Metropolitan Epiphanius (L) and Patriarch Filaret (R). January 23, 2019.

Yesterday, January 26, both the Kyiv Post and Orthodoxy in Dialogue published my “The ‘Patriarch’ Has No Clothes.” In it I wrote:

In a tradition where visual symbols carry the power that they do in Orthodoxy, Filaret’s undiminished itinerary of public appearances and utterances—all while bedecked in the garish headpiece of a Russian (!) patriarch—reduces the real Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine visually to just another metropolitan among many. This glaring symbological disparity in so trivial a matter as a hat probably ensures that Filaret and Metropolitan Epiphanius never be seen together. Filaret thus maintains his iron grip on his role as leading man on the stage of Ukrainian religious and national life.

Twenty-four hours later one of Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers drew our attention to the photo above and the accompanying birthday greeting by Metropolitan Epiphanius, published on the website Єдина помісна Українська Православна Церква (One Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church) on January 25. While I’m not sure when or if I’ll have the time to translate the full text for publication, integrity demands that we issue this partial correction of my original conjecture that the two hierarchs might not be seen together in public.

(We also learned today, at the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, that Patriarch Filaret has been designated a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.)

The photo clearly demonstrates, for all to see, what I stated in my original article: the gradated symbology of Russian Orthodox episcopal headpieces—adopted by the Ukrainian Church in toto—visually reduces the canonical Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to a position inferior and subordinate to that of a hierarch who was never the canonical patriarch of a canonical patriarchate.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue and I personally have published voluminously in favour of Ukrainian autocephaly and the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the long process which culminated in the Tomos of January 5-6. We have always urged that a spirit of understanding be extended to the Kyiv Patriarchate during its schismatic period. (As I noted elsewhere, the Orthodox Church in America [OCA] and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR] also went into schism from the Moscow Patriarchate earlier in their history.) We have high hopes for the young Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and all Ukraine and for the future of the Ukrainian Church. 

But the time has come for the Ukrainian Church to embrace proper canonical order in all things.

See the extensive Ukraine section in our Archives by Author.

Giacomo Sanfilippo is a PhD student in Theological Studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, founding editor at Orthodoxy in Dialogue, and contributor of religious commentary at the Kyiv Post.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue seeks to promote the free exchange of ideas by offering a wide range of perspectives on an unlimited variety of topics. Our decision to publish implies neither our agreement nor disagreement with an author, in whole or in part.


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