Split is looming in the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Patriarch Emeritus Filaret sent a letter to the hierarchs of the former UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate printed on the Kyiv Patriarchate’s letter forms (which has officially ceased to exist) inviting them to arrive in Kyiv on May 13-14 for a “solemn prayer communication” in memory of the Hieromartyr Macarius. The current Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Metropolitan Epifaniy did not receive such an invitation and has other plans for the time indicated.
The absence of invitation for the Primate of the OCU Epifaniy to an event of importance for the Church can testify that Patriarch Emeritus Filaret is not satisfied with the newly formed OCU and may create obstacles to its normal activity, “to the point of attempting to convene a Local Council to revise the Charter of the OCU”, which the former head of the UOC-KP has mentioned several times in various interviews. Thus a serious conflict between Filaret and Epifaniy develops.”
Patriarch Emeritus Filaret of the OCU at the same time claims that the Kyiv Patriarchate still exists.
“The fact is that the Kyiv Patriarchate has not been liquidated. It is not liquidated. They want to present the situation as if it was liquidated. The Kyiv Patriarchate can be liquidated by the one who created it,” said Patriarch Emeritus Filaret in a story by TSN on May 9.
Such a statement by Filaret sounds strange, given that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate has joined the entity established on December 15, 2018 at the Unification Council of the local Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and Filaret himself signed the relevant document on the self-dissolution of the UOC-KP.
Patriarch Emeritus Filaret has also recently said in an interview: “The Kyiv Patriarchate does not exist in the legal realm, but in fact it does, because there is a patriarch,” referring to himself.
The expert community is already actively discussing an imminent conflict, which may end with the split of the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine along the lines of Filaret-Epifaniy.
Thus, the delegate of the unifying council, Fr Bohdan Tymoshenko of the OCU believes that an attempt to restore the Kyiv Patriarchate will lead to a split in the OCU and will be a crushing defeat of the Ukrainian Church.
The liquidation of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the UAOC and their unification into the local UOC was one of the prerequisites for the provision of the Tomos. In the eyes of many delegates of the Council and, in particular, in my eyes, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret was the first to put his signature under the protocol of the Local Council of the UOC-KP on its liquidation – jointly with all the permanent members of the Synod in St Sofia Minor on December 15, 2018, acting as the Presidium of the Council under the Charter of the UOC-KP,” he said.
The priest of the OCU is bewildered why Patriarch Emeritus Filaret should now distribute documents on behalf of the UOC-KP.
“An attempt to restore the Kyiv Patriarchate will become a split in the OCU and a crushing defeat of the achievements won by the Ukrainian Church and by Patriarch Filaret himself. God save us from mistakes!” added Fr. Bogdan Tymoshenko.
A renowned religious scholar, Yuriy Chornomorets, believes that if the Kyiv Patriarchate is restored, Russia will receive the greatest benefit.
“In general, any steps towards the restoration of the UOC-KP will bury the credibility of the OCU, the authority of Ukraine, and the reputation of the Ukrainian authorities – both incumbent and those to be elected. This is a gift for Russia as if we had surrendered Ukrainian land along the Dnieper’s lines. I can simply find no proper words for the consequences for the country and the nation to come – one can already stop thinking about the Church on their background, as the blow on the Church itself becomes irrelevant.” he said.
According to him, the Local Council can be gathered in accordance with the decision of the Synod, and not secretively.
“Of course, the best of all would be if Filaret repeated the deed of Lyubomyr Husar and opened up opportunities for the recognition of his offspring, the OCU, and for the consolidation of a wider community around the OCU. That would be a rational end to his career,” said Yuriy Chornomorets.