Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia Lost the War of the Churches (71)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Again, Church matters remain the leading topic in Ukrainian media, and the leading Ukraine topic in global mass media. The full Synod in Constantinople signs the Tomos document, and the Greek Orthodox Church is engaged to formally recognise the OCU. Pres Poroshenko decorates the now retired Patriarch Filaret with Hero of Ukraine for leading the 25 year long effort to form an independent church.

Interesting analysis by Pluzhnikov on the dubious ROC statistics on the actual size of the church – even if the real numbers are ten times what Pluzhnikov suggests, that would put the ROC third behind Ukraine (30 million members) and Romania (16 million members), which is what others have previously argued. The also explains much of the toxicity emanating from Muscovy – Russia not  only loses its claimed primacy, but is relegated to a position behind Romania. In Russia’s zero sum game culture, this is simply intolerable.

Much toxic propaganda emanating from Russia.

More interesting is that the audit of artefacts at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery has found multiple historically valuable icons missing. A criminal investigation has been initiated, prudent given the booming market for Eastern Orthodox religous icons.

Finally the Anti-Christ comment by the ROC head has become a minor media hit in the West.


Tomos for Ukraine Church signed by all members of Constantinople Synod | UNIAN

On January 9, in Istanbul, members of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate signed off the tomos of autocephaly of the newly-established  Orthodox Church of Ukraine, thus granting it canonical independence. Now, the document has been finalized. On January 9, in Istanbul, members of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate signed off the tomos of autocephaly of the newly-established Orthodox Church of Ukraine, thus granting it canonical independence. Now, the document has been finalized, TSN wrote, posting a photo report from a signing ceremony. Within a few days, the document will be returned to Ukraine.

Greek bishops to decide on recognition of Ukrainian Church | News | ekathimerini.com

The Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, comprised of 82 bishops, will decide in late February whether or not to recognize the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine. The Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, comprised of 82 bishops, will decide in late February whether or not to recognize the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine, which was formally granted independence from Moscow last Sunday by Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios. The decision was ceded to the hierarchy after a session on Tuesday by the Perpetual Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, which comprises 12 bishops. Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, has sent letters to 13 patriarchates and churches of the Orthodox world requesting they also recognize the Ukrainian church’s independence. The decision has led to a rift between Vartholomaios and Russian Patriarch Kirill who has also sent letters asking Orthodox patriarchates and churches to reject the decision by Vartholomaios.

Greece starts procedure for recognizing Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

The Greek Orthodox Church has launched the procedure needed for the recognition of the united local Orthodox Church of Ukraine. — Ukrinform

Poroshenko awards Hero of Ukraine title to Filaret

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has praised Patriarch Filaret’s contribution in his struggle for the creation of a local church in Ukraine and decided to confer the highest award on him – the Hero of Ukraine title. — Ukrinform

President presents high state award to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

President Petro Poroshenko has awarded Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome His All-Holiness Bartholomew with the Order of Merit of the First Degree, the presidential press service has reported.

Poroshenko decides to award ‘Hero of Ukraine’ title to Patriarch Filaret | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he has decided to award the ‘Hero of Ukraine’ title, the highest national title that can be conferred upon an individual citizen by the President of Ukraine, to Emeritus Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Filaret. Filaret stepped up his drive for an independent national church since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of a war in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he has decided to award the ‘Hero of Ukraine’ title, the highest national title that can be conferred upon an individual citizen by the President of Ukraine, to Emeritus Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Filaret. “The measure that can be used to measure the contribution of Patriarch Filaret to the fight for the local church has not yet been invented. He was, is and remains the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian church, the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian people. That is why I’ve decided to award him the ‘Hero of Ukraine’ title,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook on January 8. The presidential press service says that the ‘Hero of Ukraine’ title is being awarded to Filaret for his outstanding historical role in the establishment of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, activities aimed at reviving the spirituality of the Ukrainian people, strengthening the authority of Orthodoxy, promoting ideals of compassion and interreligious harmony.

Poroshenko to award Patriarch Filaret Hero of Ukraine title – 112.international

President Petro Poroshenko decided to award Hero of Ukraine title to Patriarch Filaret, the recently retired ex-head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This is mentioned on Poroshenko’s Facebook. ‘There’s still no decent rate to measure Patriarch Filaret’s contribution to the struggle for the united local church. He was, still is and will be the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian church, the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian people’, Poroshenko wrote. Filaret (Mykhailo Denysenko) is the Honorary Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. He headed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate from 1995 till the 2018 congregation, which sealed the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Ecumenical Patriarch recognizes independence of Orthodox Church of Ukraine | Catholic Herald

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on Saturday signed a tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formally recognizing the Church’s…

Church leaders react to Ukrainian Orthodox Church splitting ties with Russia – WBNG

JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) — The new year brings a change for Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been tied to Russia since the 1600s. Recently, the two have parted ways. Local church leaders say its has been a long time coming for this to happen. “It’s good because it’s nice to see the unity and that we have somebody to talk to, as I mentioned to sort of find the Kievan tradition that’s our heritage that we share,” said Sacred Heart of Jesus Ukrainian Catholic Church Reverend Teodor Czabala. “I mean it’s a great historical event,” said St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church Father Ivan Synevskyy. “I mean it’s no doubt. It’s something you would never imagine to be living in during that time.” Synevskyy says this was a good move to make. “Many problems have simply just disappeared with having this one church in Ukraine,” said Synevskyy. He says this new change will create positivity in the Southern Tier. “Your sacraments are not of canonical, we would have to, re-baptize you, or remarry you, or whatever because you’re not legitimately married or baptized,” he explained. “Now that issue simply goes away.” He says being under one church with no government power means no one is excluded. “Now we accept all Orthodox’s from Ukraine without no extra questions,” he added. “Are you this? Are you that? You know, so many questions to be asked for.” Synevskyy says he’s grateful to be a part of this new change. “I am personally really happy of this happening during my lifetime and now to see like I said my friends and family talking to each other because their all in the same church, it’s a big, big joy,” he added. Monday marks the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s first Christmas celebration without Russia.

Canada congratulates Orthodox Church of Ukraine on receiving tomos

Canada congratulates the united Orthodox Church of Ukraine on receiving the tomos of autocephaly. — Ukrinform

Canada hails receiving of tomos by OCU and becoming Autocephalous Church — Canada’s FM

Canada has congratulated the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on receiving the Tomos of Autocephaly and becoming an independent Church, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said.

Chrystia Freeland on Twitter: “Congratulations to the new Orthodox Church of #Ukraine for receiving the Tomos of Autocephaly yesterday and becoming an independent and recognized, Autocephalous Church. Canada welcomes this positive change in recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

 

Carl Bildt on Twitter: “Big move in the Orthodox world: today the new independent church in Ukraine was blessed in a ceremony in Istanbul. https://t.co/a1S9NTbQbJ”

 

UAWire – The Pope expresses concern about the conflict in the Donbas

On Monday, January 7, Pope Francis expressed his concern about the conflict in the east of Ukraine during the New Year's reception of the …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘I am an Atheist Orthodox’ – and Other Problems of Russian Religious Statistics

Paul Goble Staunton, January 8 – Now that the Russian Orthodox Church is about to lose a third of its parishes and a third of its hierarchs because of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (charter97.org/ru/news/2019/1/7/319175/), ever more attention is being given to statistics about the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and their problems. Most statistics about the ROC MP are problematic, Aleksey Pluzhnikov of the independent Akhilla Orthodox portal says, because there is little or no agreement on what it means to be an Orthodox believer given that some identify with the church even if they declare themselves to be atheists (ahilla.ru/pravoslavnye-v-rossii-rozhdestvenskaya-statistika-i-realnost/). Patriarch Kirill says there are 150 million believers in the ROC MP, a number larger than the population of the Russian Federation and one that includes people in Ukraine, Belarus, other former Soviet republics, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and other Orthodox congregations outside of the Russian Federation. But the real number is much lower, no more than one or two percent and perhaps less, if one counts as believers only those who attend religious services regularly. Then there are the figures the Russian state offers on the number who attend services on holidays such as Christmas. This year, Moscow said 2.6 million did – just under two percent of the population. As to the size of the church’s institutional base, the ROC MP says that on February 1, 2018, the church had 303 bishoprics and 37,799 churches, figures that include those not only in Russia but abroad. The church says it has 40,447 clerics, including 35,625 consecrated priests and 4822 deacons. For the Russian Federation alone, these figures are far smaller: 190 bishoprics (excluding three in Crimea) and 23,281 clerics including 20,149 priests and 3132 deacons. This means, Pluzhnikov says, that there are somewhat fewer priests than parishes and so in rural areas, many priests serve more than one church. If one accepts that the real number of parishioners is a maximum of 1.5 million and the number of parishes at no more than 25,000, that means that the average parish has approximately 60 members, larger in the big cities but smaller in rural areas. That is the real face of the ROC MP in Russia and not the far larger numbers the patriarchate gives out. Approximately 15 years ago, Plyushnikov says, he worked as a teacher in a rural school and regularly attended church. That infuriated the school’s direction who was a communist and feared that he would conduct religious propaganda in schools. “I am an atheist but also an Orthodox,” she said repeatedly, an indication of how problematic such claims are.

Patriarch Kirill may soon be dismissed due to Ukraine’s receipt of tomos – Ariev

The head of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), MP Volodymyr Ariev, reported this on his Facebook page, with reference to his own sources. “The tomos has turned out to be a weapon. In Crimea, the invaders put their air defense systems on full combat alert when the Ukrainian delegation was still flying to Istanbul to get it. The latest news from the north is as follows: since Kirill (Gundyayev) did not cope with the task of disrupting the granting of the tomos for Ukraine, the main person in Russia turned green and left for celebrations to St. Petersburg, not to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior [in Moscow]. The main thing is that he even did not want to see the loser. Obviously, someone may soon be deprived of his post (it’s not a joke – the source of the news is very serious),” Ariev said. The MP said that the receipt of the tomos proves the significance of Ukraine’s geopolitical victory. Earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarchate proclaimed the newly established autocephalous church in Ukraine as its spiritual daughter with a department in Kyiv.

Erdogan playing Orthodox Church against Russia – YouTube

RT America Published on Jan 8, 2019 Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, formalized the creation of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine at a signing ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was in attendance and called his Turkish counterpart “a true friend of Ukraine.” RT correspondent Alex Mihailovich joins Rick Sanchez to examine and discuss President Erdogan’s surprising sway over millions of Orthodox Christians.

Tomos of Autocephaly Taken Away From Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev – Reports – Sputnik International

KIEV (Sputnik) – The independence decree, or tomos, granting autocephaly to the newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine, has been taken away from the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and its present location is unknown, Ukraine’s Pryamiy TV channel reported on Tuesday.

UOC MP set up mobile groups to block transfer of communities to Orthodox Church of Ukraine [Nov 2018]

          Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, collectively with experts from the FSB, the principal security agency of Russia, have set up task force groups in Ukraine that would try block the conversion of parishes from the UOC MP to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This is reported in the statement of the Synodal Department of the military clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. “The FSB of Russia received an instruction to apply previously formed mobile task force groups whose main objective is to suppress the desire to voluntarily change affiliation of the laity and clergymen of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” the document said. According to the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine, such mobile groups are set up in each diocese of the UOC MP, with each group including a lawyer and several sporty men.  “The gist of the plan of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine now is that once a community of a certain village decides to transfer from the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine and to join the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the group “for ensuring property rights” is deployed in the corresponding settlement to take care of the issues of physical control over the church. An extremely dangerous situation is emerging when the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine wants to make the faithful and priests its serfs,” the military chaplains note.

Several valuable icons removed from Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, criminal case opened – Nishchuk

Ukraine’s Culture Minister Yevhen Nishchuk has said several valuable icons have been found missing from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra complex in Kyiv and that a criminal investigation has been launched. Ukraine’s Culture Minister Yevhen Nishchuk has said several valuable icons have been found missing from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra complex in Kyiv and that a criminal investigation has been launched. “We have already partially completed the inventory. Complete reports are now being sent to us. Some icons have gone missing from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra,” Nishchuk told the Pryamiy TV channel on Tuesday evening. The minister said there would be a separate briefing on the disappearance of religious relics after the relevant paperwork is filed. As earlier reported, MP Ihor Lutsenko of the Batkivschyna faction on January 4, 2019 criticized the work of a commission set up by the Ukrainian Culture Ministry to conduct an inspection of the relics kept at the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic and Cultural Reserve has not reported on the results of the audit because it found cases of hallows being replaced with fake items. “The problem is that most likely everything has already been taken out of there… They took out all the hallows [holy remains of dead monks],” Lutsenko told a press conference at the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency on January 4. He said he believes that this is the reason for the results of the work of the Culture Ministry’s commission not having been made public yet. In connection with this, the MP thinks it necessary to analyze how the audit was carried out. Serhiy Krolevets, former director of the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic and Cultural Reserve, said that the state of Ukraine had handed the hallows over to the church and at present it is not their owner. In connection with this, he said he believes that objects of cultural heritage must be returned under the control of the state. As reported earlier, a special commission made up of employees of the Ministry of Culture and the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic and Cultural Reserve was set up by the Ministry of Culture to carry out an inspection of relics given to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra 30 years ago. The commission’s job is to make an audit of the existing ecclesiastical antiquities and holy items that have been handed over to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra since 1998 when the monastery there resumed operation. The objects of the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic and Cultural Reserve belong to the state of Ukraine; however, they are under a 50-year-long lease by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra inventory reveals several Orthodox icons disappear – Minister | UNIAN

Ukrainian Culture Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk says that inventory at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery has revealed that several valuable Orthodox icons disappeared. Criminal proceedings were opened after inventory reconciliation. Ukrainian Culture Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk says that inventory at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery has revealed that several valuable Orthodox icons disappeared. “The full inventory has been conducted partly. They now started sending us full lists. Certain icons have been lost at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. That’s right, we’ve done inventory reconciliation,” the minister said on TV Channel Pryamiy. “On the other hand, it’s unnecessary to say that something has just been withdrawn [by priests of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate] from there. Those could be losses for previous periods, even earlier than 2003.” In his words, criminal proceedings were initiated after the inventory reconciliation. “All documents are being forwarded to law enforcement agencies,” he said. The minister says a separate press briefing on the missing icons will be given after all the documents have been processed. Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is in state ownership, but it was leased out to the Moscow Patriarchate for 50 years. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Unification Council of members of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches in Kyiv on December 15 elected Metropolitan of Pereyaslavsky and Bila Tserkva from the then Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate Epifaniy (also known as Epiphanius I) as head of the new local Orthodox church in Ukraine. On January 6, Epifaniy, as Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, received the tomos of autocephaly (independence) of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul, Turkey.

Valuable icons disappeared from Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, – Ukraine’s Culture Minister – 112.international

The loss of a few valuable icons was found out during the inventory checking at Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. The criminal proceedings were opened as Interfax-Ukraine reported citing Ukraine’s Culture Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk. “The complete inventory checking is partially done. The full reports are being sent to us. There are some losses of icons at Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. On the other hand, do not tell that some items were transported out. These losses can be of the earlier period of time, before 2003. Now, the criminal proceedings were opened based on this verification. All documents sent to the law enforcement bodies,” the minister stated and promised that a special briefing on the disappeared icons will take place. The inventory checking of the presence of the relic at Near and Distant Caves of Lavra has begun on November 28. The work of the Commission, which consists of the workers of the ministry and National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Reserve takes place under the supervision of the monks and members of the Spiritual Assembly of the convent.

Filaret: Kyiv Pechersk, Pochayiv Lavra to be Ukrainian church property – 112.international

Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Filaret stressed that Russia had no patrimony in Ukraine and after the recognition of One Ukrainian local Orthodox Church, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and Pochayiv Lavra have to become the property of Ukrainian church. Filaret said this in an interview with Pryamiy TV channel, as the church’s press service reports. “The fact is that Moscow Patriarchate does not have any property in Ukraine. For example, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and Pochayiv Lavra – whose property is that? It’s the property of Ukraine. And the country transferred its property in use of Ukrainian Church of Moscow Patriarchate. But when Ukrainian Church is recognized here, then both Lavra will go to Ukraine’s Church. Because this is a Ukrainian holy site,” Filaret said. He added that Russia and Moscow Patriarchate have nothing to do with these holy sites. “The parishes that built their churches for their money own these churches, and not Russia,” Filaret noted. As it was reported earlier, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew confirmed the intention to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko asserted that the receipt of Tomos on autocephaly by Ukraine will complete the assertion of its independence. Such a statement the head of the Ukrainian state made during events on the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus – Ukraine.

Russian church head says smartphones could bring the Antichrist | Fox News

MOSCOW (AP) — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says the data-gathering capacity of devices such as smartphones risks bringing humanity closer to the arrival of the Antichrist.

Russian church head: Smartphones could precede Antichrist – ABC News

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says the data-gathering capacity of devices such as smartphones risks bringing humanity closer to the arrival of the Antichrist. In an interview shown Monday on state TV, Patriarch Kirill said the church does not oppose technological progress but is concerned that “someone can know exactly where you are, know exactly what you are interested in, know exactly what you are afraid of” and that such information could be used for centralized control of the world. “Control from one point is a foreshadowing of the coming of Antichrist, if we talk about the Christian view. Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the world wide web that controls the entire human race,” he said.

Smartphone users warned to be careful of the Antichrist – BBC News

People’s dependence on smartphones and modern technology could bring about the coming of the Antichrist, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned. Russian social media users largely responded with humour and scepticism, while some accused the Church of “serving the regime”. Speaking to Russian state TV, Patriarch Kirill said smartphone users should be careful when using the “worldwide web of gadgets” because it represented “an opportunity to gain global control over mankind”. “The Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the worldwide web, controlling all of humankind,” he said.

Smartphone users warned to be careful of the Antichrist – BBC News

Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill warns Antichrist could be “at the head of the worldwide web”.

Russian church leader warns smartphone users to be careful of Antichrist | UNIAN

People’s dependence on smartphones and modern technology could bring about the coming of the Antichrist, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned. At a time when internet freedoms are increasingly restricted in Russia – and authorities are reportedly attempting to create an independent Russian internet – this closeness led some to accuse Patriarch Kirill of lending government policy divine authority.

 

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