Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia Loses the War of the Churches (57)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Allen’s OpEd in Crux is quite brutal to Russia and calls them out for excessive “chutzpah”. 

Chutzpah: shameless audacity; impudence.

The obvious conclusion is that Russian leadership, secular and religious, is not in touch with reality and their words expose their disconnect. They’ve carefully constructed an alternate reality that is far too obvious. Russia is the victim of Russian aggression but somehow they are the victim. Pshaw, indeed. 

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Ecumenical Patriarchate communique. The new Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine conducts its first religious service. Head of UOC-MP/ROC stripped of titles by Constantinople.

Western media reactions. Excellent OpEd by Allen in Crux. Goble on the “contracting [i.e. ever shrinking] Russian world”.

Update on Russian propaganda. Fears that Ukrainian church in Crimea will be subject to reprisals.

Ecumenical Patriarch on Twitter: “COMMUNIQUÉ It is with praise to God, great joy and satisfaction that the Ecumenical Patriarchate announces the successful completion of the work of the Unifying Synod (Sobor)—foundational of the new…”

Ecumenical Patriarchate – COMMUNIQUÉ

It is with praise to God, great joy and satisfaction that the Ecumenical Patriarchate announces the successful completion of the work of the Unifying Synod (Sobor)—foundational of the new Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Ukraine—which was convened in Kyiv today, December 15th, 2018. Metropolitan Epiphanios of Pereiaslav and Belotserkovsky was elected as its Primate. His Beatitude, the newly-elected Primate, contacted His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, expressed his respect and asked the wishes and blessings of the Mother Church for fruition of his primatial ministry, which starts under good auspices. In this context, it is announced that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew invited His Beatitude Epiphanios to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Phanar on the great feast of Theophany and to deliver to him the Tomos of establishment of the new sister Autocephalous Church. At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 15th of December, 2018 From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod

Bartholomew congratulates on election and blesses Epiphanius –

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew congratulated and blessed celebrant of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Epiphanius (Dumenko), reported Press Secretary of UOC KP archbishop Eustraty (Zoria). he also added a link to the message “BBC news Ukraine” about a telephone conversation between Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Epiphanius. Related: Official name of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church becomes known ‘Some time ago Epiphanius phoned Bartholomew to inform about the election and asked for a blessing, he blessed him and congratulated,’ reads the message. It means that the Ecumenical Patriarchate recognizes the Unification Assembly, in the downtown of Kyiv. On December 15, the Unification Assembly in Kyiv elected the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of the former UOC-KP Epiphanius (Dumenko). On the same day, the archbishops adopted the charter of the new church.

Metropolitan Epifaniy has his first divine service in Kyiv –

Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine Epifaniy is having his first liturgy, as primate of United Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Radio Liberty reports. According to the message, the divine service is taking place in Kyiv in the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. The liturgy started at 10 a.m. Up to 200 believers and churchmen gathered in the church. On December 15, the Unification Assembly in Kyiv elected the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of the former UOC-KP Epifaniy (Dumenko). On the same day, the archbishops adopted the charter of the new church. Almost all hierarchy of former UOC of Kyiv Patriarchate, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and two archbishops of UOC MP took part in the assembly. The next step for the final formation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine will be a joint service of Epifaniy with Ecumenical Patriarch and receive of Tomos about the Autocephaly.

The first service by the primate of the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine: the Blessed Epiphanius holds the liturgy at the St. Michael’s Cathedral. VIDEO

On the eve of the Unity Council, he was elected primate of the newly formed church. Metropolitan Epiphany is the first liturgy of the head of the local Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Metropolitan Epiphany, the Mykhailivsky Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv, reports Tsensor. NET with reference to Radio Liberty. Recall that on December 15 in Kyiv, the Unity Council, which proclaimed the creation of a local church. Her PM was the Metropolitan of Pereyaslavl and Bila Tserkva Epiphanius. Metropolitan Epifaniy (Serhiy Dumenko) 39 years old. In 1996, Epiphanius entered the Kyiv KP Seminary, and in 1999 – to the Kiev Theological Academy. Has a Ph.D. degree in theology. He began his ministry in the Rivne diocese and taught there at the theological seminary. In 2006-2007, Epiphanius studied philosophy at the Athens National University in Greece. Then he became a teacher of the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy. At the beginning of 2008, became secretary of the Patriarch Filaret. A few months later, he became the viceroy of the Vydubitsky Monastery. Two months later became the manager of the affairs of the whole Kyivan Patriarchate.

Moscow Patriarchate’s Onufriy loses title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine | UNIAN

Following the Unification Council held in Kyiv on Saturday, Dec 15, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate, Onufriy, after the Unification Council officially lost the title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, according to a press secretary of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Archbishop Yevstratiy Zorya. The title now belongs to the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a 39-year-old Epifaniy. Following the Unification Council held in Kyiv on Saturday, Dec 15, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate, Onufriy, after the Unification Council officially lost the title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, according to a press secretary of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Archbishop Yevstratiy Zorya. The title now belongs to the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a 39-year-old Epifaniy, RBC-Ukraine reports. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Unification Council of representatives of Ukrainian Orthodox churches elected Epifaniy (Serhiy Dumenko) head of the united local Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The UOC-KP and the UAOC decided to dissolve themselves, and Onufriy [UOC-MP] is stripped of his title by the Ecumenical Patriarch – archbishop Yevstratii (Zorya), the UOC-KP spokesman

However, the UOC-MP will continue to exist, because there are people who choose this particular church. Before the united cathedral December 15, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church held councils and approved the decision on self-dissolution. The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the heir to these two churches. This was reported by the KP press secretary Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya), informs Tsensor.NET. “Before the unification of the Council, the two churches that took part in the association (the Kiev Patriarchate and the Autocephalous Church), held their councils and adopted the decision on self-dissolution, and by way of a merger formed a single local church, which legally this new church is the heir and The Autocephalous Church, and the Kiev Patriarchate, “said the archbishop. He also said that he would be with the Moscow Patriarchate after the unification of the UOC-KP and the UAOC. According to him, a letter from the Ecumenical Patriarch came to the PM of Onuphrius, which referred to the loss of his title by the head of the UOC-MP after the unification of the Communist Party and the UAOC. “Since the election of the canonical PM of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, he loses the right to this title, that is, from the point of view of the Universal Orthodoxy, the Moscow Patriarchate’s presence on the territory of Ukraine no longer corresponds to the canons, and the canons are the exact residence in the local Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” said speaker. At the same time, Archbishop Zorya added that the Moscow Patriarchate will continue to exist in Ukraine: “From the point of view of the state legislation, there is no doubt that the Moscow Patriarchate will exist in Ukraine, because there are people who choose this church, but I think it will gradually take place” unity with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine of those who wish it voluntarily. ”

Official name of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church becomes known –

Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which was created earlier at the Unification Assembly on December 15, now has the title of Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Press Secretary of UOC of Kyiv Patriarchate archbishop Eustraty stated this on Facebook. ‘According to the charter, the official name is Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is also possible to call it UOC (do not confuse with MP),’ Eustraty claimed. Related: Metropolitan Epifaniy (Dumenko) became Head of local Orthodox Church in Ukraine He has also announced the title of the celebrant of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church – ‘His Beatitude Epifaniy Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine’. Earlier, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko announced the creation of the Ukrainian local Autocephalous Orthodox church. He said this at Sofiivska Square in Kyiv, after the Unification Assembly, the 112 Ukraine TV channel reports.

Ukraine Orthodox priests establish independent Church – BBC News

The move has angered the Russian Orthodox Church, which fears its property in Ukraine could be seized.

Ukraine Orthodox Leaders Approve Break With Russian Church 

Leaders approved creation of unified church independent of Moscow Patriarchate, elect a new head

Amid Russia Tensions, Ukraine Moves Toward Separate Church – The New York Times

Ukraine took a major step toward establishing an Orthodox Church independent of Moscow, a move likely to increase already heightened tensions

Ukraine’s President names leader of new church in split from Russia

President Petro Poroshenko said 39-year-old Metropolitan Epifaniy of the Kiev Patriarchate church had been chosen as head of the church by a council, comparing the move to Ukraine’s referendum for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. “This day will go into history as a sacred day …

UAWire – Ukraine establishes autocephalous orthodox church

On Saturday, December 15, the Unifying Assembly of Ukrainian Orthodox Confessions, under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, ruled to …

Ukraine forms new unified Orthodox Church in defiance of Moscow | The Independent

For proponents of Ukrainian independence, Saturday was a long-awaited day.  Inside Kiev’s St Sophia Cathedral, a unification council of 190 delegates gathered to serve the final rites on the country’s 332-year-old religious ties with Moscow Orthodoxy; to create a new, unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church; and elect a new leader. The council followed September’s decision by the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to grant the Ukrainian Church autocephaly (independence).

John L. Allen Jr. | Why drive for independence of Ukraine’s church matters to Rome too | Crux

Once again, charges of religious force and intimidation are flying in Ukraine. ROME – Let’s make one thing clear at the outset: It takes a special kind of chutzpah for the Patriarch of Moscow to complain that his bishops and clergy are being subjected to pressure, intimidation and even “persecution” from the state in today’s Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow recently made precisely that appeal in letters to Pope Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, the World Council of Churches, the Secretary-General of the UN and the governments of France and Germany, and pretty much anyone else who might listen. The content of the letters was released through official Russian news channels. He wrote that “the interference of the heads of the secular Ukrainian state in ecclesiastical affairs has recently assumed the form of excessive pressure exercised on the bishops and priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox church [which is what Moscow calls the branch of the Russian Orthodox church in Ukraine loyal to Moscow], which permits me to speak of the beginning of a persecution on a large scale.” “The numerous acts of discrimination to which the Ukrainian church has already been subjected makes us fear even graver violations of human rights and of the freedom of Orthodox Christians, who are guilty only of remaining loyal to canonical Orthodoxy,” Kirill wrote. So far, there has been no public reaction on the part of Pope Francis or the Vatican. Kirill made the appeal on the eve of Saturday’s opening of a “Council of Unification” in Ukraine, the object of which is to end the division among three separate branches of Orthodoxy in the country and set the stage for recognition of a new, independent Orthodox church in Ukraine in early December by the Patriarch of Constantinople. To put such an appeal into context for Americans, it’s a bit like the leaders of the defeated Confederacy writing to the president of the United States complaining that their former officers were subject to racial discrimination in the south in the aftermath of the Civil War. In reality, no one’s ever used the tools of the state to impose religious obedience in Ukraine more brutally or thoroughly than the Russians. During the Soviet era, fealty to the Patriarch of Moscow was imposed down the barrel of a gun, rendering, among others, the Greek Catholic Church in the country the world’s largest illegal religious body. In percentage terms, no church in the world suffered more martyrs during the Soviet era than the Greek Catholics, though Orthodox believers in Ukraine who defied Russian control were heavily persecuted as well. It’s therefore more than a little difficult to take the Russians seriously today when they posture as victims, given their bloody history.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s ‘Russian World’ Continues to Contract

Paul Goble Staunton, December 15 – Despite Vladimir Putin’s aggressive Russification program at home and his promotion of the Russian language abroad, the Kremlin leader’s “Russian world” which in the absence of any other unifying factor he continues to define in linguistic terms continues to shrink often in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. Four indications of this surfaced in the last few days:

  • Russian-Language TV Broadcasts End in Armenia. As a result of a 35,000 US dollar grant from the Armenian government, Armenian television will change the language of the “Who, Where, When?” program on stat television from Russian to Armenian. That ends Yerevan broadcasting in Russian (
  • Helsinki Shuts Down Russian-Language School Option in Eastern Finland. The Finnish government has ended a program in which pupils could study Russian rather than Swedish if they live in the east of the country. The authorities explained they were doing so because Finns there lacked interest in studying Russian (
  • Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast Ends Regional Status of Russian. By a vote of 46 to 18, deputies in the Kherson regional parliament have voted to strip Russian of its status as a regional language. Earlier Kharkiv and Zhitomir oblast took analogous steps to reduce the public use of Russian (
  • Tatars Say They are Increasingly Using Tatar. A survey finds that despite Moscow’s pressure to shift to Russian, Tatars in both the rural and urban portions of the Middle Volga republic say they are now using Tatar more than they did two decades ago. More than 86 percent of rural Tatars and more than 67 percent of urban ones say they speak and write it fluently, eight percent more in each case than in 2001. It is uncertain whether these declarations reflect a real change or an act of national defiance of Moscow (

Ukrainian Orthodox [UOC-MP/ROC] hierarchs refuse to take part in Poroshenko’s ‘unification council’ — RT World News

Hierarchs of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church have refused en masse to take part in the so-called ‘unification council’ championed by the country’s president, sending “invitations” to the event back without reply.

Constantinople Patriarch to Give Tomos on Ukraine’s ‘New Church’ Autocephaly – Sputnik International

ATHENS (Sputnik) – Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople invited the elected head of Ukraine’s “new church” to visit Istanbul to receive tomos of autocephaly on the feast day of the Epiphany Day on January 6, the patriarchate’s press service told Sputnik on Saturday.

Usik received from the hands of the head of the UOC-MP Onuphrius the award – the Order of the Rev. Ilya Muromets I degree. VIDEO

During the rewarding, the boxer once again confirmed his intention to “get on the side of the monks” if radically minded people go to capture Lavra. Absolute World Heavyweight Champion Oleksandr Usik received the Order of the Rev. Ilya Muromets I degree. The recipient of Usika was the Metropolitan of the UOC of Moscow Patriarchate Onuphrius, according to Tsensor. NET with reference to the information and education department of the UOC-MP. Achievements of the boxer were noted during the VI ceremony “The Future of the Nation” in the hall of the National Opera of Ukraine. Before receiving the award, Usik stated that “1% talent and 99% of hard work are needed to realize their potential.” “Work and work … and pray, and then everything will succeed”, – said the boxer. Receiving a reward, the boxer said: “Friends, let each other love, forgive and respect, and then we will have everything good.”

Archbishop Kliment fears “payback for Tomos” in occupied Crimea

On December 15, in Kyiv during the Unity Council, a single local Orthodox Church was announced. However, after receiving Tomos on autocephaly in the occupied Crimea, they may start taking revenge on the church of the Kyivan Patriarchate. This was reported by the Archbishop of Simferopol and the Crimean Contemporary Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) Clement (Bush), informs Tsensor. NET with reference to the Crimea. Realia. According to him, earlier the puppet of the Kremlin and the head of the occupying power of the Crimea Sergey Aksenov said that “Bishop Lazar asked not to touch, because there is a fear that if in Crimea there will be some illegal moves against the church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, this can affect the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate on mainland Ukraine “.