Subject: Re: [Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada] O. Litwin - October 16, 2013
Under Provincial Charity law it is the trustees elected by the congregation that must consent to the transfer of property. But the Metropolitan has claimed that the jurisdiction of the UOCC has been transferred to the EP, so it is no longer the UOC of Canada but the UOC in Canada. How many elected church trustees were involved in this transfer? It is contrary to Church Canon Law for any member of the clergy to act as Trustee for any Church property. So, OK -- property is not jurisdiction. Even the children's Orthodox encyclopedia states that jurisdiction has nothing to do with the laity.
But the shunning Decree "in accordance and blessing of His All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew I" stated that Patr. Filaret "cannot at this time be welcomed nor have banquets in his honour IN THE PARISHES, OR THEIR PROPERTIES, OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF CANADA". The Patriarch was shut out from the physical properties of all the UOCC parishes in Canada because of the religious jurisdictional control of the EP over these properties. The EP's jurisdictional control has suddenly seized control over all the church properties of the former UOC of Canada, in Canada.
There seems to be a contradiction here, where jurisdictional control impinges on property control, whereas the By-laws say that it is the congregation that controls and administers the property (except when the EP says: NO !?). The UOCC just runs roughshod over all the rules and will continue to do so until it is stopped. The hierarchs are just testing the waters. If they can get away with something like this, it means to them, that they can get away with anything else they want.
The 1990 Agreement clearly states the bishop is the "Bishop of Toronto". The By-laws also support this. Fr. Kutash supports this, yet ...This is not a big issue until one looks further and sees the full implications. This issue is taking the battle against the laity to the next level, between what has already been written and doubly approved and what the EP wants written. Such an opportunity does not come twice. It is indicative of the attitude of the Consistory and the hierarchs: do what the EP wants, nothing else, and is the excuse for accepting instructions not only from the EP but now also (according to the EP's demand in his "Message") is the excuse for accepting instructions from Moscow, such as: on the Holodomor and its weather-based origins, on the muzzled "response" of silence that indicates that the UOCC is not in favour of joining the Declaration of the Orthodox Churches on the Association with Europe, or any future action in support of the "Ukrainian" religious cause in Ukraine (or Canada, for that matter). The Kanonicity even pits the UOCC against the World Congress of Ukrainians, where the Metropolitan is on the Board!
By all means, do consult with a specialist lawyer on charity law. Petro Melnyk is correct on that, but neither can we be sure about how much value to place on the opinion of Mr. Melnyk, since he also is not a charity lawyer! Orest Sametz states that he has consulted with other lawyers: "I have had the opportunity to research the Agreement... with MANY OF MY LEGAL COLLEAGUES BEFORE I PREPARED AND WROTE THIS ANALYSIS". Perhaps there was a charity specialist that was consulted? Why was it important for Orest Sametz to add this statement at the very end of his article? Was it because it was not his sole opinion of the Agreement but an opinion bolstered by many other legal minds? See also the opinion of lawyer Eugene Harasymiw on this matter.
If an appropriately-worded request for a legal clarification could be filed, before Nov. 25th, it could save the UOCC and the NW congregation hundreds of thousands of dollars. It could possibly postpone the NW case for another year, since there is a waiting list for court time of 15 days straight. The NW lawyer, Bob Kuhn is a Mennonite, faith-based lawyer. He has just been appointed President of Trinity Western University in B.C. The University wants to set up a Law School but has run into difficulties from the Law Society of Canada on some religious issues. If the NW case is postponed, the NW congregation would be sure to cooperate with BRUOC in this ongoing, lingering issue on the Charter, as it is of concern to all UOCC congregations.
The sooner the Charter/By-laws issue is resolved, the sooner the Consistory and hierarchs will start treating the members as real individuals in the Church, and not just ignore them as impediments to their schemes of administrative, synodal domination over the Body of the Church. Even in B.C. we have heard that some hierarchs are by-passing Toronto in order to not run into the overly-concerned members of the Church.