Media reports: Patriarch Emeritus Filaret set to hold Council sidestepping OCU Primate
Yesterday at a meeting with Kyivan clergymen, Patriarch Emeritus Filaret announced his intention to convene the Local Council and asked them not to hurry into re-registration of the Charter of the OCU.
BBC was told about this by the meeting participants.
According to the media, almost all priests, with the exception of two or three, came to meet with Bishop Filaret.
The participants of the meeting said that Patriarch Emeritus prohibited them to communicate with the press and share the details of the conversation.
Only two agreed to share. Archpriest Serghiy Tkachuk claims that no documents were signed, but some decisions were adopted.
Archpriest Serghiy Stankevich, who was a sincere supporter of the ex-patriarch of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate, said more. He acknowledged that the meeting was about Filaret's intention to convene a Local Council. But, according to him, the final decision on its conduct was not voiced.
“The priests talked about the Local Council, whether we have to resolve the most important issues in the Local Council, or in any other way,” he said.
When told that the current Charter of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine clearly defines the question of the Council and there is no Kyiv Patriarchate, Serhiy Stankevych retorted, “What Charter do you mean, the Greek one?”
“The presiding hierarch briefed the clergy on the course of events in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and discussed with the audience the topical issues of church life,” Filaret’s press-service briefed on the meeting.
On conditions of anonymity other meeting participants said that Filaret asked them not to re-register the Charters with the OCU, and also announced the intention to assemble the Local Council to cancel the decisions of the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
They must do so as soon as possible, as the Synod of the OCU ordered everyone to re-register before June 25th.
In case of non-compliance with this instruction, the Synod may envisage a procedure for the switching of the Kyivan parishes from Filaret to the direct subordination to Epifaniy.
Several participants tried to bring to reason the ex-leader, but their opinion was not heard.
Patriarch Emeritus Filaret even told those willing to go to Metropolitan Epifaniy that he would sign a letter of release, but the priests fear that in that case they might lose their temples.
The meeting participants could not clearly explain in what format and how the Local Council could take place. And the main thing – under which rules it can be convened.
Perhaps, it will refer to the former charter of the UOC-KP, which is no longer recognized by the absolute majority of hierarchs.
According to the interlocutors, only a few bishops can come to such a council, in particular Metropolitan Ioasaf of Belgorod from Russia. In recent weeks, he alone has openly supported Filaret's position.
How many priests will come there is also an open question, as well as to what consequences such a Council may lead - a real split and the continuation of the Kyiv Patriarchate, led by Filaret, or the complete marginalization of Filaret’s support group.
At least the participants in the meeting talk about their fear of Bishop Filaret and cannot predict how many of them will dare to avoid the Council convened by the Patriarch Emeritus.
However, when on June 25 the Synod provides grounds to quickly turn into subordination to Epifaniy, many of the dozens of Kyiv church rectors will do so.
The BBC interlocutors from Epifaniy’s circle reported the intention to hold the Local Council stepsiding the head of the OCU as early as May.
Then they argued that in case of such a scenario, Constantinople may consider the hierarchs and priests who dare to take such step with Bishop Filaret as schismatics.
However, some of the interlocutors among the bishops of the OCU advise not to take seriously Filaret's initiative and not to exaggerate its possible consequences.