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A battle for the Ukrainian diaspora

On May 12, 2021, the Holy Synod of the canonical UOC decided: “Given the large number of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who live or work outside Ukraine, the Holy Synod stated the need for their spiritual nourishment. In this regard, the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC was instructed to organize and coordinate this care. And the diocesan bishops received the blessing to inform the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC about the places of compact residence of laity from the dioceses entrusted to them abroad with the aim of further organizing missions or parishes.”

A long overdue step. The number of Ukrainians abroad is growing every year, which is facilitated by the crisis socio-economic situation in the country.

The hunt for the souls of the Ukrainian diaspora began with the Greek Catholics, phanariots and Filaret supporters. So, recently we wrote about the extensive plans of the UGCC to work with the Ukrainian diaspora. During his April visit to Munich, the head of the UGCC Svyatoslav Shevchuk “drew attention to the large number of Ukrainians who, given labor migration and the ongoing military aggression against Ukraine, which causes a large wave of emigration to Western European countries, are located in Germany. The head of the Church emphasized how important it is to provide these people with social protection and spiritual support in the country. …this is one of the biggest pastoral challenges facing the exarchate today and will remain a priority in the coming years.” The new exarch of the Greek Catholics in Germany and Scandinavia Bogdan Dzyurakh added: “the social role of parish communities is important, around which the social and cultural life of Ukrainians in emigration is often organized…”

So, the UGCC intends, with the help of local Catholic dioceses, to carry out cultural and social events for Ukrainians, involving them in Greek Catholicism. There is no illusion that we are talking only about Ukrainians who are already parishioners of the UGCC.

In the same Germany, parishes are formed under the jurisdiction of the “UOC in the USA”. The “UOC in the USA” is a fragment of the former UAOC, which was accepted by the Patriarchate of Constantinople 25 years ago, contrary to the canons, without repentance. The hierarchs of the UOC in the USA, as well as of another similar structure, the UOC in Canada, previously took an active part in organizing the OCU together with the Constantinople hierarchs. In particular, one of the exarchs of Patriarch Bartholomew in Kyiv was Archbishop of the UOC in the USA, Daniel (Zelinsky), a former Greek Catholic, an ardent supporter of the unification of the OCU and the UGCC. It was with his assistance that the creation of the parishes of the UOC in the USA in Germany began, as Artem Bondarenko, a former priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany, recently spoke about in an interview with Religious Pravda. He came under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Daniel (Zelinsky) two years ago.

The activation of the phanariots in “catching Ukrainian souls” is not accidental. In addition to “friendly” competition with the UGCC, the Phanar is forced to compete with the so-called Filaret’s “Kyiv Patriarchate”, which again broke away from the “OCU” and refused to recognize the transfer of foreign parishes to Constantinople according to the Phanar tomos.

Recently, the American government bodies officially registered the «Vicariate of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the USA and Canada». The situation is not surprising, since in matters of religious freedom in their own country, Americans are much more scrupulous than when it comes to some kind of country like Ukraine. Therefore, most likely, registration in the United States for the Filaret supporters is much more attainable than the renewal of their Ukrainian registration, since this is in conflict with the “OCU” project…

Yes, of course, for mature Orthodox Ukrainians there is no need for separate “ethnic” churches. They understand that “there is neither Ellin nor Jew …but everything and in everything is Christ” (Col. 3:11), and the temples of the Russian Orthodox Church will suit them… But for people who are not in Church or are not really the believers, this factor can be important, and here the apostolic commandment “For all I became everything in order to save at least some” (1 Cor. 9:22) is very relevant. We wish the DECR UOC God’s help in this ministry.

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