Let us consider the main stages of a political project to provide an autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatic church. In itself, this event is not ordinary, one can even say out of the ordinary. World religions rarely experience similar transformations that have occurred in Orthodox Christianity over the past ~six months.
To consider the essence of the matter, we first need to identify several basic elements that play a key role in understanding of what is happening. First, it is, of course, the constitution of Ukraine. Namely, that part of it that concerns the relationship between church and state. Here is what the most important document of the country says on this score:
As we see, despite the many versions of the document (for Ukraine it is generally in the order of things — changing your main document as if a lady changing her gloves) the distinction between the state and the church that is clearly enshrined in law remains unchanged — the state is separated from the church, and therefore has no right to interfere in the affairs of the latter .
In the world there are a variety of states: some have a constitution, some do without it (for example, Great Britain, which, btw, positions itself as one of the most democratically developed countries). Formed after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine acquired a constitution in 1996. Therefore, it has committed itself to exist and develop according to this fundamental document. At least, it is assumed that a country with a constitution, exists according to it — as they say, «this is accepted throughout the civilized world».
So, let us remember that the Ukrainian authorities (state bodies, parliament, president etc.) according to article №35 of the country’s constitution should not interfere in the affairs of the church, since the state is separated from the church.
Another important point, which is worth fixing, concerns the structure of Orthodox religious organizations in Ukraine. ALAFF has already partially addressed this issue in the large topic «neo-Nazism/neo-Fascism hydra rising a head» (see section 24). Let’s briefly outline the main provisions. The situation is such that, until recently, three Orthodox churches simultaneously existed in Ukraine:
- UOC-MP — Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
- UOC-KP — Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.
- UAOC — Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Only the first organization, the UOC-MP, is legal and canonically recognized by all other local Orthodox churches in the world. Two other organizations — the UOC-KP and the UAOC — are unrecognized, schismatic, quasi-legitimate.
Until recently, the organization of the UOC-KP was headed by the self-styled Patriarch Filaret, the organization of the UAOC was headed by the pseudo-metropolitan Makariy.
Patriarch Filaret (left), Metropolitan Makariy (right).
In December 2018, when the process of providing Ukrainian schismatics tomos about autocephaly was close to reach its apogee, both structures — the UOC-KP and the UAOC — were abolished and became part of the newly-formed structure — the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). Simply put, the schismatics of two non-canonical, quasi-legitimate Orthodox religious organizations of Ukraine were merged and received a new name. The “birth certificate” of the new schismatic structure was the same notorious tomos about autocephaly (the so-called “independence”), granted to schismatics by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, who fell into papal heresy violating all Orthodox canons.
Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew - primus inter pares (first among equals)
Here we need to step back. To make it immediately clear what kind of people we are talking about — a small “dossier” about the false patriarch Filaret. This seemingly innocuous elderly man with a lush gray beard, who assumed the office of Patriarch of Kiev and All Ukraine back in 1995, was remembered to the public both by his statements and by his deeds.
As an active supporter of Maidan 2014, Filaret found it quite acceptable to state «the need to provide the Ukrainian army with modern types of defensive weapons» — the false patriarch said it in February 2015 by visiting the annual prayer breakfast given by the US President in Washington. Don’t even ask how the original Christian principles of peace and mercy, which the representative of the Orthodox Church should put into practice, are combined with requests for a foreign(!) state to provide weapons(!) «to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine».
Center: the false patriarch Filaret and John Kerry on the Maidan.
By the way, during that trip to Washington, Filaret managed to award the notorious Russophobe, Republican Senator John McCain with the Order of Saint Prince Vladimir, 1st degree. Reportedly, the award was presented «for an active position in supporting Ukraine during the events of Euromaidan and the Russian occupation of Crimea and Donbass» (in the first photo below, pay attention to the modest person on the left, next to Fileratet. Remember his face). Apparently, the public will never know what does the odious American hawk-Russophobe have to do with domestic religious issues in Ukraine.
By the way, as early as February 2014, right before the coup in Ukraine, Filaret went on a visit to the USA, where he met with a number of high-ranking American officials. In particular, with Vice President Joseph Biden, as well as with Congressman Peter Roskam.
Center: the false patriarch Filaret and Peter Roskam.
Roskam is known, in particular, because he was an ardent opponent of concluding a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, was against the normalization of US relations with Cuba and called for “continuing the course” in terms of the destructive war in Iraq, when the defenseless country had been moaning for years under American depleted uranium bombings. His support for Kosovo, which was illegally alienated from Serbia, is also very characteristic and indicative. In general, the typical peace-loving American politician. No doubt Filaret and Roskam quickly found a common language.
About six months ago, in September 2018, the self-styled patriarch of all Ukraine met (again) with US Vice President Joseph Biden, who supported the idea of giving tomos about autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics, saying that «a local church in Ukraine will strengthen the country’s statehood».
The false patriarch Filaret and Joseph Biden.
Well, these are just a few examples. As we see, Filaret is very predisposed to communicate with prominent American politicians of a pronounced anti-Russian orientation. It is not difficult to guess what kind of sentiment he spreads in his congregation, at least about the relationship between Ukraine and Russia.
And what about the «home circle of communication»? Whom does Filaret support in Ukraine, whom he gives his blessing? This question can be answered indefinitely because of the abundance of information and various kinds of evidence. For clarity, just a couple of photos:
Pay attention to the chevrons on the uniform of the soldiers. Filaret gives instructions to militants from the terrorist organization «Right Sector» (banned in the Russian Federation), blessing them «for feats». The false patriarch is generally characterized by close relations with all sorts of Ukrainian radicals (not only from the «Right Sector» extremist group). They are part of his congregation, he is their shepherd. This became especially vivid from the moment of the coup on the Maidan in 2014.
And the “famous” statement of Filaret that “residents of Donbass should atone for their guilt with blood” seems will not soon be forgotten. First of all, by the residents of Donbass themselves, for 5 years now suffering from constant shelling and bombing by the adherents of the Ukrainian regime, who were blessed by Filaret. Those several hundred killed children of Donbass including on his conscience.
Devoted to anathema by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1997, this old man vividly characterizes the nature of Ukrainian secessionism and is an integral part of the ruling regime.
TOMOS. INITIAL STAGE OF OPERATION.
The epic of giving the Ukrainian schismatics tomas about autocephaly began in the spring of 2018 — roughly speaking, a year before the presidential elections in Ukraine. For well-defined reasons, the United States took the most direct part in this process. The score of this spectacle was clearly defined, the roles were assigned.
Thus, on April 14, 2018, the Ambassador of the United States on International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback visited Turkey, making an officially unplanned visit to the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The main topic of the meeting was to persuade Patriarch Bartholomew to support autocephaly in Ukraine (considering that two years ago, in 2016, Bartholomew simply refused Kiev in such a request).
A few days later, on April 17, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, visited Athos and talked to the pastors of Greek monasteries. The American politician held talks with Archimandrite Ephraim and one of the most authoritative bishops of the Hellas Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos). Following the meeting, Pyatt made an announcement that he discussed important issues of «Orthodoxy around the world» with the abbots of the Athos monasteries. It is not difficult to guess a specific topic of conversation.
State Department representatives conducted work on the internal contour also. Thus, the US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch met with the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who had earlier opposed the creation of a single local church in Ukraine, but after meeting with Yovanovitch, he sharply changed his position and began to favorably perceive the idea of «church unification».
Such activities of representatives of a foreign state was not unusual. It was the sounding of the soil, preparation of the bridgehead. Obviously, having received the go-ahead from his overseas curators, on April 17, Poroshenko officially asked the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew to create a single local Orthodox church in Ukraine, sending the appropriate address to the patriarch. Within a few days, a response was published on the website of the Constantinople Patriarchate expressing a willingness «to consider what can be done». Obviously, the visit of the US Ambassador Sam Brownback to Bartholomew on April 14 was not in vain, and the Patriarch was “strongly recommended” to take this issue seriously this time. After all, in 2016, the Ukrainian regime had already tried to get the cherished tomos for schismatics from Bartholomew — then the appropriate message to the patriarch was sent by the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. In 2016, Bartholomew essentially ignored it. This time, on the «urgent recommendation» from Washington, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a completely different decision.
The appeal of the President of Ukraine to Bartholomew was warmly supported by the Verkhovna Rada, which [naturally] voted in support of Poroshenko’s proposed initiative, and the text of the appeal itself was published on the official website of the President. Well, as we remember, in Ukraine the church is separated from the state according to article №35 of the country’s constitution, and the authorities should not interfere in the affairs of religious organizations… But when it’s very necessary, you can close your eyes to this, isn’t it?
The text of Poroshenko's appeal to Bartholomew about autocephaly.
In the matter of obtaining tomos, Poroshenko, obviously, relied on the help of Turkish President Recep Erdogan. This completely explains the extraordinary and massive (more than a dozen people) extradition of Turkish opposition members from Ukraine, supporters of a fugitive preacher Fethullah Gyullen, which Erdogan so longed for. At that time, the Ukrainian authorities did not officially comment on the detention of Turks on the territory of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated that “they do not know anything” about what is happening (despite the fact that the wife of one of the arrested claimed that her husband was detained by the SBU). In exchange, Poroshenko hoped that the Turkish president would also have an influence on the patriarch Bartholomew, the Turkish citizen, and incline him to «assist» the Ukrainian schismatics.
At the very end of spring, May 29, Geoffrey Pyatt, US Ambassador to Athens, again visits Greece. The American official met with the Archbishop of Athens and the whole of Greece, Jerome. According to media reports, the central theme of the conversation was the creation of the Unified Local Church in Ukraine. Such attention to Greece from the United States is not by accident. The Greek Orthodox Church is a very influential and respected organization in the Orthodox world. If the United States succeeded in «convincing» Greek clergy to support the Ukrainian schismatics in their quest to find their own «independent» church, this would be a serious argument in the dispute about the «legitimacy» of the latter.
An attempt to get a tomos by July 28, 2018 (the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia) did not work, but this did not stop Poroshenko & Co. However, Bartholomew also did not intend to give up to oblivion the idea of providing tomos about autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. There were reasons for this. Thus, in the last days of July 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a meeting with the head of the American-Ukrainian Diocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Demetrios Trakatellis. At the meeting, Mike Pompeo reported that Washington is aware of the theft in 2017-2018 of a large amount of money (about $10 million) from the budget for the construction of the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in New York. Mike Pompeo noted separately for the Patriarchate of Constantinople that the US Attorney’s Office has documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Mike Pompeo suggested to the Patriarchate of Constantinople that he would «close his eyes» to this theft in exchange for the realization on the part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of the idea to provide the Ukrainian Church with autocephaly. Undoubtedly the suggestion had its effect, because literally the next day the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople visited Kiev, where they conveyed the message of the Ecumenical patriarch to Poroshenko (see video). It was reported that in the message Bartholomew confirmed his intention to provide the autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.
The pseudo-patriarch Filaret also did not waste time in vain, making very characteristic statements. For example, in one of the interviews, the self-styled patriarch of Kiev and All Ukraine said the following:
«First, our goal is growth, an increase in the Kyiv Patriarchate. And the Lord helps us in this. How? [He] allowed the war. And this war contributes to the growth [of the number of parishioners] of the Kiev Patriarchate. How? People see who defends the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian land – the Kiev Patriarchate or the Moscow Patriarchate. The Kiev Patriarchate defends, because Moscow protects the aggressor. Because [Moscow Patriarchate] calls this war civil, not aggressive war».
Verily, a man of peace.
In late August 2018, before the parade on the day of independence of Ukraine in Kiev, Poroshenko openly declared his determination to “end the existence” of the church in Ukraine, “which sanctifies the hybrid war” of the Russian Federation against Ukraine — that is, UOC-MP, the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine. According to Poroshenko, “this church sanctifies Putin’s hybrid war against Ukraine, prays day and night for the Russian government and the Russian army”, and in this regard he has “a firm intention to cut the last knot, which the [Russian] empire desperately trying to bind us to itself».
As usual, Poroshenko did not bother to explain what his absurd statements were based on. However, rabid Russophobic propaganda does not imply any explanation. Again, we recall article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which enshrines non-interference of the state in the affairs of the church. The President of Ukraine is observing it remarkably, isn’t he? Poroshenko’s words are doubly surprising if we recall that a few months earlier, in April 2018, sending that very request to the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew about the creation of a single local Orthodox church in Ukraine, the President of Ukraine quite seriously stated that «a single local church will not be coerced, and those who wish to remain in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate will retain this right». In August 2018, he threatened to «put an end» to the UOC-MP. An amazing person who sacredly honors the constitution of his own country.
The US did not forget «to worry» about Ukrainian schismatics. Thus, On August 29, 2018, the US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch held a meeting with the head of the UOC-KP false patriarch Filaret. During the meeting, the parties discussed «the prospects for the development of interchurch and state-church interaction, which will contribute to the establishment of democratic values in Ukraine».
In the meantime, reasonable forces did not abandon attempts to prevent a split in Orthodoxy and called for abandoning the insane idea of giving tomos about autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. Thus, the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Iriney, wrote a 15-page letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with a recommendation not to interfere in Ukrainian church matters, as well as in Macedonian and Montenegrin ones. The Serbian patriarch described the hypothetical granting of autocephaly to the church in Ukraine as “a very risky, even catastrophic” act for the unity of Holy Orthodoxy, and called UOC-KP schismatics.
Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Iriney.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church also did not abandon attempts to exhort the patriarch of Constantinople, who had fallen into papal heresy, and dissuade him to provide tomos about autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. On the last day of summer, August 31, Patriarch Kirill visited Istanbul, where he met with Bartholomew. The conversation lasted more than two hours. However, the Patriarch of Constantinople, apparently, remained at his own opinion, because after the negotiations a number of sources reported that “the issue of granting autocephaly has already been resolved”, which means the arguments of Patriarch Kirill obviously remained unheard.
The head of the ROC Patriarch Kirill (left) and Patriarch Bartholomew (right).
It became clear that the Patriarch of Constantinople finally took the path of «legitimizing» the Ukrainian schismatics.
Thus ended the summer, and the autumn of 2018 came, which can probably be called «the Autumn of Orthodoxy» by analogy with Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen — Johan Huizinga’s «The Autumn of the Middle Ages«.
TOMOS. ACTIVE PHASE OF OPERATION.
The period of the autumn of 2018 is characterized, in fact, by the absolutisation of the papal heresy of Patriarch Bartholomew, which ultimately led to giving the Ukrainian schismatics tomos about autocephaly in violation of all Orthodox canons, which not only did not eliminate the split in Orthodoxy (which Bartholomew insisted on), but only aggravated it.
In early September, a representative of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Luka of Zaporizhzhya and Melitopol spoke on the issue of actions and statements of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The comment was published on the website of the UOC-MP:
«The patriarch of Constantinople, by the way, a citizen of a Muslim state and carrying out hiss activities far beyond his borders, is trying to become not only the first among equals, but the head of the entire Orthodox Church, effectively ousting its true head, Christ, and becoming like the Pope of Rome«.
Metropolitan Luka also noted that «the statements that official Constantinople declares are not only pretentious and absurd in essence, but also lead to the danger of a repetition of the split of 1054, which in modern conditions may become even worse, as it will arise in the Orthodox East».
Metropolitan Luka of Zaporizhzhya and Melitopol.
Concerns about the heretical actions and statements of Bartholomew were expressed also by the previously mentioned Iriney, the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who noted, in particular, that «the heresy of ethnophyletism is one of the main evils of modern Orthodoxy». Iriney expressed this unconditionally in connection with the intentions of Bartholomew to grant «independence» (tomos) to the Ukrainian schismatics.
And here’s what the ROC said in connection with the inappropriate behavior of Bartholomew:
«Patriarch Bartholomew is obsessed with the idea of Eastern papism. He dreams of becoming the sole head of the whole universal Orthodoxy, by analogy with the Roman Catholic Church. He said that Constantinople has a certain mystical exclusiveness compared to other Orthodox churches».
It is worth recalling that the institution of the papacy is one of the fundamental differences between Orthodox and Catholic Christianity. In Catholicism, there is a sole “head of the church” — the pope, who is at the top of the hierarchical structure. Orthodoxy rejects such an idea, providing for the equality of local churches as the basis of relations (considering Christ to be the true Head of the church). By his actions (ignoring and violating Orthodox canons, invading the canonical territory of another church, etc.), Bartholomew set out to become an «Orthodox pope», for a number of reasons.
Despite the relevant comments and statements, Bartholomew was already unstoppable. In early September, he sends his representatives to Ukraine. Two exarchs were appointed «in preparation for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine». They were the Archbishop of Pamphylia Daniel (USA) and the Bishop of Edmonton Hilarion (Canada). Isn’t this an amazing “coincidence” that representatives of such countries as the USA and Canada became the appointees of Bartholomew (these countries are the largest in terms of the number of parishes of the Constantinople Patriarchate abroad)? Moreover, the personalities themselves are no less remarkable (more on this below).
By the way, Bartholomew explained his actions by saying that «Russia, as responsible for the current painful situation in Ukraine, is not able to solve the problem«. Sure there is no politicization and bias in the statement of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton and Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia.
So who are these people, directed by Bartholomew to Ukraine in order to help Ukrainian schismatics to get the cherished tomos about autocephaly? Both exarchs are natives of Western Ukraine (region, traditionally hostile to the south-east of the country, that is, to the region of Donbass).
By the way, it is logical to assume that the presence of both exarchs at a meeting with Poroshenko on July 27, 2018 was not at all accidental (then the envoys of Bartholomew brought Poroshenko a letter from the patriarch promising to provide tomos about autocephaly). It is hardly a coincidence that the Patriarchate of Constantinop of all possible candidates chose these two ministers to meet with the President of Ukraine. Therefore, back then the ground was prepared to take both exarchs «to the stage» in September 2018. Apparently, the candidacies of Hilarion and Daniel (as future supervisors of the process of providing tomos) were approved long before Bartholomew officially announced their status.
Bishop Hilarion and Archbishop Daniel at a meeting with Poroshenko
Archbishop Daniel (Vladimir Zelinskiy), was born in 1972 in Ivano-Frankivsk — a kind of «capital» of worshiping Bandera ideology in Ukraine. He spent his childhood and youth in Ukraine. In 1993 he entered the first course of the Ivano-Frankivsk Uniate Seminary. In 1996 he moved to the USA, where he studied at the Catholic University of America (Washington сity) and at the Dominican House of Studies (Washington city), after which, by accepting Orthodoxy, he moved to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States, governed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. An interesting detail — in January of 2006 Daniel was commissioned as an officer of the US Army (Chaplain Corps).
Truly «omnivorous» man. Uniateism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy — everything was nice for him. Though, someone would say that he is just «a man of wide views». Yep.
The mayor of Dnepropetrovsk city, Borys Filatov, in his Facebook told about his meeting with Archbishop Daniel in the USA (during the multi-day trip to the United States at the end of April 2018). Then the future «exarch» boasted to him a collection of works of theorists of Ukrainian nationalism. According to Filatov, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia asked him to hand over the former leader of the «Right Sector«, Dmytro Yarosh, a few books by Dmytro Dontsov, a Ukrainian Nazi of the early 20th century. According to Filatov, the exarch’s library contains all lifetime editions of a theorist of Ukrainian nationalism. Just to note — it was Dmytro Dontsov who was the first to translate Adolf Hitler’s «Mein Kampf» into Ukrainian. Dontsov’s ideas and views, based on social Darwinism and nationalism, formed the basis of the OUN political platform.
Well, apparently, Archbishop Daniel’s entire library of works by Ukrainian nationalists is a hobby that is completely compatible with serving God and being in the bosom of the Orthodox Church. Friendly relations with extremists like Dmytro Yarosh is also not a problem. However, Daniel on the post of exarch is «normal», because only such a candidate could suit Bartholomew in the current Ukrainian realities.
Let we not forget to say a few words about the second exarch. Bishop Hilarion (Roman Rudnik) is an ethnic Ukrainian, he was born in Lviv in 1972. Like Daniel, he spent his childhood and youth in Ukraine. In 1992 he graduated from the Kiev Theological Seminary. In the 90s he moved to Greece to study at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, which he graduated in 1997. Then he was tonsured as a monk, and served in several countries (Portugal), including in the churches of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In 2001-2002, Hilarion took an English course at the University of Illinois in Chicago. In 2005 he became a participant of a criminal incident. Thus, on June 9, 2005, while in Turkey, where he was a translator during the meeting of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew with President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, Hilarion was detained by Turkish police. The bishop was accused of traveling on forged documents and that he was a «Chechen rebel». He was released when the consul of Ukraine contacted the Portuguese Embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Foreign Ministry, where they confirmed that Bishop Hilarion legally resides in Portugal. Hilarion moved to Canada in 2007.
Both exarch with strong western education, especially Daniel (the ideological treatment is undoubted). Both have long been under the tutelage of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Ideal candidates for the role of exarchs — loyal, obedient, «correct», with the right attitude to the canonical UOC-MP.
TOMOS. ON THE WAY TO CATASTROPHE.
The appointment of the exarchs by Bartholomew became a fait accompli. The reaction of the only legitimate and canonical Orthodox church in Ukraine, the UOC-MP, was not long in coming. According to a published statement, Bartholomew’s appointment of his representatives «is a gross violation of the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church», for it was carried out «without the knowledge of the most blissful Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Onufry as the only canonical bishop of Kiev». In particular, the statement states that the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople [to send exarchs in Kiev] contradicts the 2nd rule of the Second Ecumenical (Constantinople) Council, which says: «And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited«.
The second rule of the Second Council of Constantinople.
The UOC-MP, as the only canonically recognized Orthodox religious organization in Ukraine and the only one with the legitimate right to invite anyone (be it exarchs, or someone else), did not call them to its canonical territory. Such requests from schismatics do not have canonical power — in other words, they are “illegal”. Consequently, Bartholomew’s violation of one of the rules of the most important ancient church document is obvious.
The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC-MP clearly explained what was happening:
«That is, translated into our situation, this means that the bishop of the city of Constantinople, that is, Istanbul, who is Patriarch Bartholomew, cannot perform any actions on the territory of Kiev and Ukraine without the permission of the canonical bishop of Kiev, who is Metropolitan Onufry, and who did not give permission for the visit of the “exarchs”. I have no doubt that, if hypothetically our Synod [of the UOC-MP] would appoint its exarchs to Turkey without agreement with Patriarch Bartholomew, then the reaction of the latter would be identical to ours. Therefore, there are double standards».
The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church also commented on the situation, saying that:
«The appointment by the Patriarch of Constantinople of his representative-bishops in Ukraine — without the consent of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia [Kirill] and the Most Blessed Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine [Onufry] — is nothing else but an unprecedentedly crude invasion of the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate».
In addition, the ROC promised to stop the Eucharistic communion (the possibility of joint liturgy serving by two bishops or priests) with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in case of it giving autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church, and also stated that «with its last actions, the Patriarchate of Constantinople essentially puts itself outside of what we call the “canonical field”, — outside the legal field of universal Orthodoxy«. The ROC could not do more to admonish Bartholomew. Actually, this was openly announced by the representative of the Russian church, who declared that “the ROC considers exhausted «means of church diplomacy» in relations with the Church of Constantinople”.
As it is now known, all attempts at admonition were in vain. Bartholomew stubbornly moved towards his goal of «legitimizing» Ukrainian schismatics.
A few days after the appointment of the exarchs, the United States expectedly rendered support to Bartholomew. On September 11, the representative of the US State Department for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback (a person who plays one of the key roles in the creation of a united schismatic church in Ukraine) again visited Ukraine to discuss «efforts to protect and promote religious freedom». At the end of the visit, it was announced that «the US authorities support Ukraine in the struggle for the right to have a single autocephalous Orthodox church». Who would doubt that.
Sam Brownback meeting Poroshenko.
At the meeting with the Ambassador, the President of Ukraine stated that he was proud that his country has «a worthy state of religious freedom, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine and the law of Ukraine on freedom of conscience and religious organizations». Apparently, Poroshenko was ashamed to tell the ambassador how recently he had threatened to «put an end» to the existence of the UOC-MP in Ukraine. Well, the visit of a high-ranking foreign politician to meet with the President of Ukraine, which discusses the possibility of creating a new religious structure, of course, does not contradict article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which explicitly states the separation of state and church.
Realizing the futility of attempts to admonish Bartholomew, who had fallen into heresy, the ROC declared on September 14 that it was breaking relations with the Patriarch of Constantinople. The step taken by the ROC implied several important measures, with the exception of the cessation of Eucharistic communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople (which was promised earlier).
On the same day, September 14, the archbishop of Pamphylia and the Western Diocese of the UOC in the United States, Daniel and the Bishop of Edmonton and the Western Diocese of the UOC in Canada, Hilarion arrived in Ukraine, and after 3 days, on September 17, met with the President of Ukraine, where they gave him a letter from the Patriarch of Constantinople. In his message, Bartholomew officially notified Poroshenko of the appointment of Hilarion and Daniel to the exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine. The letter also indicated that the process of granting autocephaly was in fact already begun. The arrival of the exarchs can be considered the point of no return.
In the meantime, the false patriarch Filaret also showed notable activity. On September 14 — and this was already said at the beginning of the story — he flew to the United States, where he held a series of meetings with American politicians. In particular, Filaret met with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell and discussed issues of support for Ukraine with him. In addition, the self-styled patriarch held another meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden. During the conversation, the American politician stressed «the importance of the emergence in Ukraine of a single local Orthodox Church for the establishment of statehood». In a fit of gratitude, Filaret awarded Biden with the Order of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir the Great, 2nd degree. However, Biden was not the only one who received the award. Filaret also presented the Order to Ohio State Senator Rob Portman (by the way, a well-known supporter of gay marriage) «for the continued support of Ukraine». Obviously, awarding Americans, Filaret still nurtured hopes to lead the upcoming autocephalous structure. Naive.
The false patriarch Filaret rewards Senator Rob Portman.
On September 19, completing his multi-day visit to the USA, Filaret delivered a public lecture at the Atlantic Council, the mouthpiece of NATO propaganda:
«We are grateful to the USA for supporting the intention of Patriarch Bartholomew to grant the Tomos on autocephaly to us,» — Filaret said in his speech. — «We hope that the US will help us see the church issue through».
In addition, the false patriarch said that a tomos about autocephaly must be received before the New Year. Saying his speech, Filaret revealed a complete disregard for the Ukrainian Constitution and an obvious disrespect for that article, which refers to the separation of state and church. Here are the words of the false patriarch from his public speaking:
«We want this to happen this year (receiving the Tomos – Ed.),» said the head of the UOC-KP. «Why this year? Because Moscow expects that next year, after the election of the President of Ukraine, a pro-Russian president who will not be interested in creating a single autocephalous Church can come, and then the Tomos issue will be shelved».
The absurd assertion about a certain theoretical «pro-Russian president» does not stand to any criticism. In today’s Ukraine there are simply no such people. Physically. The matter is different — from the words of Filaret it is absolutely clear that the false patriarch considers it a matter of course that the president of Ukraine can be interested in the creation of a church structure, and to take part in this. That is, to do exactly what is prohibited by the country’s constitution — article №35, on non-interference of the state in the affairs of the church.
Ukraine is truly unique. It is difficult to find another country where the Constitution would be scoffed like that.
In addition, the autumn of 2018 is characterized by the activity of seizing by the schismatics of temples and persecuting parishioners of the UOC-MP. Criminal activity on the actual expropriation of property of the UOC-MP and the oppression of its parishioners began, of course, not in the autumn of 2018. This is a long-standing process, which ALAFF partially already addressed in the article «neo-Nazism/neo-Fascism hydra rising a head» (see section 24). Since the coup d’etat on Maidan in 2014, the schismatics, with the tacit approval of the authorities, have taken away more than 50 temples from the UOC-MP. Such attacks on the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine have, in fact, a permanent character since 2014 (although they have happened before), and, taking into account the intentions of the Constantinople Patriarchate (in terms of “legalizing” Ukrainian schismatics), these attempts have become quasi-legitimate.
Thus, being inspired by everything happening, the militants of the extremist organization «Right Sector» (banned in the Russian Federation) at the end of September 2018 captured the Holy Trinity Church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the village of Bogorodchany, Ivano-Frankivsk region. Vandals broke down the door, broke the windows and beat the believers. One of the parishioners received a concussion, another one had a broken arm. Parishioners of the church tried to prevent the vandals, but failed. Expelling all parishioners from the temple, the invaders changed the door locks.
Damage and desecration of the churches of the UOC-MP is also, in fact, a commonplace, as well as threats and attacks on the priests of the “pro-Russian” church objectionable for the ruling regime. On September 20, the vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Pavel, announced the threat of seizure of temples and monasteries of the UOC-MP. On September 29, the governor of the Pochaev Lavra, Metropolitan Vladimir, informed about threats against the monastery and called for the protection of the shrine, if necessary…
In such cases, it is customary to speak of a voice crying in the wilderness. The Ukrainian authorities were obviously concerned about completely different issues. Thus, on September 22, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine began the inventory of property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The UOC-MP rightly regarded such actions as preparation for seizing the property of the church against the background of the possible granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.
Property inventory notice sent to UOC-MP temples.
On September 23, at the end of the Sunday service in the church of St. Foki Mesahor in Istanbul, addressing the Consul General of Ukraine in Istanbul Oleksandr Gaman, Patriarch Bartholomew reiterated his intention to “legalize” Ukrainian schismatics, saying that «now it is Ukraine’s turn that will receive the status of autocephaly through short time, I hope, despite the existing opposition, and it will be because it is her right«. Pay your attention — Bartholomew says «now it is Ukraine’s turn«, which means that other countries where there is a church conflict can suffer a similar fate — i.e. a gross intervention of Constantinople.
The attack on the UOC-MP unfolded in the sphere of the Internet also. Thus, at the end of September, the notorious extremist website «Myrotvorets» introduced the head of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Onufry, and several other UOC hierarchs (about a dozen people) into the «separatists» base. The priests were called «agents of influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and opponents of the creation of an independent local church in Ukraine».
"Dossier" on the UOC-MP head Onufry in the "Myrotvorets" base.
Earlier, the vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel, was added to the «Myrotvorets» base. The extremists placed the priest in the “purgatory” section, calling him “an anti-Ukrainian propagandist and opponent of the independence of Ukrainian Orthodoxy”.
The sponsors and patrons of the Kiev regime meanwhile did not forget to express their support for the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, as well as essentially encouraging Bartholomew’s deviation to the papal heresy. Thus, on September 25, the official representative of the US Department of State Heather Nauert stated the following:
«The United States respects the ability of Ukraine’s Orthodox religious leaders and followers to pursue autocephaly according to their beliefs. We respect the Ecumenical Patriarch as a voice of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue».
The end of September was also marked by the publication by the Patriarchy of Constantinople of a 29-page document entitled «The Ecumenical Throne and the Church of Ukraine — The Documents Speak», in which an attempt was made to «justify» the right to provide Ukrainian schismatics tomos about autocephaly. Interesting detail — the document was prepared with the support of the educational fund of the private bank National Bank of Greece.
The document, in particular, «proved» that the Kyivan metropolis was placed under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church in XVII century «only temporarily», and therefore now the ROC allegedly has no right to restrict the activities of the Ukrainian Church, including the right to receive autocephaly.
The dubious nature of the «historical research» presented by Constantinople was immediately commented on by the ROC, where it was stated that:
«In some comments by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, including the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, the interpretation of the documents of 1686 sounded as if they only represented the provisional right of the patriarchs of Moscow to ordain Metropolitan of Kiev. In fact, the documents indicate the opposite — they do not contain any talk about the temporary nature of this decision, as well as notions about the incomplete jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate over the Kiev metropolis».
The ROC pointed out a number of flaws in the arguments presented by Constantinople and noted that «the materials presented may be fake or have a wrong interpretation«. The ROC has expressed openness and readiness for a scientifically based discussion on this issue using authentic archival documents. In particular, Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called for this on August 31, meeting with Bartholomew in Istanbul.
Greek experts also expressed the opinion that Bartholomew «deliberately hides and distorts the historical truth in order to support a split that can provoke a civil war in Ukraine». Thus, Theodore Zisis, professor of theology, one of the most authoritative experts in the field of canon law, undertook a fundamental analysis (recommended to read — ALAFF) of the situation around the Ukrainian autocephaly. The findings of his research are very disappointing for the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Here is just one of the conclusions made by Professor Zisis:
«The Greek-speaking Churches, relying on historical truth and canonical tradition, in order to avoid a final split, must uphold the historical and canonical rights of the Russian Church and not support either explicitly or silently lawless intrusion of Constantinople into someone else’s jurisdiction. If they do the opposite, defending the Greek patriarch because of kinship and patriotism, they fall into the heresy of ethnophyletism, which was condemned by Constantinople itself in 1872″.
In order to establish the truth, the Church Scientific Center «Orthodox Encyclopedia» (an organization operating under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church) planned to publish documents relating to the reunification of the Kiev Metropolis with the Russian Orthodox Church in 1678-1686. By some estimates, the data array consisted of about 900 documents. It was planned to complete the work in early 2019, but the publication of the first documents was carried out in mid-September 2018. The “preventive nature” of the publication was explained as follows:
«The events of recent days, the publication of certain materials by the Synaxis of the Church of Constantinople, as well as a multitude of not quite reliable information and interpretations that overwhelm various Internet publications today, force us to take an unprecedented step: the Church Scientific Center «Orthodox Encyclopedia» begins the preliminary publication of a corpus of documents related to this topic, both already published and newly identified».
As subsequent events will show, the Patriarch of Constantinople was obviously not at all interested in establishing the truth and conducting scientific or any other “negotiations” with the Russian Orthodox Church on the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
TOMOS. THE LAST PREPARATIONS.
October and November 2018 were essentially the «final stage» — during this time the Constantinople Patriarchate, obviously, conducted final consultations and made final organizational, technical, legal and financial decisions to create a tomos about the autocephaly of the newborn church structure of Ukraine. It would be a mistake to think that concrete work on this began only in the last months of the autumn of 2018. Apparently, the Patriarchate of Constantinople set to work already in the spring, after the US Ambassador’s visit to Istanbul and receiving Poroshenko’s letter. In particular, it is clear that the work on the document «The Ecumenical Throne and the Church of Ukraine — The Documents Speak» (the one prepared with the participation of a private Greek bank) took some time, and to publish it in September, it was necessary to begin this work much earlier. In the last months of autumn, Bartholomew’s team was only engaged in “polishing” the future church creature.
Moreover, it was not too much in the interest of either Washington (first of all) or Bartholomew to provide tomos to schismatics right now. Among other things, the tomos should have helped Poroshenko (the US puppet) in his election campaign, and it would be wrong to provide it earlier than necessary — the effect would have been premature, and by the time of the active phase of the election campaign it would have disappeared. In October, on the sidelines of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary Arseny (Kardamakis) expressed himself very lucidly on this subject, stating that “the Ecumenical Patriarch will make the decision on tomos for Ukraine only when the appropriate time comes”.
At the beginning of the story, ALAFF mentioned two leaders of the schismatic church structures of Ukraine — the self-styled patriarch Filaret (head of the UOC-KP) and the false Metropolitan Makariy (head of the UAOC). Surely both will remember the cold October day in 2018, when the Patriarchate of Constantinople deigned to “remove” the anathema from both schismatics with a sweeping gesture. The decision was another claim of the Constantinople Patriarchate to certain «exclusive powers» and ostentatious disregard for generally accepted Orthodox canons, which unequivocally indicate that only those who imposed anathema have the right to remove it. Only Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (in this case, Kirill) had the right to return Filaret to the bosom of the church, since it was the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church who anathematized Filaret in 1997.
It is worth recalling that all decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding Filaret (excommunication, anathema) were recognized by all the Local Orthodox churches worldwide, including the Church of Constantinople. In this regard, the Russian Orthodox Church in its detailed comments on the decisions of the Constantinople Patriarchate indicates:
«On August 26, 1992, His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in his reply to a letter from His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia wrote about the deposition of Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev, ‘Our Holy Great Church of Christ, recognizing the full and exclusive competence of your Most Holy Russian Church in this matter, synodically accepts the decision on the above’.
«In His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew’s letter of April 7, 1997, to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II it is stated that ‘having received the notice about this decision, we have informed the hierarchy of our Ecumenical See about it and asked them henceforth to have no church communion with the these persons«.
In other words, the ROC certainly did not recognize the actions of Bartholomew, stating that what he had committed «cannot be recognized, since it is contrary to the norms of the church system». Some may ask why, for what purpose, Bartholomew suddenly needed to take such a reckless and obviously illegal step (anathema removal)? Especially considering that until 2018 the Patriarch of Constantinople for some reason did not question the legitimacy of the decisions taken by the ROC to impose an anathema on Filaret more than 20 years ago. For more than 20 years, the decisions taken by the ROC were absolutely legal for Bartholomew, but in the fall of 2018 he suddenly «woke up». At first glance, it seems that Bartholomew did this in order to place Filaret on the throne of the future new church already “cleansed”, without an inappropriate “load of the past”. After all, Filaret was the most significant and famous figure of Ukrainian schismatics, and was, at first glance, the most logical candidate to head the structure created by combining the UOC-KP and the UAOC.
However, as will become clear in the future, Bartholomew «legalized» Filaret (as well as Makariy) for very different reasons. The naive Ukrainian false patriarch was only a toy in the skillful hands of the Fanar owner.
TOMOS. FINAL OPERATION PHASE.
The autumn of 2018 was nearing its end, as was the operation to bestow a “independence” (tomos) to Ukrainian schismatics. At one time, many dreamed of their “own” church in Ukraine — Stepan Bandera, Ivan Ogienko, Symon Petliura, Roman Shukhevych… Poroshenko clearly decided to outdo his “patriotic predecessors” (read, radical nationalists) and go down in history, by doing «what others failed». Caring American friends were happy to help.
The closer was the date of provision of the tomos, the sharper the rhetoric became. Relations of the ROC, and other local churches with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, of course, were often far from ideal, but still remained within the framework of decency and differed quite peaceful coexistence. Now, as a result of the actions of Bartholomew, the ROC, for the first time in many years, considered it possible to openly name the head of the Constantinople Patriarchate as a schismatic and even allow anathema to be imposed on him because of his inappropriate behavior.
In a relatively short time, relations with Constantinople (it is amusing to write this name, given that it is only symbolic — both Byzantium and the city of Constantinople itself have long since disappeared) turned out to be spoiled in a very serious way. And, obviously, for a very long time. But the Patriarch of Constantinople took this step consciously.
In fact, we are witnessing amazing events that many do not even realize. This is in many respects the same thing as being present at the grand (in the bad sense of the word) historical event of 1054 — the church schism that divided Christians into «friends» and «strangers» for many centuries. The epic event of the middle of the XI century for many centuries determined the course of history, including the church.
The current events provoked by Bartholomew for a variety of reasons are no less important and are likely to be fully appreciated only after many years, or even centuries.
For the Patriarch of Constantinople it was important to complete the procedure for the provision of a tomos in the outgoing 2018 — it would be at least impractical to postpone this to 2019. Tomos was undoubtedly the core of the election campaign of the current president of Ukraine — one shouldn’t forget about the Trinity in Poroshenko’s slogan “Army! Language! Faith!”, and it would be too late to receive it after the New Year — wanting to be re-elected for a second term, Poroshenko simply would not have time to convert this «achievement» into an increase of his own ratings (this was precisely the purpose of obtaining the tomos).
Poroshenko's election slogan - "Army! Language! Faith!".
So, in the middle of October, Poroshenko began to pedal the theme of the future «independent» Orthodox Church. On October 14, there was the so-called «prayer for autocephaly», designed to demonstrate «nationwide support» for Poroshenko’s initiative. The event consisted of about 4000 people. It is curious that on the eve of the event, evidence appeared on the Internet that residents allegedly fighting for an «independent Ukrainian church» arrived at the event not voluntarily and, as they say, at the call of the soul, but in many respects forcibly. Thus, a document was published, according to which the Kiev-Svyatoshinsky district administration of the Ukrainian capital instructed the heads of local governments to provide people for participation in the event «in the maximum possible amount from each locality».
The instruction to provide people for the "prayer for autocephaly"
People were taken on buses and passed through the lists through the police cordons. Among the arrivals were many young people. No need to explain that this category of the electorate is most easily motivated by means of symbolic financial incentives, or by “strong advice” of university professors. After all, many students will always prefer to go somewhere (the essence of the event is not so important) than to sit on boring lessons. Moreover, it is quite difficult to imagine among young people a large number of true believers and anxious about the fate of the church. The vast majority of young people at their age care about quite other things.
It was noted that soon after the arrival of Poroshenko, many of the “worshipers” brought in to the square began to leave. People didn’t really listen to what was said from the stage (it was speeches, not prayers). The event, called «a prayer,» rather resembled a political rally. During his time, Poroshenko, by the way, once again publicly stated that «no one will invite anyone by force to the Orthodox Church consecrated by tomos».
Against this background, the statement of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo looked incredibly vulgar and ridiculous:
«The United States reiterates its strong support for religious freedom and the freedom of members of religious groups, including Ukraine’s Orthodox community, to govern their religion according to their beliefs, free of outside interference«.
Sorry, Mike, what was it, if not an interference? All these meetings of Filaret with American politicians and officials, awarding them with Orders. Visits of American dignitaries to Bartholomew in Istanbul, and to Poroshenko in Kiev to discuss the «church issue». Oh, sure, of course this is not an interference. Just completely disinterested help of «friends of Ukraine», genuinely concerned that the Ukrainian schismatics still don’t have their own church. Sure.
By the way, on October 25, 2018, the British Ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough met with the head of the UAOC, the false Metropolitan Makariy. As the ambassador herself said, the meeting took place «to discuss the prospects for the provision of tomos and the issue of creating a unified Church in Ukraine in the spirit of peaceful dialogue and the involvement of all parties». Once again — a representative of the British government meets with the head of the unrecognized religious organization of Ukraine to discuss the issue of obtaining tomos by Ukrainian schismatics. However, I doubt that Michael Pompeo expressed dissatisfaction with the British authorities for such actions. In the case of Great Britain (as well as the United States), this is, of course, not about interference, but about «sincere help to the fraternal people of Ukraine».
Head of UAOC Metropolitan Makariy and Judith Gough.
In the meantime, Poroshenko once again confirmed that for him the obtaining of tomos lies only in the plane of political activity. The words of the President of Ukraine are very eloquent:
«Autocephaly is the most important event of the same series as our aspiration for joining the European Union and NATO, the Association Agreement, visa-free regime with the European Union, withdrawal from the CIS, rejection of the deceptive Treaty on Friendship with Russia etc.».
Need no comments.
The madness of Bartholomew, who had fallen into the papal heresy, also became more and more apparent. Thus, on October 21, at a meeting of the board of the Greek diaspora in Istanbul, the Patriarch of Constantinople, among other things, stated the following:
«Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy».
Unbelievable. It would seem that Orthodoxy and nazism(!) simply physically cannot coexist, but the actions, and even more so the words of Bartholomew, seem to indicate the opposite. The Fanar owner, without flinching, ascertains some «primacy» in Orthodoxy, and the superiority of some «our nation».
«Our nation» apparently, means the Greek nation (since the Byzantine [nation] simply does not exist, like Constantinople itself, which has long become part of history). According to the logic of Bartholomew, it turns out that the Slavs are flawed people, untermensch, who allegedly experience some complexes about the «superiority» and «primacy» of the Greeks in Orthodoxy.
The words of Bartholomew only reaffirm, let’s say, the very peculiar ideas of the Patriarch of Constantinople about the role of the church he leads in world Orthodoxy. These ideas have little in common with reality. But Bartholomew prefers to ignore reality, and create his own, parallel one, in which he is not just the «first in honor» among equals, but the main person among all the others — the Orthodox pope.
The last autumn month took place in the already familiar exchanges of courtesies between the ROC and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as the traditionally inadequate statements of Ukrainian politicians (like the words of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who believes that there is some kind of «Russian Orthodoxy» separate from «world Orthodoxy») .
In the meantime, the President of Ukraine did not tire of reminding the public (both Ukrainian and world) about how sacredly he honored the constitution of his own country. On November 3, the leader of the Ukrainian State and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, signed «an agreement on cooperation and collaboration between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate«. Well, apparently, the president of Ukraine understands in a very peculiar way the article №35 of the country’s constitution, which deals with the separation of state and church. However, it is possible that Poroshenko imagines himself the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and therefore considers it possible to deal with church issues.
Poroshenko and Bartholomew sign a "cooperation agreement".
The ROC called this agreement purely political. The head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, gave an exhaustive comment:
«Claiming that «this is the exclusive right of the Mother Church to bestow autocephaly when she considers it expedient, when all conditions are ready for this process», Patriarch Bartholomew voiced a new, previously unknown to Orthodoxy model of the church organization, according to which one primate becomes superior: he can make sole decisions, while others must only silently obey, bowing their heads in holy trembling. He is no longer «the first among equals», but «the first without equals», which in recent months has been repeatedly asserted in different ways by the hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate.
Stepping on the path of schism, the Patriarch of Constantinople took one more step towards opposing himself to the fullness of the Orthodox Church. If earlier, with the consent of the local Churches, the Patriarchate of Constantinople acted as a coordinating center for them, now such a center no longer exists: the Patriarchate of Constantinople voluntarily self-abolished as such [center]».
Moreover, Poroshenko once again showed the price of his words, saying on November 7 that «representatives of the ROC have nothing to do in Ukraine». By «representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church», Poroshenko of course meant the ministers of the only canonical Orthodox church in Ukraine — the UOC-MP. That is, the president of the country directly indicates to representatives of a particular denomination that their presence in Ukraine is undesirable. Lets’ recall that not so long ago, the President of Ukraine declared that «those who wish to remain in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate will keep this right».
Just wondering, what the reaction of the world media and the UN would be if Vladimir Putin made a statement that, for example, Shinto or Catholics in Russia should get out of the country…
Preparations for the provision of a tomos were in full swing, but there was one significant problem. The fact is that the autocephaly could only be granted to a new unified structure. In other words — there should have been someone who, in fact, could be given a tomos. It could not be granted either to the UOC-KP or the UAOC. In theory, the ideal option for the Patriarchate of Constantinople was the unification of all three Orthodox organizations of Ukraine: the canonical UOC-MP, and the two schismatic — the UOC-KP and the UAOC. Elections of the head of the new church structure were to be held during the Unification Council of Churches.
For Bartholomew, the most important thing was to bring into the new structure as many as possible representatives of the UOC-MP as the only canonical Orthodox church in Ukraine, recognized by all other local churches in the world. This is what would allow to declare the «legitimacy» and «canonicity» of the new united church structure. “Clearing” the schismatics Filaret and Makariy was, of course, also important before adopting them into the new structure. Actually, that is why Bartholomew went to a glaring step to remove anathema from both, to which he had no right. But enticing the clergy of the canonical church — the UOC-MP — was undoubtedly a priority. Though, this was the main problem — the clergy of the UOC-MP did not want to betray their faith and in any way be «related» with the schismatics. The situation for Bartholomew (as well as for Poroshenko) was aggravated by the fact that in mid-November the UOC-MP officially broke off relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate, issuing a statement of 12 points.
The meeting of the bishops of the UOC-MP in Kiev.
The decision of the Synod of the UOC-MP at least significantly hampered the implementation of the plans of Bartholomew and Poroshenko. What were the options in this situation? How was it possible to persuade the clergy of the UOC-MP to take part in the Unification Council? The first is bribery, the second is threats. Theoretically, there could be a third option that does not require much effort. The so-called ideological supporters. Simply put, a traitors.
Poroshenko did not appear at the planned in advance meeting with representatives of the UOC-MP. Apparently, he was scared. At the meeting, the president of Ukraine was supposed to try to persuade the vacillating bishops of the UOC-MP to move into a new church structure. Explaining his absence, the guarantor of the constitution of Ukraine said he was ready to meet, but «on his territory». In the end, the meeting did take place. Secret. According to media reports, three representatives of the UOC-MP came to the talks to Poroshenko. Somewhat later, one of the UOC-MP ministers, to whom a visit to the meeting was attributed, officially denied this information, stating his loyalty to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It means only two “outcasts” went to meet Poroshenko.
It was reported that the bishops of the UOC-MP, who had come to the closed meeting, «expressed support for the process of obtaining autocephaly of the church in Ukraine». At the same time, the Chairman of the Synodal Information and Education Department of the UOC-MP, Archbishop Kliment, said in a commentary to the BBC that he did not know about this meeting.
One of those who appeared at the meeting was Metropolitan Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky and Vishnevsky Alexander (Drabinko). Being a servant of the UOC-MP, this man has long been known for his, let’s say, pro-autocephalous views. Obviously, no one was surprised that he came to meet with Poroshenko.
Metropolitan Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky and Vishnevsky Alexander.
A curious characteristic given by the Synod of the UOC-MP to Metropolitan Alexander back in 2012:
«His destructive actions and unworthy behavior, intrigue and way of life sow discord and suspicion among the episcopate and clergy, give rise to great confusion among believers. Using the post of secretary to the Primate of the UOC, a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and head of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC, he allows himself on the air of secular national media to openly criticize the decisions of the Supreme Church Authority, artificially contraposing the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to its Primate. He allows himself to unambiguously denigrate his fellow archpastors, members of the Holy Synod of the UOC, organizes the publication in the anti-church media of strictly confidential church documents intended for familiarization only to members of the Holy Synod».
The second servant of the UOC-MP, who agreed to meet with Poroshenko, was the Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Barsky Simeon (Shostatsky). No less remarkable personality. He was considered “Poroshenko’s man” (the president of Ukraine planned that Simeon would head the future church structure after receiving the tomos). It was Simeon who was the only(!) of 83 bishops who did not support the decision of the Council of the UOC-MP that the bishops, clergy and laity of the UOC-MP would not participate in the autocephalous church of Ukraine created by the Constantinople Patriarchate.
Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Barsky Simeon.
And here are the words of Metropolitan Simeon himself in his interview to the Ukrainian news agency:
«I have never concealed before that I am a supporter of autocephaly, but, like most of our bishops, I expected that we would receive it from the Russian Orthodox Church».
More than revealing.
It soon became known that on the eve of the Council in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, the head of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Onufry received a letter from the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, which contained a directive to the episcopate of the UOC-MP in full composition to arrive at the meeting with Poroshenko. The letter was expectedly ignored (as was the meeting itself). Other details revealed by the UOC-MP are no less curious. Thus, there was a telephone conversation between the head of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Onufry and Poroshenko, during which the president of Ukraine was hysterically trying to force Vladyka Onufry to «back down» in the process of autocephaly. Demanding to agree on his terms in an ultimatum, Poroshenko shouted into the phone so that he was heard by all the other bishops of the UOC-MP in the hall.
Realizing that some peaceful means (administrative resource) are not enough to persuade the bishops of the UOC-MP to participate in the Unification Council, the Ukrainian authorities switched to another, more familiar for them method (force resource). Thus, already a couple days after the closed meeting with Poroshenko, where only two traitors of the UOC-MP came, Alexander and Simeon, the SBU began to invite some bishops of the UOC-MP for «conversation» on the eve of the Unification Council.
Seems there’s no need to explain the topic and nature of the «conversation» in the SBU. There were attempts to intimidate and force the servants of the UOC-MP to take part in the upcoming event of the schismatics. Originally, the Unification Council was scheduled for November 22, 2018. For the Patriarch of Constantinople, the presence of representatives of the only canonical Orthodox church of Ukraine, the UOC-MP, was critical. Only this could at least partly give «legitimacy» to the whole event. But the tough and unequivocal disagreement of the UOC-MP servants to participate in the meeting of the schismatics forced the organizers to postpone the Unification Council. Bartholomew hoped that Poroshenko would still manage to persuade the bishops of the UOC-MP to retreat (read, surrender).
For this purpose, Poroshenko actively used the force resource, which is the SBU. In different regions and different cities of Ukraine, the notorious state power structure began to exert massive pressure on supporters of the UOC-MP. Sudden searches were conducted in churches, clergymen were summoned for interrogations (invitations for «conversation»), fake criminal cases were actively fabricated against them (which could always be closed if the priests made «the right choise»). By the way, not only the state power body, the SBU, but also the «unofficial» force resource in the form of extremist and radical groups («Right Sector», C14, etc.) was used.
Thus, on November 17, several dozen «supporters of autocephaly» attempted to storm the residence of Metropolitan of Krivoy Rog and Nikopol Efrem in Krivoy Rog. The attackers tried to break down the doors of the building and shouted insults at the ruling bishop of the Krivoy Rog diocese for not supporting the idea of providing tomos to Ukraine. The police representatives who were present watched idly.
Appropriate actions were also taken within the administrative resource line. On November 16, police in the Ternopil region of Ukraine launched an investigation into the transfer of the Pochaev Lavra in favor of the UOC-MP. On November 23, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine canceled the transfer of the world-famous shrine of the UOC-MP, and already on November 28, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine returned the Pochayev Lavra to the state reserve. In other words, the UOC-MP lost the right to use the buildings of the monastery, which was, in fact, given the status of a museum.
Pochaev Lavra - the largest Orthodox church in western Ukraine.
On November 28, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine began an inventory of property at the main and most famous Ukrainian Orthodox shrine — the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, which is under the jurisdiction of the UOC-MP. The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine began an inventory of church valuables of the UOC-MP churches back in the fall. At the same time, there is no such inventory in the churches of the UOC-KP (what a surprise).
Two days later, the SBU searched the metropolitan Pavel, the head priest of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Investigative actions took place in the framework of a criminal case under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “violation of citizens’ equality of rights depending on racial, nationality, religious beliefs”. Metropolitan Pavel is known as one of the toughest opponents of autocephaly.
On December 1, it became known that a considerable number of priests of the Sarnensky Diocese of the UOC-MP, as well as 20 clergymen of the Rovno Diocese of the UOC-MP, were summoned to the SBU for questioning. All the summons received by the priests suggested the need to appear in the SBU on December 5 by 10 am «for conversation».
A summon to appear for questioning in the SBU.
On December 3, it was reported that officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) together with police officers conducted searches in the dioceses of the UOC-MP in the Zhytomyr region under the article «on violation of equality of citizens depending on their religious beliefs». Searches were carried out in the cities of Zhytomyr, Korosten, Ovruch and Kiev.
The priests of the UOC-MP called for interrogation on December 5 came to the Security Service of Ukraine according to the subpoenas received. The first of the interrogated could not tell about the details of the “conversation” with the staff of the SBU, because he signed a document on non-disclosure. But the lawyer, who was also present during the interrogation, told the press that it was a matter of treason (Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and inciting national, racial or religious enmity and hatred (Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). At the same time, a journalist from one of the Ukrainian news channels reported that the reason for calling priests to the SBU was the brochures allegedly found during searches of the UOC-MP clergy, the content of which was aimed at inciting interfaith conflict. Isn’t it surprising that such evidence is always “accidentally” happens at the right time and place?
The priests of the UOC-MP, called for questioning in the SBU.
Commenting on what is happening, the head of the Legal Department of the UOC-MP, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, called a simultaneous summons of 20 people for questioning as a method of psychological pressure. Well, it’s hard not to agree.
On the same day, December 5, Poroshenko announced that the so-called Unification Council, in which the head of the “united” church is to be elected (only he can receive the tomos), will be held on December 15 in St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kiev. Obviously, it was no longer possible to postpone the event — both Bartholomew and Poroshenko needed to solve this issue before the New Year.
Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, secretary of the department for external church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate on inter-Orthodox relations, described the situation very precisely:
«The fact that the so-called “Unification Council” is announced not by church leaders, but by the President of Ukraine and the officials accountable to him, once again confirms the fact of unlawful interference by secular officials in the internal affairs of the Church«.
Well, apparently Poroshenko has completely forgotten about the existence in the constitution of his own country of article №35 on the separation of state and church.
In the meantime, the SBU’s pressure on the clergymen of the UOC-MP continued, but these people were not the timid ones. The priests’ only weapon is their faith. Being unable to give their persecutors a fitting rebuff, the clergy still tried to at least somehow demonstrate their persistence. Thus, on December 9, 2018, Protopriest Vasiliy Nachev launched a flashmob in support of the canonical Church, as well as his fellow priests from the Rovno eparchy, who were called in for questioning by the Security Service of Ukraine. The initiative was instantly supported by other priests. The priests were photographed with a piece of paper on which was written in Ukrainian «I support the UOC — ready for interrogation by the SBU». In this way, people demonstrated their unity, readiness to resist persecution, as well as mutual support.
Simple laypeople also supported the flashmob:
The criminal nature of the actions of the Ukrainian authorities was confirmed on December 12 by the ex-deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Alexey Zhuravko, by publishing a memorandum from the Kherson Department of the Security Service of Ukraine, the text of which was partially restored after an attempt to destroy the document. The note unequivocally states that the special services of Ukraine are fully involved in the project of Petro Poroshenko to create a fake «independent Church» — dossiers and compromising materials are being collected secretly on the clergy of the UOC-MP and the politicians supporting them, repressive actions are being prepared against them.
In particular, the information published by Alexey Zhuravko indicated the following:
«Also, in advance, the public was notified that it was the SBU provocateurs and agents who on the night of the 14th to the 15th of December would paint provocative inscriptions on the walls of the UOC-KP temples under their control, pretending that the supporters of canonical Orthodoxy did it. So, there is already information whom one can catch at night for committing vile and criminal incitement to hatred. They themselves incite all this!».
And literally the next day — what a surprie! — the SBU stated that the governor of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel, was supposed to «coordinate provocations» during the so-called Unification Council of Ukrainian schismatics, scheduled for December 15. No joke. Realizing that they were caught, in fact, red-handed, nerds from the SBU, apparently, did not come up with anything better than to make the accusation themselves and try in such an absurd way to «refute» the data disclosed by Alexey Zhuravko. What an idiots.
At the same time, a very significant event occurred, largely explaining the essence of all that is happening. The fact is that on this day the head of the UOC-KP, the false patriarch Filaret, awarded Jack Devine, the ex-deputy head of the CIA, with the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called for «helping to create a single church». Jack Devine was a member and leader of many secret CIA operations: a coup in Chile in 1973, operation «Cyclone» during the war in Afghanistan, CIA activities in Iran, and so on. Devine headed the Latin American department of the CIA, the CIA Bureau in Europe, was the deputy director of the organization for operational work and in this status led secret missions around the world.
Filaret rewards Jack Devine, the ex-deputy head of the CIA.
Once again — the clergyman of the Ukrainian schismatic church presents a high award to a former high-ranking employee of the notorious American organization CIA for «helping to create a church». One may ask how on earth the Ukrainian church and such a structure as the CIA can be connected? Better not ask. Probably, we will not find it out soon. However, after years, some regular «ex-» will surely write memoirs, where in expanded form he will tell how the valiant CIA helped the Ukrainian schismatics to achieve «independence» (in the best traditions of American-style democracy).
Well, the culmination of the spectacle was approaching. Despite the unprecedented pressure (diligently ignored by world «human rights activists») on the clergymen of the UOC-MP, the Kiev regime failed to crush these people and force them to take part in the coming sabbath (aka Unification Council).
A day before the event, the SBU made essentially the last attempt to ensure the presence of representatives of the canonical UOC-MP at a gathering of schismatics. Thus, on the morning of December 14, the SBU officer came to Metropolitan Mogilyov-Podolsky and Shargorodsky Agapit, who at that time was in Bukovina, and offered him to urgently go to Kiev. The pretext for an «urgent trip» was the alleged need to talk with Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Barsky Simeon (one of two bishops of the UOC-MP, who sided with the schismatics). Metropolitan Agapit went to Kiev accompanied by an officer of the SBU, but the promised conversation with Simeon did not take place. In the capital Agapit was met by another employee of the Security Service of Ukraine, who invited the priest to meet with the SBU leadership. The purpose of such a meeting on the eve of the so-called Unification Council is perfectly clear. However, Agapit managed to get in touch with several caring people who helped him in fact to “escape” to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.
Metropolitan Mogilyov-Podolsky and Shargorodsky Agapit.
The last gesture of despair of the SBU was useless. Repressive state machine lost.
TOMOS. CREATING A NEW CHURCH.
On the morning of December 15, 2018, the so-called Unification Council started in Kiev, at which it was planned to choose who would lead the new “united Ukrainian church”. 192 delegates were supposed to take part in the event (64 of which are acting bishops of Ukrainian churches). In addition, the event provided for the presence of Petro Poroshenko and Verkhovna Rada Speaker Andrei Parubiy (as we understand, in full compliance with article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine on non-interference of the state in the affairs of the church). Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, of course, also deigned to visit a gathering of schismatics.
Following the event, the following decisions were made:
- Poroshenko announced the creation of «Ukrainian Autocephalous Church».
- The charter of the new church structure was adopted, and its official name, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), was approved.
- The false Metropolitan Pereyaslavsky and Belotserkovsky Epiphanius (Dumenko) became the head of the newly-minted church structure created by the merger of the UOC-KP and the UAOC.
- It was announced that Poroshenko and Epiphanius will go to Istanbul for the tomos about autocephaly in early January 2019.
Poroshenko among the priests at the "Unification Council".
The elected head of the new «independent» church, Epiphanius (at the beginning of the story we asked to pay attention to the humble person next to Filaret in the photo), is among the closest entourage of the head of the Ukrainian schismatics, the false patriarch Filaret. This is his man. A number of experts expressed the opinion that Epiphanius became a kind of compromise figure. Filaret would certainly like to see himself as head of the new church, but he was too uncomfortable for the Patriarch of Constantinople. Once excommunicated, too ambitious, too experienced (it is difficult to influence and deceive this one) and too uncontrollable, besides, some of the bishops of the UOC-KP itself were against Filaret’s candidacy for the post of head of the new church structure. In such circumstances, it was stupid to persist, and Filaret offered Epiphanius, his right hand. The protege of Filaret is known as an active supporter of the punitive operation of Ukraine in the Donbass, and publicly condemns the non-existent «Russian aggression».
Epiphanius, in his 39 years (a phenomenally young age for the head of the local church), was elected with the title of Metropolitan of Kiev. But the [post of] Metropolitan of Kiev already exists — this is Onufry, the head of the canonical UOC-MP. For the entire Orthodox world, it is he (Onufry) who is recognized as the Metropolitan of Kiev. It turns out that Bartholomew consciously chose to create a split not only in Ukraine (“legalizing” Ukrainian schismatics, thereby contrasting them with the canonical Ukrainian church), but throughout the whole world Orthodoxy (giving Epiphanius the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, already belonging to Onufry, and thus creating, in fact, the church «diarchy», which creates difficulties for interchurch communion).
Epiphanius, the elected head of the OCU.
The results of the so-called Unification Council became largely losing for Poroshenko. His protégé, Metropolitan Simeon, one of two servants of the UOC-MP, who went over to the schismatics, quite expectedly did not win the support of the delegates of the Council because of his extremely low popularity. The unprecedented pressure exerted on the UOC-MP was not successful. None of the priests of the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine did not succumb to this pressure and did not betray their faith. Of the 90 bishops of the UOC-MP, only two — Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko) and Simeon (Shostatsky) — went to the schismatics, but on their own initiative, not as a result of intimidation and harassment.
By the way, here it is important to mention a very significant detail. The fact is that on December 16, the day after the so-called Unification Council, the Synod of the UOC-MP has removed from office its metropolitans Simeon of Vinnitsa and Alexander Pereyaslavsky, forbidding them to hold services. The reason was participation in the Unification Council, i.e. betrayal of your church. In response, Patriarch Bartholomew issued Patriarchal letters to these metropolitans, where it was reported that both traitors were admitted to the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate.
Wouldn’t be a problem, but the published letters were dated… December 14th. That is, in fact, they were published the day before the so-called Unification Council. This means that on December 15, Metropolitans Simeon and Alexander took part in the Council no longer as representatives of the UOC-MP, but as hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Documents were demonstrated by the Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko) himself on his Facebook:
Participation in the Council of at least one hierarch of the canonical UOC-MP was a necessary condition for its holding. First of all, Patriarch Bartholomew himself insisted on this. But the promulgated letters showed that there was virtually not a single representative of the UOC-MP at the Council, which means that the Council lost even small elements of «legitimacy» and was a banal gathering of schismatics from the UOC-KP and the UAOC who are not recognized by anyone in world Orthodoxy.
In theory, the so-called Unification Council was supposed to be this: each of three parties — the canonical UOC-MP, as well as the schismatics from the UOC-KP and the UAOC — put forward their own candidates for the post of the head of the new “united church”. Congress delegates vote on the choice of three candidates. The presence at the Council of as many representatives of the UOC-MP as possible was necessary for two reasons. Poroshenko needed this in order to “balance” / “weaken” the votes of the delegates from the UOC-KP (the UAOC does not count, in view of its overt weakness compared to the UOC-KP). Intimidated by the SBU, the bishops of the UOC-MP were supposed to support the candidature of Metropolitan Simeon, Poroshenko’s protege. But, as has already been said, despite all the threats and pressure, the SBU did not succeed in breaking the will of the UOC-MP priests, who simply ignored the event, and therefore Poroshenko’s plan (to have his own man at the head of the new church) failed.
The head of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in his turn, needed as many representatives of the UOC-MP as possible at the Council in order to justify the very essence of the event. After all, the so-called Unification Council, according to the idea, was to become a place of «reconciliation» of all Orthodox of Ukraine. Bartholomew wanted to observe propriety and play the role of «conciliator», and for this there must be those most willing to reconcile. In view of the complete absence of delegates from the UOC-MP, it would be absurd to “reconcile” the two remaining ones — the UOC-KP with the absolutely tiny UAOC (both schismatic). The very essence of the event would be lost, it would be a fiction. But that is exactly what happened. UOC-MP ignored the so-called Unification Council (UOC-MP’s metropolitans Alexander and Simeon on the day of the Council were actually already in the jurisdiction of Constantinople, so they are not considered), thereby destroying the plans and hopes of both Poroshenko and Bartholomew.
The ROC has quite amply commented on the results of the so-called Unification Council:
«The canonical meaning of this meeting of disparate persons, which was led by the visiting bishop from France, who does not understand a word in Ukrainian, and the president of the country in which the Church is separated from the state by constitution, is insignificant for us. [They] gathered persons, most of whom did not have a legal ordination, and from among non-canonical clerics [they] chose one as a non-canonical primate».
Almost immediately after the schismatic covenant called the Unification Council took place, a clear vector was set for further action. This vector was given by a vivid representative of the current Kiev regime. Dmytro Yarosh — the founder of the «Right Sector» extremist organization, the current deputy of the Verkhovna Rada. In addition, Yarosh is the official adviser to the president of Ukraine, as well as deputy head of the Committee on National Security and Defense of Ukraine. On his Facebook page, one of the most odious Ukrainian neo-Nazis, leading the Tryzub gang, literally called for a «hunt for Moscow priests». Here are his words:
“Hunting” of Moscow priests who faithfully serve Putin and [Patriarch] Kirill is a matter pleasing to God and our Motherland. Down with the Moscow priests from Ukraine!».
How nice, isn’t it? A person holding high government positions, who is an adviser to the president of Ukraine and a member of the country’s parliament, openly calls for «hunting Moscow priests». By “Moscow priests”, Yarosh, of course, meant the priests of the canonical UOC-MP, who did not succumb to pressure and refused to have anything in common with the schismatics. Again, the behavior of Nazi Yarosh is a wonderful example of how the civil servants in Ukraine observe the country’s constitution. However, maybe Yarosh is too stupid to know that according to article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the church is separated from the state. It is difficult to imagine that in any other country of the world this was possible. Just imagine, for example, John Bolton, national security adviser to Trump, who calls for «hunting» for members of one of the religious denominations in the United States. Or someone from the inner circle of the Prime Minister of Italy, demanding adherents of one of the religious denominations in Italy to “get out of the country”. Wildness. Middle Ages. Barbarism. But in Ukraine this is normal (with the tacit approval of Western curators). The bashful silence of world «human rights defenders» is not even worth mentioning.
Shortly after his election, Epiphanius met with US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and thanked her for «supporting an independent church». In turn, the US ambassador to Ukraine congratulated Epiphanius on his election as head of the OCU. In addition, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo held a telephone conversation with Epiphanius, during which he stressed that «the United States supports the religious freedom and sovereignty of Ukraine».
Epiphanius at the meeting with Marie Yovanovitch.
The State Department reported that the United States supports the new church structure created in Ukraine, and also congratulated Epiphanius on his election as head of the OCU. Actually it is very revealing that Epiphanius is congratulated not by his colleagues (other priests and church leaders), but by a state institution of a foreign state.
After the creation of a “new church”, the Ukrainian regime continued its course of oppressing the canonical UOC-MP. Thus, on December 20, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada adopted a draft law on amending the Law of Ukraine «On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations». It also includes the change of the name of the UOC-MP to the ‘Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine’. Once again — the deputies of the country’s parliament (that is, civil servants), according to the constitution of which the church is separated from the state, adopt a law that will oblige the religious organization to change its name to suit the desire of the country’s authorities. How nice.
Protesting against this outrage, hundreds of parishioners of the UOC-MP gathered at the walls of the Verkhovna Rada for prayerful standing (see video), calling on madmen with high powers to think again.
Traditionally ignoring the opinion of people, as well as “not noticing” the appeal of the UOC-MP to veto the bill, Poroshenko signed it on December 22, thereby obliging the UOC-MP to indicate in the name that it belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Is it necessary to explain that such a law directly contradicts article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the freedom of conscience and non-interference of the state in the affairs of the church? Unlikely.
It is important to understand what prospects the adoption of such a law opens up for the Kiev regime. The “legislators” took the UOC-MP four months to change its name. If the canonical church refuses to do this, then, in fact, it will remain untitled in the literal sense of the word, which means any current documents for renting temples and/or transferring them to the canonical church will be subject to cancellation and re-registration (the latter is equivalent to cancellation). That is, the canonical church will completely “legally” and “non-violently” lose all of its churches, which will immediately be given to the schismatics from the newly created OCU.
Despite the fact that the Ukrainian metropolis is historically the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, the UOC-MP still has sufficiently wide autonomy powers and on many issues does not depend on the ROC. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of Moscow Patriarchate] is a self-governing organization, its religious center is not in Russia, it’s in Ukraine. Since the Russian Orthodox Church officially recognized the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in November 2017, the headquarters of the UOC-MP is officially located in Kiev, not in Moscow.
The reality of the situation was clearly explained by the UOC-MP minister in an interview with the Ukrainian TV channel 112 in May 2017:
«Since 1991, the UOC has no legal connection with the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of Moscow Patriarchate] is completely independent in her administration and in her subordination. The election of the head of the UOC is not influenced by the Moscow Patriarch, none of the other of the ROC. The administrative structure of the UOC, financial and economic activities are not influenced by anyone except the head of the UOC and the Council of its bishops. At the same time, the UOC has a spiritual connection with the Moscow Patriarchate. That is, we have prayer fellowship, we work together to resolve spiritual issues related to the challenges that religion faces in the world today: understanding church canons, spreading Christian doctrine«.
The propaganda lie of the Ukrainian regime that the UOC-MP is almost a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine and is directly controlled from Moscow (probably by Putin personally) is a very convenient excuse to persecute and harass those who refused to recognize the schismatics (and therefore maintain the official line of the government to «break any relations with Russia»).
The year 2018 ended with the fact that a couple of days before the New Year, the head of the OCU, pseudo-metropolitan Epiphanius, announced the receipt of a tomos in Istanbul on 6 January. The elected head of the schismatics declared that the official signing of the tomos by the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew will take place on January 5, 2019, and on January 6, the tomos about autocephaly will be presented after a joint divine liturgy.
So, on January 5, 2019, in the presence of Petro Poroshenko, the Speaker of the Verkhovaya Rada Andrei Parubiy and the false Metropolitan Epiphanius, the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, in his madness, signed the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which became, in fact, the state church of the ruling Kiev regime. Not a single representative of the world local Orthodox churches was present at the ceremony (by the way, not a single world local church also congratulated Epiphanius after his election as the head of the OCU), not wanting to tarnish their honor by participating in a schismatic gathering.
Patriarch Bartholomew signs tomos about autocephaly.
The next day, an official delivery of the tomos about autocephaly took place in Istanbul. After the service, Bartholomew handed over the desired document to the newly elected head of the Ukrainian schismatics Epiphanius. The event marked a multi-month spectacle with intrigues, bargaining, endless visits to American politicians and officials, harassment and intimidation of the UOC-MP ministers, attacks on temples of the canonical church, adoption of laws to marginalize the UOC-MP.
Poroshenko would not be Poroshenko if he had not used such an opportunity for the purposes of his election campaign. As one know, January 7 is the day when believers celebrate Orthodox Christmas. It would be foolish to miss this opportunity, and Poroshenko brings the tomos to Ukraine to demonstrate it to the people on January 7, thereby making the believers a “gift” for Christmas and showing what a “good president” he is.
From the very beginning everything was pathetic and ridiculous in this whole story. And now, having shown the tomos to the people on January 7, Poroshenko had to urgently send it back, because it turned out that the tomos is, in fact, invalid, because not signed by all members of the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate (only Bartholomew signed the document). In addition, the text of the document was compiled with an error, which was noted by the Kiev journalist Volodymyr Boiko. Thus, in tomos it was said that the Ecumenical Patriarch makes «peremptory judicial decisions for bishops and other clergy… according to the 9th and 16th sacred canons of the IV Council of Chalcedon Ecumenical Council». While the right of the head of the Constantinople Patriarchate to consider church disputes in the last instance is provided not by the 9th and 16th, but by the 9th and 17th rules of the IV Ecumenical (Chalcedonian) Council. Soon after the discovery, the error was corrected on the website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Text of tomos with an error.
Moreover, the Constantinople Patriarchate probably knew about the mistake that had been made (of course, it was done not intentionally), but since the correction took time — in fact, the tomos had to be rewritten entirely and provided again, — Poroshenko was allowed to take the defective document to Ukraine literally for one day in order to “show off” to the people.
Moreover, the name of Poroshenko for some reason turned out to be written in the text of the tomos. Unbelievable, but it is a fact. Entirely church document mentioned the name of a secular person, the president of Ukraine. Unprecedented. Again, this was done to inscribe the name of Poroshenko «in the history», thereby increasing his chances of winning in the upcoming presidential elections. Seems there’s no need to remind about article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine…
Clown action. «Legalized» schismatics, claiming equal status with the canonical local churches. Invalid tomos with errors. The priest standing next to Poroshenko, who fainted at the ceremony of presenting tomos. Demonstration to the people of Ukraine of a defective document in order to collect political points. An absurd farce characteristic of everything that surrounds the current Kiev regime.
TOMOS. PSEUDO-INDEPENDENCE FOR FOOLS.
Shortly after the presentation, the full text of the tomos about autocephaly was published on the website of the Constantinople Patriarchate.
Experts have previously expressed doubts about the full powers of the new Ukrainian schismatic church in case of obtaining a tomos. Now all doubts have disappeared. The “independence” of the OCU turned out to be, in fact, fictitious, and the tomos about autocephaly turned out to be in many respects only a certificate of complete subordination of the Ukrainian metropolis to Constantinople.
Among other things, the tomos contained the following provisions:
- The OCU will not have the right to establish foreign dioceses and parishes.
- The controlled territory of the OCU is limited only to Ukraine.
- All existing dioceses and parishes (formerly owned by the UOC-KP and the UAOC) in other countries are now subject to Constantinople.
- Constantinople will be the highest authority in the resolution of disputes within the OCU.
- The statute of the OCU shall comply with the provisions of the tomos.
- According to tomos, autocephalous church of Ukraine recognizes the throne of Constantinople as its head.
- The OCU is obliged to take part in all the meetings that are held under the auspices of Fanar and which address important issues of church life.
- The OCU will receive chrism from Constantinople.
- In order to resolve important questions of a canonical, dogmatic, ecclesiastical nature, the head of the OCU should contact the Patriarch of Constantinople.
- In tomos, the rights of Constantinople to exarchate(!) and stauropegies in Ukraine are claimed.
The above clearly demonstrates that there will not be any real «independence» in the new schismatic church. She just goes into hard submission to Bartholomew, nothing more.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople deftly “took” the Ukrainian metropolis under its jurisdiction, externally formalizing it as granting the new Ukrainian church “independence”. The naive Ukrainian schismatics believed that they would gain real independence, which implies the right to cook chrism themselves (the most important sign of the true status of the autocephalous church), independently appoint the head of the church, independently make important church decisions, etc. However, it turned out that they now have even less freedom and rights than before. It turned out that now the canonical UOC-MP has much more freedom and independence than the schismatic OCU with its tomos. From now on, all the parishes and monasteries of the former UOC-KP and the UAOC became, in fact, the property of the Constantinople Patriarchate. This implies including financial flows, and parishioners.
Bartholomew has long been offended by the fact that the ROC is the world’s largest Orthodox church, whose members (all over the world) are about 150 million people, and whose “property” is more than 300 dioceses and more than 400 bishops, about 1000 monasteries and about 39,000 parishes. In comparison with all this, the insignificant size of the possessions of Bartholomew (about 60 dioceses and 130 bishops, about 60 monasteries and 3,200 parishes) somehow very weakly correlated with his claims to some kind of «leadership» in the Orthodox world. This stung the owner of Fanar and gave him no peace due to papal ambitions.
Consciously, having gone to the violation of all Orthodox canons, «legitimizing» the Ukrainian schismatics and thus taking Ukraine to himself, Bartholomew thereby increased both the number of congregations, the number of parishes and monasteries, and also influence. By his actions, the Patriarch of Constantinople decided to take revenge on the ROC, unceremoniously invading its canonical territory. All Orthodox churches taken away by Ukrainian schismatics in tandem with the Kiev regime from the canonical UOC-MP are the damage that Bartholomew does to the Russian Orthodox Church. The culmination of this outrage will be the fact of the seizure of the main Ukrainian Orthodox shrines — the Pochaev Lavra and the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, which are the main spiritual centers of canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine. The probability of Bartholomew assigning himself these shrines is more than real. Poroshenko’s regime in every possible way will contribute to this.
TOMOS. THE REACTION.
Until now, we have not talked about the perception by world local churches of what is happening in Ukraine regarding the church issue and, in fact, the ongoing struggle between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church. Meanwhile, it is very important and very revealing.
First it should be recalled what are the local Orthodox churches. There are 15 such churches, here is the list of them (in the order they occupy in the diptych of autocephalous local churches):
- Constantinople Orthodox Church
- Alexandrian Orthodox Church
- Antioch Orthodox Church
- Jerusalem Orthodox Church
- Russian Orthodox Church
- Serbian Orthodox Church
- Romanian Orthodox Church
- Bulgarian Orthodox Church
- Georgian Orthodox Church
- Cypriot Orthodox Church
- Greek (Hellas) Orthodox Church
- Polish Orthodox Church
- Albanian Orthodox Church
- Czechoslovak Orthodox Church
- Orthodox Church of America
This is the reaction of the local Orthodox churches (and not only) to the events in chronological order:
August 2018 (Bartholomew’s intention to provide autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics):
- The Serbian church asks Patriarch Bartholomew not to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian church, calling it a «catastrophic step». The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church emphasized that only the Russian Church has the canonical and historical right to the church organization in Ukraine.
September 2018 (Bartholomew sends his exarchs to Ukraine):
- The Greek church, a close ally of Constantinople, called on Patriarch Bartholomew to repent for provoking a schism.
October 2018 (Bartholomew removes anathema from schismatics and questions the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church over the Ukrainian metropolis):
- The Georgian Orthodox Church so far refrains from hasty assessments, considering that the church problem in Ukraine should be solved primarily by Moscow and Constantinople.
- The Polish Orthodox Church urged not to make hasty decisions on the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- The Belarusian Orthodox Church (within the Russian Orthodox Church) condemned the anti-canonical intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew in the internal affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine and threatened Constantinople with a break in relations due to Ukrainian autocephaly.
- The Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church refused to include in the official agenda a discussion on the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine.
- The Antioch Church expressed its extreme concern over attempts to redraw the geography of the Orthodox churches by rewriting history.
- The head of the Abkhaz Orthodox Church (nominally as part of the Georgian Church) stated that the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the church in Ukraine is unwise and inspired by Americans and Europeans.
- The Vatican said it would not maintain contact with non-canonical churches in Ukraine after they’ll receive autocephaly.
- The head of the Serbian church called the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to recognize the schismatic organizations in Ukraine and even give them autocephaly catastrophic.
- The Turkish Orthodox Church sued the Patriarchate of Constantinople, one of the reasons for filing a lawsuit was the decision of Bartholomew to provide autocephaly to Ukraine.
- Protesting against the anti-canonical actions of Patriarch Bartholomew, American priest Mark Tyson, formerly the pastor of the Uspenskaya Church in Bluefield (West Virginia, USA), left the Patriarchate of Constantinople and went to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA).
November 2018 (preparation for the so-called Unification Council):
- The Bishops’ Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church refused to follow the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to rehabilitate the leaders of the Ukrainian schismatics, Filaret (Denisenko) and Makariy (Maletich).
- The Council of Bishops of the Polish Orthodox Church refused to recognize the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to restore Eucharistic communion with the clergy of the UOC-KP.
- The Armenian Apostolic Church opposed the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine.
- The head of the Albanian Orthodox Church called the idea of the Ukrainian autocephaly «walking on a minefield» and called for the Pan-Orthodox Council to be held, thereby supporting the idea of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill about holding a general discussion.
December 2018 (holding of the so-called Unification Council, the creation of the OCU):
- The Orthodox bishops and priests of Germany supported the UOC-MP and accused Constantinople, deciding to support the decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church declaring it impossible for the Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople to be possible due to the ongoing anti-canonical actions on the part of the latter.
- The Belarusian Orthodox Church considers the “new church” in Ukraine to be schismatic, rejecting the possibility of contacts with it, and also recognizes the OCU as a schismatic structure.
- The Bulgarian Church condemned the so-called Unification Council in Kiev, calling it uncanonical.
- The Polish Church expressed support for the head of the canonical UOC-MP, Metropolitan Onufry.
- The Vatican did not recognize the Ukrainian «new church».
- OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greming called a provocation the creation of the «Orthodox Church of Ukraine» (OCU).
January 2019 (provision of tomos about autocephaly to the schismatics, announcing the enthronement of the head of the OCU the false Metropolitan Epiphanius):
- The well-known Greek theologian Theodoros Zisis stated that the granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatics was the «illegal, anti-canonical and dissociative» action of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and that this decision was made «under pressure from extra-church Western circles».
- The Polish Church firmly responded to the events in Ukraine, refusing to recognize Epiphanius and saying that the so-called Unification Council did not solve the problem of a schism, but complicated it even more.
- The Church of Antioch expressed concern over the provision of the tomos.
- The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinei, stated that the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, by his unilateral decision, questioned his own reputation and that of his church.
- The President of Georgia did not congratulate Ukraine on obtaining autocephaly.
- The Patriarch of the Jerusalem Church refused to meet with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. The fact is that the president of Ukraine on his visit to Jerusalem was accompanied by representatives of the schismatic OCU. In the case of a meeting with Poroshenko, the Jerusalem Church would thereby actually recognize the Ukrainian schismatics. Therefore, the meeting was canceled.
- 13 monasteries of Athos voted against taking part in the enthronement of the head of the newly established OCU, Epiphanius (Dumenko). Of the 20 monasteries of Athos, only 7 voted to take part in the enthronement of the head of the OCU on February 3, 2019 in Kiev.
- The Orthodox Church in America did not recognize the “new church” of Ukraine and supported Metropolitan Onufry as head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- The Bulgarian hierarch categorically denied the information spread on Ukrainian websites that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church supported the autocephaly of the OCU.
February 2019 (enthronement of the head of the OCU Epiphanius):
- The Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia does not recognize the «Orthodox Church of Ukraine» and considers its head Epiphanius an impostor.
- The central executive cathedral authority of the Holy Mountain of Athos, which includes representatives of 20 monasteries of Athos, refused to send a delegation to Kiev, thereby not recognizing the head of the OCU Epiphanius.
- A member of the Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church stated that the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew in Ukraine challenged all local churches and accused him of aiding the authorities of Ukraine.
- The servants of the monastery on Holy Mountain Athos did not let the OCU delegation into the monastery, closing the doors before them and declaring that they did not recognize them as clerics neither now nor plan to do this in the future.
- The Cypriot Orthodox Church has declared that it is not going to recognize the «new church» of Ukraine in its current status.
- The famous Greek theologian called Patriarch Bartholomew «a threat to Eastern Orthodoxy».
- The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church said that the only Church in Ukraine with which the Serbian Church will maintain fraternal relations and serve is the UOC-MP.
- The Synod of the Romanian Church declared the need for a bilateral dialogue between Moscow and Ecumenical Patriarchate, asking the latter to clarify the problem of non-canonical hierarchs and priests who belonged to the Kiev Patriarchate.
March 2019 (post-tomos reality):
- The Synod of the Albanian Orthodox Church did not recognize the «Orthodox Church of Ukraine» (OCU) and doubted the canonicity of its head Epiphanius.
- The Serbian Patriarchate has sent out letters to all the Local Churches that the Serbian Orthodox Church does not recognize the OCU and considers the actions of Fanar in Ukraine to be non-canonical.
- Synod of Greek Church postpons discussion of the «Ukrainian question».
- The leader of the opposition political party «Democratic Movement» Nino Burjanadze said that «Georgia should not recognize the OCU, and it will not do this».
The overwhelming majority of local churches expressed a clear position on non-recognition and condemnation of the actions of Bartholomew in the creation and «legalization» of a schismatic OCU, thereby clearly demonstrating the correctness of both the UOC-MP and the ROC.
At the moment (March 2019), not one of the local Orthodox churches in the world recognized schismatics from the OCU, and therefore did not side with Bartholomew. In fact, he was isolated. The criminal (illegal) nature of his actions is obvious to all. However, it cannot be ruled out that over time, due to various reasons (threats, pressure, bribery, persuasion, other means of influence), some of the local churches, especially small churches, can reluctantly go to the side of Bartholomew. Or to take seemingly a neutral position, but covertly admitting the recognition of the OCU. Separate signs of such a possibility appear now. In particular, here is part of a recent statement by the Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church:
«In addition, the Synod said that when making a specific decision on the Ukrainian church issue, first of all, it would take into account the fact that there are 127 Romanian parishes, mainly in Northern Bukovina, which are under the authority of the UOC. In this regard, the Romanian hierarchs noted the need to seek written guarantees from the church and political authorities of the Ukrainian state that the ethnic and linguistic identity of the Romanians be respected, and that Romanian believers have an opportunity to unite into the Romanian Orthodox vicariate and develop spiritual ties with the Romanian Patriarchate».
These words quite clearly expressed the idea that, in principle, the Romanian church could recognize the «legitimacy» of the OCU, but given the overt and large-scale oppression of the canonical UOC-MP in Ukraine (seizure, damage, expropriation of churches, persecution of priests etc.), the Romanian church first would like to to have guarantees that its influence in Ukraine «will not suffer» (that Romanian believers will not be oppressed, as supporters of the UOC-MP are oppressed).
It is possible that some other local churches may also come up with such «business proposals». All the same, Bartholomew is very influential. Yes, now he is isolated, but it is unlikely that it will last long. So one should not be surprised if, after some time, the Romanian church (or some other church) in one form or another recognizes the schismatic OCU. By the way, in a recent interview with propagandists from the BBC, Epiphanius stated that the OCU is preparing a delegation that will soon go to the Romanian Orthodox Church «to conduct a dialogue and resolve existing issues»…
TOMOS. NEW REALITY.
In the new year, Poroshenko quite expectedly began to use the «church victory» for the purposes of his election campaign. Thus, billboards appeared on the streets of many Ukrainian cities, depicting Petro Poroshenko and the head of the newly established “church” Epiphanius showing tomos. On the billboard it says «Tomos for Ukraine!». Poroshenko also undertook a large-scale trip to Ukrainian cities, demonstrating the resulting tomos.
Poroshenko's agitational billboard as part of the tomos-tour.
The Russian media very precisely described this campaign of Poroshenko, calling it a tomos-tour. In this regard, the vice-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada even stated that Poroshenko “godlessly exploits the tomos, making the independence of the church the decoration of his election campaign”.
In addition, the President of Ukraine and [the now former] pseudo-patriarch Filaret exchanged courtesies. Poroshenko awarded Filaret the title of Hero of Ukraine, calling the latter «the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian people». The award ceremony took place on January 22. In turn, Filaret awarded Poroshenko with the Order of Andrew the First-Called for his participation in the process of obtaining the tomos. Just wondering if Filaret knows that state interference in the affairs of the church is prohibited by article №35 of the Constitution of Ukraine? Apparently not.
At the same time, the pressure on the canonical UOC-MP only increased after receiving the tomos. The attacks on churches, the expropriation of property of the UOC-MP, the violent «transfer» of communities to the OCU, the false propaganda to discredit the UOC-MP, beatings and direct threats — all this has become accustomed routine occurring with the explicit approval of the Kiev regime.
On January 13, supporters of the OCU in the village of Krasnovol seized the temple of the UOC-MP. Another temple of the canonical church in the Odessa region was also subjected to a seizure in favor of the OCU. On January 16, in the village of Olenovka, Borznyansky district, Chernihiv region, the Svyato-Voznesensky Church of the UOC-MP was seized by schismatics from the OCU, who were accompanied by militants from the neo-Nazi group С14. On January 18, during the evening divine service in Sumsky Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, when there were a large number of people in the temple, an explosion occurred. Unknown threw a device that exploded in the vestibule of the temple. Only by a happy coincidence no one was hurt. On January 20, schismatics from the OCU captured the church of the community of the Holy Trinity Church of the UOC-MP in the village of Rostocky, Kremenetsky district. On January 22, in the village of Bronitsa, Kamen-Kashirsky District, supporters of the schismatic OCU opened door locks on the UOC-MP church and tried to seize the temple. In the village of Pokhovka another temple of the canonical UOC-MP was also captured by the schismatics. On February 5, the OCU supporters seized the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the UOC-MP in the city of Berestechko, cutting locks from the doors of the temple. On February 9, supporters of the OCU together with the police and representatives of the administration literally seized the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Onishkivtsi, cutting off the door locks. On February 20, it was reported that supporters of the schismatic «Orthodox Church of Ukraine» in four days captured four churches of the Volyn diocese of the UOC-MP. On February 22, a group of raiders, including representatives of the UOC-KP from the regional center, cutting the door locks, seized Svyato-Nikolaevsky Church of the UOC-MP in the village of Zhydychin, Kivertsovsky district of Volyn region (video)…
These are by no means all examples of the seizure of temples of the canonical UOC-MP by the adherents of the “new church” lately. Not to mention the numerous attempts to commit arson at the temples of the UOC-MP…
In late January, Poroshenko signed a law on the possibility of changing the subordination of religious organizations, which was another step in the use of administrative resources to put pressure on the canonical UOC-MP. In particular, the law provides for mechanisms that will establish in what way a religious organization can change its subordination to the religious centers operating in Ukraine and abroad. It is envisaged that the decision to change the subordination and make changes or additions to the charter is made by the general meeting of the religious community, and not less than 2/3 of its composition.
In practice, this means the following. If the parishioners of the UOC-MP temple refuse to voluntarily turn into a schismatic OCU, then the “activists” (read, nationalists from radical groups like the «Right Sector» or C14) bring to the meeting “representatives of the community” (extras) who have no relation to this temple, to artificially create a «majority of votes». Thus, during the voting, 2/3 of the votes are in favor of the decision to transfer the community to the OCU. This simple technology is already in full use in practice, providing schismatics with an «impressive increase in the number of supporters of the OCU».
In mid-February, an event occurred that was unprecedented even by the standards of the current Ukrainian realities. Bishop of the UOC-MP Gedeon returned from his trip to the USA. There, he spoke to the congress, telling the whole truth about the persecutions of the canonical Orthodox church, about the seizure of churches, the oppression of the parishioners of the UOC-MP, and other outrage of the Kiev regime. Gedeon also handed over the message to the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (apparently, due to his naivety believing that Pompeo would help):
Upon arrival in Ukraine, Gedeon was detained by the SBU at the Kiev airport. During the detention, it was announced that the passport of the priest was «lost». The fact that with the allegedly “lost” document, Gedeon flew out of Ukraine and passed the border control in the United States didn’t cause any scruples among law enforcement officers.
Moreover, the SBU said that Gedeon is now deprived(!) of Ukrainian citizenship and will be deported from Ukraine. Indeed, the very next day, the priest was expelled from the country. The Kiev regime did not like very much that Gedeon «dared» to tell the truth in the US Congress, putting the Ukrainian authorities in a bad light. The measures to punish the recalcitrant bishop were not long in coming. By the way, there were other reasons to crack down on an objectionable bishop.
Once again — the man was deprived of the citizenship of his own country and expelled for his civic position, which the ruling authorities did not like. In what other country of the world is this possible? It should be borne in mind that according to the Constitution of Ukraine, a person cannot be deprived of his/her citizenship at all without his/her consent.
However, a direct violation of the country’s constitution is no longer something extraordinary for the Kiev regime. Rather, it is the norm.
The case of Gedeon is a vivid example of how the Ukrainian authorities deal with dissenters. One may ask how the so-called «international community» reacted for such a blatant case of human rights violations? Nohow. No reaction followed. All Western so-called “human rights fighters” and “activists” did not notice what happened with Gedeon. Or pretended not to have noticed. One can only guess if they would have done the same if something similar had happened, for example, in Russia. However… We already know the correct answer, right? If the Russian authorities had done something similar, then minutes later, heart-rending cries of the «human rights community» about the absolute inadmissibility of oppressing human rights would follow, loud protests would be organized near the Russian embassy, the question of «blatant disrespect» by the Russian government of the human rights would be submitted for discussion in the UN (we even know who would initiate it), and sanctions against Russia would be taken at a snap of the fingers. You say double standards? No, it’s just democracy Western-style.
However, the UN, wishing to support its [already largely faded] image of the “main fighter for human rights”, still paid attention to the situation in Ukraine. Thus, the world organization, though with a noticeable delay, has nevertheless released a report, which states that «the political situation in Ukraine contributes to the exacerbation of inter-faith conflicts and is accompanied by a violation of basic human rights, including freedom of religion». Wow, incredible conclusions. What an amazing watchfulness of you, the UN.
It is quite expected that the «concern» of the UN over the blatant oppression of canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine was purely symbolic. One just have to read the wordings in the report. Thus, according to the UN, there were «reports that in a few cases the transfers [of a religious communities from the UOC-MP to the OCU] were not voluntary and were initiated by state or local authorities <…>«. In a few cases. Nice. Well, apparently the fact that such violent transfers constitute the overwhelming majority of cases does not suit the UN, and the world organization prefers to see only «a few cases». By the way, as if mocking the UN, the false patriarch Filaret said that he considers it “normal” that the state intervenes and organizes the transfers of communities to the OCU.
Such useless reports look like nothing more than a desire to symbolically chide a hooligan. After all, the West (the United States, as well as some European countries — France, Germany, Poland etc.) is directly responsible for the current Nazi regime in Ukraine, because its coming to power was made possible largely thanks to the support of Western curators. Therefore, it would be strange if the Western elites allowed the UN to seriously criticize the Kiev regime. At the same time, light reproaches are even useful, as they keep the puppets in good shape.
TOMOS. THE CONSEQUENCES.
Everything that has happened is characterized by almost all experts as a church schism on a global scale. Many media outlets hold the same opinion. Although, it would seem, why would the Orthodox believers, for example, in the United States, in France or in Egypt, care about the fact that some unrecognized schismatics have created their own church in Ukraine? So what.
Why it is the split of world Orthodoxy? Bartholomew did not have any rights either to remove the anathema from Filaret and Makariy (since it was not Bartholomew who imposed the anathema), nor to send his exarchs to Ukraine (this is territory outside the jurisdiction of Bartholomew), nor to provide autocephaly (for this, all local churches need consent). Having done all this, Bartholomew, in fact, himself became a schismatic. The ROC, as the largest autocephalous Orthodox Church in the world, has already severed ties with the Patriarch of Constantinople, which is very symptomatic. Now other local churches will have to decide whether to take the side of Bartholomew (thereby recognizing the Ukrainian schismatics), or, like the ROC, to oppose Bartholomew. Someone may take a neutral position.
At the moment (March 2019), not one of the local Orthodox churches in the world recognized schismatics from the OCU, and therefore did not side with Bartholomew. In fact, he was completely isolated. The wrongful nature of his actions (not at all unselfish) is obvious to all. However, it cannot be ruled out that over time, due to various reasons (threats, pressure, bribery, persuasion, etc.), some of the local churches, especially small churches, can go to the side of Bartholomew. Thus, these churches too will lose their canonicity and become essentially schismatic, which means that the remaining canonical churches will have to stop the church communion with them (according to Orthodox canons). This is the split. Its consequences are entirely on the conscience of Bartholomew, who fell into papal heresy.
Can only once again repeat what has already been said — what is happening now will not be fully realized by humanity soon. Decades will pass, perhaps centuries. We are witnessing events comparable to the 1054 church schism. The entire responsibility for everything that happened is also borne by the USA, which contributed in every possible way to the unlawful activities of Bartholomew and directly intervened in church affairs in Ukraine.
It is very significant that no other country in the world (perhaps, except Great Britain) began to do something similar — to support Ukrainian schismatics at a high political level, to speak openly in their support by making appropriate statements. Roughly interfering in a question that does not concern them at all (and which they do not understand at all), the United States only once again demonstrated that they are not capable of creation. This country (perhaps because of its youth, and therefore inexperience) is so far only capable of destruction and wrecking.
World Orthodoxy enters the path of hardship. It is impossible to predict what consequences the actions of the wrecking forces (Bartholomew, USA, Kiev regime) will lead to. The organizers of the troubles do not take into account only one thing — such tests for the Orthodox are in many respects a positive point, no matter how strange it may sound. Through the test of their faith, parishioners are given the opportunity to prove the truth and sincerity of their love for God. To suffer for your faith is the «highest honor» for any believer.
Many will not betray their faith (as clerics of the UOC-MP who have not succumbed to pressure from the SBU and the Kiev regime), some will side with the schismatics for various reasons (propaganda, intimidation, herd feelings, ideological causes, etc.). It is important that, after passing through the trials, the Orthodox churches will only get stronger. All the excess will disappear. All «doubters» will be sifted out. Faith will only be strengthened.
Think of such a thing as an army exam for the right to become a special forces or marine. Many dozens of applicants are ready to pass all the tests, thinking that they are capable of it. In the course of examinations applicants are eliminated, many drop out of the race, unable to bear the load. At the end there are only a few. They are the strongest. Yes, they are few, but they are the best people. People the army needs.
Apparently, the Orthodox churches have to go through such a selection. As a result, churches may lose part of their congregation. But those who remain will be the most worthy. Only true believers will remain. For the church, the primary importance is not the number of parishioners, but the purity of faith. This is what the vermins have forgotten about, making a church split in Ukraine. And so they will lose.
INSTEAD OF EPILOGUE.
In 2009, the Ukrainian regional newspaper «Donbass» reported that the head of the supervisory board of the National Bank of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, was ordained deacon for the feast of the Trinity. Immediately after this, dressed in a sticharion of the novitiate, he took part in the procession of the cross, carrying the main icon of the feast — the image of the Trinity. The action took place in the Svyato-Ioninsky monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate:
In 2014, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Uniate Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, communed President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and his spouse. This happened when Poroshenko visited the Cathedral of the Ukrainian Uniates in Kiev on the day of the Ascension of Christ, right after he was elected President of Ukraine:
As the famous Greek news agency Romfea reported:
«It is well known that before being elected President of Ukraine in 2014 Petro Poresenko was an Orthodox Christian.
In 2014, the public has seen pictures where the President of Ukraine was communed by Sviatoslav Shevchuk in a Greek-Catholic church».