Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
The meeting of bishops to select the new head of the autonomous church is deferred to December. Pres Poroshenko contextualises the event – 1030 years to get autonomy for their church, ever longer than the 800 or so years Ukraine has been fending off Russian attacks and invasions.
Samarskyi produces an excellent summary of exactly how the Russians managed to completely alienate every other key player involved, effectively determining the outcome as it is now, cites “Ukraine’s departure from its Russian colonial past is irreversible”.
Goble summarises recent developments in Russia.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has visited St. Michael’s Cathedral in Cherkasy where he met with Metropolitan of Cherkasy and Kaniv of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Bishop Sofrony, the press service of the head of state has reported. “I would like to turn to Bishop Sofrony. I would like to thank you for a very meaningful, very frank and instructive conversation of a sincere person and believer who loves Ukraine very much, who loves Cherkasy region, who builds temples here and who looks at the future of the Ukrainian church – the future of the local autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. I bow down to you and I thank you for your work,” Poroshenko said. The head of state also said in his speech to the public and political activists of Cherkasy region that Ukrainians support the creation of a single local Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Speaking about the autocephaly of the Ukrainian church, Poroshenko emphasized that despite the efforts of everyone – the president, the Verkhovna Rada, church hierarchs and people’s support “this would certainly not have been done if not for were no God’s will.” “Ukrainians were waiting for this great event not for nearly 27 years. And even not for 332 years. They were waiting for 1,030 years since the Christianization of Ukraine by Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr. Ukraine was waiting for an autocephalous church for 1,030 years,” Poroshenko said. He emphasized the importance of the issue of autocephaly of the Ukrainian church,“because it is one of the key elements of the state-building of a sovereign, independent state of Ukraine.”
First Deputy Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Vasyl Yablonskiy has said Russia will resort to enormous pressure to disrupt the unification council of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The senior clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who are ready to cooperate with other churches are facing huge pressure. First Deputy Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Vasyl Yablonskiy has said Russia will resort to enormous pressure to disrupt the unification council of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine. “There is a great deal of pressure on the senior clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who are ready to cooperate with other churches to create a local independent Orthodox church in Ukraine. Provocations can be seen in that direction. There may be acts of provocation regarding the seizure of church property, the beating of activists and members of the church – all this could be done deliberately. Perhaps, I think this will be the next stage – now all efforts are evidently focused on the unification process itself and this event,” he told Ukraine’s Priamyi TV Channel. “We have already seen arson attempts on St. Andrew’s Church, we may understand this is pressure on the local clergy, on public opinion, pressure on the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” Yablonskiy said.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has said the Holy Council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will be held in December. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has reiterated its sacred decision to grant the tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has said the Holy Council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will be held in December. “In preparation for the meeting of the Holy and Sacred Synod from November 27-29, 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople reiterates its sacred decision to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” the Ecumenical Patriarchate said in a communiqué on November 19, 2018.
The unification assembly of the Orthodox Church will take place in Kyiv in December, Verkhovna Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy has said.
The specific date of the unifying council of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine in December 2018 will be approved and declared by the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the press service of the Constantinople Patriarchate has reported.
19.11.18 17:52 – Ecumenical Patriarchate says Holy Council of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church to be held in December The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople said the Holy Council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine had been scheduled for December 2018. View news.
A unification council of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches, which must approve all the conditions for creating a local independent Orthodox church in Ukraine and elect its chairman, has been postponed for December. So far, the approximate date of the council is set for December 9-10.
Constantinople confirms its decision to provide Tomos on autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has reaffirmed its decision to grant the tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
Press secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya) has refuted media reports on holding a unification council on November 22. Only the official announcement on the date of the council will mean it has already been determined, Yevstratiy said.
Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, says that he will give an answer to the UOC-KP bishop’s proposal to nominate him as the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the unification assembly. “Self-nomination of candidates for the presidency in the church is not allowed by the canons. I am grateful to the episcopate for expressing confidence in me, as well as grateful for the strong support from the Kyiv Patriarchate and the whole society. What my answer will be to the above-mentioned election proposal, if it is officially announced at the assembly – I will also officially inform the assembly, justifying my vision and decision, and expecting my position to be supported by it,” Filaret said on his Facebook page on Monday.
Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) Filaret said he would announce his decision at the Holy Council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine about the proposal of the episcopate of the UOC-KP to nominate him as head of a local independent Orthodox church in Ukraine. Filaret thanked the episcopate of the UOC-KP for their trust and expressed gratitude for the strong support from the Kyiv Patriarchate and the entire public. Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) Filaret said he would announce his decision at the Holy Council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine about the proposal of the episcopate of the UOC-KP to nominate him as head of a local independent Orthodox church in Ukraine. “Self-nomination of candidates for presiding in the church is not allowed by the canons. Earlier it was reported that the episcopate of the UOC-KP would offer my candidacy for election as head of the church,” he wrote on Facebook.
Russia is desperately trying to prevent the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from finally freeing itself from Moscow, and its tactics aren’t working. Having gotten used to enjoying influence over the hearts and minds of some believers in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) through its puppet body, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), has naturally resisted the process of Ukraine breaking free of Russia’s “religious” claws.
Russia and its church, with a dark shadow of the KGB-turned-FSB looming over it, has and will continue to employ all of its dirty influence tricks abroad, ranging from disinformation and manipulation of public opinion to pure blackmail, when needed. The Russian church went as far as accusing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of being “financially motivated” by Ukrainian authorities for pushing through the autocephaly agenda.
However, the very emergence of Moscow’s Patriarchate in Ukraine, which dates back to 1686, was the result of Russia annexing the Kyiv diocese, the territory under control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Under the direct ruling of top Russian authorities, the Russian Orthodox Church established deep roots in Ukraine’s religious environment but its spiritual independence and return to its canonical status remained inevitable.
After all, many newly-independent countries, including those from the former Soviet camp, have been granted a right to their own autocephalous church. And it was the Ecumenical Patriarchate who greenlighted such developments regardless of Moscow’s reaction. Constantinople’s relations with churches worldwide has long been an irritant for the Russian Orthodox Church which in the 1990s had warned the Ecumenical Patriarchate not to sever Eucharistic Communication amid a row over church issues in the US, Canada, Finland, and Estonia.
Perhaps this raised eyebrows in Constantinople, as the Russian Orthodox Church itself never received from the Mother Church a tomos. Today, as the ROC and the UOC MP have moved to sever ties with Constantinople, one thing is obvious: Russia sees the prospects of an independent church of Ukraine as a serious threat to its own regional influence and a blow to its neo-imperial ambitions.
Ukraine’s previous attempts to gain religious independence didn’t concern Moscow too much as the authorities in Kyiv were too wary of the Kremlin’s possible response and had remained too passive on the issue. However, after Ukraine became an independent state, Moscow slammed it on what they thought was too much progress on the autocephaly issue.
In 1991, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) convened in Kyiv where an appeal to Moscow was signed by all attendees, including today’s top pro-Moscow cleric in Ukraine, Onufriy, to grant the UOC the long-sought autocephaly. In response, Russia didn’t hesitate to launch a smear campaign against Metropolitan Filaret, who was at the time head of the Ukraine Church, which led to him being removed from the post. It was a different attempt (unfortunately not a successful one) to establish the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church in a hope to be recognized by other Orthodox Churches.
That was the moment a split was driven into Ukraine’s religious unity; the Moscow Patriarchate and the newly-emerged Kyiv Patriarchate each insisted on having its own way. While the Kyiv Patriarchate was isolated from the world Orthodox community, largely as a result of an effective ROC campaign, Moscow’s games in Ukraine made possible the emergence of a third religious entity, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
In April 2018, Ukraine witnessed some real progress on the issue. President Petro Poroshenko met with Patriarch Bartholomew and the process to receive the tomos from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was launched. Unlike the previous attempt, this appeal included the official signatures of the president, the parliament, and Orthodox leaders, including part of the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate.
In turn, Constantinople reaffirmed it has the right to consider such appeals, accepted the submission, and decided to initiate the procedure for issuing the tomos. The unfolding developments bewildered the Russian Orthodox Church even though it was informed of Constantinople’s intentions.
Senior Russian clergyman Metropolitan Hilarion traveled abroad, pushing local religious leaders to take Moscow’s side and defy Constantinople. Meanwhile, the Russian propaganda machine, with the kind help of its minions in Ukraine, spun fake stories claiming the tomos was a no-go and sowing distrust in the minds of Ukrainians. Despite Moscow’s efforts, the process kept moving forward, and on July 28 Constantinople’s envoys paid a visit to Kyiv on the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus where they saw an impressive 60,000-strong religious procession led by the UOC-KP and UOAC bishops and attended by Ukraine’s top officials.
In an attempt to overshadow the event in Kyiv, Moscow Patriarch Kirill flew to Constantinople for closed-doors talks with Bartholomew I, although his trip yielded little to no result. Following the Holy Synod on October 11, the Ecumenical Patriarchate granted autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.
In a historic step, Constantinople not only declared that the UOC was not subordinate to the Russian Church, it also lifted Moscow’s excommunication orders of the leaders of the UOC-KP and UOAC. Furious, the Russian Orthodox Church severed ties with Constantinople, while the Moscow Patriarchate followed suit several weeks later.
Despite Moscow’s harsh reaction, the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent two of its envoys to Ukraine, a move Russia branded as illegal interference, to help to prepare for the inaugural meeting of the new independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
President Poroshenko recently offered the Moscow Patriarchate an opportunity to engage in a dialogue but the Council of Bishops refused, saying the UOC-MP would not take part in the setting up of the new independent local church in Ukraine. “The door remains open,” Poroshenko said, while UOP Metropolitan Filaret never tires of repeating that the process is a peaceful one, and it does not involve any violence, forced seizures of churches or an all-out “religious war,” something that Russian propaganda says is inevitable.
An overwhelming majority of Ukrainians considers the receiving of autocephaly by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be a significant step needed to protect unity in the country. One can hardly overestimate the importance of Ukraine’s spiritual independence from Moscow. Some experts even compare it with the restoration of Ukrainian independence in 1991. This may be.
In any case, Ukraine’s departure from its Russian colonial past is irreversible.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 19 – Vladimir Putin, furious at Patriarch Kirill for failing to stop autocephaly in Ukraine and also for not transforming the Moscow Patriarchate into an absolutely subservient and effective ideological arm of the Kremlin, has sent a clear signal that Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) is his man in the Russian Church. But it has also set the stage for more serious conflicts within the Moscow Patriarchate, with some lining up against Kirill for exactly the same reasons Putin is upset about him and others calling attention to Tikhon’s shortcomings as an Orthodox leader. Many are already saying he may be a great Russian “neo-con,” but he’s not knowledgeable enough to be patriarch. Shevkunov, long rumored to be Putin’s favorite among church leaders even though both men have been careful in the past not to make too much of that, this week received a clear confirmation that he is precisely that when Putin visited the Pskov-Pechora monastery two days ago for the first time in 18 years (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=82456). That is all the more so because Tikhon’s assignment to Pskov has been widely viewed as a kind of exile from Moscow orchestrated by Patriarch Kirill. With Putin’s visit, the metropolitan is likely to find it even easier to continue his work in Moscow and even set the stage for his ultimate election as patriarch in the future. And that future may not be as far distant as many imagine. There are many ways Kirill could be forced out and Tikhon’s installation arranged, all the more so because with the loss of the bishoprics in Ukraine which have long been Kirill’s power base – he created most of these and named their heads – Tikhon will find it easier to gain a majority. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the former head of the Synod’s department for church-society relations, says that he doesn’t think Putin’s visit is something out of the ordinary but rather only an effort by the Kremlin leader to show that Tikhon must not be pushed too far from the center because he is Putin’s friend (nakanune.ru/articles/114593/). “I don’t exclude,” Chaplin says, “that the present decided to support Tikhon” given the criticism he has been subject to recently “because this is a man of conservative convictions and charismatic.” And it is also possible, the archpriest says, that Putin may also want to make Pskov an alternative pilgrimage site given that Russians cannot easily go to Mount Athos. Putin may like him but making him patriarch is a stretch, the archpriest says. Shevkunov was trained as a cinematographer and is good at presenting simple messages to the masses, but he is not someone with the kind of theological understanding that most Orthodox leaders expect in a patriarch. If a patriarchal election were to take place in the near future, Chaplin says, “other people would receive many more votes,” even with Putin tilting the scales in the direction of Tikhon, including Metropolitan Varsonofy, the administrator for the Moscow Patriarchate, and Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv. Other experts make similar arguments, but they agree that thanks to Putin, “Tikhon represents an alternative to ‘the state corporation of the ROC of Kirill,’ an accessible, simple and understandable faith” which may fit better with Putin and others who know relatively little about Orthodoxy besides its role as a national and imperial church (iarex.ru/news/61795.html). “Perhaps,” they say, “in the Orthodoxy of Tikhon there is too little orthodoxy for him ever to be ‘the patriarch of the clergy,’ but his close and understandable approach is clearly sufficient for him to become ‘the people’s patriarch,’” especially if Putin is behind him. And that is a serious challenge to Kirill and his already embattled church.
The two hierarchs administered a joint service at the church of the Russian Orthodox Church’s mission in Damascus
Political analyst Andriy Datsiuk has said the Armenian Apostolic Church’s statements on the decision of Constantinople regarding Ukraine are dictated by the Kremlin. Armenia is politically, economically and militarily dependent on the Russian Federation. “As for the Catholicos of the Armenian Church, it’s not the Catholicos of All Armenians [the chief bishop and spiritual leader of Armenia’s national church, the Armenian Apostolic Church] who speaks here, but the Kremlin. Because today Armenia is politically, economically and militarily dependent on the Russian Federation. Therefore, whatever they say, the statement is dictated by political motives,” he told Ukraine’s Priamyi TV Channel. As reported earlier, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II said the Armenian Apostolic Church does not support granting a tomos of autocephaly to Ukraine.