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  5. Interview of Bishop Baryshevsky Victor to Greek media: It seems that Patriarch Bartholomew closed all questions about Ukraine for himself

Interview of Bishop Baryshevsky Victor to Greek media: It seems that Patriarch Bartholomew closed all questions about Ukraine for himself

An interview with the Chairman of the Representation of the UOC to European International Organizations, Bishop of Baryshevsky Viktor, published on the Greek portal news-politics.com on November 7, 2021.

– Your Eminence, recently in Moscow there was a festival “Faith and Word”, where priests, journalists and representatives of other spheres of activity discussed the actions of Phanar in Ukraine. In your opinion, will the Patriarch of Constantinople ever want to discuss problems in Ukraine?

– Apparently, Patriarch Bartholomew closed all questions about Ukraine for himself personally. He does not see and does not want to see that in our country there are problems in the religious sphere. The head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in relation to Ukraine lives in some kind of unreal or, more precisely, an invented world. He is sure that by providing the Tomos for the OCU, he solved all the problems with one stroke of the pen. In fact, Patriarch Bartholomew not only did not solve even the minimum share of them, but also created new ones. And what is most interesting – he created it for almost all Local Churches, including for the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Let me give you a concrete example. As you know, the OCU appeared after the merger of two schismatic organizations – the UOC-KP and the UAOC (two bishops from the UOC, who went over to the schismatics, can be ignored). The head of the UOC-KP, Filaret Denisenko, resigned as a “patriarch”, but he was sure that he would head (as an “honorary patriarch”) the OCU created by Phanar. That is why, during the so-called “Unification Council”, he agreed to abolish the UOC-KP. However, he soon realized that he would not receive any real power in the new structure. For this reason, Filaret Denisenko announced his withdrawal from the OCU and the re-establishment of the UOC-KP. Almost from the first days of leaving the OCU, Filaret began to “ordain” bishops for his new / old structure. At the moment, he has more than ten “bishops” in his staff who have nothing to do with the OCU.

However, the leadership of the OCU still considers Filaret to be its “honorary patriarch”, while not recognizing the “ordinations” performed by him and believing that all “bishops” “ordained” by Philaret are schismatics who have no holy dignity. At the same time, the OCU refers to the canons, according to which Filaret Denisenko has no right to “consecrate” new “bishops” without the decision and “blessing” of the OCU Synod. And what is most interesting – in the OCU either they do not understand, or they pretend that they do not understand that, just a few decades ago, no Church recognized the “ordinations” of the same Philaret, performed then in relation to those who today are “bishops. »OCU. That is, not recognizing the “hierarchical dignity” of those whom Filaret Denisenko made “hierarch” today, the leaders of the OCU clearly declare the invalidity of their own yesterday’s “ordinations”.

Farther. Both the synod and the head of the OCU, Epiphany Dumenko, consider Filaret their “bishop”. They issue decrees, make some decisions in relation to him and constantly emphasize that Filaret Denisenko is a “bishop” who is “in self-isolation,” but within the structure of the OCU. At the same time, Filaret himself several times said that he had nothing to do with the OCU. Why is there no reaction from the Patriarchate of Constantinople to all this?

Moreover, Filaret Denisenko not only says that he is not in the OCU, he does everything to make it clear to the most distant person from what is happening. Judge for yourself – Filaret recreates the UOC-KP, declares himself a “patriarch” who “does not depend on either Moscow or Phanar”, “ordains” a dozen “bishops”, creates his own synod. What else does he need to do so that the OCU and the Phanar understand that he is a schismatic, as he always was? What else does he need to do so that the OCU and the Patriarchate of Constantinople understand that Filaret is a person who has nothing to do with the new “church” created by Tomos? After all, if we speak from the canonical point of view, which is constantly appealed to in the Phanar, Filaret Denisenko, as the “bishop” of the OCU, should have long been banned in “service” and excommunicated from the Eucharistic communion. However, nobody does this. Why?

Because in this case, it will be necessary to recognize the correctness of the Russian Church, which at one time excommunicated Philaret, and also to recognize that the gift of the Tomos did not occur in a canonical way. After all, if Ukrainian schismatics were accepted into communion with the Church in the way the canons prescribe, that is, through repentance, then the current situation would not exist either with Filaret in particular, or with the Ukrainian schism in general. But instead of that, the Phanar created a problem for themselves, which they do not even try to solve.

Moreover, by his decision, the Patriarch of Constantinople created a problem for other Local Churches. Because a few weeks ago, Filaret Denisenko received a group of Greek schismatics-old calendarists in the UOC-KP. This is a whole diocese, the head of which is a rather well-known figure of the Greek schism – “Metropolitan” Auxentius, who for a long time headed this structure. And here the question arises – if Filaret is part of the OCU, then it means the Greek schismatics too? Because they were accepted into communion with the Church by a completely “canonical bishop” – both from the point of view of the OCU and from the point of view of the Phanar. Accepted without taking into account the canons of the Church, without consulting the Archbishop of Athens Jerome, thereby marking a certain path for other schismatics. For example, for schismatics from Macedonia or Montenegro. After all, they can also “enter the church” through Filaret Denisenko. And not only them. This means that other Local Churches will face huge problems as they observe how parallel “church” structures emerge in their canonical territories.

If Filaret is not a canonical bishop, which he is for most of the Orthodox world, then the admission of Greek schismatics to the UOC-KP does not mean anything for the Church – some schismatics have united with others. Why, then, Phanar, considering Filaret Denisenko the canonical bishop, ignores his actions? One gets the impression that the Patriarch of Constantinople lives in some kind of unreal world. In addition, he does not see what his “children” are doing in relation to the believers of the UOC. After all, there are many video materials that testify to the beating of our believers by representatives of the OCU, a huge number of criminal cases have been opened, there are hundreds of other facts indicating the aggressive and anti-Christian behavior of those whom Patriarch Bartholomew added to the Church through the Tomos. How can you not see this?

As mentioned above, this question can be answered in two ways: either he does not want to see anything, or he sees only what is shown. That is, he lives with a distorted perception of reality. But during his visit to Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew had an excellent opportunity to really try to figure out the situation – to meet not only with representatives of the OCU, but also with believers of the UOC. Our believers were waiting for him all those days when he was in Kiev. And if the patriarch were the person who cares about the good of the Church, he would certainly meet with the Orthodox Christians of our country, who represent the largest Church in Ukraine. But he didn’t want to … And I think he didn’t want to for the very reason that he closed both the question and his eyes to everything that was happening in our country.

Therefore, it seems that at the moment a dialogue with Patriarch Bartholomew regarding the “Ukrainian problems” is simply impossible. And the further, the more distant even his perspective becomes. In this sense, it is enough to recall the words of Patriarch Bartholomew that he “does not care” that he was expelled from the diptychs of the Russian Church. But if we are talking about the Church, we are talking about Her unity, not to mention the fact that each bishop is an example for the flock, then the words of Patriarch Bartholomew are a shock from which it is difficult to recover. How are they to be understood? After that, how can you make any statements about leadership and primacy in the Church? After all, if a person does not control his statements, then this is evidence that he is losing not patience, but authority, respect, and so on. Most importantly, such vocabulary can only be used by those who know and feel that they have lost. So Patriarch Bartholomew knows that he lost, but he will never admit it. We want a dialogue with him, but, unfortunately, he does not want a dialogue with us.

– In August of this year, the Patriarch of Constantinople visited Kiev. What were the results of this visit?

– As mentioned earlier, we are upset that Patriarch Bartholomew was unable or did not want to get acquainted with the real picture of what is happening in Ukraine. He left with the firm conviction that everything is fine here, and his decision to establish the OCU was correct.

This means that in religious terms, at best, nothing will change in our country, and at worst, the UOC will face more difficult times. Already today there are numerous examples that the government, which at the beginning of its reign took a completely neutral position towards the Church and church issues, is beginning to sympathize with the OCU more and more. So far, this is happening mainly at the regional level, but a certain tilt can already be observed.

In addition, during the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew and after him, we were once again convinced that the Phanar did not want to solve the “Ukrainian problem” in a canonical way. All the statements of the patriarch and representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople that “we gave you Christianity and civilization”, or that the bishops of the UOC should be silent, looking at the lawlessness of the Phanar, since it was from there that Christianity came to us, in fact, they only talk about one – about the unwillingness of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to admit its mistake and try to solve it in the traditional way for the Church.

Thus, the results of Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit will be negative both for him personally and for the UOC and the entirety of the Local Orthodox Churches.

– Describe to our readers the current situation in Ukraine regarding churches and believers. Are attacks and violence against congregations and priests continuing?

– As I said, the situation on the ground and in individual regions continues to be quite difficult. For example, members of the Right Sector participated in the seizures of about 50 churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as one of the leaders of the radicals Vasyl Labaychuk said in a video posted on his youtube channel. He called the actions of the radical nationalists “assistance in the transition to the Ukrainian church,” that is, to the OCU. He also said (a month after Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Ukraine) that “the time has come for the next strikes against the Moscow Church.”

His words sounded in unison with the statement of the head of the OCU, Epiphany Dumenko, who announced a “large-scale wave of transitions” in the OCU. And here is the result of such statements: on October 14, on the feast of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, supporters of the OCU stormed the Holy Intercession Church of the Tulchin diocese of the UOC in the village of Novozhivotov, Vinnitsa region.

On October 13, 2021, OCU activists cut the locks off the doors of a church in the village of Dung, Volyn region, in order to get into the building. On October 15, 2021, in the village of Chudnitsa, in the Rivne region, the OCU community, whose representatives seized the UOC temple, blocked access to the temporary church for the community of the canonical Church. This means that not only the temple was taken away from our believers, but they are not allowed to pray even in the temporary temple that they built for themselves. It seems to me that even this one case is enough to understand that the supporters of the OCU are hindered by the prayer of the believers of the UOC. Then what relation do those people to whom Patriarch Bartholomew gave the Tomos have to the Church of Christ?

Please note that all of the above facts of attacks on Orthodox churches were committed in a very short period of time – 2-3 days. In other words, there is so much aggression by the supporters of the OCU towards the believers of the UOC that we can, almost every day, record cases such as those mentioned above. And this is not counting, so to speak, “everyday” episodes – when our believers are openly humiliated, insulted and even beaten just because they are in the Church of Christ.

Of course, I would very much like Patriarch Bartholomew to become imbued not only with environmental problems, but also try to penetrate into the problems of living people. In the same way, we would like the head of the Church of Constantinople to enter into dialogue not only with Catholics, but, first of all, with his Orthodox brothers. Because otherwise, he may go down in the history of the Church not as a “Green Patriarch”, but as a man who tore the tunic of Christ.

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