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Eritrea: Head of Orthodox church 'frozen' from his post

The head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church has been relieved of all administrative duties and removed from effective control of the Patriarchate.

Following a Holy Synod held from 6 - 7 August, Patriarch Abune Antonios has been 'frozen' from his post after attempts to unseat him ended in failure, according to an official letter dated 9 August 2005 and leaked to Eritrean website

According to , the 'freezing' of individuals who fall out of favour with the government is prevalent in Eritrea and is primarily undertaken as an act of humiliation. Article 32 of the constitution of the Orthodox Church states that its administrative body, the Holy Synod, is meant to function under the chairmanship of the Patriarch who is the chief administrator of the church.

However, it would appear that Patriarch Antonios will henceforth be confined to a ceremonial role and is no longer permitted to have any input into the day-to-day running of the Patriarchate. Instead, and contrary to the church's constitution, administrative authority may now rest in the hands of Mr Yoftahe Dimetros, a government-appointed lay person.

In May 2002 the government of Eritrea ordered the closure of all Christian denominations except Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Lutheranism, and ended all other religious practices apart from Islam. However, members of government-sanctioned churches have also experienced repression, and the 'freezing' of the Patriarch is the latest indication of mounting government interference in the internal affairs of Eritrea's largest church.

Since his ordination in April 2004, Patriarch Antonios is said to have become increasingly critical of the government's continual interventions into church matters.

In January 2005, and for the first time ever, the traditional Orthodox Annual Christmas message was not aired on national media after the Patriarch allegedly objected to the detention in November 2004 of three Orthodox priests from the Medhane Alem Church, and accused the government of interfering in church affairs. The Patriarch also opposed requests to close down the church, which is linked to the Orthodox renewal movement and attracts thousands of young people.

More recently, reports that prior to his removal from administrative duties, the Patriarch had increasingly begun to challenge the regime on spiritual grounds, and had objected to government intrusion through Mr Dimetros in the administration of the Patriarchate. Mr Dimetros himself has become increasingly infamous. It has emerged that Mr Dimetros repeatedly clashed with the Patriarch as he attempted to coerce the Orthodox Church to adopt government inspired policies. Mr Dimetros is also reported to have accompanied an Eritrean Bishop to the seat of the Egyptian Orthodox Church in July in an attempt to persuade the Papacy to replace Patriarch Antonios with this Bishop.

In an indication of Mr Dimetros' current notoriety, a letter dated 30 July 2005 from the Eritrean Orthodox Church in America, called for his 'immediate removal from the illegal position he holds' and his replacement by a bishop who fulfils the criteria outlined in the church's constitution and 'has the interest of the Church and her sacred mission at heart'.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: "We are dismayed by this unwarranted intervention in the affairs of the Orthodox Church. The discourteous treatment of the Primate of a church that is supposed to have government sanction suggests that in reality the Eritrean regime is attempting to curtail every expression of Christianity in that country."

For more information, please contact Richard Chilvers, Communications Manager at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on 020 8329 0045 or email

UOC–KP Orthodox Synod Accepts Moldovan Parishes

Kyiv– Among its decisions, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC – KP) has accepted nine parishes in the neighboring Republic of Moldova into the UOC–KP, uniting them in a separate eparchy. The synod met at the residence of Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the UOC-KP, on 27 July 2005.

Archimandrite Filaret (Panku), superior of the Monastery of St. Nicholas of Chisinau, was appointed administrator of the Moldovan eparchy. His hierarchical ordination is to take place in Kyiv.

The synod also filled the vacant Kharkiv eparchy, appointing Bishop Lavrentii (Myhovych) of Vyshhorod as bishop of Kharkiv and Bohodukhiv.

The synod also approved statutes for the seminaries and spiritual academies of the UOC–KP with amendments, started a graduate studies department at the Kyiv Spiritual Academy, and approved a decree on training scholars, theologians and teachers of higher qualification in the UOC–KP.

Archbishop Oleksandr of Bila Tserkva was appointed head of the Administration for External Church Relations.

The synod gave its blessing to the reopening of the Monastery of the Elevation of the Cross in the village of Pantaliia, Dubno district, in northwestern Ukraine's Rivne region.


UOC–KP Orthodox Head Visits Libya

Kyiv – Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC – KP), visited the Libyan Jamahiriya on 24–26 July 2005, following an invitation from the Association of Global Islam Call. During his visit to this Islamic country, the hierarch met with a number of state, religious and civic figures. His goal was not only to strengthen Libyan-Ukrainian interstate relations, but to enliven interchurch and interreligious communication and understanding.

Patriarch Filaret had an official meeting with the secretary general of the Association of Global Islam Call and the secretary for information and culture of the Chief People's Committee for Foreign Relations and International Cooperation. Important meetings also took place in Catholic and Coptic Orthodox churches of Tripoli and other cultural and religious centers of Libya.

In meeting with professors of history and religion and journalists, the patriarch expressed his approval of the association's activities. The Association of Global Islam Call consistently broadens perspectives of religious and cultural communication. “Dialogue," Patriarch Filaret stressed, "is the way we should follow to solve the problems of today. Terrorism and violence have no religion and no homeland, so it is unjust to connect them to any religion or culture. It is a global phenomenon, and all should look for its causes, clearly define its essence, and cooperate in fighting it,” he noted.

In turn, the association highly praised the role of the UOC-KP in establishing tolerant relations with all religious and cultural components of Ukrainian society, especially Muslims, who, together with Christian Ukrainians, are actively building Ukraine.

Source: •

UOC-KP Orthodox Pray for Pope

A panakhyda (memorial service) for the late Pope John Paul II was held at St. Volodomyr's Cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) on 8 April 2005. According to Ukraine's TV Channel 5, this was the first time in the history of the Orthodox Church that a Pope was prayed for in an Orthodox Cathedral.

Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the UOC-KP, personally celebrated the service. “It is probably the first time in the history of the Orthodox Church when people pray for the soul of a deceased Pope in Ukraine,” said the patriarch. “Prayers for Pope John Paul II today were the manifestation of Christian love which is inherent in every Christian.”

The patriarch met the late Pope John Paul II during the papal visit to Ukraine in June 2001.

Sources: Channel 5, BBC Monitoring Service, Action Ukraine Report

Orthodox Hierarchs of Ukraine Send Condolences on Pope's Death

Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate, Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), and Archbishop Ihor (Isichenko) of Kharkiv and Poltava of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) sent condolences on the death of Pope John Paul II. The letters of condolence were sent on 3 and 4 April 2005.

Patriarch Filaret sent letters of condolences to Cardinal Lubomyr (Husar), head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Cardinal Marian Jaworski, head of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine, on 3 April.

Patriarch Filaret wrote: “The Orthodox Church highly values the great contribution of the late Pontiff to the cause of peace, the establishment of mutual contacts and cooperation between Orthodox and Catholic faithful, and his activities to protect Christian spirituality and morals.” The patriarch expressed his hope that John Paul II's successor at the Holy See “will worthily carry on his cause of bearing witness to Christ's Gospel through his preaching and actions.”

On 4 April, the official site of the UOC–MP posted a telegram that Metropolitan Volodymyr sent to Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, papal nuncio to Ukraine. “From the whole Ukrainian Orthodox Church, please accept our sincere expressions of sympathy on the death of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope John Paul II. May the merciful God, king of heaven and earth, give repose to his soul in his heavenly abode,” the message reads.

Condolences on the death of the Pope were also sent by UAOC Archbishop Ihor. “The clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church eparchy of Kharkiv and Poltava are praying for the eternal repose of the deceased and his glorification in the kingdom of heaven, and send their fraternal Christian sympathies to the faithful of the Catholic Church, orphaned by the death of their prime hierarch, a great worker in Christ's vineyard and an apostle of forgiveness and love.”


Christians, Muslims and Jews united in tribute

Never has the death of a Pope elicited so much praise from other faiths, uniting Christians, Jews, Muslims and even atheists in mourning.

In the Holy Land, pilgrims, clergy and Palestinian worshippers packed churches. Foreign tourists in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth sat in pews alongside Israeli Arab and Palestinian Christians to pay their last respects.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, called the Pope “a great religious figure who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom, justice and equality for all races and religions, as well as our people's right to independence”.

Even Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad joined in the chorus: “We remember the statements of His Holiness the Pope on the rights of the Palestinians, and we hope that the Vatican leadership will stick to his position against the occupation,” Sami Abu Zohari, a Hamas spokesman, said.

In Pakistan, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, of the Islamist Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance, said the world had lost a man of peace. “George Bush's talk of a crusader war was a clear negation of Pope John Paul's efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony,” he said.

In Cairo the Arab League saluted the Pope by lowering flags at its headquarters to half-mast. Hossam Zaki, its spokesman, said the Pope had helped to avoid “unnecessary misunderstandings” between Christians and Muslims over Western government policies in the region.

President Khatami of Iran said the Islamic Republic had learned with “extreme sadness” of the Pope's death, saying that he commanded “the three paths of religious learning, philosophical thought and poetical and artistic creativity”.

Communist Cuba hailed the Pope's commitment to the poor and rejection of unbridled capitalism, while China — displeased with the Vatican's recognition of Taiwan — offered condolences but pointedly expressed the hope that its ties to the Holy See would improve under his successor. To Read the Entire Article CLICK HERE>>>

UOC–KP Orthodox Bishop of Lutsk-Volyn Considers Statement of Constantinople Represenative Fair

The 24 March statement of Archbishop Vsevolod (Majdanski), a representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in which the archbishop said the patriarchate only recognizes the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate in its pre-1686 boundaries, before the addition of the Kyiv Metropolitanate, is serious and fair. This is according to Bishop Mykhail (Zinkevych) of Lutsk and Volyn of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), who discussed the subject at a press conference of 1 April 2005.

Bishop Mykhail said that the position of the Constantinople Patriarchate concerning the Ukrainian church is a first step, which will undoubtedly activate the process of the Kyivan Patriarchate's recognition as an autocephalous component of Ecumenical Orthodoxy and as an equal church among other mutually recognized Orthodox churches of the world.

According to the bishop, the statement by the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarch is not an accident, nor a pointless misunderstanding, as the Moscow Patriarchate is trying to portray it. It is taken quite seriously today, since the change in the political situation demonstrates a clear desire from the side of the Ukrainian government to have a single, national church, recognized by the Orthodox world.
To Read More CLICK HERE>>>

UOC-KP Orthodox Head and President Pray for Holodomor (Famine) Victims

Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), served a panakhyda (memorial service) for the souls of the victims of the Ukrainian Holodomor (Stalin-engineered famine) of 1932 –3. The service took place on 26 March 2005 in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Volodymyr, with the participation of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and other government representatives.

In an address to those present, Patriarch Filaret said, among other things: “We lived in a time when a great crime like the Holodomor, which took the lives of millions of Ukrainians, was kept in silence. But today the Lord has put us in different conditions. We not only have our independent Ukrainian state, but we also have real democracy, which was chosen by the people with God's blessing during the Orange Revolution. That's why today we are able not only to portray the history of Ukraine accurately, but also to openly pray for our ancestors, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters killed by famine…”

According to a report by the press service of the UOC–KP, the last time the victims of the Holodomor were commemorated with participation from the highest Ukrainian government officials was in 1993, when the 60th anniversary of the tragedy was marked with participation of then-President Leonid Kravchuk.

RISU note:
“Holodomor” may be translated from Ukrainian as “deliberate famine.” The term is used by those who consider that this was an artificial famine, a deliberate genocide committed as part of Joseph Stalin's collectivization program under the Soviet Union.

Sources: ••

Constantinople Doesn't Recognize Kyiv Church as under Moscow, Says Ukrainian Orthodox USA Archbishop

“The Moscow Patriarchate consists of that territory which it encompassed to the year 1686.” Archbishop Vsevolod (Majdanski) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOC USA), a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, told this to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko at a meeting on 24 March 2005. The archbishop added that Kyiv's “subjugation” to the Russian Orthodox Church, starting that year and continuing to the present, was not ratified by Constantinople.

According to the press release of the Ukrainian government, during his discussion with Archbishop Vsevolod, Yushchenko stressed that his government will not directly involve itself in ecclesiastical matters. “We stand for the equality of all churches,” the president said. The meeting also centered on the necessity of developing harmonious interdenominational relationships on the road to the establishment of a local Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Archbishop Vsevolod expressed the good wishes of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to both President Yushchenko and the Ukrainian nation.

During the meeting with the president, Archbishop Vsevolod made a statement which, according to the UOC USA public relations office, reflects the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople: “The position of the Mother Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, is that her daughter, the Moscow Patriarchate, consists of that territory which it encompassed to the year 1686. The subjugation of the Kyivan Metropolitanate to the Moscow Patriarchate was concluded by Patriarch Dionysius without the agreement or ratification of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Great Church of Christ (the Patriarchate of Constantinople).”

During his recent visit to Ukraine, Archbishop Vsevolod also met with Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate, Metropolitan Volodymyr, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate, and Archbishop Makarii of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) in Lviv.

Another hierarch of the UOC USA, Archbishop Antony of the church's eastern eparchy, also recently traveled to Ukraine and met with Yushchenko.

On 11 March, Archbishop Antony met with Yushchenko to discuss the continued ecclesiastical struggles in Ukraine and sought the government's assistance in resolving the issues which divide the church. The president expressed his deep desire to see a single, united Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine and indicated that he will work closely with all sides, in particular the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to bring this unity about. The archbishop also invited the president to visit South Bound Brook/Somerset, New Jersey, the Metropolitanate Center of the UOC USA, during his upcoming working visit to President Bush in Washington, D. C. President Yuschenko expressed a sincere desire to make that visit.

Archbishop Antony also met with hierarchs of the UAOC, Metropolitan Andrii of Ivano-Frankivsk and Archbishop Makarii of Lviv, and with clergy who serve in the UAOC Patriarchate Office in Kyiv to discuss recent developments in the life of the church.

Source: UOC USA office of public relations •

UOC-KP and UOC-MP Orthodox Leaders Comment on Jurisdiction of Russian Orthodox Church

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), and Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-MP), discussed the possibility of the UOC-MP becoming independent of the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. The discussion was broadcast on TV Channel 5 in Kyiv on 27 March 2005. The text of the broadcast follows.

[Presenter] We will now speak in more detail about one of the most significant events of the week. Namely, the fact that the possibility was raised of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church becoming independent from the Moscow Patriarchate. This reportedly originated from the mouth of the Ecumenical Patriarchate [of Constantinople].

The leading figures of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches have reacted to the announcement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that the Kyiv Metropolitanate is not the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate: the announcement reportedly appeared in Constantinople this week. However, Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kyiv and All-Ukraine has told Channel 5 that this was just talk and no decision has been taken. Meanwhile, the Kyiv Patriarchate does not see grounds for refusing to acknowledge this announcement from Constantinople.

[Metropolitan Volodymyr] This was a conversation at the reception of two Constantinople bishops with our president. There was a conversation recently, at which it was said that the Constantinople patriarch [Bartholomew] had reportedly decided it, but it was not decided by the synod.

[Patriarch Filaret] There are no grounds for not believing these announcements. This is not the first time that the Constantinople church has announced that it recognizes the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate within the boundaries of 1686.

RISU note: Archbishop Vsevolod (Majdanski) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOC USA), a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on 24 March 2005. The archbishop reportedlt told Yushchenko that, according to Constantinople, “The Moscow Patriarchate consists of that territory which it encompassed to the year 1686.” He added that Kyiv's “subjugation” to the Russian Orthodox Church, starting that year and continuing to the present, was not ratified by Constantinople.

Sources and previous RISU story: BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English; Action Ukraine Report •

Orthodox Bible study Course of Father Oleg Vedmedenko

The bible study course of Father Oleg Vedmedenko represents modern theological school that continues traditions of Alexandrian-Cappadocian school: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Panthen. It studies the worldview questions through the prism of modern knowledge. To visit his web site CLICK HERE>>>


Report Shows UOC-KP Largest Church in Ukraine

A resent report by the East-West Church & Ministry Report shows that the UOC-KP is the largest church in the Ukraine. The Report serves as a clearinghouse for information relevant to the status of Christianity 
and Western ministry in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe.

According to the report 22 percent of the people responding to the Report survey, stated they were members of the UOC-KP, as compared to only 12 percent for the UOC-MP. There is a paradoxical situation in that the number of registered churches of the Moscow Patriarchate is much larger than the number of churches of the Kyivan Patriarchate, yet only 12 percent of the people identify themselves with the Moscow Patriarchate, whereas 22 percent identify with the Kyivan Patriarchate.

To read the entire report CLICK HERE>>>


Yushchenko Convinced Unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church Possible

“I am certain that we will live to see a unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” So said Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, addressing the delegates at a constituent assembly of the National Union of the Our Ukraine Party on 5 March 2005.

Yushchenko expressed his certainty that “we all have every possibility to respect each other's feelings, regardless of the church we attend… If we are friends with different confessions, if we respect their feelings, we will find the answer [to the question of] how to live in brotherhood, in mutual respect, without ignoring anybody's feelings,” the president said.


The Destiny of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the Beginning of the 21st Century

According to Yuriy Chernomorets, "The church is perserved by its public reputation or by support on the part of government. In 2004 the UOC (Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Muscow Patriarchare) lost both. It only remains to pray. However, God may also 'issue a no-cofidence note' to modern Sadducess and Pharisess." Chernomorets' article first appeared on the Internet site You can read his entire article by CLICKING HERE>>>

"Save our wooden churches!"

Transcarpathia still has 118 wooden churches that were built over the past five centuries. Forty-eight of them are registered as architectural monuments. By contrast, Slovakia has only 27 wooden churches, but they all function normally and are reliably protected by the state. In Transcarpathia dozens of wooden churches are in deplorable condition. The area's cultural figures and journalists, who have created the Cultural Brotherhood and New Form civic organizations, and professors from the Uzhhorod College of Arts claim that the regional authorities' campaign called “Save the Wooden Churches of Transcarpathia,” which was launched three years ago, has boiled down to holding run-of-the-mill concerts and failed to provide at least minimal protection for these holy places. Activists are now drawing up a message urging President Yushchenko and the new prime minister to adopt a government program to preserve and restore hundreds of old wooden churches in the Ukrainian Carpathian region. To Read the entire article CLICK HERE.>>>

Orthodox Church’s Medhane Alem ministry closed down.

A group of Sunday School teachers and their students were arrested last weekend in the Eritrean capital of Asmara while holding classes in their church compound.

The 27 Christians, all members of the Medhane Alem Orthodox Church in Asmara, were apprehended during their Christian instruction classes at the church compound on Saturday morning, February 19.

Most of the Sunday School students are young people, who together with their teachers remain jailed at a local police station.

A Sunday School ministry within the Eritrean Orthodox church, the Medhane Alem group has normally been exempted from the Eritrean government's harsh crackdown against evangelical Protestant churches.

However, Compass has confirmed that in early February, the entire Medhane Alem ministry was ordered closed down by government officials. No explanation has been given for outlawing the movement.

In one previous incident reported in March last year, a Medhane Alem meeting place in downtown Asmara was sealed by police, with the group's lay leader detained for investigations for one day. Reportedly the ordained Orthodox priest directing the Sunday School ministry has been under police investigation during the past year.

Religious groups outside Eritrea's “official” four religions — Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran and Islam — were all ordered to close down in May 2002. The presidential decree made all worship meetings illegal for about 13 independent Protestant denominations as well as Jehovah's Witnesses and the Baha'is, even if the meetings are held in private homes.

Over the past three years, more than 400 Christian believers caught praying, studying the Bible or worshipping outside the government-recognized church buildings have been jailed and tortured. Some who refused to sign a promise to renounce their faith have been incarcerated in metal shipping containers or underground cells.

Among them are three prominent Protestant pastors who have been held incommunicado since May 2004 by the Eritrean government, which has refused to file charges against them or bring them to court.

Last weekend's arrests make a total of 214 Eritrean Christians who have been put under arrest by police authorities in the past two months alone.


UOC–KP Orthodox Call Autocephalous to Union, UOC-MP to Peace

UOC–KP Orthodox Call Autocephalous to Union, UOC-MP to Peace The Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC–KP) is calling the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) to union and asking the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC–MP) to start peaceful relations. Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the UOC-KP, spoke about this at a press conference held in his residence on 23 February 2005.

During the press conference, Patriarch Filaret spoke of the results of a joint session of the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council of the UOC-KP which was held on 21-22 February 2005. Problems of the church's ministry in society in the new political conditions, dialogue with other Orthodox jurisdictions, and other current issues of the church's life were discussed at the meeting.

The patriarch mentioned that two addresses were approved at the joint session. One, addressed to the UAOC, suggested that the two churches unite into a single National Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The second, addressed to the UOC-MP, asked for an end to the discord that has existed between the two churches from the old government to the present.

Patriarch Filaret also said that the UOC–MP should in future be known as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” so that it does not have as deep a political influence on Ukrainian society as it enjoys now.

The patriarch also demanded that the UOC–KP be granted rights comparable with those of the UOC–MP. In particular, he said that in regions where the UOC–KP has no church buildings, “cult buildings not in use by other churches” should be transferred to it.

Patriarch Filaret stressed that the UOC–KP supports the program of the Ukrainian government, which “has proclaimed a moral rebirth of Ukraine.” He also said that the church he heads will cooperate with the new government in revitalizing spirituality. The patriarch identified one of the directions of such cooperation in granting the church access to the media by opening a specialized Orthodox TV or radio channel. In addition, the patriarch thinks Christian morality should begin to be taught at schools. It is precisely this, according to Filaret, that will preserve the Christian religion in Ukraine.

Patriarch Filaret also said at the press conference that he opposes the recent liquidation of the National Committee on Religious Matters.

“This is not the right time [to do this, because the religious situation in Ukraine […] does not at this stage allow liquidating a state organ. That is why we will ask both the president and the prime minister to approach this issue in a careful and balanced manner, so as not to harm the religious situation in Ukraine,” Patriarch Filaret said.

He also spoke in favor of rebuilding the historic Tithe Church in Kyiv. “We insist that the Tithe Church be rebuilt, despite the fact that there are protests by certain forces in Ukraine.

“I remember the reaction of some forces, in Kyiv, and outside, to the renewal of the Monastery of St. Michael and the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves,” said Patriarch Filaret. “Back then, they used to say that it's better to see the real ruins of the monastery and the cathedral rather than rebuilt churches, because these [rebuilt churches] are not 11th century, but 20th century churches. But you can see that the meaning of Michael's Monastery and the Cathedral of the Dormition, as well as other churches that were rebuilt, [… is to bring] a positive contribution to the spiritual rebirth. The so-called ‘orange revolution' was a result of these churches being built.” The patriarch stressed that what happened on Kyiv's Independence Square in November and December 2004 was a result of the spiritual rebirth of Ukraine.

Therefore, according to the patriarch, the UOC–KP approaches the renewal of the Tithe Church from the position of reviving spirituality and thinks it necessary. “This, not the remains of the ruined church, will promote spiritual rebirth,” Patriarch Filaret said. He also stressed, that after its reconstruction, the Tithe Church should be transferred to the UOC–KP as the National Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Sources: •

Ukraine's unreported Revolution- Viktor Yushchenko was swept to power by the forces of religious freedom

"A LARGE PART of what's at stake here is the future of Christianity in this part of the world," said Paul Marty, president of a Pennsylvania based NGO called HOPE International, to the Mission Network News. "If the election goes toward the pro Russian candidate," said Marty, who actually lives in Ukraine, "then a lot of the policies of the country are going to follow. And, he's publicly stated that the only church he would recognize would be the Russian Orthodox Church and he would not tolerate others. "

In short, if Marty was right, what drew hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians into the streets after the first crooked run off vote between the two Viktors- pro Moscow prime minister Viktor Yanukovych and pro Western former prime minister Viktor Yushchenko was not just outrage over election fraud. It was desperation over the possible imminent suppression of freedom of religion. To read the entire article which appeared in the March 2005 issue of "The American Spectator" CLICK HERE>>>

St. Andrew's Brotherhood adopts ORANGE as a signs of unity with Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyivan Patriarchate.

According to the Save Our Ukraine wen site ( ), on Sunday February 6, 2005 nine members of the Board of St. Andrew's Brotherhood took their oath of office at St. Andrew's Memorial Church in So. Bound Brook, NJ.

Wearing colorful orange scarves and orange neckties the nine members of the Board took their solemn oath of office declaring, in the presence of God, to serve and uphold the teachings and Commandments of God and to serve His Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The rite of induction was administered by Fr. Jurij Siwko but the most interesting part was that the oath of office did NOT include any reference or fealty to UOC-USA or its ruling hierarchs but only to the “Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church”.

It seems to be a very subtle but significant difference since St. Andrew's Brotherhood lately has been extremely vocal in matters of UOC-USA unity with UOC-KP in Ukraine and the formation of one, united national Church headquartered in Kyiv. This was evident when the head of St. Andrew's Brotherhood, Mr. Ihor Sawon, introduced a resolution unanimously approved at the 17 th Sobor, calling for spiritual unity between UOC-USA and a united, canonical UOC-KP in Ukraine.

The Save Our Ukrainian web site stated that they fully support St. Andrew's Brotherhood in their efforts and wish them well in convincing the hierarchs of UOC-USA that our Mother Church is headquartered in Kyiv and NOT in Istanbul. source:

The Diaspora's Future
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

The Ukrainian Diaspora must be reborn or at least reformed. If there is any doubt of the need then look no further than the recent controversy regarding a high profile Ukrainian-American activist. He marginalized the horror, travesty and enormity of the Holocaust by writing that “big money” drives the “industry.”

The Kyiv Post called the remarks “stupid.” That was charitable. The activist also has penned that Jews are partly responsible for the crimes committed under Communism. As the newspaper rightly pointed out Jews should not be held accountable any more than Georgians. Joseph Stalin was a Georgian. Yet no thinking, rational person would blame Georgians for the atrocities of Stalin. The newspaper urged the Diaspora to find suitable representatives that do not offer crude, shockingly ignorant and inflammatory comments that divide the family of humankind. The Kyiv Post offered a blunt, honest and accurate assessment.

The activist went with Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Viktor Yushchenko's inaugural. The Bush Administration, red faced with embarrassment after learning of the activist's views, later commented that had they known of such positions he would not have been invited to accompany Secretary Powell.

Independent of the embarrassment that many Ukrainians feel as a community regarding the controversy, there is a larger, more important issue that transcends the asinine outlook of one person that unfortunately tars the entire Ukrainian-American Diaspora community.

How should the Diaspora present itself to the world? The activist referenced above is not the face of the American Diaspora, though there is an unfortunate perception he represents it due to notoriety. The other question raised is the role of the worldwide Diaspora in a post-Soviet era. Either the Diaspora revisits its mission and embraces a changing world or it will be ignored.

There must be leadership from a new generation. In the past, I've penned that the Diaspora must be better equipped at getting out a coherent, sustained message to the Western media as to what it means to be Ukrainian. The Western media still portray Ukraine as some kind of historical aberration of greater Russia. The Diaspora needs a marketing infrastructure with qualified personnel. This requires sophisticated leaders who think outside the box.

In addition, while the Diaspora was very successful in pressing Western governments years ago to address human rights abuses during the Soviet era while maintaining the vibrancy of a non-Russified culture, it has fallen at the cross roads unsure of the direction to take. This underscores the reason why another generation must step forward to guide the worldwide Diaspora in various Western nations.

In another editorial in the Kyiv Post, Jen Sunden the publisher said, “At present, no Diaspora organization is playing an important role in Ukraine.” He's right. The Diaspora is stuck in a pre-Soviet, anti-Communist mindset that does not lend itself to realities of the present day.

No one, but for the Communists, should be afraid of reform. Change is part of life. In the corporate world, businesses must develop new services and products to stay competitive. An individual must grow spiritually, however broadly one wishes to define it, or he or she loses a part of their humanity. So too must Diaspora organizations be overhauled if they are to be relevant.

As Sunden pointed out, the worldwide Diaspora is composed of many affluent, highly educated individuals who have maintained some type of cultural connection to their ancestral Motherland. It has significant potential to be enormously helpful in today's Ukraine.

There are many challenges that Ukraine faces that the Diaspora can better address in a positive manner ranging from combating AIDs, fighting anti-Semitism, orchestrating a strategy to end homelessness, fostering a free and independent media, and encouraging civil liberties for all citizens no matter their background. This is not to suggest that such issues aren't already a concern to some Diaspora Ukrainians. Yet there is no identifiable, coherent strategy to assist on such social and cultural issues because the focus still remains on the past.

It is naive to believe that President Putin or Kremlin bureaucrats have given up on exploiting or influencing Ukraine. Hence, it is pragmatic to remain watchful regarding the Russian government's motives and for the Diaspora to be ready to offer a measured, appropriate political response if merited. Its focus, however, must remain on Ukraine's new beginning with both the challenges and many wonderful opportunities ahead.

The Soviet Union is dead. There is a new world order. Let the Diaspora's political activism begin anew.

Hopefully, this commentary along with the others that have come before it, will encourage ongoing dialogue about the urgent need for fresh leadership and the shifting of Diaspora economic, political and intellectual resources. It's possible that many of the current Diaspora organizations and those identified as leaders are unable to meet the challenges of a post-Soviet, post-Kuchma Ukraine. If that is the case, then it's time to consider starting new organizations leaving the old ones to implode from their own irrelevance.

Bishop Paul Peter Jesep is Chancellor of the Archeparchy, Vicar General of Public Affairs and Government Relations and Episcopal Vicar of Colombia and Venezuela in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Sobornopravna of North and South America. His Grace, a lawyer and political scientist by training, has studied at Bangor Theological Seminary (, the third oldest such school in the United States. He is also a former aide to U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The views expressed here are strictly personal. His Grace may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter(a)




UOC-KP Orthodox Hierarch in Khmelnytsk Hopes New Government will Resolve Property Issues

For more than three years, the Regional Administration for Religious Matters in western Ukrainian Khmelnytskyi has been blocking the transfer of a church in the Medzhybizh National Reserve in the Letychiv district to the community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC–KP), said Archbishop Antonii (Makhota) of Khmelnytskyi and Kamianetsk-Podilskyi of the UOC–KP. The hierarch hopes that the appointment of a new head of the Khmelnytskyi Regional Administration will change the situation with the church. RISU's Ukrainian-language site posted the news on 8 February 2005.

According to Archbishop Antonii, this behavior from the Regional Administration for Religious Matters can be explained by the fact that the village of Medzhybizh is the native village of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate (UOC–MP). The church in question was officially given to the Roman Catholic community in 1992 by Mr. Huselnykov, the president's representative in the region. In 2004, in an official letter Bishop Leon Dubrawski, the local Roman Catholic ordinary, gave up the church for the benefit of the Khmelnytskyi eparchy of the UOC–KP.

The fact that the church has not been given to the UOC–KP is, according to Archbishop Antonii, connected with the fact that “Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, using his influence, is trying to prevent a positive resolution of the issue, despite the fact that Moscow Patriarchate faithful have their own church in Medzhybizh.”

Archbishop Antonii informed RISU that the UOC–KP eparchy of Khmelnytskyi has received many reports that the heads of several district administrations have refused to give land for building new churches. “We have such reports from the villages of Yarmolyntsi, Vinkivtsi, Derazhnia, Iziaslavskyi, and Krasylivskyi. Whenever the issue was under discussion in meetings, state officials ridiculed the clergy, saying that there is no, nor can there be, any Kyivan Patriarchate [presence] in districts where the Moscow Patriarchate dominates,” said the archbishop.

The archbishop said that nothing should now get in the way of the administration's undertaking measures to carry out the decree “On Urgent Measures for Combating the Negative Consequences of Totalitarian Policies of the Former Soviet Union regarding Religion and Restoration of the Violated Rights of Churches and Religious Organizations.” This decree was issued by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in March 2002. Archbishop Antonii asks for an end to the era of the Ukrainian government dividing religious organization into “its own” (the UOC–MP) and “outcasts” (the UOC– KP, the Roman and Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches, and others).

The archbishop expressed his hope that the government's attitude to the needs of UOC-KP faithful will improve with the appointment of Vitalii Oluiko as the new head of the Khmelnytskyi Regional Administration. source:;4590/

Ukrainian Orthodox leader raps Russian influence

Patriarch Filaret of Kiev, the leader of one of three separate groups competing for the allegiance of the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine, has called for unification of the nation's Orthodox churches. At the same time, Patriarch Filaret has praised laymen of another Orthodox congregation who protested their leaders' involvement in the country's recent presidential contest.

Patriarch Filaret was once the acknowledged leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox community, in union with the Russian Orthodox patriarchate of Moscow. But when his demands for autonomy provoked a hostile reaction from Moscow, Filaret broke with the Russian patriarchate to establish an independent Orthodox patriarchate of Kiev. The Ukrainian Orthodox- Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) now competes with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that remains attached to the Moscow patriarchate (UOC-MP). A third, smaller group, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, also seeks to represent the country's Orthodox faithful.

During the 2004 Ukrainian presidential campaign, the UOC-MP leaned heavily toward Viktor Yanukovich, prompting some Orthodox laymen to complain that their UOC-MP leaders had allowed partisan politics to corrupt the faith. Patriarch Filaret praised those laymen, saying that they "stood up as one for their constitutional rights, including the right to free and fair presidential elections and democracy.”

The UOC-KP leader showed his own hand by welcoming the election of Viktor Yushchenko, saying that the election had been "a triumph of good over evil." Through the Yushchenko victory, he said, "we have gained the right to democracy and freedom, to spiritual self-expression."

In yet another slap at the UOC-MP leaders and their allies in Russia, Patriarch Filaret complained that "voices are being heard from the east" that threaten the unity of democratic Ukraine; he insisted that these "unhealthy forces" must not prevail.

“Thanks to the imperial thinking of the so-called Third Rome [Moscow], Ukrainian Orthodoxy remains divided," the Ukrainian prelate said. He urged the Orthodox people of Ukraine to put aside those divisions, and unite in "a single national Ukrainian Orthodox Church." source;

A Place in the Hierarchy— Or why the Moscow Patriarchate is holding onto Ukrainian Orthodoxy

By Klara GUDZYK, The Day, #1, Tuesday, 18 January 2005

During the presidential campaign in Kyiv, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, addressed two friendly messages to the Ukrainian people, expressing his support and approval of the democratic process in Ukraine. In his second message the Patriarch greeted the Ukrainian people and Viktor Yushchenko on the election victory (after the announcement of the preliminary turnout).

These messages may be described as yet another manifestation of the tectonic shifts caused by the extraordinary events that took place during the presidential campaign, which were totally unexpected for the rest of the world (frankly speaking, also for most Ukrainians). Also, it was an extraordinary move on the part of the Ecumenical Patriarch, as his office had never publicly demonstrated such attention to Ukrainian affairs, even less so in the secular domain. For Ukrainian Orthodox adherents, the Ecumenical Patriarch remains a distant, even abstract, entity, mostly having to do with the history of Kyivan Rus' (official religious contacts with the Patriarch of Constantinople were terminated after the Kyiv See was subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate in 1686), although Leonid Kuchma's administration tried through diplomatic channels to get Bartholomew I involved in solving Ukrainian Orthodox problems.

Another very important fact is that in his second message Patriarch Bartholomew I offered to help settle the schism in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Not surprisingly, his messages triggered an immediate response from the Moscow Patriarchate. The office of external church contacts sharply denounced the Ecumenical Patriarch's initiative as the first step in the direction of “redividing” the Orthodox world, specifically by excluding the Moscow Patriarchate-affiliated UOC from the Russian Orthodox Church and subordinating Ukrainian Orthodoxy to the Constantinople See. Such intentions must seem obvious to Moscow, especially considering the fact that the Constantinople See issued an official statement in the 1920s, which recognized the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate only within the boundaries that were established in 1589, when the patriarchate was established; in other words, without the Ukrainian Church.

The Moscow Patriarchate's instant response was only natural, because the point at issue is its supremacy in the Orthodox world, a matter of the highest priority. This supremacy is now mainly determined by the size of the church and the number of adherents, religious communities, temples, monasteries, and convents. The Russian Church remains the largest in the Orthodox world and it is resolved to maintain its lead and play a decisive role (in this it has always been supported by the secular authorities ranging from princes to tsars to Bolsheviks to the current Russian government). However, according to the historical canon, the Ecumenical Patriarch occupies first place in the Orthodox hierarchy and the Patriarch of Moscow, fifth.

How would the ROC's status change if the Ukrainian Orthodox adherents withdrew? The answer is radical and spells disaster. At present, 10,000 UOC-MP parishes (Moscow-affiliated religious communities in Ukraine) make up slightly less than one-half of the Russian Church. Therefore, by losing these religious communities, the ROC would actually lose its status as the world's largest Orthodox Church. Dear Reader, guess which church would then be the largest? Correct. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, provided it is undivided, sound, and solid. It would have almost 15,000 communities, considerably more than in Russia.

The ROC's main advantage in the Orthodox world is its size, and thus it completely depends on the UOC-MP membership. It is not so much a matter of revenues, not even political influence in Ukraine (as vividly demonstrated by the presidential campaign), as the prospect of losing international prestige and having to climb down one rung on the hierarchical ladder. That is why both the Russian Church and Russian government are holding fast and paying such close attention to the UOC-MP.

From the statement issued by the office of the Moscow Patriarchate's external church contacts it follows that Moscow's ecclesiastical diplomats feel certain that Patriarch Bartholomew I intends to include the Ukrainian Church in his sphere of influence, even place it under his jurisdiction — in other words, restore the status of the Kyiv See as it was in Kyivan Rus'. Such assumptions, it should be noted, are provoked not only by the Moscow Patriarchate's suspicions, but also by the fact that in his message Patriarch Bartholomew I mentions Ukraine's one painful problem, namely the church schism, but makes no mention of another, equally important, issue: granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephalous status, meaning complete independence. Here one ought to compare the size of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (some 3,000 parishes scattered throughout the world) to that of the Ukrainian Orthodox community (about 15,000 parishes). Also, the size and influence of the Church of Constantinople, once the de facto ruler of the entire Orthodox world, disastrously declined after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Assuming that the Ecumenical Patriarchate harbors such intentions (most likely they exist in the feverish imagination [of the Moscow Patriarchate]), they are not to the liking of both Moscow and Kyiv. Be that as it may, admitting a church to the world Orthodox community involves complicated and time-consuming procedures (even when they have the support of the Ecumenical Patriarch). For example, the Hellenic Orthodox Church of Greece remained unrecognized for several decades after that country became independent; the Moscow bishopric that withdrew from the Kyiv See had no legal status for almost 140 years, until the proclamation of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Apparently the presidential campaign in Ukraine also caused reverberations within church circles, and not only in conjunction with the Ecumenical Patriarch. There is hardly any doubt that recent events did little to introduce positive changes to the status and image of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate in the public eye. Quite a few parishioners and clergymen did not hold with the overactive campaign policy of their church, and some even voiced their disagreement (things like that happen very seldom in a church community). This, however, does not mean that the situation may change radically and quickly in this church, or that it will noticeably distance itself from the Moscow Patriarchate, or that part of the clergy will revise their attitude to the challenges of Ukrainian statehood.

Nevertheless, it is safe to assume that the UOC-MP policy will eventually change, even if gradually, because the days when bishops and parish priests felt free to act as they pleased in regard to many issues of national importance are now gone. This author believes that the most outspoken pro-Russian bishops will be quietly relieved of their posts, and the so-called Orthodox brotherhoods, etc., will be called to account. Also, the Ukrainian Church may finally remember that the divine services are celebrated in the Greek churches in Greek, in the Georgian ones in Georgian, and in the Orthodox churches of Western Europe in the languages spoken by the parishioners.

And, finally, we are very grateful to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.



The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North and South America Sobornopravna (UAOC-S) welcomes Archbishop Bartholomew's call for unity among the Orthodox so long as the "spiritual sovereignty" and "cultural integrity" of Ukraine is respected. Recently the Greek prelate sent a congratulatory letter to President-elect Viktor Yushchenko while calling disunity among the Orthodox "unacceptable." He alluded to the growing friction between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches. Ukrainian Orthodoxy has increasingly rejected foreign control.

Bishop Paul Peter JesepBishop Paul Peter Jesep, Vicar General of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the UAOC-S, said "His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate, leader of over 30 million worldwide, has been working tirelessly to bring the faithful together. Within Ukraine there will be unity and harmony some day due to the leadership of Our chief shepherd, Patriarch Filaret who is strengthening a national spiritual identity."

Bishop Jesep said, "Archbishop Bartholomew no doubt appreciates that church unity, or at least harmony, can exist if ecclesiastical politics is kept in check. All it takes is a sincere respect for the sovereignty of Europe's second largest nation -- not just on governmental matters, but on spiritual ones as well. That does not exist now. "

He added, "Today a free people have the choice to determine their political destiny as well as their spiritual fate. Ukraine has spoken loudly on both matters."

“Ultimately,” Bishop Jesep added, “whether an organization considers a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, especially the Kyiv Patriarchate of 30 million, ‘canonical' is irrelevant. The Ukrainian faithful, including our brothers and sisters in the Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Church, need not ask anyone's permission on how best to walk with God.”

According to Bishop Jesep, “If Archbishop Bartholomew seeks harmony in the Orthodox family then he must underscore to other branches, especially the Moscow Patriarchate, that Ukraine's spiritual sovereignty, cultural integrity and emerging national consciousness deserves respect.”

Faith A Concern of Tymoshenko, Ukraine's New Prime Minister

Kyiv– Yulia Tymoshenko, who was confirmed as Ukraine's new prime minister by the country's Parliament on 4 February 2005, has presented a program for government action, the first chapter of which is called “Faith.” According to Tymoshenko, above all, real faith in God must be restored in society.

Tymoshenko stressed that the status of spiritual education should be revised and given state recognition “so that it becomes equal to other [kinds of] education… Ukraine will never rise from its knees until it kneels before God.”

Tymoshenko also stressed faith in one's country. “The government is to provide living standards to be envied by the world's wealthiest countries,” Tymoshenko said. According to her, a faith in him- or herself has to be awakened in every person.

“The Cabinet of Ministers will arrange constructive cooperation between the state and religious organizations and the absolute upholding of the principle of the separation of state and church,” Tymoshenko's program reads.

The program also promises that the state will create “equal conditions for the activities of [all] religious organizations.”

Ukraine's Parliament supported Tymoshenko's candidacy, voting 373 in favor.


UOC–KP Orthodox Head Awards Former Attorney General

Kyiv – The former acting attorney general of Ukraine, Professor Oleh Lytvak, was awarded the Order of Saint Prince Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC – KP) on 2 February 2005 at the residence of Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the UOC-KP. Vasyl Smitiukh, attorney of the Sviatoshyn district of Kyiv, was also awarded the high order. The men were awarded for their contribution to the development of church-state relations, support for the creation of a single national Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and for strengthening the principles of the morality of the law in society.

Lytvak was one of the first people during the “Orange Revolution” to give a legal evaluation to the election fraud and to stand on the side of those protesting in defense of their rights.

Smitiukh was the only active procurator in Ukraine to sign the address of the staff of the Ukrainian Procurators Office protesting the methods Attorney General Hennadii Vasyliev used to run the structure.

Christian Leaders Bless New President

Christian Leaders Bless New President Kyiv– President Viktor Yushchenko started his first day in office with a meeting with the leaders of all the Christian churches in Ukraine, which took place on 24 January 2005 in Kyiv's Cathedral of St. Sophia. The clergy congratulated the newly-inaugurated president and conferred their blessings upon him. Yushchenko said, in turn, that his team will always lend an ear to advice from the clergy and is counting on pastoral support.

In his congratulatory address, Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kyivan Patriarchate, stressed that his church has remained with the people and prayed for honest elections and the prayers have been answered, for the Lord chose Viktor Yushchenko to serve Ukraine even before the people chose him. The hierarch is certain that God ensured the success of the orange revolution, which made the world discover Ukraine and put a start to a free and democratic country. The patriarch assured the new president of his prayerful support and expressed his certainty that under this presidency “the Ukrainian people will feel the spirit of democracy and freedom, and spiritual values will be at the forefront.”

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate, wished that the president always remember the popular wisdom “Not even to the threshold without God” (i. e. Do not start anything without God), and that the Lord may help him in his every act, renew his spirit and physical strength, so that he may serve the people, the church and Ukraine rightly and in dignity.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, deemed it a miracle that “now the Ukrainian people have awoken and shown that they are God's people, who want justice…The Lord has entrusted you, through elections, with leading the Ukrainian people into the future. The church in Ukraine assures you that it will support you with its prayer. Count on this spiritual force. We will be with you so that you can carry out your task,” the cardinal assured the new president.

Metropolitan Mefodii (Kudriakov), head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, also assured the president of his church's prayerful support. “We will pray and ask God to strengthen your spirit and bodily health, so that your work for the good of the people is fruitful, consolidates the people and unites divided Orthodoxy into a single national Orthodox Church…Your destiny is to build the holy Ukrainian state, and you have no right to refuse the cross the Lord has put upon your shoulders, because the people entrusted you with this and they love you,” the metropolitan stressed.

Cardinal Marian Jaworski, head of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine, called Yushchenko “to serve others and carry out your calling with dignity, which is only possible with God's blessing.”

Hryhorii Komendant, head of the All-Ukraine Union of the Association of Evangelical Baptists, is certain that “the Lord chose Viktor Yushchenko because Ukraine has prayed for hundreds of years, and now the prayer has been heard.”

Mykhailo Panochko, bishop and head of the All-Ukraine Union of Christians of the Evangelical-Faith Pentecostals, said that it is impossible to govern a country without God and the Bible, which Viktor Yushchenko's predecessors did not take into account. Panochko expressed certainty that the newly elected president has been given “a massive credit of trust and love from the people.”

Volodymyr Krupskyi, president of the Ukrainian Union Conference of the Church of Seventh-day Adventists, wished the new president “Solomon's wisdom, to develop the spirituality and freedom of the person and to be a protector of religious minorities.”

Leonid Padun, senior bishop of the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church, assured “that his community is ready to work for the good of Ukraine.”

Bishop Viacheslav Horpynchuk, head of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, assured of his church's prayer for the prosperity of Ukraine and called Yushchenko's team to keep spiritual and human values.

All the representatives of the Christian churches of Ukraine blessed the new president and assured him of their prayerful support of his work.

Shevchenko Church Re-consecrated in Kyiv

Shevchenko Church Re-consecrated in Kyiv Kyiv – The once-destroyed Church of the Nativity of Christ on Kyiv's Postal Square, famous as the site of the funeral services for renowned Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko in 1861, has been rebuilt. It was re-consecrated on 14 January 2005 by Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate. Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's president elect, Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, and National Deputy Ivan Pliushch participated in the festive ceremony.

Yushchenko said in his speech that “today, Ukrainians should not only speak of unity within the borders of the country, but of unity in spirit, history and values.” Mentioning the history of the Church of the Nativity of Christ, he said that “there were attempts to erase this page of history, as many others, from our memory. But that which is not preserved cannot become history.”

At the end of his speech, Yushchenko thanked all who were involved with the church's renovation, and presented the church with three ancient icons.

The first mention of the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Kyiv dates back to 1520. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1717, with funds from Mayor Roman Tykhonovych. The construction of a new church in the same place began in 1744, with the old one continuing to function as part of the new one for almost 40 years. However, this church, too, was ruined by fire. Construction of a new classical church began in 1809, following the project of architect Andrii Milenskyi. The church was painted in 1814, after which it was active for over a hundred years, until it was demolished in 1935 because it was in way of constructing a government center on Michael's Hill.



Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and All Africa Killed in Helicopter Crash

Word that His Beatitude, Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and All Africa was one of seventeen persons killed in a helicopter crash en route to Mount Athos was received on Saturday, September 11, 2004.

The 55-year-old Patriarch was due to arrive on Mount Athos at 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning, marking his first official visit to the 1000-year-old monastic enclave. According to Greek Defense Ministry and various media reports, the helicopter was reported missing about two hours after it left Athens. Officials confirmed that bodies found by rescue crews some 20 miles off the Mount Athos coast in Chalkidiki were those of Patriarch Petros and his companions.

Reports coming out of Thessaloniki confirmed that, in addition to Patriarch Petros, those who perished included His Eminence, Metropolitan Ireneos of Pilousiou; His Eminence, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Carthage; His Grace, Bishop Nektarios of Madagascar; Archimandrites Arsenios and Kallistratos [Economou]; and Deacon Nektarios Kontogiorgos. The Patriarch's legal, technical, and press advisors were also among the dead, as were the Patriarch's brother and personal guard. Five crew members lost their lives in the crash.

A Greek Army spokesman reported that visibility was good and that the downed Chinook helicopter was only about one-and-one-half years old.

According to tradition, the Patriarchate of Alexandria was established by Saint Mark the Evangelist in 42 A.D. Patriarch Petros, a native of Cyprus, was elected as the 115th Patriarch of Alexandria in 1997. His tenure was marked by renewed missionary efforts in Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Cameroon, and elsewhere across the African continent.

"May their memory be eternal!"

UOC-KP Orthodox Exarch in Greece Passes Away

Metropolitan Tymofii (Kutalianos) of Korsun (Keratsyn and Salamin), the patriarchal exarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) in Greece, passed away on 31 July 2004. The metropolitan was appointed by the Synod on 15 March 1996.

Patriarch Filaret, head of the UOC-KP, forwarded a telegram of condolences to the faithful in Greece in which he wrote: “Our church lost a faithful son who sincerely witnessed about the Kyivan Patriarchate in Greece and devoted himself to the task of recognition thereof by the Hellenic sister church.”

According to a decree of Patriarch Filaret, Archimandrite Nektarii, the protosyncellus (chancellor) of the patriarchal exarchate in Greece, is to serve as acting head


New UOC-KP Orthodox Bishop Ordained

On 28 July 2004, according to a decision of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Archimandrite Feodosii (Paikush) was ordained bishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn in St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv.

Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the UOC-KP, performed the ordination together with bishops of the UOC-KP. Patriarch Filaret addressed the new bishop: “After you received secular education and graduated from the seminary, you worked in God’s vineyard for more than thirteen years. At a mature age, you took monastic vows and worked fruitfully as a pastor in the Chernihiv eparchy. Now, through the election of the Holy Synod and Chernihiv clergy, the Lord calls you to a higher ministry as bishop… A bishop can do much good for the church if he has in his soul the constant fear of the Lord and awareness of his responsibility.”


UOC-KP Orthodox Honor Parliamentarian

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) conferred the Order of Saint Michael the Archangel upon Leonid Chernovetskyi, a national deputy and candidate for president of Ukraine. UNIAN was informed about the award on 2 August 2004 by Chernovetskyi’s press secretary, Kateryna Shapoval.

In his decree, Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), head of the UOC-KP, said that Chernovetskyi was awarded “for services with regard to the revival of spirituality in Ukraine and establishment of the National Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

The announcement notes that Chernovetskyi is the author of the law “On the protection of public morals” and is a patron of the Stefania Christian rehabilitation center, where thousands of homeless and poor people receive food and medical aid.


Archbishop Vsevolod (Majdanski) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA Representing Constantinople Meets with Moscow Patriarchates Meet In Kyiv

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church met in Kyiv on 13-14 July 2004. This was in accordance with a previous agreement and permission from the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan). The representatives discussed possible ways to overcome church schisms in Ukraine.

Constantinople was represented by Archbishop Vsevolod (Majdanski) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA and Hieromonk Filip (Yahnysh). The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Department of External Church Relations, and Sergei Govorun, representative of the Department of External Church Relations.

The participants of the meeting were received by Metropolitan Volodymyr at the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves. They discussed current religious issues in Ukraine. The consultative meetings in Kyiv were organized with the support of the head of Ukraine’s National Committee on Religious Matters, Viktor Bondarenko, who expressed the opinion of the Ukrainian government on this matter.

The participants highly praised the joint efforts of both patriarchates to solve current religious problems in Ukrainian society.


National Sobor Celebrates Growth

On 15 July 2004, the National Sobor (Assembly) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) began its work with a Liturgy in St. Michael’s Gold-domed Cathedral in Kyiv. The main objectives of the sobor are to analyze the work done by the UOC-KP after the National Sobor in 1995, to examine the situation in which the UOC-KP lives and functions, and to outline ways of further development. In his report given on the first day of the sobor, the head of the UOC-KP, Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko), claimed that the church has doubled since the sobor of 1995.

Patriarch Filaret in his report called the National Sobor the higher church administration of the UOC-KP. He claimed that since the National Sobor of 1995, the UOC-KP has doubled. In 1995, the UOC-KP had 19 eparchies in Ukraine; in 2004, 29 eparchies in Ukraine, 3 eparchies abroad and 1 vicariate in the USA. In 1995 there were 16 hierarchs; today there are 37 metropolitans, archbishops and bishops.

The number of establishments of theological education has increased from 4 to 10, where over 1500 students are studying. In this period, 3445 priests graduated from seminaries, and 358 specialists graduated from theological academies and faculties, of whom 75 have candidate’s degrees in theological studies. Over two thousand students joint the ranks of the clergy. Today in the parishes of the UOC-KP there are 2892 priests and deacons. Since 1995, the number of monasteries has increased from 18 to 64, one of them being St. Michael’s Golden-domed Monastery. During this period the number of parishes has tripled: from 1188 to 3760.

Patriarch Filaret says that the main objective of the UOC-KP is to establish a single national Ukrainian Orthodox church in Ukraine. “Today we have a national Orthodox church, which is the Kyivan Patriarchate. But we need to unite all Ukrainian Orthodoxy around Kyiv. Another issue of great importance is the recognition of the autocephality of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other national Orthodox churches. The recognition of our autocephality largely depends on the union of Ukrainian Orthodoxy,” emphasized Filaret in his report.

According to the patriarch, the task of the sobor is to adopt renewed statutes of the administration of the UOC-KP, because up to this time the UOC-KP has been regulated by the statutes of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, with the amendments and supplements adopted at the All-Ukraine Union Sobor in June 1992.


Orthodox Sobor Addresses Presidential Elections

After the National Sobor (Assembly) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) finished its work in Kyiv on 16 July 2004, it approved an address concerning the presidential elections to be held in Ukraine on 31 October. In the document, the hierarchs call on Ukrainians to pray for fair elections and they give advice on what criteria to take as the basis for the choice of the new head of the country.

In the text of the address, the sobor states that every citizen “has the right and duty to freely vote during the presidential elections in Ukraine for the candidate who, in their opinion, is the most worthy of heading the Ukrainian government.”

In addition, the address mentions possible falsification during the elections: “Any violation of the right to make a free choice, and the manipulation of the results of the people’s free will is one of them, is not only an action punished by state laws, but is also contempt for the law of God. Therefore, everybody who tries to commit this evil action will be punished by God.”

The National Sobor of the UOC-KP called upon the faithful and all citizens of Ukraine to make the following criteria the basis for their choice of president: high ethical and moral qualities, love for their people and their country, desire to take care of the strengthening of sovereignty, the political and economic independence of Ukraine, and the revival of the spirituality of the Ukrainian people on the basis of traditional Christian and general human values.

The National Sobor of the UOC-KP passed a decision calling all its Ukrainian faithful to pray for fair presidential elections in Ukraine


Monument to Persecuted Orthodox Priests Opened in Cherkasy

A monument to commemorate 142 priests who were persecuted during the years of Stalin’s regime has been erected in central Ukrainian Cherkasy. The monument consists of a cracked brass bell and a priest leaning over it. This news was reported by the information agency “News-Ukraine” on 19 June 2004.

In the 1930s, a trainload of Orthodox bishops, priests and deacons was destroyed in the Cherkasy region and only Fr. Mykhailo Lypianskyi managed to escape. By 1938, officers of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the Soviet security service, had killed the clergy and destroyed most churches in the region.

During a meeting near the monument on 18 June 2004, it was stressed that the 142 priests who were killed by the communists should be proclaimed martyrs and righteous by the church


New Orthodox Bishop of Sumy and Okhtyrka Ordained

Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), ordained Fr. Mykola Sribniak as bishop of Sumy and Okhtyrka in St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on 6 June 2004.

A day before, Patriarch Filaret, together with Archbishop Dymytrii of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, and bishops Oleksandr of Bila Tserkva and Falvian of Kharkiv and Bohodukhiv, participated in an enthronement ceremony and named Fr. Mykola as Bishop Mefodii of Sumy and Okhtyrka. He was appointed bishop by the Synod of the UOC-KP on 14 May 2004.

“The bishop’s ministry is great work and sacrificial dying for the sake of love for the flock and the church,” said Patriarch Filaret during the ordination ceremony. “The connection between the bishop and flock is not fulfilled through domination but through mutual love. On behalf of the bishop, love should be epitomized in parental care, while the laity should demonstrate filial gratitude.”

Bishop Mefodii of Sumy and Okhtyrka was born on 8 June 1957 in the village of Hrabivka, Kalush district, Ivanko-Frankivsk region. In 1995, he was ordained as deacon and later as priest. From 1996 to 2004, he worked as secretary of the Dnipropetrovsk and Kryvorizhzhia eparchy. In 1999 and 2004, Fr. Sribniak graduated from the Volyn Theological Seminary and the Lviv Spiritual Academy, respectively.


Patriarch Filaret Amoung Ukrainian Church Leaders Signing Address on Respect for Human Life

On 1 June 2004, a conference was held at the UNIAN news agency in Kyiv with the participation of representatives of churches whose heads had signed “The Address of Christian Churches of Ukraine to the State and the Ukrainian Nation on the Protection of Life.” The main initiative of the Christian churches of Ukraine on this issue was the establishment of an international committee on the protection of life, reports the press-service of the head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In particular, the address says that on average in Ukraine half of pregnancies are terminated through abortion, that is, the murder of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs. As a result, during the 12 years of its independence, Ukraine actually lost 8.5 million unborn citizens. This figure is also associated with the sad fact that one in five married couples is childless, because in 60% of cases, bareness is caused by post-abortion complications.

According to the address of the representatives of the churches, “the protection of the right to life of the unborn child, the revival of family values, and, as as result, the solution of the demographic crisis, is a common cause to which all members of society should contribute within their power.”

“The church recognizes that the life of every human person begins from the moment of conception, and, therefore, the artificial termination of pregnancy, abortion, is nothing less than the murder of a helpless little human being,” stresses the address.

The church representatives are particularly indignant at the fact that there not only exists commonly accepted infanticide in Ukraine, but also legal use of “human embryos,” bodies of children killed through abortions, in medical practice.

The representatives of the Christian churches associate the issue of the murder of unborn children with the crises of the family. “We are firmly convinced that in the issue of the degradation of the family as a social institution, Ukrainian society will definitely go into decline, lose its originality and identity,” stresses the address.

The address emphasizes that the Christian churches of Ukraine, representing an integral part of society, despite the differences existing between them, are showing willingness to work jointly in the areas of the protection of life and the revival of the family.

“We support the idea of the establishment of an all-Ukrainian interconfessional committee for the protection of human life, which can involve not only Christians, but also representatives of Islam and Judaism, who have the same views on social issues as we do. The organization and work of such a committee may become a model of the unification of people with different views for the sake of the achievement of a common goal,” says the address.

The representatives of the Christian churches called the Parliament and government of Ukraine to review existing legislation regulating questions of the artificial termination of pregnancy and to strengthen the social protection and care of families with regard to giving birth and rearing children, actively promote the increase of the number of children in families, and support families having many children.

As for doctors, they are called not only to abstain from taking part in the performance of abortions, but also to help promote the idea that abortion is both infanticide and an action harmful for the female organism which can lead to irreparable consequences.

“The churches which we represent protest strongly the commercial use of children killed through abortions (so-called “abortive material”) and, therefore, we appeal to doctors and scientists not to participate in actions associated with it and we are asking the Parliament of Ukraine to make appropriate amendments. In general, we see as unacceptable any actions resulting in the destruction of a conceived fetus or commercial use thereof, including means of artificial insemination.”

The address calls teachers and doctors to help prepare young people for married life and the responsibilities of parenthood, as well as to spread knowledge of the fact that killing an unborn child cannot be a solution to problems.

Politicians, men of science and culture, and journalists are called to use their influence on society to protect the lives of unborn children and to ensure that new means of social communication do not become “new means of the spread of evil in the world.”

The representatives of the Christian churches are convinced that only together, by the joint efforts of all social institutions, can it be possible to overcome the difficulties of the formation of the Ukrainian society, build it on a firm spiritual basis, make it capable of protecting the life of every human and of giving him or her the opportunity for harmonious development.

The address was signed by Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate; Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church; Bishop Markian Trofimjak, vicar general of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine; Hryhorii Komendant head of the All-Ukraine Union of the Association of Evangelical Baptists; Leonid Padun, senior bishop of the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church; Mykhailo Panochko, bishop of the Church of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine; Vasyl Raichynets, senior bishop of the Union of Free Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine; and Volodymyr Krupskyi, president of the Ukrainian Union Conference of the Church of Seventh-day Adventists.


Bulgarian Premier Visits Orthodox St. Michael’s Church, Caves Monastery in Kyiv

During his official visit to Ukraine on 22 May 2004, Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, head of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria, visited St. Michael’s Church and the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

Archbishop Dymytrii of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate told Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg Gotha about the history and interior of St. Michael’s Church and showed the Bulgarian delegation around the church building. The Bulgarian premier presented St. Michael’s Church with an icon of St. George.

On the same day, Archbishop Mytrofan of Vyshhorod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) welcomed Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg Gotha to the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves. He presented an icon of the Mother of God of the Monastery of the Caves and showed the premier around the monastery.


Orthodox (UOC-KP) Patriarch Visits Odesa Despite Moscow Patriarchate Opposition

On 6 May 2004, despite severe protests of the faithful of the Odesa metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and representatives of the pro-Russian organizations Single Fatherland and the Union of Orthodox Citizens, Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate arrived for a two-day pastoral visit to southern Ukrainian Odesa.

Patriarch Filaret assured his faithful that he will continue to perform his duties and no opposition of the Russian Church will force him to cancel his pastoral visit.

“I have not come to visit the church of the Moscow Patriarchate,” said Patriarch Filaret. “Neither do we conduct demonstrations near Moscow Patriarchate churches. It is the Russian Church which provokes conflict,” he stressed.

On 6 May 2004, representatives of the UOC-MP attempted to block the way to the UOC-KP Cathedral of the Nativity so that Patriarch Filaret could not enter the church and celebrate a Liturgy. However, they failed.

Patriarch Filaret, together with Bishop Paisii of Odesa and Balta, celebrated a Divine Liturgy, after which he was greeted by Pastor Petro Martianov, secretary of the Spiritual Council of Christian Denominations, and Oleksandr Sorokin, president of the Black Sea Christian Center Mission for Sailors.

Later that day, Patriarch Filaret gave a press conference in the Nativity Church in Odesa.

“The Moscow Patriarchate in Odesa uses the church to pursue some political objectives,” said Patriarch Filaret, commenting on the protests of the Odesa metropolitanate of the UOC-MP and some pro-Russian organizations. He called their offensive statements “a demonstration of inciting religious feud on political grounds.”

“The Moscow Patriarchate has nothing to do with the Kyivan Patriarchate,” emphasized Patriarch Filaret. According to him, the latest sociological surveys say the majority of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are in favor of the Kyivan Patriarchate.

In the afternoon, Patriarch Filaret visited the city of Yuzhne, where he consecrated the cornerstone of the future UOC-KP church. In addition, he visited the Ukrainian Viacheslav Chornovil gymnasium, where he met with instructors and students.

On that day, Patriarch Filaret celebrated a Divine Liturgy in the newly consecrated Church of St. Vitalii in Odesa.

Pro-Russian Picketers Disrupt Orthodox (UOC-KP) Church Consecration in Odesa

UNIAN news agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, in Ukrainian-BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Wednesday, May 05, 2004- ODESA - About 500 pro-Russian activists of the One Homeland civic organization and monks from various monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate today picketed St Vitalii's Church in Odesa for five hours, preventing believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate from attending a service in the church, which was to be consecrated by the bishop of Odesa and Balta of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Paisii.

Picketers shouted curses against [Kyiv Patriarchate head] Patriarch Filaret and the leaders of [opposition parliamentary factions] Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Viktor Yushchenko and Yuliya Tymoshenko.

"This event, of which the local authorities had been aware but failed to prevent, resulted in a flagrant violation of the constitutional rights of local believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate," the secretary of the Odesa eparchial department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Hegumen Havryyil, has told UNIAN in an interview. "People had to walk into their own temple this morning literally through a corridor of Ukrainian-haters, who shouted: ‘An anathema on Filaret,’ held other insulting slogans and grabbed some of the older female parishioners by the arm, leaving some of them in tears."

It was only thanks to support from a big group of parishioners, who are members of the local Ukrainian Brotherhood headed by Roman Devyatov, that priests and Bishop Paisii managed to enter St Vitalii's Church.

"Hundreds of well-organized law offenders, including Russian citizens, with the connivance of the local authorities, tried to strip Odesa residents of the right to the free choice of a religious denomination," the eparchial secretary stressed. "Despite these illegal acts, which were aimed against believers and the patriarch of Kyiv and all Ukraine-Rus, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Filaret, the ceremony to consecrate the church did take place. The scheduled visit to Odesa region by Patriarch Filaret, whom thousands of Orthodox believers are looking forward to meeting on their land, will also be held regardless."

Hegumen Havryyil believes that the incident today was intended "to incite sectarian hatred and to stage mass street clashes" and once again demonstrates the methods that are being used in relations with believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate by "the pro-Moscow figures and pastors of the church. Odesa residents have had the chance to see for themselves that the authorities and law-enforcement bodies are turning a blind eye to illegal actions by organized groups of people, who stop thousands of citizens from fulfilling their constitutional right to freedom of religion and the choice of a denomination."

[The Moscow and Kyiv patriarchates have been locked in bitter disputes over church property and other issues since Filaret declared independence from the Russian Orthodox Church and consequently was anathemized by Moscow.]

Source: THE ACTION UKRAINE REPORT Year 04, Number 73

UOC-MP Threats Will Not Intimidate Patriarch Filaret, Say UOC-KP Orthodox

UOC-MP Threats Will Not Intimidate Patriarch Filaret, Say UOC-KP OrthodoxOn 3 May 2004, the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) released a statement asking administrative bodies and the mass media to condemn the severe opposition and threats of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) against the visit of Patriarch Filaret, head of the UOC-KP, to southern Ukrainian Odesa, planned from 4 to 6 May 2004.

Earlier, Bishop Paisii of Odesa and Balta of the UOC-KP, who invited the UOC-KP’s leader to visit his eparchy, commented on some protesters’ statements. He said that, despite protests by the Odesa metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Single Fatherland, and other pro-Russian organizations, the visit will take place.

The threats of physical revenge for Patriarch Filaret’s visit to Odesa by members of the Moscow Patriarchate in Odesa will by no means intimidate the UOC-KP patriarch, clergy and faithful into refusing to fulfill their religious and pastoral duties, stressed the UOC-KP’s latest statement.

In addition, the UOC-KP announced that they had asked the competent administrative bodies to evaluate the acts of the UOC-MP representatives. They also requested that the mass media provide objective information on the events surrounding Patriarch Filaret’s visit to Odesa.

The full text of the UOC-KP’s statement of 3 May 2004 in Ukrainian can be found on RISU’s Ukrainian language site.

Source: press service of the UOC-KP

Patriarch Filaret To Visit Odesa

Despite protests by the Odesa metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Single Fatherland, and other pro-Russian organizations, the visit of Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), to southern Ukrainian Odesa, will take place in early May 2004 as planned. This announcement was made by Bishop Paisii of Odesa and Balta of the UOC-KP, who responded to some of the protesters’ statements on 30 April 2004 .

On 29 April, Valerii Kaurov, head of the press service of Single Fatherland, released a protest statement to Ruslan Bodelan, mayor of Odesa. “The Odesa women are already preparing ‘a decent welcome greeting’ for Filaret, “ reads the statement. “Filaret will only bring feud and repudiation of the faith to Odesa. His arrival will aggravate the social and interreligious situation in the city and cause riots. The citizens of Odesa will not become a toy in the hands of religious politicians who are trying to win cheap popularity for their future political battles.”

Metropolitan Ahafanhel of Odesa and Izmail of the UOC-MP sent a letter to Serhii Hrynevetskyi, head of the Odesa regional administration, in which he called this visit “explosive” and recommended that Patriarch Filaret abstain from visiting Odesa.

In response, Bishop Paisii called the threats against Patriarch Filaret and the faithful of the UOC-KP cynical. “In fact, they find fault in the very fact that we exist,” said the bishop. “The Odesa Metropolitanate of the Moscow Patriarchate threatens to destroy us. They are outraged at the existence of the Ukrainian Church and the visit of its head. It is surprising that there has been no reaction to these violent illegal actions,” said Bishop Paisii.

“Concerning the moral and Christian aspects of the released statement by Single Fatherland and the Moscow Patriarchate,” continued Bishop Paisii, “there nothing to comment upon. It is clear to everyone that the Odesa Metropolitanate of the Moscow Patriarchate has become an organization of an overtly political character. At least, this refers to the spiritual leaders of the UOC-MP in Odesa. Regarding the faithful, I think, they have different opinions,” stressed Bishop Paisii.

“The Moscow Patriarchate in Odesa uses the church for political purposes,” stated Patriarch Filaret of the UOC-KP. “Such statements are a testimony to the incitement of religious feud on political grounds. The Moscow Patriarchate has no relation to the Kyivan Patriarchate whatsoever. Ukraine will soon have one national church, and the Moscow Church twill not be in Ukraine ,” stressed Patriarch Filaret.


Ukraine Needs United Church, Says Orthodox (UOC-KP) Patriarch in Crimea

“An independent state, which Ukraine is, must have its own united church and tendencies towards this are becoming more powerful in this country,” stated Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), during his visit to southern Ukrainian Crimea, on 26 April 2004.

Patriarch Filaret expressed his content over the increase of UOC-KP parishes in Crimea. Since his last visit in 2000, their number has reached 23, with ten priests involved in ministerial work.

In addition, Patriarch Filaret said that during his visit he met with Khadzhi Emirali Ablaev, mufti of the Crimean Muslim community, and Mustafa Dzhamilev, head of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars. He stressed that he is satisfied with the good and friendly relationships between the UOC-KP and Muslim communities in Crimea. “We are determined to achieve normal relations between Christians and Muslims on the Crimean land,” said Patriarch Filaret. “And I am happy that the mufti and the Mejlis leader are of the same opinion.” Patriarch Filaret went on to point out that there was a third force, interested in fomenting interethnic feud in Crimea and people should not let themselves be provoked into conflicts. “This is the force which doesn’t want Ukraine to be an independent state,” emphasized Patriarch Filaret.

During a press conference held in the Church of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha in Simferopol, about 40 representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, including clergy, picketed the church, protesting Patriarch Filaret’s visit. In addition, they attempted to block the way while Patriarch Filaret was leaving the church in a car. “We are not against the Moscow Patriarchate, even though they do not demonstrate a brotherly attitude towards Ukraine,” stated Patriarch Filaret, commenting on that incident.

During his visit to Crimea, Patriarch Filaret consecrated a health resort for orphaned children in the village of Nykyta near Yalta. It opened as part of a joint project of the UOC-KP and the Roman Catholic Church and will be available for Ukrainian orphaned children regardless of their religion.


Court Rules Poltava Church Should Belong to UOC-KP

Ending a two-year conflict between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), the Zhovtnevyi court in central Ukrainian Poltava accepted the plea of the UOC-KP and decided the local Church of St. Michael should belong to the UOC-KP. This news was reported on 30 April 2004.

The court decided that Serhii Znamenskyi of the UOC-MP, former head of the church, illegally possessed the official seal, the church’s money, and accounting documents of the UOC-KP religious community.

During a press conference after the hearings in Poltava, representatives of the UOC-KP stated that because of the conflict they had to conduct services outside near the closed door of the church. They thanked the faithful for their remarkable spiritual feat of praying outside in all weather.

According to the UOC-KP, in 2002 Znamenskyi decided to transfer the Church of St. Michael to the UOC-MP and since then has been working to fulfill this plan. He did this, however, without convening a parishioners’ assembly. Only 10 parishioners out of 100 signed a protocol on the church’s transfer to the UOC-MP jurisdiction. The UOC-KP representatives said Znamenskyi used the church and adjacent building to start his private enterprise Dyskos, which sold weapons and alcohol.

In 2002, St. Michael’s Church was closed by the authorities until the conflict was resolved. In May 2003, a clash occurred between members of the UOC-KP and UOC-MP communities, after which the UOC-KP accused the UOC-MP of taking the church by force.


Orthodox Patriarch Receives Award

Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), on 30 March 2004 served a memorial service in the town of Brusyliv, central Ukrainian Zhytomyr region, to commemorate Metropolitan Illarion (Ivan Ohienko), a prominent Ukrainian religious activist and scholar. During the ceremony, the Ohienko Committee awarded Metropolitan Filaret with the Ivan Ohienko prize.

“This award was quite unexpected for me,” said Patrarch Filaret. “I didn't expect that a spiritual person can be given any prize.” He also added that he accepted this prize not as a recognition of his personal contribution, but as a recognition of the work of the UOC-KP for the good of society.

Source: file:///C|/Program%20Files/

President of the Ukraine Honors Orthodox (UOC-KP) Patriarch Filaret on 75th Birthday

On 23 January 2003, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma greeted Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), on his 75th birthday and awarded him the order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise.

“I am grateful for such a high evaluation of my work,” said Patriarch Filaret. “I think this is my calling. For more than 50 years I have served the church and I believe this is my duty to support our people's spirituality and moral values. No country and no nation can exist without them,” stressed Patriarch Filaret.



His Holiness Patriarch Filaret – 75! Greetings and Best Wishes received from all over the World

On a cold day in Kyiv on January 23, 2004 the National Philharmonic Hall was filled to capacity with the warmth and good wishes from thousands of dignitaries gathered to honor and celebrate the 75 th birthday of His Holiness Filaret, Patriarch of Kyiv and All Ukraine.

President Leonid Kuchma honored Patriarch Filaret with Ukraine's highest honor, Order of Jaroslav the Wise, as well as a gift of an icon from the 18 th century of Apostle Ioan.

Hundreds of greeting and best wishes were received from heads of state, ambassadors and dignitaries from all over the world.

Warmest greetings and well wishes were also received from the children of blessed memory Patriarch Mstyslav as well as the children of blessed memory Patriarch Volodymyr.

Present at the celebration in Kyiv was a special guest from New York City. Mr. Vsevolod Salenko, President of the Board of Trustees of St. Volodymyr Cathedral, New York City, who is also President of Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union, was at the celebration. In a deeply moving speech to the assembled Mr. Salenko extended best wishes and warmest greeting from the parish of St. Volodymyr's as well as the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union.

Conspicuously absent were any greetings or acknowledgements from the hierarchs of UOC-USA and their “canonical brethren” the hierarchs of Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. (source Save Our Ukrainian Orthodox Church



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