Ukraine/Exclusive: Ecumenical Patriarch to deal with internal disputes in the OCU


By Nadia Bazuk for VT
“Hierarch” of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) accused of large-scale fraud
The reps of Ternopil eparchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) published materials from the criminal case against the Archbishop of the OCU Tikhon Petranyuk, the administrator of the Ternopil-Buchachsk Diocese of the OCU (at the time of the fraud – under the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyivan Patriarchate, UOC-KP). According to the website, the “bishop” fraudulently seized funds in the amount of $100,000 in the Luhansk region in 2010.
After the incident, the “hierarch” disappeared for several years but then “surfaced” in the OCU.
OCU cleric challenges the ban on serving before Patriarch Bartholomew
The parish meeting of the religious community of the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women in the village Pochapintsy expressed no confidence in the head of the Ternopil-Buchachsk eparchy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – Archbishop Tikhon.
Believers appeal to the OCU Primate with a request to temporarily accept a religious community of the village Pochapintsy into direct subordination and temporarily grant the status of stavropegia.
As a result, a decree was adopted prohibiting the ministry of the parish rector Mitered Archpriest Roman Budzinsky. In his turn, according to the website of the Ternopil eparchy of the OCU, the cleric officially appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for clarifications on the procedure for applying Article 2, Section XI of the Statute of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine which makes provision for the OCU priests to litigate before the Ecumenical Patriarch himself.
OCU hierarchs fall back on social media rather then church institutions to settle conflicts
The Archbishop of the OCU (formerly of the UAOC) Afanasiy Shkurupy accused the Archbishop of the OCU (formerly of the UOC-KP) Mitrofan Butynsky of a seizure of the parishes of the Kharkiv Deanery.
According to his post on Facebook, the “invaders” gathered people who “come to church only to bless an Easter cake” and are going to “commit an act of Judas’s betrayal.” All this process, he added, “is led by an experienced stage-manager Bishop Mitrofan.”
“This is how we are doing here. It is painful and insulting that this is where the development of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine begins,” stated the “hierarch” of the OCU Afanasiy.
The OCU lacks monasteries, promotes itself through commercial
“Against the background of various scandals within the OCU, the lack of proper authority of Epiphaniy at the level of the “episcopate” of this organization, as well as outright raider actions of schismatics against the UOC, the Phanar`s project in Ukraine wants to secure itself a positive image. (…) However, the authors of the mentioned initiative did not consider one important point. With such an advertising campaign, they unwittingly confirmed that statements about the widespread support and the large number of the OCU members are an empty phrase. Since the organization, for which some sociological studies are frantically trying to consolidate the status of “the largest confession” in the country, there would be no need for advertising,” a comment by Pravblog Telegram channel reads.
As far as I know, the advertising campaign of the OCU is sponsored and managed by representatives of Persha Pryvatna Browarnya (“First Private Brewery”) PLC owned by Ukrainian oligarch Andriy Matsola, a close ally of the ex-president Petro Poroshenko.
The monk of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, who not so long ago transferred to the OCU in pursuit of career growth, unwittingly revealed a problem that was unpleasant for his organization. In an interview with Glavkom, he noted that in the structure of Epiphaniy there is not a single “monastery that could accept 50 or more monks of the UOC,” if they suddenly decided to go to the schismatics.
OCU hierarch publish controversial 2008 documents amid preparations to Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Ukraine
The OCU metropolitan Olexander Drabinko who used to belong to the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) until the OCU creation in 2018, published several documents concerning the negotiations between Ukrainian authorities, church representatives and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in 2008. Namely, appeals of the UOC-KP and UAOC  episcopate to Patriarch Bartholomew, and an agreement between the two denominations, Patriarch Bartholomew and then-President Viktor Yushchenko were released to the media. As one can see in the photos, the documents are from one folder.
On the eve of the possible visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Kyiv, Ukrainian people are tired of hysteria about the Tomos of autocephaly. But the guest will come for a considerable fee, obviously. That’s why the purpose of these actions apparently was to show everyone that the entire Ukrainian people have long bowed to the Phanar. However, the fact of publishing the documents surprised even the OCU spokesman Archbishop Eustratiy Zorya, because these documents had been prepared in strict secrecy and sent to Istanbul by diplomatic mail.
“We have been cooperating for more than ten years. Because our direct contacts with the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate began with the preparation of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit in 2008. At that time, the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate consisted, in fact, of those who were later in one way or another, but actively involved in resolving this issue – it was Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul, and it was at that time Archimandrite Elpidophoros, who was Secretary General of the Holy Synod,” Archbishop Eustratiy acknowledged.
Thus, the OCU “hierarch” refuted the point that Ecumenical Patriarchate took up the question of Ukrainian autocephaly because of the disruption of the Council of Crete by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).
Supporters of the UOC-KP leader Filaret Denisenko believe that copies of the documents might have been handed to Moscow via the then-MP hierarchs by Yuri Petrovich Bogutsky, the Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine at the time. In 2014, Bogutsky was subject to lustration as a former communist functionary but then reappointed by Petro Poroshenko to the position of an adviser to the President of Ukraine. Moreover, he was a close associate of Rostislav Pavlenko, who was deeply engaged in negotiations over the Tomos of the OCU’s autocephaly.
“It is now, in retrospect, that they make themselves the image of great fighters for the local church. Then they were only interested in power and money. However, nothing has changed now. They were covered by Moscow’s canonicity, and now by Phanarism,” the source said.
Interestingly, documents concerning negotiations of 2008 were referred to as an evidence of “repentance” on the part of the UOC-KP and UAOC hierarchs on numerous occasions. Now it was theologian Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, a freelance cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, who claimed that some expressions in the UOC-KP appeal to the Phanar of 2008 indicate “repentance” of the schismatics.
It’s also worth remembering that the UOC-KP Primate Filaret Denisenko rejected the proposal of Patriarch Bartholomew at the last moment in 2008, although His Holiness was ready to recognize the schismatic leader as canonical Orthodox hierarch. So, the accusation against the MP of doing nothing to heal the schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy proves to be false: the Phanar knows well that Ukrainian schismatics aren’t negotiable, at least when not pressured by the government, and that their arrogance is colossal. So what could the Moscow do?
OCU Archbishop Eustratiy Zorya took part in ordination of Metropolitan Andrew of Sarandaecclis at the Phanar
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed regret in connection with the participation of a representative of the OCU, who does not have canonical ordination, in the episcopal consecration of Metropolitan Andrei of Sarandaecclis, performed by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. This is stated in the Journal No. 10 of the Sessions of the ROC Synod, the website of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations writes.
“3. Taking into account the canonical inferiority of the consecration of Metropolitan Andrew of Sarandaecclis, it is with regret to state the impossibility of concelebrating with him in the event that, helping God, Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople is restored. The same applies to the clergy, whom the aforementioned metropolitan may eventually ordain.”
The Churcher Telegram channel has revealed some details on how the last trip of Eustratiy Zorya to the Patriarchate of Constantinople was arranged. It is said that Metropolitan Epiphaniy sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew at the beginning of March, which was not made public and which almost no one saw.
Since there was no official invitation, Epiphaniy asked permission to send a delegation headed by Vladyka Eustratiy and begged to admit the OCU archbishop to the common ministry with Patriarch Bartholomew. And, of course, in his letter, Metropolitan Epiphaniy highly appreciated the activities and authority of Metropolitan Emmanuel in Ukraine.
The fact is that the letter written directly in Greek was “granted” to Epiphaniy… by Metropolitan Emmanuel himself. Archbishop Eustratiy submitted it for Epiphaniy’s signature – by agreement with Emmanuel, without translation. It should be noted that the text was written in Katharevousa, in which Metropolitan Epiphaniy, with all due respect, is not well-versed: His Beatitude speaks a relatively simple Standard Modern Greek language. Therefore, it is difficult to say how fully and well the OCU Primate understood the text, but somehow he signed the letter.
As a result, Metropolitan Emmanuel really arranged the trip of Archbishop Eustratiy and his concelebration with Patriarch Bartholomew, albeit in a somewhat humiliating way. Therefore, from now on, Vladyka Eustratiy praises Emmanuel and his contribution to the development of Ukrainian Local Church everywhere.
For example, he informs the Greek and English-speaking readers that only Metropolitan Emmanuel “knows best, both profoundly and qualitatively, the particularities of the Ukrainian religious issue”, and that Ukraine does not want to know anyone but Emmanuel even if the Patriarch’s decision to put Emmanuel on the Chalcedon chair “may have opponents, and the Ukrainian question can be used as an excuse for such opposition.”
Noting that “a rising star”, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is one of the main future candidates to the Ecumenical Throne along with “an experienced church bureaucrat” Metropolitan Emmanuel, Churcher Telegram channel raises a question: isn’t it too early for Eustratiy to cast the OCU’s lot with one of the candidates? Perhaps it would be wiser to maintain neutrality?
Moreover, it is no longer a secret that, in 2018 in Kyiv, Metropolitan Emmanuel was inclined to support the candidacy of Metropolitan Mikhail Zinkevich as the Primate of the OCU (…) and it is unknown whether His Eminence has abandoned this idea or not.
The authors explained Archbishop Eustratiy’s policy with the reason that he is “a fairly isolated figure, he has no sympathy or support group in the episcopate of the OCU” and thus have to play his own game like this.
They also brought to notice that, in general, the preparation of such trips, all contacts and correspondence should go only through the Office of External Church Relations. It is the Office chairman, that is Epiphaniy himself, or deputy chairman Archbishop Hilarion Protsyk who should make visits to the Local Orthodox Churches and give interviews, however Protsyk’s activity on this position is almost invisible and all the international activity of the OCU remains the business of one or two people.
З повагою,
Надія Базук
[email protected]

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