I wish to thank you for your editor's comment in the December 6, 2012 issue of Ukrainian News, responding to Fr. Cornell Zubritsky's, 'extreme disappointment', for your printing Larissa Bayrachny's, 'Christian? No. Orthodox? Apparently so', article (Oct.25-Nov.7, 2012).
It is interesting that emails sent by parishioners such as myself to the UOCC hierarchy went unanswered. Letters to the editor of our UOCC's newspaper, Visnyk, don't see the light of day, unless they agree with the hierarchy. It seems that Ukrainian News іs one voice that the UOCC hierarchy would love to silence. If silencing Ukrainian News was their goal, then Fr. Cornell Zubritsky's letter to the editor, was an extremely poor attempt at this. The main problem for the UOCC hierarchy is that they cannot defend themselves because they have no reasonable defense for what they have done.
In a nutshell -- the UOCC entered into an agreement of sorts on April 1, 1990. The Agreement was between the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople and the UOCC, in which the UOCC gave away its autocephaly. There was an acceptance of this Agreement at a Sobor, but under questionable circumstances (less than a majority vote). This Agreement, at the time, specifically points 1, 2 and 3 of the Agreement, violated the Bylaws and Charter of the UOCC because autocephaly was surrendered. In 2010 the charter and bylaws were changed. The changes once again, were made in a dubious way because parts of the UOCC's, 'Статут і Правила' (pertaining to autocephaly) were omitted in its most recent update.
The UOCC's hierarchy is taking us down the path of pan-orthodoxy. They have given away our right to self governance. This, however is not the route a lot of parishioners wish to take.
I never considered myself a ' special interest' in the sense Fr. Zubritsky implied. I have gone to the same church since birth. I attended Sunday school, Ukrainian school, was an altar boy for many years. I have served the last 12 years on the church cultural centrе board of directors. My wife and children now attend the same church. Call me a radical, but I find it offensive that a Russian patriarch can enter our church freely, but a patriarch from the church of our motherland, cannot, despite the fact that our church is autonomous. I find it offensive that our Metropolitan does not find this offensive.
Ukraine is the only country that has two different ethnic patriarchs (Russian and Ukrainian). The Russian patriarch is an ex KGB agent, who is alleged to have made billions in selling cigarettes and alcohol (permitted by Putin), is not a good example for me or my children of a church figurehead. The UOCC recognizes this poor example of a leader, yet does not recognize the one from their ancestral background. That is offensive. It lacks good judgment. Either the UOCC hierarchy is totally clueless, or they have sold us out.
Interestingly, in the December issue of the UOCC’s Visnyk, there is a quote, by Fr. Jarmus, who I believe, may have slipped these words past the censors for a reason. This refers to the trip in 1990 to Constantinople where the Agreement was made. This is found on page 8, (2nd paragraph) «Наші переговори закінчилися в суботу перед Вербною Неділею, 1990 року.Ми ніяких документів не підписували. Вл. Юрію і мені сказали прийти до Катедри Св. Георгія на Богослуження. Ми прийшли.» (My translation of the quote is as follows: Our discussions ended on Saturday before Palm Sunday, 1990. We did not sign any documents. Bishop Yurij and I were told to come to St. George’s Cathedral for the Liturgy. We came.)
Questions have arisen before, as to why the agreement has no signature on behalf of the UOCC, with no satisfactory answer. This suggests to me that the agreement of 1990, was not actually signed (and therefore is not legally binding.) Two lawyers, Orest Sametz (1998) and the late Eugene Harasymiw (2003) have written papers with a legal analysis of why the agreement in 1990 should be repealed.
It is time that a legal investigation be made, as to the validity in structural changes that have occurred over the last 22 years in the UOCC.
Clearly, the UOCC needs leadership that will enthusiastically support the will of its parishioners. If the hierarchy goes against will of the parishioners, then the leadership needs to change. There is no requirement for Ukrainian Orthodox, nor any other Orthodox Church for that matter, to be in communion with the EP in order to be Orthodox. This idea is an attempt of subordination and goes against the conciliarism of the ecumenical councils. I call on all UOCC church parish councils and parishioners, to join in a concerted effort to reverse the unfortunate path that the UOCC has taken over the last 22 years.
Since April, there seems to be a lack of respect shown from our hierarchy towards their 'flock'. We are living in the 21st century. To our hierarchy, I say, do not treat your parishioners as sheep. If sheep sense trouble, they may flee. If they're intelligent, they may retaliate.
Going to church is voluntary. So, if I am paying money as a member, please don't forget who is helping pay your bills.
If there is something that I am not understanding as to why joining the EP and being influenced by Moscow via Kiril and Putin is a terrible idea, please enlighten me, with facts this time please.
Taras Lishchyna, Parish memberSt. Volodymyr Orthodox Cathedral, Toronto