The 39-year-old metropolitan was elected to the Unification Council two days ago. Also present were Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a representative of the Patriarch of Constantinople, two bishops linked to the patriarchate of Moscow, accused of being "Judas". The autocephalous Tomos should be delivered by Constantinople on January 6th.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The 39-year-old Epifanyj (Dumenko), until now metropolitan of Perejaslav-Khmel'nitsky and Belotserkovsky of the independent Kiev Patriarchate, has been elected primate of the autocephalous Ukrainian Church, which will receive the institutive Tomos from the patriarchate of Constantinople, becoming the chief of the fifteenth Orthodox Church in the world.
The election took place during the Unification Council in Kyiv on December 15 (photo 2), presided over by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gallia, on behalf of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The candidacy of Epifanyj was decided by the synod of the bishops of the Kiev Patriarchate, which met on December 13th. His young age assumes a symbolic meaning for Russian society: he is the first real exponent of the "Majdan generation" to take a leading role in Ukraine.
Immediately after the Council, President Poroshenko (who sat at the Council's side of the President, together with Senate President Andrej Parubyj and former President Viktor Jushenko - see photo 3) turned to the crowd with the exclamation "Glory to God, and glory to Ukraine!", while the first words of the newly elected primate, more modestly, were: "We succeeded, overcoming all the difficulties! "(see video). On the morning of December 16, the new head of the Ukrainian Church celebrated its first Sunday Divine Liturgy in the church of the Golden Monastery of St. Michael, one of the oldest in the city.
According to local sources, the head of the new church was chosen by secret ballot in the second round, after Epifanyj had already obtained the majority in the first round. Metropolitan Mikhail of Volynia and Lutsk reportedly came in second place, and Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa and Bar in third, the latter coming from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Together with the other "Russian" metropolitan Aleksandr (Drobinko), he was called "Judas" by Metropolitan Ilarion (Alfeev), head of the external relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, who immediately declared after the election: "If among the 12 apostles there was a Judah, we could expect that at least 6 or 7 of them would come out of it. "
The newly elected primate assumed the title of metropolitan of Kiev and of all of Ukraine (not that of patriarch). Epifanyj was born on 3 February 1979 in the village of Volkovo, in the Ivanovsk province of the Odessa region, into a family of workers. In 1999 he concluded his studies at the Kiev seminary, and in 2004 those in the theological academy of the patriarchate, with a license in theology. He pronounced his monastic vows in 2007, and after a period of study and monastic practice in Greece he became secretary of the patriarch Filaret (Denisenko). In 2009 he was consecrated bishop of Vyshgorod, becoming metropolitan in 2013. Among his roles are the administration of the parishes of the Kiev region, the direction of the Theological Academy and the Committee for the studies of the patriarchate.
According to the approved statutes, the new Church will be autocephalous, that is independent of all the other local Churches, obviously including the "opposing" one of Moscow, which however does not recognize the canonicity of this election. It will be governed by the local Church Council (to be convened every 5 years), guided in turn by a permanent Synod formed by the primate together with 12 bishops (who will meet at least once a year). For the first time the Synod foresees the presence of representatives of the three unified Churches (patriarchy, autocephalous and Muscovite), while the canonization of the saints and the consecration of miron, the sacred chrism, are reserved to Constantinople. These and other possible rules will be specified by Tomos which, according to the forecasts, will be handed over to Epifanyj by Patriarch Bartholomew (Archontonis) on January 6th in Constantinople, on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas.