Filaret's schism within Ukraine’s schism
The elderly patriarch, who broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate decades ago, ordained two bishops against Epifaniy. The ordination was censored. Altar servants and hypodeacons refused to take part in the "schismatic" service. Epifaniy stripped Filaret of its ecclesiastic responsibilities, but did not excommunicate him.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Patriarch Emeritus of Kyiv, Filaret (Denysenko), has decided to consummate the break with the new Ukrainian autocephalous Church, led by Metropolitan Epifaniy (Dumenko). As we know, the new Church, in accordance with Filaret’s wish, was approved by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Now, the elderly patriarch (92), who broke off relations with the Patriarchate of Moscow 25 years ago, has ordained as bishops two priests expelled from the autocephalous Church. Last Saturday, he consecrated Hieromonk Ilya (Zelensky) as bishop of Kharkiv and Bohodukhiv, in Kyiv’s Saint Sophia's Cathedral. The next day, he consecrated Archimandrite Andriy (Marutsak) as bishop of Vasylkiv and vicar of the diocese of Kyiv, which he heads after breaking away from Epifaniy.
The service was co-celebrated by the Metropolitan of Belgorod, Joasaph (Shibaev), and the Bishop of Valujsk, Petr (Moskalev), who was expelled from the autocephalous Church (Petr had already been removed from the Saint Theodosius Monastery). There were no altar servers or hypodeacons, who did not want to take part in a "schismatic" service.
No one knows what Filaret said in his homily. After the "restoration" of the Patriarchate of Kyiv to the detriment of the new autocephalous Church was announced, the authorities blocked all internet access to the ordination ceremony.
The Synod of the autocephalous Church, chaired by Epifaniy on Monday, did not want to come down too hard on the elderly and stubborn patriarch, other than through the inevitable expulsions of the clerics who stood by him.
The Synod issued a press release that said: "honorary patriarch Filaret remains” a member of the “Episcopate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine; however, he lost the canonical rights and commitments tied with the ruling of the eparchy”.
The Synod met at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, where the forbidden consecrations took place. Filaret was the only member absent.
The Synod decided to place all the churches and monasteries of Kyiv under the direct control of Metropolitan Epifaniy, removing Filaret from the management of those that had been reserved for him.
Filaret was granted the right to appeal to the same Synod, whilst the two new bishops will be able to return to canonical communion only as ordinary monks, provided they make a public act of contrition for their support for the patriarchal schism.
The Synod also established a new commission for catechesis, and dealt with Church business concerning environmental protection.
It is clear that Epifaniy wants to minimize the break by his senior mentor and predecessor, and to offer the image of a healthy and growing Church.
Many hope that the break will have no repercussions with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, which controls the situation in Ukraine through two exarchs. This further confusion could increase the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate on public opinion in Ukraine.