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    UOC MP clergy accuse Pakanych of hushing up war, trying to seize power in Church

    On July 31, the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, who appealed to Onufriy regarding the break with the Russian Orthodox Church, responded to the Metropolitan Antoniy (Pakanych) of Boryspil. Earlier, he sharply criticized their appeal. The new letter from the clerics was published by the Facebook page “Voice of the Clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”.

    In the response, the priests call the criticism expressed by Pakanych in the video address “devastating” and report that they cannot help but respond because the video “contains numerous accusations against the authors and signatories of the letter.”

    First of all, clerics draw attention to the fact that Pakanych never condemned it 500 days into the full-scale invasion. Moreover, the metropolitan even avoids the phrase “Russian aggression”, instead preferring euphemisms that do not directly point to the culprit of the war. Antoniy’s last video was no exception. This caused surprise among the priests, because it was “the fact of Russian military aggression and the support given to the Russian criminal regime by Patriarch Kirill and other representatives of the episcopate and clergy of the Russian Church” that motivated the open letter.

    “This cannot fail to cause growing dissatisfaction both within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and in Ukrainian society as a whole. An obvious question arises: isn’t such persistent ignoring of the very fact of Russian aggression a moral crime against the long-suffering Ukrainian people?” the signatories ask rhetorically.

    Also, clerics assume that since the appeal does not have a direct addressee, it “pretends to be a statement of a church-wide nature.” However, they note, Metropolitan Antoniy simply does not have such powers because “he is neither a Council, nor a Synod, nor a Primate.” According to the Statute, the only addressee can be the faithful of the diocese headed by Pakanych, or the video can be perceived as a personal opinion.

    “It is quite obvious that Metropolitan Antoniy is trying to pass off his own considerations as the position of the entire Church,” the letter states.

    Further, the priests accuse Pakanych of “bias and involvement” as well as manipulation. The appeal did not contain demands, as Antoniy says, but only a request. In addition, the letter had a direct addressee, Metropolitan Onufriy, and therefore the clergy does not expect a response from anyone else. The priests emphasize that they are still waiting for a meeting with their Primate.

    “Therefore, both the content of the letter itself and the procedure for its submission in no way implied that Metropolitan Antoniy would respond to it. We did not turn to Metropolitan Antoniy!” they declare.

    Also, the clerics assume that Pakanych did not coordinate the appeal with Onufriy, and therefore it “should not be considered a response to their open letter.”

    In addition, according to the priests, Antoniy “considers himself not only the personification of the leadership of the UOC, but also of the church court” because he seriously accuses them of seeking to destroy the Church.

    “Metropolitan Antoniy accuses us of violating the canons, but his appeal is a flagrant attempt to destroy the entire canonical structure of our Church,” the response states.

    The clergy writes that Pakanych’s statement about the impossibility of convening Councils during the war “can’t help but cause concern” and “has at least the appearance of an attempt to seize power in the Church.” After all, according to the priests, it contains an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the Council in Feofania of May 2022.

    “Someone who himself openly violates the Statute of the UOC and usurps power in the Church irrevocably accuses those who openly talk about the problems of the UOC in terms of violating canonical norms,” the appeal states.

    Rejecting Pakanych’s accusations, the signatories motivate him to “evaluate the criminal actions of the Russian state and church leadership in the light of Evangelical morality.”

    “It is obvious to us that Patriarch Kirill is one of the instigators and accomplices of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. And that is why any communication with him is unacceptable for us as Christians,” they say.

    Also, they consider strange the sharp rejection of the dialogue with the Local Churches that recognized the OCU, because there is ecumenical communication even with Catholics and Protestants. In addition, the clerics recall that no Local Church, except the Russian Orthodox Church, has interrupted communication with the mentioned churches.

    “Summing up, we have to painfully admit that the video message by Metropolitan Antoniy indicates a serious internal threat to our Church. This appeal is not only full of baseless accusations. It also contains something more important. Metropolitan Antoniy is trying to block the living unified Church’s life. He is actively turning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into a closed structure, which would reject the very possibility of dialogue both with the state authorities and with other Local Churches or other Christian denominations in Ukraine. In such a structure, there can be no Councils and open discussion. The clergy of the UOC, according to Metropolitan Antoniy’s plan, should turn into a silent and submissive crowd, which mindlessly obeys all the instructions of the “UOC leadership.”

    However, that is not how our Lord Jesus Christ saw His Church. This is not how the holy fathers saw the Church. Church canons do not provide for such an arrangement. And today, our entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church must show its strength. We must not allow the transformation of the living unified Church into a closed sect, in which freedom is suppressed, and instead of love, a harsh dictate reigns,” the clerics conclude their address.

    It should be recalled that Antoniy (Pakanych) categorically responded to the priests’ appeal to convene the Council of the UOC MP

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