually confirmed the "episcopal" rank of Filaret. Further S. Dumenko writes: “I am compelled to warn you that any performance by you and under your leadership of the rite of episcopal ordination, as done in a state of prohibition, anticanonically and over persons who were not properly elected by the Church for episcopal ministry, is not recognized as valid now and cannot be recognized in the future."

But Filaret is not under the ban of the OCU, as S. Dumenko wrote about in his decree a few lines above! And he did not "ordain" any "bishops" for the OCU! He "ordained" them for the UOC-KP, which has nothing to do with the OCU. In any case, all “bishops” “ordained” by Filaret are “canonical” for the OCU. And Sergei Dumenko cannot deny this, since the canonicity of these new "bishops" is equal to his own canonicity, since in both cases they stem from Filaret Denisenko's canonicity.

But further – even funnier. S. Dumenko writes that “Archpriest Bogdan Zgoba, living in the United States, as a stauropegic cleric who was subordinate to the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate and who has not so far accepted the canonical authority of the Bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at his place of residence <...> is actually in the canonical purview of the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” But he cannot be in the “canonical purview” of the Primate of the OCU, since the Tomos prohibits the OCU from having parishes abroad. Dead end.

Boomerang to Patriarch Bartholomew

The head of Phanar did a lot of lawless and anti-canonical things, but in this case we will focus on two of his actions:

  • accepting schismatics into communion without the latter’s repentance;
  • recognizing the priestly rank of persons who do not have canonical ordinations.

On October 11, 2018, the Synod of the Church of Constantinople adopted a resolution on Ukraine. One of its points read: “(...) to be in communion with the former Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret and the former Archbishop of Lvov Makariy and those with them, since they have been properly reinstated by us to the episcopacy through our positive judgments in relation to the petitions of appeal they had repeatedly submitted to us."

Such a decision, according to the apt remark of Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) of Zaporizhia, is a certificate to the corpse that he is alive, because only repentance is capable of reviving the one who was put to death by sin, but there was none. The second offence of Patriarch Bartholomew (the recognition of the episcopal rank among those who do not have it) is even more flagrant than the former. Let us repeat, in the decision of the Synod of Constantinople it is literally written: "The aforementioned persons were canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank." The word “reinstated” means that for some period they did not have this “hierarchical or priestly rank” and return to what they had originally. However, the absolute majority of the "followers" of Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletich at the time of their rupture with the Church of Christ were laity. In what "hierarchical or priestly rank" were they reinstated? While such logic may be applied to Filaret Denisenko, since before the schism he was indeed a canonical bishop, then it does not work at all with Makariy Maletich, because he was only a priest. On what basis did Patriarch Bartholomew recognize him as a bishop?

The absolute majority of the "followers" of Denisenko and Maletich at the time of their rupture with the Church of Christ were laity. In what "hierarchical or priestly rank" were they reinstated?

The situation with the head of the OCU, Sergei Dumenko, is even worse. He could only be reinstated to the rank of a layman and no other, for all his subsequent "dignities" he received from Filaret, who had been excommunicated from the Church. For several decades, anathema to Filaret and his followers was recognized by the plentitude of the Orthodox Church, including the Patriarchate of Constantinople. All "ordinations" were invalidated. But suddenly, retroactively, against all canons, they were recognized by Phanar! Even such an ardent supporter of the Patriarchate of Constantinople as the Primate of the Albanian Church, Archbishop Anastasios, wrote a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew, in which he stated that it is impossible to recognize ordinations retroactively.

However, Phanar only gave up all such arguments or answered in a way that “it should know better”. Patriarch Bartholomew, other Phanariots, as well as representatives (albeit not all of them) of the Churches that recognized the OCU, without hesitation, perform divine services with the OCU and recognize all their "sacred rites". They even invite them to participate in episcopal ordinations. Thus, the Phanariots injected poison into the Church, which penetrates all the more into the Body of the Church. Soon it will be unclear which bishop is canonical, which one is not, whose sacraments are valid, whose are not, and so on. Chaos can grow so much that it will be just right to introduce the formula "if not ordained" into the rite of ordination by analogy with baptism, when there are doubts as to whether a person is actually baptized or not.

And now the boomerang launched by Patriarch Bartholomew is returning to him. Filaret Denisenko, “reinstated” to his episcopal dignity, accepts not only Ukrainian foreign parishes under his omophorion, which did not want to be subordinated to the Phanariots by order of Sergei Dumenko, but also plainly schismatic groups of Greek old calendarists, i.e. the persons whom Phanar himself considers to be outside the Church.

Thus the decision of the "Bishops'" Council of the UOC-KP dated 13 December 2021 reads: "To accept Metropolitan Chrysostomos (Callis), with parishes and clergy belonging to his diocese of the Greek Church, old calendarists, at his request, into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate."

This Greek was once a subdeacon of the Primate of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, then became a priest, then went into schism, where he became the "metropolitan" of the Dervenochorian diocese of the "True Orthodox Church of Greece". On December 15, 2021, he was “ordained” (or “re-ordained”) as the “bishop” with the original title “Bishop of Mariupol and Dervenochoria”.

"Consecration" of "Archimandrite" Chrysostomos in the Vladimir Cathedral in Kyiv. Photo: press service of the UOC-KP

Again, let's pay attention to the ongoing chaos among the schismatics. If Mr. Callis is called a metropolitan in the decree of the "bishops' council" of the UOC-KP dated 13.12.2021, then what is the need to "ordain" him? But in any case, since Filaret Denisenko is neither anathematized nor even banned from the "priesthood" from the point of view of Phanar and the GOC, all his "ordinations" should be recognized by them as valid.

If the "Bishop of Mariupol and Dervenochoria" Chrysostomos Callis turns up, for example, in Athens and wants to "concelebrate" with Archbishop Ieronymos, on what basis will the Greeks refuse him?

It will be interesting to see "Bishop of Mariupol and Dervenochoria" Chrysostomos Callis turn up, for example, in Athens to "concelebrate" with Archbishop Ieronymos – on what basis will the Greeks refuse him? The worst thing is that this pattern may be followed by others who want to receive “canonical” “ordinations” from Filaret Denisenko, “reinstated” by Patriarch Bartholomew “in communion with the Church”. Looks like a win-win situation for both parties in schism?

Sooner or later, “his divine all-holiness” Patriarch Bartholomew will have to answer the question of what needs to be done about this. If he cuts it adrift, Filaret, offended by Sergei Dumenko, will “churn out” so many “canonical bishops” that there will be no way to get rid of them. Banning Mr.Denisenko from the “priesthood”, disgowning him or imposing anathema on him will mean that "his divine all-holiness" made a mistake, recognizing Filaret as "reinstated in communion with the Church." And if is a mistake, then all other decisions on Ukraine are also wrong.

What is to be done after all?

There is nothing easier than repentance, but at the same time there is nothing more difficult than repentance. However, this is the only solution. There is no other provision in the Gospel – "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (Matt. 4:17). Repentance does not humiliate a person, but, on the contrary, elevates him. The door of repentance is open for Filaret Denisenko, Sergei Dumenko, Patriarch Bartholomew and all the others who in one way or another participated in the creation of the anti-canonical project of the OCU or otherwise sinned against the Church of Christ. This is the only way to heal the existing schisms and stop this incomprehensible leapfrog with "ordinations". Otherwise, the launched boomerangs will continue to fly, striking not only those who launch them, but also inflicting wounds on everyone who followed them out of ignorance or for some other reason.

Finally, there is one more question, rhetorical – is everything described above native to the Church of Christ? Did the Lord speak about this when He sent his apostles to preach?

“You shall know them by their fruits…" (Math. 7:16).

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