The Primate and Patriarch of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate Filaret said that the decision not to hold the annual religious procession on the day of Baptism of Kyivan Rus was due to the wish to avoid possible confrontation with the clergy and believers of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The head of the UOC-KP said this in an interview with 112.ua.
When asked about why this year, for the first time since the founding of the Kyiv Patriarchate, believers did not go on a procession, the Patriarch replied:
“We did not go because first of all we did not want a confrontation. In order to avoid confrontation between the believers of Kyiv Patriarchate and believers and clergy of the Orthodox church of Ukraine in a holy place, on Volodymyr Hill,” Patriarch Filaret said.
According to the Primate, another reason for the refusal from the festive procession was the decrease of believers of the Kyiv Patriarchate Church.
“The second reason was that there were not many of us, and so we did not want to show our weakness. We held a procession around St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral on the church feast,” he added.
At the same time, Filaret noted that this year, there were much fewer people on the procession of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine than it was on the procession of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate last year.
“But I think everyone noticed that this year the Orthodox Church of Ukraine gathered no more than 10 -15 thousand believers, and last year Kyiv Patriarchate gathered more than 60,000. Do you see the difference? On the contrary, Moscow Patriarchate this year had more believers than the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This means that instead of growing, the OCU is diminishing. They leave the church because they see falsehood; they see subordination to the Greeks. Believers need an independent church, which is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate,” Filaret summed up.
As it was reported earlier, there are quite a few bishops of OCU, who want to create a truly independent local church, whose rights would be broader than the Metropolitan Constantinople Patriarchate established in Ukraine, the main apologist of which is Patriarch Filaret.
The changes to the OCU statutes proposed by Patriarch Filaret concern the autonomy of the newly established church. According to Filaret, this should be a church, which would not dependent on Constantinople. But such provisions are in direct contradiction with the text of Tomos, and, therefore, jeopardize its action. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has repeatedly demonstrated that Tomos could be easily taken away. One of the latest examples – last fall, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate abolished the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Europe, abolishing Patriarchal Tomos of 1999.
In Ukraine, the events are developing according to the Bulgarian scenario. In 1945, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church received Tomos and the status of a metropolis, and after a few years declared itself patriarchy, after which Constantinople withdrew Tomos.
Filaret appealed to the Ministry of Justice and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to prolong registration and protect the rights of the church.