Another Positive Development Regarding Ukraine?

His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA congratulated His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kiev and All-Ukraine on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of his enthronement as Metropolitan of Kiev.  (An event which Patriarch Bartholomew attended as well.)

This was the right thing to do.  Mainly because Onuphriy is the legitimately recognized primate of the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine.  Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into this (since this would be par for the course all things being equal), but the international situation being what it is –and Bartholomew’s papalist pretentions–I believe it deserves recognition.  

As is feared, Patriarch Bartholomew is expected to arrive in Ukraine to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of that country’s independence.  Ordinarily countries are Orthodox for centuries before they receive autocephaly but in Ukraine’s case, the Phanar decided that a few decades was enough. (We in America though, are not “mature enough”.) 

In any event, things have not gone swimmingly for the “autocephalous” sect that Bartholomew set up in Kiev two years ago, and so, it is expected that Bartholomew will take matters into his own hands and try to bring some semblance of order to Ukraine.  Word on the street is that he’ll cashier some bishops and relocate others, mainly those bishops who would not go into schism with the sectarian body which he set up two years ago.   As to how he can do all this in a “church” which is supposedly “autocephalous”, the brainiacs who constitute his brain trust are at a loss to explain.  

All of this of course will be to the detriment of the canonical Church.  Therefore Metropolitan Tikhon’s congratulatory wishes to Metropolitan Onuphriy strikes me as a welcome shot across the Phanar’s bow.  It was the right thing to do.  

The sham of the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed as it is by “Metropolitan” Ephiphany Dumenko, continues to expose itself.  So far, no bishops from any of the other autocephalos Orthodox Churches plan to attend this unholy conventicle.  To add further insult to autocephalic injury, all of the Ukrainian “archpriests” and “archimandrites” of the UOC are being forbidden from wearing their mitres during all services.  In the Rusyn tradition, archimandrites and married archpriests are given a mitre.  (The only difference between these mitres and those of actual bishops is that they have no crosses on top of them.)  This is unknown in the Greek tradition.  In any event, Bartholomew’s diktat against this well-established Slavic custom is yet another indication that the UOC is anything but autocephalous.

Anyway, buckle your seat belts, Patriarch Bartholomew is on his way to Ukraine right now.  Time will tell if his actions are as disastrous as many people fear. 

The Primate of the OCA congratulated His Beatitude Onufriy on the anniversary of his enthronement

Metropolitan Tikhon noted the courageous and resolute service of His Beatitude Onuphrius in maintaining canonical order in the face of division and schism.

On August 17, 2021, the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, congratulated the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, on the 7th anniversary of his enthronement, the Information and Education Department of the UOC reports .

“On the seventh anniversary of your election and enthronement of the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, I send you the warmest congratulations and congratulations from hierarchs and clergy together with the entire flock of the Orthodox Church in America,” wrote Metropolitan Tikhon.

He noted that the service of His Beatitude Onuphrius as Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “in maintaining the canonical order in the face of divisions and schism, which in recent years have been very acutely felt in Ukraine, was courageous and decisive.”

“You are leading the flock of the Ukrainian Church with love, patience, humility and prayer. These spiritual qualities, which you personify so abundantly, have earned you the love and respect of many people both in your country and around the world, ”said the Primate of the OCA.

Metropolitan Tikhon also recalled the visit of His Beatitude Onuphrius to America and especially his inspiring words at the 18th All-American Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015.

“We pray that the Lord will grant you a lot of physical and spiritual strength to continue your outstanding pastoral work as the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for many years,” summed up the head of the Orthodox Church in America.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that Patriarch Kirill , Primate of the Polish Church , as well as the Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, congratulated His Beatitude Onuphrius on the anniversary of his enthronement.


  1. George,
    I’m not educated enough on this. In the case of America, where we have every jurisdiction represented, who would/could grant us autocephaly in the first place?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Whichever mother church wants to grant any of its American archdiocese autocephaly.

      It’s been done in the past: not only has the Church of Russia granted autocephaly to some of its former archdioceses (Poland, Czeckoslovakia, OCA) but way back when so did Antioch (which granted autocephaly to Georgia).

    • There’s not a clear answer. Essentially autocephaly is when everyone else recognizes you as autocephalous.

      It worth noting that just because autocephaly is not recognized that it doesn’t mean that the group is considered uncanonical. It’s also true that not recognizing autocephaly is not the same as being opposed to autocephaly.

  2. George,

    The pseudo-church is the OCU, not the UOC. You confused the acronyms.

  3. Andrew Sabak says

    Very good news. I didn’t see a reference for the quote about local tradition, but I would correct the use of the word “Rusyn”, inserted in place of “Carpatho-Russian”. A hundred years ago, the leaders of the separatist movement openly asked “should we call ourselves [in English] Ukrainian or Rusyn?” (Winnipeg, 1918). Which is to say that the recently restarted word rusyn started as a synonym for “not-Russian”. The people have never supported any separatist Ukrainian movement and it should not be imposed on them, especially they have stubbornly resisted for centuries the pressure to submit, from the tyrannical Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Communist regime, and the current nationalist regime. in the Ukraine. That would be like if someone started a well-funded campaign to insist on calling the natives of Greece “Gryks” or “Hellyns”. It looks jarring. The same arrogant sneering disregard for the true opinion of the people.

    • As being of Galician lemko heritage I abhor being called a RUSYN. I grew up with my grandparents and their pre 1920, immigrant friends from galicia. RUSYN was a derogatory term they used for byzantine eastern rite Catholics from the Czech and slovalk lands. There are missguided people out there trying to impose it’s universal use. History does not support this. While the byzantine Catholics in the USA use it,,,,,,their cousins the American carpatho Russian Orthodox church of America does not.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I guess I was wrong.

        FWIW, I first came across the term “Rusyn” to describe the ancient Slavs that eventually became the “Russians”, “Ukrainians”, “Byelorussians”, etc. In the earliest chronicles, the progenitor race is called “Rus'” and they were part of “Kievan Rus'”.

        • Hi George,,,rus is not RUSYN. We eastern orthodox Galicians prefer halychina rus, Galicians, or lemkos. The eastern rite Galicians are predominately Ukrainian on orientation with a minority being lemkivs. Rusyn, rusin, are usually not used by these people. This has been a life long study. A pre 1920 perspective, and their children created the froc,,,,federated Russian Orthodox clubs in 1927. Rusyn was not in their vocabulary. Cheers. Bob

          • Andrew Sabak says

            Total agreement! The newsletter for UROBA (United Russian Brotherhoods, if I recall) used to print until 1974 the birthplaces of newly-deceased insurance policy holders, and they were 1/3 Russia, 1/3 Galicia, and 1/3 Carpatho-Russia (as stated.)
            The recent use of the word Rusyn as a replacement for Galician Russian, Carpatho-Russian, Lemko, etc. is predominantly by a now well-known academic whom I met in 1975 when he was working for the “Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute”. At that time, he was using the term “Carpatho-Ruthenian”, and I tried to persuade him to use the people’s own name for themselves. He started using Rusyn 3 years later. He in fact told me that the “Harvard” in the title was not because it had any connection to Harvard University, but because they were on Harvard Square and so could legally use the term. (Like Harvard Barber Shop, etc.) Given enough funding from anti-Russian sources and governments, this could have changed. I learned from a published interview that I found that he himself said he turned anti-Russian in 1968 after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. (I thought that was the 5 participating Communist regimes and not the people?). So all the writings of this person have been intrinsically anti-Russian for 50 years and designed to undercut the historical allegiances.

      • andrew sabak says

        Thanks! We have historical revisionism happening all over to distort the true history. Other example I have seen are a newspaper referring to St. Vladimir of Kiev as “an early Soviet leader” and St. Nicholas as a “Turkish bishop”. These are actual distortions printed by the millions. I have tried to do what I can to counteract such things, similar to the opposition to the recent sad events in the geographical landmass called “Ukraine”. I wonder why the Ukrainian government had all the Lenin statues torn down, since after all half of the current country was given by Lenin in 1922 to try to destroy the Russia he hated (Black Sea coast to Odessa, eastern provinces, etc..)

  4. Ukraine has been Orthodox for over a millennium! They’ve been an independent country for a few decades.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Everything you say is true “generally speaking” (pace Bartholomew ca 1990). However the “Borderlands” have had a chaotic few centuries, did they not? And is the Ukraine “Orthodox”? How about the heavy Uniate presence, or the Latin Catholic presence in Galicia?

      Yes, many Orthodox countries have Moslem and/or Jewish populations but this is due to the conquest of their lands by Orthodox armies. Or the outright liberation of their formerly Christian lands by Orthodox-inspired independence movement.

      Anyway, the point is moot as the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Ukrainians are perfectly happy with their autonomous status within the Patriarchate of Russia. Indeed, as has been pointed out time and again, the canonical Church under Onuphriy has more autonomy than the schismatic sect headed by Epiphony.

  5. I think Met Tikhon or another OCA bishop concelebrated with Onouphry a few weeks ago.

    The tomos says, “The autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greek recognizes the Ecumenical Patriarch as its head.” Do the Greeks no longer know Greek? “Autocephalous” means “self head”. Did the tomos use kaphalos to refer to the EP while using the same word to refer to the Ukrainian sect? Someone needs to give the Greeks a Greek lesson.

  6. Temperance and Restraint says

    How do you figure that Ukraine has only been Orthodox for a few decades? Political borders have no bearing on the deep and well-tended roots of Orthodoxy in Ukraine. If the Canonical UOC is a legitimate enough entity to hold a broad autonomy from the MP, with the rightful primate of that Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry holding the dignity of “Most Blessed,” (equal in primatial honor to the primate of the OCA), then why do you think the Ukrainian Church would be “too immature” for full-fledged autocephaly? That is a very poor argument, indeed.

    Also, what are you quoting with “the sham of the so-called ‘Ukrainian Orthodox Church’…? Firstly the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the canonical entity under HB Met. Onufry. Please get the names right: they matter. Secondly, it is highly misleading to put a large block quote from some unknown source in a posting where the main topic is the official greetings from a primate. Obviously, HB Met. Tikhon did not write that, but the context and surrounding post seems to suggest the block quote is an extract from his words. Lastly, Slavic bishops wearing klobuks out of respect for a visiting senior Greek hierarch is nothing new. Yes, the manner in which the “OCU” structure is beholden to the EP bears no resemblance to the fraternal relations that exist between autocephalous Churches. Nevertheless, it’s another very poor argument to make a fuss over a tradition that has actual precedent, which isn’t altogether surprising, and which changes nothing.

    Metropolitan Onufry is the sole canonical primate of the Ukrainian Church. We can do better in how we speak about matters over there which, frankly, the majority of us in the US have little concept. Why rejoice over every ounce of vitriolic gossip that we hear? Our souls have no need of this, nor does Metropolitan Onufry or his flock.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Overall, I’d say you’re kind of making my points for me.

      As for the “maturity”, I’d say that given the violence attendant upon the “tomos” of autocephaly, then that is a dead letter.

  7. Thank you, Metropolitan Tikhon, for stepping up—and doing the right thing!

  8. The Assembly of Bishops is meeting in October, I wonder if Met. Tikhon and the other bishops will take the opportunity to address the errors of Elpidophoros? Or will they not rock the boat?

    • The OCA leadership has been doing this “we agree with both the Church of Russia and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese!” dance for years.

      It’s very difficult to imagine them doing anything different.

      They also have a lot invested in maintaining eucharistic communion with the GOAA. Some seminary faculty and students at St Tikhon’s/St Vlad’s are GOAA. No eucharistic communion means that these faculty cannot concelebrate at St Tikhon’s/St Vlad’s, and the GOAA/UOCofUSA/ACROD students cannot receive Holy Communion there.

      It will be curious to see what happens when (I think it is a question of when, not if) Patr B. declares the saintly Metropolitan Onuphriy and the legitimate UOC “uncanonical.”

      In a healthy church, that should be the “OK, Joe Biden is fully off his rocker for all to see; he has to go” moment, when no one with any substance to his name would pay any further attention to what the good ol’ Istanbul Patriarch (and his cronies) says or does. That’s when the cries for Patr B’s ouster should be too loud to ignore. (As is what should be happening now in D.C.: it’s pathetic that Joey B and “Dr Jill” haven’t been chased out of Washington DC yet with his tail between his legs, but such is the swamp we live in. Seems like the CIA may be teaming up with CNN to do it soon, though.)

      Just like Americans don’t have the balls to run Joey B out of town, I doubt many Orthodox Americans will muster the cojones to run the Istanbul Patriarch and his GOAA out of town. That urge to “not rock the boat” and to be invited to inter-Orthodox shin-digs is just too strong, sometimes.

      Thank God that Christ did not behave that way. He showed us how to stand for Truth and love and righteousness, even if it crucifies us. Such is the only way.

      • George Michalopulos says

        FTS, your point regarding SVS and seminarians from the GOA: there are quite a few non-Chalcedonian students (i.e. Oriental Orthodox) at SVS. Given the fact that Fr Chad Hatfield has quieted the storms that once roiled SVS while the HC/HC tumult has never really gone away, I wouldn’t be surprised that GOA students continue to go to SVS even if Communion is broken between the OCA and the GOA.

        Just my opinion.

      • Mark E. Fisus says

        One would hope the question of communion does not turn on keeping a seminary open.

        We are far from the Byzantine era when there was a mechanism — the state — by which removal of a patriarch of Constantinople could be enforced. Whatever controversies and disagreements there are, we’ll just have to work that out with one another, and live up to our claim to be the Church of the councils.

  9. Met. Tikhon is a hero for standing up to pressure, just like the Jerusalem Patriarchate which has held strong all this time.

    I’m sure Met Tikhon had a lot of external pressure directed at him, and I’m sure there are internal voices in the OCA (like Deacon Nicholas Denisenko who shilled for the Phanar on an Archon podcast with Met. Emmanuel) who are pushing for Met. Tikhon to recognize the OCU and Epiphany for various reasons.

    Always great to see that for every Patriarch Theodore, Archbishop Ieronymos, and Archbishop Chrysostomos there are examples to the contrary. I hope God keeps them strong, and brings the others who have strayed in the name of political comfort to repentance. Unfortunately, it seems Bartholomew is continuing stubbornly on his war path and is pushing others to join his cause. Very, very, very sad.

  10. Supposedly Tikhon ran out all the homosexuals from Syosset a few years ago. I’m told that he waited for several years and then suddenly fired them all.

    • Gail Sheppard says


      • I totally agree but according to the Greek Orthodox clergy I have communicated with, it is the goa that may require more detailed consideration than the oca. It all makes one skeptical, as we were years ago regarding clergy ordained by bishop bogdan spilka during his last 15 years of tenure. In fact I just needed to contact one of the, now an episcopal priest,,there were many stories circulating at the time