In childhood, he didn’t believe in God and he’s badly berated by his father for picking grass for a cow from a neighbouring garden. He’s not against of being interviewed on the Russian TV to deliver the truth and before he had all chances to head the Russian Orthodox Church. His civil name is Mykhaylo Denysenko but he’s widely known as Patriarch Filaret. About the childhood and life of Primate of the Ukrainian Church, his attitude towards Putin and Russia, intrinsic values of Europe and dislike of modern music – the way Filaret himself sees it in the new section from Opinion.
About childhood and life
As a kid, I was taken to church by my grandmother. But the school marked me with a smudge of disbelief. I wasn’t against God but had been raised in the spirit of the Soviet Union.
If not for the war, I wouldn’t have become Patriarch and wouldn’t believe in God. But the war led me to this. Because when my father died on the front, I… I loved him. I had a question: is he alive, does he exist or not? The school taught me when a person dies it stops existing. If it’s true, it means I love something that doesn’t exist. Is it possible to love nonexistent? It isn’t. But I love. It means that he exists. It’s the way I found God. But only because my dad died. They’re millions. And all these people came to God. The war is evil in its essence. But it led to good consequences.
We had a cow in the village. And we had to pick grass for it. Once it happened I picked it in the neighbouring garden. When the dad found out about it, he punished me. It’s the only time my father beat me for my misdeed. I remembered this for the rest of my life: you can’t take other people’s stuff, even grass.
Being a youth, I’ve read a lot of spiritual literature. After the worship, I gathered children and taught them. The further, the more children came. I was sixteen years old then. When it was unveiled at school that I was teaching children the faith and religion, I was expelled. But then I was returned.
I could have headed the Russian Orthodox Church because I was, firstly, a city lover, secondly, I was supported by the Religious Affairs Council and it was guided by the Presidium of the Central Committee. They bet on me but I made one step aside: I signed a petition to Horbachov together with the members of Synod to dismiss the head of the Council for Religious Affairs because he violated church canons and I was doing my best to preserve them. At the same time, an alternative Patriarch candidate from Committee for State Security was Aleksiy and he outfooted me.
Four or five years ago I found out that Putin in the circle of like-minded people confessed that they (Committee for State Security) were mistaken when they chose Aleksiy instead of Filaret because Ukraine could remain in Russia’s hands. That is, if I’d aspired to become Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, I would have done it. But when I became a city lover, I prayed to the will of God to be done instead of my own.
If God didn’t give me health and strength, I wouldn’t work so much because at my age nobody works. One of my friends has died long, the others are retired. I take care of my health: don’t overeat because it leads to illnesses, have health check-ups and when the illness is found I cure it. For example, I’ve been living with cardiac stimulator for 15 years.
I don’t like modern music, which doesn’t have a melody but only roar. Love all singers, who sing Ukrainian songs: such ones that have melody and touch your soul. I don’t respect the songs that only agitate your nerves.
About the church and God
There always have been heretics among priests and bishops. Were there heretics among bishops in the ancient Church? Yes, they were. Were there perverse people? Yes, they were. Has something changed? No.
It would have been impossible for us to achieve something under the circumstances our Church was growing, And I also won’t achieve anything because I’m a human being and I’m restricted in my abilities.
We don’t interfere with politics but we support Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state. Why? Because we care about our parish because people are our parish. And we care whether they’re free or enslaved. We want our parish to be free.
I feel sorry for those people who consider themselves Orthodox Christians but they claim the power of the final judgement to be theirs while it belongs only to God because it’s him who decides who will go to paradise and who to hell.
If the Ukrainian church were united, there wouldn’t be this war. Why wouldn’t? Because Russia wouldn’t have someone to rely on. There’re deputies in Ukraine, half of whom are Russian-minded. But it’s not that power that could help Russia to seize Ukraine. But the church is a great power.
Our purpose is growth, the increase of Kyiv Patriarchate. And God helps us. In what way? He allowed the war. And this war contributes to the growth of Kyiv Patriarchate. In what way? People see who protects Ukraine: Kyiv Patriarchate or Moscow. Kyiv defends and Moscow protects the aggressor.
About Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russians
Russian church isn’t a mother church of Ukrainian. And on the contrary – Ukrainian church is a mother church of Russian.
Ukraine has never been the part of Russia. And will never be. Because Rus existed, but Russia wasn’t a state yet. And then, when the country appeared it was called Moscovia, not Rus. Rus is Ukraine. Even Crimea, for instance, belonged to Rus.
Putin is a believer. A Cristian person. But does he live according to the faith? No, he doesn’t. I called him: “New Cain”.
We have the only dialogue with Moscow: “Repent and go back to Moscow”. We don’t need this.
I would agree to be interviewed on the Russian “First channel”. I would say the truth. But I want them to show what I’ll be saying. Because I’ll say the truth. Still, the truth has always won.
There’re Russian people and there’re Ukrainian people – they’re completely different. And we see this difference. Don’t mix wicked with holy.
About gender and LGBT
I would pay the last honours to a gay man if he’s baptised. Because he’s Christian. A sinner but Christian. The church prays for everybody – for grave sinners as well, to ask God to forgive their sins.
Sexual marriages between men are allowed but aren’t considered right. It isn’t kindness, it’s a sin. And the church can’t support them. Yes, they, the sinners should be treated patiently. But it’s impossible to say that it’s right.
We, as a Church, are against gender politics. We’re against homosexual “marriages”. We’re against any amendment to the laws, which this way or another insert the gender politics to our legislation. We’re against it because it’s cunning. They talk about equal labour rights, about non-discrimination and tomorrow they’ll talk about homosexual “marriages”. I mean, we’re against discrimination of people on any grounds but we’re against open doors for homosexual “marriages” in legislation. Why against? Because it’s not only a disregard for divine laws but also a distortion of human nature.
I support Ukraine entering Europe from the very beginning. Because Ukraine has always been a Europen country.
Europe is losing its spiritual values. That’s why I say that we don’t want to get only positive from Europe: technology, democracy, freedom of speech etc. We can give something in return, something that Europe doesn’t have. They don’t have spirituality. But we do have it.
I wish my opponents wisdom to tell apart the truth from wrong, good from evil. Apart from wisdom, I wish the strength of character to choose the truth and keep to it.
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel
The publication was collected from numerous interviews, speeches, and appeals of material’s protagonist.