Jelena Rakocevic – Specialist in Eastern Orthodox Affairs – OCP News Service- 23/6/19
The Phanar masterminded the conflict in the newly-established Autocephalous Church of Ukraine. The US Department of State and the incumbent Government of Greece have pressured the Greek Church to ‘speed up’ the recognition of the new Metropolitan of Kyiv.
Greek analyst Michalis Papadopoulos states that an emergency meeting of the Council of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece is to be convened on June 24. He says that under the pressure from American diplomats Geoffrey Pyatt and Sam Brownback, the Phanar and the Government of Alexis Tsipras, special commissions of the Holy Synod have already finished their study on the issue of the newly created Autocephalous “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” ahead of schedule and they are ready to endorse its recognition by the Church of Greece. It is now possible for the Council of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece to examine the Ukrainian issue, although originally it was planned to consider the canonical status of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine at the meeting of the Council of the Hierarchy in October. The Greek analyst believes that forthcoming parliamentary elections, which are supposed to be very difficult for Tsipras regime, appeared to be the reason for speeding up things in the ecclesiastical sphere.
It is worth noting that on June 24 an emergency meeting of the Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine will be held as well. The leader of the largest of the two groups (included in the OCU structure – the so-called “Kyivan Patriarchate”) announced the re-establishment of his organization (Kyivan Patriarchate). The former Metropolitan of Kyiv, Filaret Denisenko, calls himself the Patriarch of Kyiv Church and he managed to retain full control over finances of the newly united Autocephalous Church (OCU), the Kyiv diocese and the title of “honorary Patriarch of Kyiv”. Now Filaret has made claims on all properties of the “Kyivan Patriarchate”, that is, on the vast majority of the property of the new Church of Ukraine (OCU). So, his actions will be the main item on the agenda of the upcoming Holy Synod meeting.
If information about the convening of the Council of Hierarchy in Athens on June 24 is true, then it does not seem a mere coincidence. According to my source, actions of Filaret were deliberately provoked: he was demanded to give up his powers so that he will be forced to leave the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).For all Orthodox Churches, Filaret is an odious and toxic figure with whom they do not want to have any relationship. Patriarch Bartholomew expects that with the departure of Filaret from the new Church, the path to her recognition will be open.
It’s almost sure that on June 24 the Holy Synod headed by Metropolitan Epiphanius will make an official statement that Filaret and his supporters don’t belong to their Church anymore. This news will help the Council of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece to make an appropriate decision,(not waiting until October).
However, there is one factor not taken into account in this ingenious combination of the Phanar to eliminate Filaret, that is Filaret himself. He does not want to leave the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine (OCU), which is considered to be an outgrowth of the “Kyivan Patriarchate”. In his hands are all the bank accounts of the Kyiv Patriarchate (according to various estimates, from 300 to 800 million euros) and legal documents, at least for most of his real estate in Kyiv. Although now he has only 2 bishops out of 40 on his side. According to the Holy Canons, this is enough to create a new hierarchy within 2-3 years (this is exactly how Filaret created his organization in the 1990s), and her material resources will be much more powerful than of the destitute Metropolitan Epiphanius and his episcopate. Poroshenko, who previously supported Epiphany, is no longer in power and cannot help his newly-established Church. It’s said that some at the Phanar fear that a deliberately engineered conflict with Filaret will not update the hierarchy of the Autocephalous Ukrainian Church, but will lead to its reformatting or disintegration in the near future.
Against the background of what is happening in Ukraine, the urgent convocation of the Council of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece to consider the Ukrainian issue does not seem timely, nor does any effort to speed up the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.In this regard, the position of the Archbishop of Cyprus seems to be more reasonable and promising. As is known, His Beatitude Chrysostomos II proposes to solve the Ukrainian question at the Pan-Orthodox Council or the Synaxis of the heads of Orthodox Churches and conducts tentative negotiations on this subject with all interested parties. In the near future, the Primates of the four oldest Churches (Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Cyprus) are expected to meet in Cyprus to discuss, among other things, the Ukrainian Church issue.
Jelena Rakocevic- OCP News Service