Leaflet war among Ukrainian Orthodox


RISU, 30 December 2015


On the eve of the Christmas holidays, printed materials for mass distribution to parishioners and residents of nearby places have been dumped onto parishes of the UPTsMP in an organized manner. The materials contain false and provocative information about the Ukrainian language, the UPTs of the Kiev patriarchate, and even the UPTsMP itself, Religiia v Ukraine reports.


The leaflets, or more accurately booklets, are produced without imprints under the label of the obscure "League of the defenders of Orthodoxy." Judging by the Ukrainian text, they were intended for free distribution in churches of central and right-bank Ukraine, beginning in Kiev.


The design for distribution of the propaganda is simple: they arrive at diocesan centers or at centers of deaneries, after which they are distributed by deaneries to parishes. The organization of the distribution of the printed material leaves no doubt that the project received the blessing of leaders of the UPTsMP.


The first booklet, devoted to the competing jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate (UPTsKP), using the harsh, insulting style that is typical of the that of the head of the UPTsMP press service, Vasily Anisimov, and the fake "Union of Orthodox journalists," the authors in 24 pages accuse the Kiev patriarchate of being "Christianity without Christ," and that "all sacraments of the Filaretite 'church' are invalid," and the head of the UPTsKP himself is conducting a "preaching war" and "desires the destruction of Ukrainians of the Donbass."


The brochure repeated claims that "there is no grace with the schismatics," and the UPTsKP is called the "confession of one person, Filaret," where there is "absence of the grace of the Holy Spirit and emptiness in human hearts."


Contrary to prevailing opinion that it is impossible to measure grace, the authors of the pamphlet affirm that it is possible to determine grace: by means of the correct performance of sacraments by a canonical priest and the presence of miracles, relics, holy water, and myrrh-exuding icons, which, according to the information of the booklet's authors, the UPTsKP does not have. Filaret is called a "teacher of the lie," and of representatives of the UPTsKP and the UAAPTs it is said that the "essence of their souls is rejection, lack of reconciliation, and confusion."


A number of the accusations expose the authors and distributors of the leaflets to legal liability. Thus it is maintained that "the proclamation of war is the know-how of the Kiev patriarchate," and "Filaret wants to prolong this war. He desires the destruction of Ukrainians of the Donbass," because "his flock does not exist in the East" (the UPTsKP has in the Donbass two dioceses, which are subjected to repression on the part of the authorities of the unrecognized republics—ed.).


To the Kiev patriarchate is juxtaposed the canonical UPTsMP, which "in 1990 received independence and complete independence in administration" from Patriarch Alexis II. Moreover, it is affirmed, the UPTs since that time "has not depended upon the Moscow patriarchate, which also does not have any claims to the property and material income of the UPTs."


In reality, the UPTsMP is not on a par with autocephalous or autonomous churches and it is a structural part of the RPTs and dependent, like any other part of the RPTS, on the charter of the latter. In recent years Patriarch Kirill has undertaken attempts to further restrict the independence of the UPTsMP (in particular, regarding the interference of the associates of Patriarch Kirill in the internal affairs of the UPTs, hierarchs of that church have spoken themselves. Also at the sobor of the UPTsMP on 8 July 2011 there was a discussion of the issue of the influence of the patriarch of the RPTs on decision-making within the UPTs and at the time the synod of the RPTs "expressed the hope" for a change in the charter of the UPTsMP for strengthening unity with the Moscow patriarchate, which led to an intensification of the conflict situation within the synod of the UPTsMP and the extension of the conflict to the whole episcopate of the UPTsMP—ed.).


Recounting the church schism of the 1990s, the leaflet completely omits one of the most important events of that time, the local sobor of the UPTs on 1-3 November 1991, which advocated granting autocephaly to the UPTs and asked the Moscow patriarchate for "granting complete independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," that is, autocephaly. Even Vladyka Onufrey, the current head of the UPTsMP, voted for this decision.


The next booklet which has been concocted in the UPTs is directed against the position of "people who advocate for the Ukrainian language in worship services." It maintains that "quite often liturgical texts in the Ukrainian language sound too harsh and even obscene."


What the "League of the defenders of Orthodoxy" considers to be obscenity are the words "drabina" (ladder), "zrodila" (gave birth to), "galuzka" (branch), and others, which are used in one of the translations of the "Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos" in the Ukrainian diaspora and in churches of the UAPTs. Concerning other Ukrainian liturgical translations, including those that are used in hundreds of parishes of the UPTsMP, the authors of the leaflet make no mention. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 January 2016)

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