In the comments Volyn regional deputy Mykola Buliha (a lay representative at the “Unification Council”) made to the Ukrainian agency “Konkurent”, he declared the event that “had been expected for 300 years” had finally happened. But he added that “the way it happened is a whole different story matter”.
According to him, Metropolitan Mikhail [of the “Kyiv Patriarchate”] was undoubtedly the most likely winner and would have won the majority of votes. But he “thinks for himself, did a lot to develop the diocese of Volyn [“Kyiv Patriarchate”], and was not to everyone’s liking in his own milieu”. So “patriarch” Filaret had bet on his protégé Epifaniy. “It means the old proven KGB method worked, and they elected the weakest nominee [Metropolitan Epifaniy] in their milieu. And they blackmailed Mikhail through this nomination”, he added.
“Imagine: Filaret comes out (the delegates, hierarchs, and lay people are standing) and he tells them: “It was considered that Mikhail would win. By what right? We had decided it had to be Epifaniy!”
Filaret said all that, while Epifaniy did not even utter a word. “In order for the Church to be created, you, Metropolitan Mikhail, have to write a waiver”. Mikhail asked, “Why should I write a waiver to refuse the position? I did not nominate myself, and no one nominated me. What should I really refuse? “We know you will win,” replied Filaret.
All of this happened before the “Kyiv Patriarchate” meeting, which took place before the beginning of the “Unification Council”. “And Patriarch Filaret said, “I will not sign the dissolution of the Kyiv Patriarchate as long as Mikhail does not sign the waiver”.
According to the delegate, the council was to start at 9am, but it only started at 1pm. Filaret had locked himself in and was not coming. Then President Poroshenko came and organized a joint meeting. “The president faced blackmailed: Filaret will not sign the dissolution decree if Mikhail shows up”. The deputy added that the “Kyiv Patriarchate” delegates, under Filaret’s chairmanship, presented a weak candidate [i.e. Epifaniy] that it would be easy to manipulate.
But the election took place, and despite the withdrawal of Metropolitan Mikhail’s candidacy, more than 30 participants nevertheless voted for him. Simeon [the canonical bishop having joined the new structure, he is now banned from celebration, T.N.] was in second place.
“Filaret, by blackmailing the president and the churchmen, managed for the 39-year-old “young man” to become the primate of the new Church. The president, as head of State, could not lose the Tomos for Ukraine. The president was forced to convince Mikhail to withdraw his candidacy… The Ukrainian president played the main role in obtaining the Tomos. And Filaret “tricked them,” summed up the regional deputy.
According to the Russian website Pravoslavia.ru, both Constantinople and Poroshenko wanted Simeon to be elected. He is the former Metropolitan of Vinnitsa (Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate). He had indeed been consecrated by the canonical Church, whereas Epifaniy was ordained a deacon and a priest, and consecrated a bishop by the schismatic “Kyiv Patriarchate”. With Mikhail as the new metropolitan, it would have been easier for Constantinople to convince the other local Orthodox churches to accept a church headed by him.
Besides, the Greek site Romfea.gr mentions that in his homily, Metropolitan Epifaniy declared, “This church will be the cathedral of the new Ukrainian Church, and the Church of St. Vladimir will be left to our spiritual father, Patriarch Filaret”.
Once again, Romfea continues, Filaret said the new church will have to be recognized as a patriarchate. The very day after the “Unification Council”, “Patriarch” Filaret wore the patriarchal headdress, as evidenced by a picture published by the Greek agency, although the Constantinople Patriarchate acknowledges him as a metropolitan – a position he was deposed from by the Russian Orthodox Church. Moreover, in his last Sunday sermon, “patriarch” Filaret declared he would remain the “patriarch all his life, and lead the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the primate”.