Scandals and conflicts continue to shake the newly established ‘independent’ Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).
On June 20, one of the OCU creators, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate), held a local synod declaring its de-facto withdrawal from the newly established religious entity and thus rejecting the tomos of autocephaly granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The final declaration of Kiev Patriarchate also emphasized that it is keeping “all the property (movable and immovable) bought for its own means or passed to it by state bodies of local administrations”. This development became a logical result of the ongoing struggle for money and power between Filaret [the Patriarch of Kiev Patriarchate and the honorary Patriarch of the OCU] and Epiphany [the current head of the OCU].
However, the withdrawal of Kiev Patriarchate from the newly establsihed ‘independent’ church did not put an end to the public conflict betwen the sides.
On June 21, Filaret as the Patriarch of Kiev Patriarchate send an official appeal to Minister of Interior Arseniy Avakov asking the government to react to the forcible takeover of churches of Kiev Patriarchate by groups of OCU supporters. The appeal says that OCU supporters seized Svyato-Feodosiyivsʹkyy Cholovichyy Monastyr and Pyrohoshcha Church in Kiev. He called these actions illegal and asked Avakov to assist in repelling this attempts.
The irony of this situation is that just in April 2019, Filaret, then a representative of the OCU, officially stressed that there had been no forcible takeovers of churches in Ukraine. He also called reports by the canonic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Moscow Patriarchate) regarding attacks on its churches fake.
For a long time, raids, attacks and forcible takeovers have been a common practice employed by government-backed shismatic groups in Ukraine against the canonic Orthodox Church. The goal of these raids was to seize as much property and resources as it was possible (ignoring any legal and religious norms). Now, the competing non-canonical entities are using these methods against each other. In fact, they act like thieving businessmen rather than religious leaders.
A brief look at the string of events that led to the creation of the non-canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine with help from Constantinople: