Personnel shake-up in Ukrainian Orthodox Church


RISU, 29 January 2016


The spokesman of many years for the UPTsMP and the press secretary of Metropolitan Vladimir, Father Georgy Kovalenko, was removed from the position of head of the Synodal Enlightenment Department of the UPTsMP. This decision was made today by the synod of that church. Thereby Father Georgy now does not have any official offices in the Kiev metropolitanate.


After hearing a report to the synod by Metropolitan Onufrey, the bishops made the decision to eliminate the Synodal Enlightenment Department and to merge it with the Synodal Information Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.


The participants in the synod assigned Bishop of Irpen Kliment, a vicar bishop of the Kiev metropolitanate of the UPTsMP, to head the new department.


We recall that a Synodal Information and Enlightenment Department had existed in the UPTsMP, which Father Georgy Kovalenko headed. However in September 2014 it was divided into the enlightenment and information departments. At the time, the bishops of UPTsMP appointed Bishop Kliment to direct the entire information policy of the church.


As is known, priest Georgy Kovalenko created and headed the official website of the UPTsMP. From 2008 he was the permanent press secretary of His Beatitude Vladimir. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 January 2016)

Related article:
Ukrainian Orthodox dissident speaks out
January 12, 2016



Religiia v Ukraine, 29 January 2016


On 29 January at the Kiev caves lavra, the first session of the Holy Synod of the UPTsMP of this year was held. Under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Onufrey, participants in the meeting made a number of important decisions which testify to the strengthening of the conservative and Musco-phile line in the UPTs, a correspondent of Religiia v Ukraine reports, with a reference to the published journals of the synod.


The session heard information from Metropolitan Onufrey about the activity of synodal departments and commissions of the UPTs in 2015, after which members of the synod dismissed from his office the chairman of the Enlightenment Department, Archpriest Georgy Kovalenko, and merged the department itself with the Information Department, which is headed by Bishop Kliment. At the same time, the Information Department was renamed the Information and Enlightenment Department, with the leadership of the same bishop.


The extraordinary situation consists in the fact that the Information and Enlightenment Department of the UPTs was headed by Archpriest Georgy Kovalenko before Bishop Kliment. Under the metropolitanate of Onufrey this department was divided in two and Father Georgy Kovalenko was deprived of the tribune of the spokesman of the UPTs. Now the archpriest has been dismissed also from educational projects, while the old name of the department that the synod itself had rejected in 2014 has been restored.


Recently Archpriest Georgy Kovalenko has expressed an independent position on a number of issues. In particular, recently he explained what distinguishes the Moscow "Russian World" from the Kiev "Russian World," and in commenting on the assembly (synaxis) of heads of the Orthodox churches he declared that "in 2016 the UPTs is being used as an object of manipulation."


Further, members of the synod moved to substantial personnel assignments and relocation of bishops. Thus, Archimandrite Kallinik, a cleric of the Simferopol diocese, was appointed bishop of Bakhchisary, a vicar bishop of the Simferopol diocese. He soon will be elevated to the rank of bishop. 


Archimandrite Kallinik (secular name, Konstantin) Chernyshev was born in 1977 in Yevtaporia [or Eupatoria, western Crimea]. He has higher education in law and economics and the degree of master of theology. He was shorn a monk with the name Kallinik in 2008. In 2012, with the blessing of Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea Lazar, he was appointed spiritual confessor of the Tauride Ecclesiastical Seminary. In 2013 he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite.


According to information on the Ukrainian website Mirotvorets [Peacemaker], Archimandrite Kallinik "took an active part in the annexation of Crimea." He conducted anti-Ukrainian agitation and sited a warehouse of weapons for "the self-defense of Crimea" on the territory of the church of the Holy Prophet John the Baptizer in the village of Uyutnom, of which he is the rector. He received a medal "For the Defense of Crimea" from the Russian authorities of Crimea.


The synod appointed Bishop of Shumsk Nafanail bishop of Kamen-Kashirsk, a vicar bishop of the Volyn diocese. Accordingly he was dismissed from the position of vicar bishop of the Ternopol diocese and rector of the Pochaev Ecclesiastical Seminary.


Bishop Serafim was appointed bishop of Shumsk, vicar bishop of the Ternopol diocese, and rector of the Pochaev Ecclesiastical Seminary. He is a former bishop of the UPTs, who has resided in Moscow for about 10 years now and is a cleric of the Moscow diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Vladyka Serafim acquired the reputation within the RPTs and the UPTs of a preacher whose opinion sometimes diverged from the official position of the church. In particular, Bishop Serafim maintained that by accepting an identification number a person "loses the grace of the Holy Spirit and receives the spirit of this world, the spirit of antichrist" and that "the worship of demons through the identification number is a more sophisticated form" than the worship of pagan idols.


Against his opponents—Deacon Andrei Kuraev and other "so-called theologians"—the bishop said: "We, Orthodox Christians, should be in unity with the church and not pay attention to them, because a bishop is not the church, an elder is not the church, and a priest is not the church." At the same time he urged "not in any event to make a schism nor make one's own group but simply to transfer from this parish into another parish." The conversations of Bishop Serafim against ecumenism, globalization, and electronic documents have been distributed in brochures and audio cassettes throughout Ukraine. The bishop had great popularity among apocalyptically minded believers of the UPTs, who often have quoted him.


After the UPTs synod in 2007 removed Bishop Serafim from administration of the Belaia Tserkov and Boguslav diocese (in Kiev province) and transferred him to the newly created Severo Donetsk see (in Luhansk province), Bishop Serafim wrote a report requesting that he be placed on leave and retired. The UPTs synod selected the Sviatogorsk lavra of the Donetsk dioceses as a place of residence for Bishop Serafim. However in the same year Bishop Serafim procured a transfer from the UPTs into the RPTs and by a decree of Patriarch Alexis II he was appointed rector of the church of the Introduction into the Temple of the Holy Mother of God near Saltykov Bridge (Lefortovo) in Moscow, where according to information on the official website of the Moscow patriarchate he served until recently.


Later the synod discussed the conflict situation in the Umani diocese. Since 2013 a conflict has been going on there between the ruling bishop, Archbishop of Umani and Zvenigorod Panteleimon, and a group of local priests who accuse their archpastor of anti-canonical actions (corruption, ties with the criminal world, and threats against the regular clergy, etc.). In contrast to Bishop Serafim, Archbishop Panteleimon is known for his liberal church positions. In 2012 he threatened that he would excommunicate heretical parishioners for advocacy of pseudo-Orthodox teachings about the "redemptive feat" of the Passion-Bearer Tsar Nicholas II, for maintaining the impermissibility of a believer using an identification number and of Orthodox parishes using a registration number, and for propaganda "of various kinds of political ideas, ideas of the canonization of Moscow Tsar Ivan the Terrible and Grigory Rasputin, and 'unauthorized processions of the cross, rituals of repentance, and rituals of taking an oath to the tsar.'"


After discussing the state of affairs in Umani diocese, the synod dismissed Bishop Panteleimon from administration of the diocese and demoted him, appointing him archbishop of Bucha, a vicar bishop of the Kiev metropolia.


Archbishop of Shepetov and Slavutsk Panteleimon was appointed administrator of the Umani diocese and relieved of administration of the Shepetov diocese. In turn, Bishop of Khotinsk Evsevy was appointed administrator of the Shepetov diocese and transferred from the post of vicar of the Chernovitsy-Bukovina diocese.


On the eve of the meeting of the synod and also of the bishops' council of the UPTs, which was opened on the same day, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko sent to the episcopate of the UPTs a call to join "the activization of processes of inter-church dialogue and consolidation of Ukrainian Orthodoxy and a strengthening of the state-church partnership." Among other things, Petro Poroshenko reminded the UPTs bishops about their past promise to strive for the autocephaly of the UPTs. It seems that the decisions of the UPTs synod are their response to Petro Poroshenko. (tr. by PDS, posted 31 January 2016)

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