Filaret of Kiev: 'God is with David, not Goliath'
For the Orthodox Patriarch Emeritus, Ukraine will defeat Russia. Attack on Moscow Patriarch Kirill, guilty of supporting Putin's intended invasion. To Pope Francis: we have nothing to fear from NATO. In future there will be only one national Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - In an interview with the Georgian edition of Azattyk, the 93-year-old Orthodox Patriarch Emeritus of Kiev Filaret (Denisenko) compared Russia's war on Ukraine to the biblical combat between David and Goliath, which ended with the victory of the boy over the giant.
Filaret sums up in his personal story all the religious and other contradictions of Russia and Ukraine in the last half century. A longtime "Soviet" ecclesiastical hierarch, in 1976 he was one of the concelebrants at the episcopal consecration of the young Kirill, now Patriarch of Moscow, with whom relations have run aground in deep mutual rancor.
In 1990 he was the leading candidate for the Moscow patriarchal seat, but was overtaken by Leningrad Metropolitan Aleksij (Ridiger), backed by Kirill himself, who became his successor in 2009. In 1992 Filaret then decided to strike out on his own, taking advantage of Ukraine's national independence, and proclaimed himself patriarch of Kiev, the only one in history.
For years he remained an isolated banner of religious nationalism, with a very shaky ecclesial structure, out of which, however, emerged his brilliant personal secretary Epifanyj (Dumenko), who in 2019 was recognized as Metropolitan of Kiev by Constantinople, with the support of Ukrainian President Petro Porošenko.
The patriarchal title has not been confirmed to Kiev, which remains subject to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, leaving Filaret with only the title "emeritus"; however, the fiery elderly patriarch has not agreed to be set apart, and despite his venerable age he continues to preside independently over a group of loyalists.
In his words, "Ukraine will defeat Russia because God is with Ukraine, not Russia: He is on the side of truth, not lies. And the victory of Ukraine will be a victory of the whole of Europe, and of every peaceful country." The interview was made as Ukrainian leaders talk about advancing on the front line against the invader, who is being driven back from Kharkiv.
Filaret comments on the proclamations of his former "godson" Kirill, who "says black instead of white and vice versa, when he says that Russia has never invaded anyone, least of all Ukraine...everyone can see the truth!" He was also not happy to read Pope Francis' interview about NATO "barking" at Russia's doorstep: "We have nothing to fear from NATO, and Russia has no reason to fear Ukraine, rather it is other countries bordering Russia, which is really an aggressor country, that are in danger, and for the Russians the Caucasus and Central Asia are also Russian lands."
According to Patriarch Emeritus "the pope is trying to appease Moscow, which is why he said he wants to see Putin before coming to Kiev. However, in our opinion this does not matter much, all ways are good to support peace, and we are on the Vatican's side in this."
While remaining isolated in church relations, Filaret is pleased that the positions of the autocephalous Orthodox Church are being strengthened in this difficult period: "In the future in Ukraine there will be a single national Orthodox Church, into which will also flow the parishes now controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate; an independent country must have an independent Church, as in other Orthodox nations."
The senior hierarch concludes with the hope that all peoples will unite in prayer for peace and the defense of Ukraine, "because when others help us, it means that they are helping themselves."