REFLECTIONS ON LATEST STATEMENT BY UAPTs
Today's UAPTs is a satellite of the RPTsMP, whose fundamental tasks is to raise any obstacles on the path to recognition of local status of Ukrainian Orthodoxy
Krynitsa.info, 11 July 2016
On 26 June a conciliar divine liturgy was performed at the Pan-Orthodox Council and back on 16 June the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine sent a request to the ecumenical patriarch to grant autocephalous status to Ukrainian Orthodoxy. And although the "Ukrainian question" was absent from the official agenda, it was actively discussed in backrooms and at press conferences.
Thus, a representative of the Constantinople patriarchate, Archbishop of Telmessos Job, back on 20 June, the first day of the work of the Pan-Orthodox Council, made the following statement: "As soon as the official letter from the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine arrives at the chancellery of the ecumenical patriarch, it will immediately be set out for consideration by the Holy Synod of the Constantinople patriarchate."
It should be noted that the Verkhovna Rada is requesting autocephaly not for the UPTsKP or any other jurisdiction, but it is local status for Ukrainian Orthodoxy. And this is very important, because all Orthodox who really wish unification on the basis of the creation of a single local Orthodox Church in Ukraine are invited into the process. Presiding over this process will be the patriarch of Constantinople, which makes administrative pressure on the part of any Orthodox jurisdiction—participants in negotiations and the council—impossible.
It would seem that all who are interested in autocephalous status of Ukrainian Orthodox should expect some kind of official decision of the synod of the Constantinople patriarchate and only then will corresponding official decisions by made. But quite "unexpectedly," the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church assembled a bishops' council on 5 July and sent a request to the ecumenical patriarchate "for the adoption of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church into membership of the Constantinople Mother-Church on the rights of the Ukrainian church with its metropolitan center in Kiev before 1686 and in accordance with decisions of the Holy and Great Orthodox Council on the island of Crete in 2016 regarding the grant of autonomous status to churches." Even for many of the faithful of the UAPTs, to say nothing of Orthodox of other jurisdiction, the natural question arose: why make this statement, which contradicts the appeal of the Verkhovna Rada and the desires of almost 40% of Orthodox Ukrainians? The more so since, as written above, the synod of the ecumenical patriarchate has agreed to consider the appeal about granting autocephaly, and the UAPTs itself, because of decisions specifically of the bishops' council, has already frequently over the course of 2005 to 2011 requested to join the Constantinople patriarchate.
However everything becomes clear if one looks at this event through the eyes of the Moscow patriarchate and remembers recent history with the interruption by bishops of the UAPTs of the unification process in 2015 (the fifth time in the last 20 years).
So, if one analyzes the articles and statements of the Moscow opponents of local status for Ukrainian Orthodoxy in recent years one can note that one of the chief critical arguments is the thesis about "the division and inability to unify of the UPTsKP and UAPTs themselves." At the same time, it is the bishops of the UAPTs, despite fraternal relations of the bishops of the UPTsKP in negotiations, that always found some "hooker," in order to interrupt the process of unification and to play on the side of the Moscow patriarchate. This became especially obvious in the summer of 2015, when even representatives of the Constantinople patriarchate, His Grace Bishop Ilarion and His Grace Bishop Daniel, were surprised by the exorbitant demands of the head of the UAPTs, Metropolitan Makary, and his effort to disrupt negotiations and the unification council that had already been scheduled. And this at a time when the internal and public circumstances of the UAPTs itself leave much to be desired (about 600 real parishes, 90% of which are in three provinces of western Ukraine, not one fully functioning monastery numbering at least 10 monks, the majority of dioceses consisting of 1 to 3 real parishes, and the weight on the Ukrainian religious field in public trust is at the level of a sociological margin of error, 0.9% to 1.1%)
Despite the fact that the UAPTs bishops' disruption of the unification process in 2015 was viewed negatively by the majority of the Ukrainian Orthodox ecumene and caused a mass transfer of UAPTs parishes into the UPTsKP, it was sincerely welcomed by the Moscow patriarchate. The head of the UAPTs and several of his satellite bishops even received the possibility of proving their "position" on leading media resources of the RPTsMP, without forgetting to pour slime both on the UPTsKP as a whole and on its primate, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret, in particular. The latter dispelled all illusions about "the true position and independence" of the UAPTs.
And here again, another time, the head of the UAPTs and his bishops decided to play along with the Moscow patriarchate, adopting an appeal with a request for acceptance into the Constantinople patriarchate and rejection of autocephalous status. At the same time, in our opinion, this appeal will have no real consequences as nobody needs it except spokespersons and agents of the influence of the Moscow patriarchate. Such a conclusion is based on several factors:
1. As we noted above, the bishops' synod of the UAPTs has already many time appealed to the Constantinople patriarchate with such a suggestion and has even conducted negotiations on this basis. But all attempt came to naught both through the internal condition of the UAPTs itself and because of the degree of its public support. At the same time, at the moment of these appeals the UAPTs was significantly more powerful than it is today.
2. The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, the highest legislative body of the country, sent to the Constantinople patriarch a request specifically for autocephalous status of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. At the same time the appeal's direct text says that Ukraine is interested not in the grant of a corresponding status of some single jurisdiction but in unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy on the grounds of locality. Therefore it is possible to say with certainty, considering historical precedents, that the ecumenical patriarch will not conduct "separate" negotiations and grant the status exclusively to the UAPTs alone.
3. Everyone understands well, and the ecumenical patriarch first of all, that granting status to a marginal structure, which has minimal trust and support of society, not only will not resolve the problem of the division of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, which today actually runs between the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate, but it will not produce any "political dividends" specifically for the Constantinople patriarchate. Thus the reaction of the Moscow patriarchate to the "entry" of Constantinople into Ukraine will be equally negative both in the creation of a united local Ukrainian Orthodoxy and in the creation of a metropolitanate on the basis of the UAPTs. But in the first option the Constantinople patriarchate gets as an ally one of the largest Orthodox churches while in the second it gets a marginal structure that really is a confederation of three bishops of Galicia. At the same time, as all experts note, there is a great likelihood of the departure from Constantinople of the largest dioceses of the UAPTs in the event of the removal of Metropolitan Makary from his post as head or of attempts to reshuffle one or several bishops of the Galician dioceses.
4. The appeal of the head and bishops of the UAPTs allows spokesmen for the Moscow patriarchate and for the chief opposition (read pro-Moscow) deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to appeal to the ecumenical patriarch requesting his refusal to consider the official appeal of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. After all, "the schismatic themselves to not desire autocephalous status."
5. The timing of the appeal was selected so that it would coincide with the "procession of the cross to Kiev," which was organized by the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine. This procession is marching under Russian flags and with portraits of the last Russian emperor. Simultaneously with the procession, the UAPTs is consecrating in Kiev a chapel in honor of St. John of Shanghai, who, despite his ascetic feats, was a zealous proponent of the Russian autocracy and empire. If one recalls that the UAPTs always rejected any negotiations without the participation of representatives of the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine, then all of this, in the opinion of a majority of experts, resembles a single planned action which should show to the world that "Ukrainian" Orthodox are opposed to local status and a rupture from Moscow.
Thus, recent events once again have confirmed that today's UAPTs is a satellite of the Moscow patriarchate whose primary task is to sow discord among Orthodox Ukrainians and to erect any artificial obstacles on the path to recognize of local status for Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Acting on Moscow's orders, although under the guise of patriotic slogans, the latest statement of the episcopate of the UAPTs has finally discredited itself in the eyes of the Ukrainian people. Now it is clear to the overt skeptics why back in the summer of 2015 the Holy Synod of the UPTsKP adopted a decision regarding "the hopelessness and fruitlessness of any further attempts to conduct a dialogue with the bishops of the UAPTs" and it urged "the clergy and believers who belong to the UAPTS to restore unity with the Kiev patriarchate and together to continue the development of a united local Ukrainian Orthodox church." (tr. by PDS, posted 14 July 2016)
Russian original posted on website of Portal-credo.ru, 13 July 2016
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