Previously, such information existed in the form of rumors. But now, Mykhailo Denysenko is talking about the schism in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine officially.
How did the story begin
Let’s briefly recall the prehistory of the conflict.
On behalf of the honorary patriarch, letters were sent to the Bishops of Orthodox Church of Ukraine — invitations to come to the Volodymyrsky Cathedral, where on May 14, the commemoration of the Kyiv Metropolitan Makariy will be held.
The main thing in these letters is that they are sent on the Kyiv Patriarchate letterhead - the church, which seemed to have joined the Orthodox Church of Ukraine created in winter.
And it was clearly not a mistake. The text of the invitation also states that it is sent on behalf of the "old" church, headed by Mykhailo Denysenko.
It looked like an attempt to restore the Kyiv Patriarchate.
“All the bishops understand that Filaret wants to restore the liquidated Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate. They also understand that the restoration of this church is a split in the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Therefore, only conscious" separatists "will arrive at the invitation of the honorary patriarch. I hope there will be few of them," wrote Adrian Kulyk-Bogdan, Bishop of Orthodox Church of Ukraine, on his Facebook page on May 8 (later, however, he deleted this message).
Among the recipients of the letter, we haven’t seen Metropolitan Epifaniy (and later his press service said that he did not appear there). The head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine also commented on the scandal and said that because of this, Tomos about autocephaly could be taken away from Kyiv:
“It’s inappropriate to talk about some kind of return now. We have to talk about our future, about our unity. Because in the future we have a lot more to do so that this Church would be recognized by other Local Orthodox Churches. If we go back to the past - it is a road to nowhere, it is a road to isolation, it is a return to the state in which we were until October 11, before the relevant decisions of the Constantinople Patriarchate," said Epifaniy.
"Separation? I admit it"
On May 12, a video of the YouTube TSN channel appeared, in which Filaret gave a detailed commentary on what is happening.
“The fact is that the Kyiv Patriarchate is not liquidated. They want to show, that it has been liquidated. Only the one who created it can liquidate the Kyiv Patriarchate,” the honorary patriarch said.
He also stated that the Unification Council was "not ours."
"But the council was not ours. That was the Council of Constantinople Patriarchate. Therefore, I was not the chief of this council, but a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Therefore, this is not our council, but the Church of Constantinople," said the former primate.
At the same time, he says that he recognizes Epifaniy as the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. But they have "no communication" for five months.
In an interview, he said that he plans to convene the Local Council and raise the question of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine charter. The charter was approved in Constantinople - and if it is changed unilaterally, then this means automatically a withdrawal of Tomos.
But that doesn't bother Filaret. He really aimed to restore the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate:
"It (Kyiv Patriarchate - ed.) is, it does not need to be returned. It exists. If there is a patriarch, then there is patriarchy. There is a Kyiv Patriarchate. Therefore, it is not necessary to return the patriarchy, it exists and it should be. And not only unrecognized, but the time will come when it will be recognized."
On the question of whether he admits the division of the church because of this, Filaret replied: "I admit it. But we will create a single church, the Kyiv Patriarchate."
Why Filaret decided to split the Orthodox Church of Ukraine
The history of the threat of a split in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been dragging since February. In the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate there are a lot of those who are dissatisfied with Epifaniy, for example, Metropolitan Lutsky Mykhailo, who openly claimed his place.
But the contradictions have become aggravated and have reached the official plane just now- amazingly coinciding with the end of the presidential campaign in Ukraine.
Apparently, these two facts — Poroshenko’s defeat in the elections and the rift in the church he created — are closely related.
With the departure of the current president, the era of blunt and open support for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the government will end. And without this, the new church cannot exist yet: it was conceived as a political project that should help Poroshenko to win the election.
At the same time, Volodymyr Zelensky, as we see, is more inclined to support Filaret. This might be corroborated by his statements at the debate with Poroshenko, where he puts Tomos in the merit of Denysenko. Or from the video with representatives of religious circles of Ukraine, where there is Filaret and there is no Epifaniy.
Secondly, the power has changed not only in Ukraine - in a certain way, it happened in the United States, which almost played the main role in promoting Tomos.
After the report of Robert Mueller that Trump has no links with Russia, his hands were untied. The State Department is being shaken right now, and curators of many directions regarding Ukraine are losing posts. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who represented the still old, “democratic” administration, was also called off. And she supported the creation of Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Apparently, Filaret launched an open attack on Epifaniy also because this time he was not expecting a shout from overseas. Whereas, before the presentation of Tomos, the 90-year-old cleric even traveled for a "blessing" in the USA.
Thirdly, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine never became a full-fledged canonical church. The overwhelming majority of Orthodox churches did not recognize it. And day by day this process is cemented - there is practically no prospect of recognizing former schismatics.
At the same time, the new church now has to share with Constantinople and obey all its orders. Whereas the Kyiv Patriarchate was in this sense a truly independent organization.
That is, the exchange of "canonicity for independence" did not work out. And so it is logical that the old guard in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine decided to return the former privileges - even if by evading a new split.
How exactly the split can take place?
As the honorary patriarch has said above, he intends to convene a Council and try to seize power again.
To convene the Council, Filaret needs a third of the votes - that is, 20 hierarchs of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
According to the media information, Filaret’s disagreement is caused in particular by paragraph 5 of the Charter.
"The Orthodox Church of Ukraine consists of religious organizations that have legal status in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine."
Prior to the adoption in this form, this provision of the Charter sounded differently as “Autocephalous Church in Ukraine, which has legal status in Ukraine in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine,” which meant that the church itself was the subject of law.
Filaret also advocates changing the order of appointment of the permanent members of the Synod. The statute stipulates that there are three of them. Filaret believes that there should be 12 of them, for the rest of the bishops to leave the opportunity to be alternately temporary members of the Synod. Therefore, Filaret proposes to first convene a Local Council, at which participants will adopt the Charter, and then, on the basis of the new Charter, choose a Synod that Filaret will be able to control. And in the future, it will help him to seize power from the Epifaniy.