Zazymya: A traitor story from the participant in “dialogue” with OCU

S. Dumenko receives A. Slinko, former cleric of the Resurrection Cathedral in Zazymya, into his structure. Photo: UOJ

One of the participants in the “Sophia” meeting backstabbed his rector and entered into a deal with the authorities to transfer the church to the OCU. How to treat it?

On July 19, 2022, Sergei Dumenko received at his residence representatives of the “religious community” of the Resurrection church of the UOC in the village of Zazymya, Brovary District, which allegedly transferred to the OCU on July 17.

This meeting is notable for two features at once. Firstly, under the guise of a church community, representatives of the authorities of Zazymya – the head of the UTC Vitaly Krupenko and the executive Olga Lisyanskaya visited the head of the OCU. Secondly, Archpriest Anatoly Slinko, who is banned from the priesthood and who accompanied them, is a participant in a recent meeting at St. Sophia Cathedral regarding a “dialogue” between the priests of the UOC and members of the OCU. The authorities invited him to the event as a cleric of the UOC, but now he's suddenly become a member of the OCU. We will talk about how this happened, and what the "Sophia" meeting has to do with it.

How it all began

The Resurrection church in Zazymya has a long 157 year-old history. In Soviet times, the Bolsheviks tried to destroy the church – they closed it, set it on fire, and converted it into a granary. Nevertheless, during the Second World War, the temple was opened, services were resumed there, which have continued until now. Archpriest Alexander Generalenko has been the rector of the Resurrection church for the last 30 years, while Anatoly Slinko served as the second priest. In 2015, the 150th anniversary of the temple was celebrated here and attended by His Beatitude Onuphry. A huge number of parishioners gathered for the Divine Liturgy. Both priests received church awards from the hands of the Primate.

At the beginning of 2019, with the granting of the Tomos, the situation with the territorial community, which includes Zazymya, was getting very “rough”. A village meeting was held in the village council of the neighboring village of Pogreby, which decided to transfer the temple to the OCU. Viral went a video from the Assumption church, where OCU activists loudly chanted “Shame” and sang the anthem during the prayer service of the UOC believers. As a result, the authorities re-registered the UOC community in favor of the OCU, took away the temple, and took away the church house where Sunday school classes were held.

Now believers are building a new temple for themselves to replace the one that was seized.

All subsequent time, a fragile confessional balance was maintained in the region. But with the outbreak of the war, everything changed. Local authorities began to massively announce the "ban" of the UOC and hold fake meetings to transfer UOC temples to the OCU. It got to the point that Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary was compelled to send an open letter to the President of Ukraine with a request to intervene in the situation:

“The initiators of gatherings on the “transition” of religious communities are often the heads of UTCs, mayors of cities, village elders and representatives of local territorial defense. At the same time, the opinion of members of the religious community is not taken into account AT ALL; people who have nothing to do with the religious community vote for the transition. There is a direct interference of state agents and local self-government in the activities of religious communities of the Boryspil diocese of the UOC.”

The temple in Zazymya was no exception. Since the beginning of spring, the head of the UTC, Vitaly Krupenko, came around here with persistent requests to join the OCU.

Vitaly Krupenko, head of the Zazymya UTC, at a meeting of the church community of the UOC in Zazymya village on May 5, 2022. Photo: Facebook A. Slinko

The community even had to hold its own meeting on May 15, following which a statement was adopted. Its key takeaway is as follows: “If the governing bodies of the UOC: the Synod of the UOC, the Council of Bishops of the UOC, the Council of the UOC do not proclaim and enshrine in the statutory documents the independence of the UOC from the ROC within a month, the issue of transferring the religious community of the Resurrection of Christ of the Boryspil Eparchy, Zazymya, Brovary district, Kyiv region, to another Orthodox jurisdiction will be raised." 64 people voted in favor, 9 against.

The text of the statement was published on his Facebook page by Fr. Anatoly Slinko. In the same place, he made a very important remark that "exclusively MEMBERS OF THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY" (the author's capitalization – Ed.) can take part in the meeting. He clarified that, according to the statute of the religious community, only those who “recognize the obligatory nature of the Statute on the governance of the UOC, regularly participate in worship, confess and receive the Holy Communion, are in canonical obedience to the rector ... Therefore, it is obvious that atheists, Catholics, Protestants, representatives of other faiths and those not taking part in the life of the parish and not attending worship cannot have the right to vote. That’s final."

As we know, on May 27, a Council of the UOC was held, which declared complete independence from the ROC. It would seem that the issue is closed, the "requirements" are met and the parish continues its life with the UOC. Fr. Anatoly even commented on the decisions of the Council as follows: “A small victory with big positive consequences for the future of Ukraine. The UOC made a decision without regard to Moscow.” The comment says it all, doesn’t it?

However, the local authorities did not leave the community alone. The chief of the Zazymya Unified Territorial Community continued to make calls to the temple, put pressure on its rector Fr. Alexander Generalenko and demand a transfer to the OCU. On June 27, Olga Lisyanskaya complained that the rector had not said a word about the war in his sermon, and demanded that a meeting be held on July 17 about the transition. Interestingly, on that day, Fr. Anatoly Slinko repeated the words that only members of the religious community who regularly attend services and receive communion can take part in the meeting, but did it with reservations. Like, regularity is a “disputable” issue, and St. Mary of Egypt received communion only twice in her life. At the same time, he said that it was “not easy for him to be between two fires” and that many parishioners did not share his position. What he meant then became clear a little later.

Rector's position as the price of betrayal

On July 10, the religious community held its legal meeting in the temple, which confirmed their loyalty to the UOC. 55 people voted for, 0 against. Archpriest Anatoly Slinko attended this meeting, but did not participate in the voting. However, he was very active at a meeting of local residents organized by the authorities on 17 July. As Lisyanskaya, the manager of the UTC, reported on Facebook, 800 people came to the vote. It is not difficult to guess they are not members of the Resurrection community. 60-70 people usually came to church there on a regular basis. The diocese reported that “people began to agitate for this meeting about a month in advance, information was sent out on social networks, print media, invitations were thrown into mailboxes.”

Of course, Fr. Anatoly was perfectly aware of that. However, his principled position that “those who do not take part in the life of the parish and do not attend divine services are deprived of the right to vote at the meeting” suddenly changed.

Not less suddenly changed his attitude towards the Council of the UOC. While the Council was earlier called "a smalll victory with big positive consequences", now it turns out that "nothing has changed" after it. Therefore, the transition to the OCU “is natural, consistent and correct” and one must “save their souls precisely in this administrative structure.”

Why all of a sudden such a U-turn?

It's not hard to guess. A change of position is a payment for a new position. After all, the rector Fr. Alexander, who had served in the parish for more than 30 years, was “fired” at a meeting on July 17, and Slinko was “appointed” in his place. And already in a new status, he turned up together with the leadership of Zazymya in Sergei Dumenko’s residence.

"The grace of God is where there is conscience"

Anatoly Slinko is a participant in the widely publicized "inter-confessional" meeting at St. Sophia Cathedral, initiated by the Ministry of Culture and State Ethnopolitics Service on July 6, 2022. The organizers invited 9 priests of the UOC and 10 "priests" of the OCU to the event.

The meeting, which resulted in the adoption of the “Declaration of Understanding”, was positioned as a “desire from grassroots” for unification and was called the first step towards dialogue. However, it did not bring the desired effect. Metropolitan Clement (Vecheria) stated that none of the participants received a blessing for such a meeting and he sees no prospects in it. Slinko blames the “poor” church media in this regard (primarily the UOJ), which criticism reaulted in the fact that the Declaration “did not find support and understanding among the hierarchy of the UOC.” But is it really so?

After the meeting in Sophia’s, A. Slinko wrote on Facebook: “Paragraph 9 of the resolution of the Council of the UOC of May 27 proclaims the need for dialogue with the OCU (‘even in such crisis circumstances the Council does not lose hope for the resumption of dialogue’). It can be regarded as a blessing for dialogue.”

However, the Decisions of the Council clearly state that dialogue is possible providing the OCU fulfills three terms:

  • termination of seizures;
  • awareness by the OCU of the inferiority of its status;
  • addressing the issue of the lack of consecrations among its "bishops".

Since Dumenko and his retinue refused to do this by that time, there is no “blessing for dialogue” and cannot be. Fr. Anatoly Slinko simply lied. Blatantly.

Moreover, given that 3 days after the “Sophia” meeting, he actually did not participate in the meeting of his church community, it can be assumed that Slinko attended the event already knowing that he would soon “transfer” the temple to the OCU, sideline its rector and take his place.

Banned priest Anatoly Slinko. Photo: Facebook Slinko

In the "explanatory" video, where he substantiates the betrayal of the Church, Fr. Anatoly involuntarily says absolutely correct words: “There is only one Church of Christ in Zazymya. The grace of God actually dwells where there is justice, where there is conscience."

Truly, the Church of Christ is one – both in Zazymya, in Ukraine, and in the world. The Church is where people do not lie, do not change their principles for the sake of career growth, do not backstab and betray their rector and their Primate. And the Grace of God is where there is justice and where there is conscience.

Well, the “Sophia” group, advocating contacts with the OCU, already quite marginal, suffered a serious reputational blow. It is likely that there are priests who participated in the Sophia event with a sincere desire to help overcome the schism in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the example of Anatoly Slinko showed that the path of disregarding the decisions of one's Church cannot lead to anything good.

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