Epiphanius of Kiev: Let's build the future of Ukraine together
In a long interview, the new metropolitan traces his three main tasks: unity, formation, attention to the young. The Kiev autocephalous Church is not a "branch" of Moscow. Praise for President Petro Poroshenko and ambiguous characters. Already 150 parishes have already passed from the jurisdiction of Moscow to that of Kiev.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The primate of the new Ukrainian autocephalous Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Kiev Epifanyj (Dumenko), has given a long interview to the Ukrainian news agency Novoe Vremja, published on February 13th.
The prelate explained his reluctance in giving interviews to press, of which many have complained, given the importance of his recent nomination: "Many were amazed that I did not become a public figure, but I sought only to devote myself even more to works of mercy, rather than appearing in the press and or making statements. "
In the course of the interview, Epiphanius listed the three main tasks that he has set as a guide for the Ukrainian Church: "First, to preserve the unity that was proclaimed in the unifying Council. Secondly, pay special attention to formation, which is our future. The third commitment is with the young, which we must know how to attract them to the Church. Without spiritual formation, in general without development of formation we will not be able to do anything ". Among the tasks carried out by the metropolitan before the election, not surprisingly, the most important was his post of rector of the Academy of Orthodox theology in Kiev, for almost 10 years.
The metropolitan explained the difference between the state of autocephaly, in which the Church depends on Constantinople only as a last resort in general ecclesiastical matters, and the autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church still linked to the patriarchate of Moscow, of which it is only a subsidiary ", which today must be renamed as "the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine ". So far there have been no contacts with its members, because "obviously they have no desire for dialogue".
Responding to questions about the excessive interference of politics, and in particular of the Ukrainian president Poroshenko, on the process of obtaining autocephaly, Epiphanius stressed the help of the president precisely in the task of “forming the people". "Until now we have had to tour the country with the president to show the Tomos to people and explain its contents. It is a historic moment, and we must be able to correctly evaluate these events ... Now, after the presentation of Tomos, this collaboration is no longer necessary ". In his opinion, the president is "a true believer, we see this from how he participates in the liturgy and in holy communion".
The Metropolitan praised Poroshenko, his willpower and the ability to "protect the Ukrainian state", his diplomatic and relationship skills, which is why he "became a special model of leadership". The spiritual leader, nevertheless, was critical of the failure to tackle the "main enemy" of Ukrainian society. He likened this "internal enemy" to the strength of the external one, that is, the Russian invader, supporting the importance of restoring respect for the law in the people, also because "we are moving towards Europe".
Regarding relations with Julia Timoshenko and the other presidential candidates, Epiphanius avoided taking sides, recalling that "we welcome all those who come to church", including politicians and businessmen. The journalists pointed to the fact that several controversial personalities have been seen circulating Metropolitan. One such is the Dnepr fixer Aleksandr Petrovsky, defined by Epiphanius "a patron of the diocese of Dnepr", whose past is not his responsibility, if anything "of the legislative state bodies."
The head of the new Church recalled that over 150 parishes have already passed from the jurisdiction of Moscow to that of Kiev, and currently the statutes of all the new communities are being elaborated, including the very center of the metropolis. As for the Lavre (the monasteries of Kiev and Pochaevsk), he hopes that "the Lord will make sure that they can pass to the Ukrainian Church, and I think this will happen within a few years, perhaps already by this year. I would like the Lavre monks to come to the awareness that there is no other way; all together we must build a new history ".