Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Another update and some interesting backgrounders. Russia is ramping up its propaganda campaign.
Granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople will not help Ukraine build a united Church, according to a bishop
The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will no longer take part in structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and that a deepening row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to formally break away from Russia’s orbit may lead to violence. The Russian Orthodox’s Church’s Holy Synod ruling body met on September 14 to consider a response after the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate said last week it was sending two bishops to Ukraine in what is widely viewed as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the main Ukrainian Orthodox church there.
The autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is inevitable, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. He promised to provide state protection and respect the right of the clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to choose their affiliation. “The creation of the Unified Local Orthodox Church should strengthen unity. The exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarch have told me without diplomatic formalities that the process of granting autocephaly is nearing the finish line. I don’t know when exactly the tomos will be adopted and when it will be brought to Kyiv, but I am certain that we have wound the wheel of this story so far that no one can turn it back now,” he said in his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada on Thursday. Poroshenko said the state, “especially not a foreign one,” will not intervene in internal church affairs in Ukraine. “The empire is losing one of its last levers of influence. The tomos is essentially another declaration of Ukrainian independence. Our own church is a guarantee of spiritual freedom for us. It’s a guarantee of public accord. I guarantee that the state will respect the choice of those who decide to stay in that church structure, retain unity with the Russian Orthodox Church. But I also guarantee that the state will protect the rights of the priests and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who voluntarily decide to come out from under Moscow to create a unified church together with other Orthodox Christians,” Poroshenko said.
The Ukrainian government has promised its citizens a new, independent Orthodox Church that will unite Ukrainian believers. But bringing several denominations together is harder than you think. Over the last few months, the lexicon of many Ukrainians has been enriched by two new words: “Tomos” and “autocephaly”. These words, whose literal meanings are “religious decree” and “religious autonomy”, have been all over the newspapers, social media and TV screens. In April this year, Ukraine’s president and parliament asked the Patriarch of Constantinople, the highest arbitrator in the Orthodox world, to recognise the canonical independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Religion, a subject that the media normally ignore outside Christmas and Easter, has dominated headlines and public debate ever since. And all because for many, the Tomos is a kind of declaration of Ukrainian independence – not so much religious independence, but political.
Metropolitan Pavel, the vicar of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, which belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been included in Ukraine’s Myrotvorets (Peacekeeper) Center database, which lists individuals who pose a threat to the country’s security. He was included in the database after the publication of a video where he threatens with “God’s curse” to those who will dare to return Kyiv Pechersk Lavra to the Ukrainian church.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said the process of granting the Tomos on autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is on the homestretch. Poroshenko says he does not know when they may take a decision on the Tomos and when it may be brought to Kyiv.
20.09.18 10:50 – Poroshenko: “Work on Tomos started with my first meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew” Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko says the dialogue on the creation of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and granting Ukraine the Tomos on Autocephaly had started with his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew after Easter… View news.
The Russian Orthodox Church hopes to erect an “Orthodox Vatican” in Sergiyev Posad, just outside Moscow, that would require the demolition of several downtown buildings, according to the BBC Russian Service. Journalists learned about plans for an “open-air temple” at the walls of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius with a platform stage that would allow the church to hold outdoor mass. The new church will feature a library, a complex of various church institutions, a youth center, a “congress center,” and a media center. The “Orthodox Vatican” would gobble up real estate currently occupied by the Sergiyev Posad town administrative building, two hotels, a shopping mall, an outdoor market, an amusement park, and several residential buildings. They’re all slated for the wrecking ball. In August, arch-priest Leonid Kalinin (who heads the church’s art and architecture council) first announced the plans to “cleanse the town of its Soviet legacy” and transform it into “the spiritual capital of Orthodoxy.” At the time, Kalinin said the development project already had the approval of Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin. The president’s administration initially ignored the BBC’s inquiries about the proposed “Orthodox Vatican,” but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said the matter is a regional issue that doesn’t require consent from the head of state.
Ukraine’s Orthodox church has split from President Putin’s religious sphere, creating one of the biggest schisms in centuries and provoking a hacking scandal and political recriminations. The independence of the Ukrainian church, which was previously under Moscow’s jurisdiction, has deprived Russia of an important tool of soft power. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, triggered the crisis by granting autocephaly, or self-governing status, to the Ukrainian church, which can now bypass Moscow in its affairs. Its leader, Patriarch Filaret, is a fierce critic of Mr Putin. Ukrainian political leaders have also pushed for the church’s independence from Moscow. Russia has annexed Crimea and is in effect at war with Ukraine in the east of the country.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the dialogue about a local Orthodox church in Ukraine and the provision of the Tomos on autocephaly started with his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew after Easter this year. In general, work on the issue has been under way for three years.