Dispute between Ukrainian church leaders continues


Religiia v Ukraine, 30 May 2019


On 29 May, the website of the former UPTsKP,, published a letter by Filaret, a metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU) with the unofficial title of "honorary patriarch," to the primate of the PTsU, Metropolitan Epifany, and also a statement of the "press service of the Kiev patriarchate" addressed to the head of the Department for Affairs of Religions and Nationalities of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, Andrei Yurash. Both statements continue the conflict in the PTsU regarding the power-sharing arrangement of Filaret and Epifany, Religiia v Ukraine reports.


Filaret's letter to Epifany says that the latter does not have the right to transfer under his authority a cleric of the Kiev diocese, Archpriest Alexander Trofimliuk, the rector of the Kiev Orthodox Theological Academy of the PTsU, whom Filaret inhibited from ministry against the backdrop of the conflict with Epifany. Yesterday Epifany declared invalid Filaret's order, which the latter issued in the name of the UPTsKP.


In another note on the former website of the UPTsKP—"Statement of the press service of the Kiev patriarchate regarding statements of the head of the Department for Affairs of Religions and Nationalities A.V.Yurash"—Andrei Yurash is accused of stating on the social network Facebook the following idea: "It seems that movements have begun which insert deliberate disinformation and have the goal of creating a structure that is not under the control of the legitimate church center. If this information is accurate, then it turns out that within the church leadership there is no other option than an urgent convocation, literally tomorrow, of another Synod of the church and finding adequate responses to actions that may destroy church unity."


The "press service of the Kiev patriarchate" assessed this statement in the following way: "This summons is state interference in internal church affairs which violates the freedom and rights of the church. Such expressions and statements introduce disinformation into Ukrainian society and have a destructive character for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Therefore we call A.V. Yurash, and also other state servants, to refrain from such statements, which harm the Ukrainian church."


Andrei Yurash reacted to the statement in the following commentary of 30 May: "Interference is direct orders or instructions. In my case, there was only the advice of a person who for 30 years now has been directly involved in church matters and affairs. Therefore the 'disinformation," which has 'a destructive character,' is not my appeal and reflection but this 'statement.' Second. For the hundredth time now at all levels, including by the official statement of the Ministry of Culture and yesterday's order by the primate of the UPTs (PTsU), it has been stressed that such a church as the UPTsKP has not existed de facto since 15 December of last year and de jure since 30 January of this year. Therefore the 'press service of the Kiev patriarchate' does not exist in any dimension and also de facto is not deserving of serious attention, along with any statements of such a virtual, nonexistent press service of the church. . . ."


Yesterday, 28 May, a reprint of a report from the Facebook page of Metropolitan of Belgorod and Oboiansk Ioasaf, a former hierarch of the UPTsKP from Russia, appeared on the website of the former UPTsKP. On 14 May he participated in a meeting called by Filaret as a counterweight to Epifany. In this note Ioasaf expressed "categorical disagreement" with the decisions of the Synod of the PTsU of 24 May about the position of a new bishop—Epifany—for the Greek-speaking believers of the PTsU and also about the commemoration in PTsU churches in the liturgy only of the primate of the church and the local bishop. Ioasaf wanted the obligatory commemoration of Filaret also in all churches. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 May 2019)

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