The Synod of the Patriarch of Constantinople declared that it had begun to provide autocephaly to the church in Ukraine. It also decided to remove the anathema from the heads of two non-canonical church structures in Ukraine – from the self-proclaimed “Patriarch of Kiev” Filaret Denisenko, who was anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1997, and from the head of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” Makariy Maletich. Constantinople also declared its rights to Ukraine and annulled the commitment of the historic letter of 1686, which gave the Moscow Patriarch the right to appoint the Metropolitan of Kiev.
In the Russian Orthodox Church, the Synod’s decisions called the legalization of the split and declared that they would cause catastrophic harm, affecting the fate of millions of people not only in Ukraine, but throughout the Orthodox world. Communication of Constantinople with schismatics destroys canonical Orthodoxy, the absurdity of removing the anathema from Philaret is completely obvious, the press service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, said.
The Ukraine Orthodox Church, in turn, did not rule out a break in communication with Constantinople and the imposition of anathema on Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, noting that it considers the decision of Constantinople on the Ukrainian church to be a non-canonical, deeply hostile act and interference in internal affairs.
“Paradoxically, but the head of the Constantinople Patriarchate (KP) put himself in an unenviable position by this decision,” said Anatoly Stepanov, a publicist and editor-in-chief of the Russian Folkline Orthodox portal. – Created a lot of problems, not satisfying anyone. Perhaps, with the exception of our “overseas partners”, who received another opportunity to sting Moscow and create additional problems for us in the Ukrainian direction. The main beneficiary of the decision taken yesterday is the USA. It is no coincidence that Bartholomew in the Russian Orthodox Church for the eyes called “our overseas partner.”
The rest of the participants in this story received, rather, not what they wanted.
For example, Poroshenko expected the Tomos about autocephaly on the eve of the presidential elections in Ukraine. This would definitely add to his influence among some Ukrainians. Thomos is not received. Decided to defer thomas. True, Constantinople reversed its decision of 1686 to transfer the Kiev Metropolis to the Moscow Patriarchate.
– Is it legal?
– This is a lot of arguing. But one has to admit the fact that when drawing up a document on the transfer, the crafty Greeks make some ambiguous formulations into it, which now bear on Bartholomew.
The cancellation of that document de facto means the restoration of the Kiev Metropolis under the authority of the Constantinople Patriarchate. And where can I get it? The legitimate canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) is not going to go under the beginning of Constantinople. It remains – to legalize now existing schismatics. The so-called “autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church”, which appeared during the Civil War of 1917−1922 in Russia. This church is absolutely non-canonical. They are simply self-proclaimed, as they say in the Orthodox. As well as the non-canonical “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate” (UOC-KP). But there is another problem – the head of these schismatics was brought to an anathema by the holy synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). That is, Bartholomew spat on this anathema and canceled it. Although it is legal to do so only that canonical church, which is anathema.
The paradox is that the decision of Constantinople will also not satisfy the head of the schismatic UOC-KP, the notorious “Patriarch Filaret”. On the one hand, an anathema was removed from him, but at the same time he was “lowered” in rank. He himself appointed a patriarch, and here, if he agrees with the decision of Constantinople, he becomes Exarch with unclear prospects. And, in theory, he must obey those exarchs whom Bartholomew has already sent to Ukraine.
And a certain All-Ukrainian Council, which must approve the autocephalous Ukrainian church, does not know when it will take place. Since those who wanted to run from the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate to the schismatics, have already run over. Those who remained in the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church understand that the transition to the “autocephalous church” without the blessing of the Metropolitan of the UOC Onufriy is fraught with eruption from the dignity. And this is not a joke for those who knows what Orthodox canons are.
- There is information that President Poroshenko almost forcibly forced Onufriy to come to him … – Yes, there is already information that at this meeting the first question was whether Onufry also wanted to ask autocephaly at Bartholomew. But this is a question rather for averting the eyes, since the position of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on this issue has long been known. He is an opponent of autocephaly. And most importantly, Poroshenko pressed Onuphrius to allow Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa to become Exarch of the Communist Party. From this it follows that the Kiev authorities do not want to see at the head of the future autocephalous church Filaret, which many do not like for various reasons. He is perhaps the main obstacle to the establishment of the Ukrainian autocephaly. Apparently, Metropolitan Vinnitsa Simeon – the figure that would have arranged and Constantinople, and Kiev. As far as can be judged from the “leaks” that we have, the head of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church gave a firm negative refusal on this issue. That is, if Simeon wants to go to supporters of autocephaly, he will be expelled from dignity. It cannot be denied that the canonical Orthodox church of Moscow Patrairchate in Ukrain also has an influential autocephalous lobby, whose representative has long been talking about the need to create an independent Ukrainian church. The brightest figure is Metropolitan Alexander Drobinka. And a few metropolitans. But they are in the minority and do not dare to go over to the new church structure. In general, I have a feeling that with his actions for the Ukrainian autocephaly, Bartholomew is personally offending the Patriarch Cyril because the ROC refused to participate in the so-called Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete because of doubtfulness of his agenda. In fact, it was the non-participation of the Russian Orthodox Church and three more canonical churches that made this council a mere meeting, in fact. And apparently, Bartholomew was greatly offended and decided to reply to Patriarch Kirill like this.
What will be the answer now to the Russian Orthodox Church?
Naturally, Patriarch Kirill will not accept such decisions of Constantinople. At the next meeting in Minsk, the sacred synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will almost certainly decide to completely break the canonical communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This will create a lot of problems for the KP and Bartholomew personally, who claims to be the laurels of the “Orthodox Pope of Rome.” But it is necessary to recognize the failure of the work of the department of external church relations (VTSS) of the Russian Orthodox Church. We have not received significant support from the local Orthodox churches around the world. Although now they are trying to imagine at the VTsS that almost everyone supported us, this is not quite the case. Basically there are private opinions of individual hierarchs of canonical Orthodox churches. The patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church spoke out, but there is no solution to the holy synod. And so in most churches. The holy synods of only three local Orthodox churches — the Bulgarian, Polish, and Alexandrian — spoke in our support. And yet the Orthodox Church of America, which is not recognized by Constantinople. The convening of primates of the local Orthodox churches on the Ukrainian question, as requested by Patriarch Kirill, apparently does not take place. Most churches are silent on this occasion. It seems that in the department of external church relations of the ROC, many were engaged in establishing contacts with the Vatican, but they talked little with their Orthodox brothers. In addition, it is now clear that there is no close coordination between the ROC and the Russian state. After all, the problem of creating autocephaly in Ukraine is political, not spiritual. And it had to be solved by political methods. However, our hierarchs apparently thought they would manage, we can handle it ourselves. So we got what we got.
– Can the ROC denounce an anathema to Bartholomew, as some of our priests propose to do?
– I don’t think the holy synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will denounce it. As far as I know, in the history of canonical Orthodoxy there was no such thing that one church would anathematize the head of another church. This is usually resolved within the churches themselves.
- And backdatingly gather an all-Orthodox Council, condemning the behavior of Constantinople, perhaps?
– Bartholomew entered slyly. After all, he has not yet given autocephaly to the “Kiev Patriarchate”. So, it seems, there is nothing to convene the Cathedral. Cancellation of the anathema to Philaret is still not enough reason.
– Philaret members are sure that now the UOC parishioners will start to pass on to them en masse. – To begin with, as I mentioned, the Philaret members did not receive the Tomos. Constantinople did not go for it, since it would have been a very predatory act on the part of Bartholomew. Apparently, the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople understand that in this way they would put themselves in an uncomfortable position in front of the Orthodox world. However, the intensification of persecutions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church can be expected now. Dissatisfaction with Kiev authorities, claiming that the Bandera followers whould never get autocephaly, can lead to the fact that they will begin to avenge the “Moscow priests.” But, apparently, the Kiev authorities will close their eyes to the excesses of the schismatics and Bandera. We know how hundreds of churches of the Ukraine church of Moscow Patrairchate were captured. Apparently, there will be more captures. And most likely, they will try to take away first of all the laurels – Kiev-Pechersk and Pochaev from the canonical Orthodox Church. It will not be painless. Since these shrines of Russian and world Orthodoxy de jure remain in the ownership of the Ukrainian state. And the state (Ukrainian officials have already stated this) may well terminate the contract with the Ukraine Church of Moscow Patrairchate, which now “uses” these shrines for religious purposes. Of course, the decision to transfer laurel and other shrines will cause unrest among believers, and this is fraught with blood. And for us it will be very difficult, because we can really help from here, from Russia, very little.