Head of the Phanar in Ukraine. He meets with the country’s leadership, speaks at veterans ‘ forums, but runs away from meeting with believers of the UOC. What will happen next?
The head of the Phanar flew to Ukraine, met with the top leaders of the state and refused to look into the eyes of people who suffered from the «love of the mother church». What are the first steps of Patriarch Bartholomew in our land, and how can this whole situation develop further?
A political project in violation of the Constitution
On August 20, 2021, the plane carrying the head of the Phanar landed at Boryspil airport, where Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and head of the OCU Serhiy (Epiphany) Dumenko were already waiting for him.
According to the Constitution of Ukraine, the Prime Minister is the third highest-ranking person in the state, and in accordance with diplomatic practice, prime ministers meet foreign heads of state at airports, and then not all and not always. For example, on August 22, 2021, Dmytro Shmygal did not meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Boryspil.
«This is a symbolic and important visit for our state. A delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will take part in the celebrations dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the restoration of our independence. I thanked him for the support provided to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people by His Holiness, » D. Shmygal wrote in his Telegram channel after the meeting of the head of the Phanar.
Immediately after arriving in Kiev, Patriarch Bartholomew went to meet with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
At this meeting, there was a protocol exchange of pleasantries and some statements were made, which will be discussed below.
And the next day, on August 21, 2021, Patriarch Bartholomew came to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and met with its speaker Dmitry Razumkov, who according to the Constitution is the second person in the state.
Thus, all three main leaders of Ukraine met with Patriarch Bartholomew, who is neither the head of any state, nor the Prime Minister, nor any other official. From a legal point of view, he is the head of a foreign religious organization and nothing more. Then why do all the main leaders of the state meet with him? And in what capacity do they do this: as officials or privately? This last question can be answered unequivocally – as officials. This is evidenced by the fact that almost all of these meetings Both the fact that these meetings were held in an official setting on behalf of the state, and the fact that decisions of a legal nature are taken as a result of these, as well as previous meetings.
Not only the current visit, but also the entire cooperation between Ukraine and Phanar is a political project that is being implemented by the Ukrainian authorities in violation of their own Constitution.
However, the Constitution of Ukraine, which describes the powers of the three highest officials of the state, does not give them the corresponding powers, not to mention the fact that Ukraine is a secular state in which the Church is separated from the state. From this, we can conclude that not only the current visit, but also the entire cooperation between Ukraine and Phanar is a political project that is being implemented by the Ukrainian authorities in violation of their own Constitution.
Ostrich pose: we don’t see any conflicts or protests
During the meeting with the head of the PhanarPresident of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated that our country is «a unique example of peaceful coexistence of many faiths.» And this is at a time when a wave of forcible seizures of churches continues to roll across the country, when there are beatings of believers, and hundreds of claims of Orthodox communities of the UOC that challenge illegal re-registration are in the courts. Religious opposition in Ukrainian society obviously exists, and it is quite severe. But instead of taking steps to pacify society, to resolve the conflict, those in power prefer to simply turn a blind eye to the problem and declare that it does not exist. But this will not solve the problem, but will only grow even more.
In the evening of August 20, thousands of UOC believers lined up along the Boryspil highway with posters in Ukrainian, English and Greek, which stated that:
- Our Primate is Metropolitan Onufriy of Kiev;
- believers demand that the head of the Phanar come to them for a meeting;
- believers demand that Phanar correct what he did in Ukraine.
There were several such groups on the way of Patriarch Bartholomew’s motorcade from the airport to Kiev. And he couldn’t help but see them. There were also huge banners on which believers invited him to a meeting.
On August 21, at the time of the meeting between Patriarch Bartholomew and Dmitry Razumkov, more than 10,000 UOC believers gathered at the Verkhovna Rada, who, at the call of the «Laity» Organization, came to testify their loyalty to the UOC and clearly show the head of the Phanar what his non-canonical interference in the religious sphere of Ukraine had led to. On the eve of the session, Miryane OS sent an official letter to Phanar with an invitation to Patriarch Bartholomew to meet and see for himself that the majority of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians do not agree to submit to the decisions that the Ukrainian authorities made together with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
On the eve of some religious social networks gave information that Patriarch Bartholomew still intends to go out to the believers of the UOC, but in reality it turned out otherwise. The head of the Phanar was brought to the Verkhovna Rada through the courtyard.
And it was done in the style of Hollywood action movies, in a matter of moments – when the motorcade approached, the gate was opened and slammed right behind the last car. Similarly, the head of the Phanar was «secretly» removed from the Verkhovna Rada. Razumkov escorted him to the courtyard, where the «all-holy one» was put in a car, and in the same Hollywood style was instantly taken away.
Thus, the head of the Phanar took, as it seems to him, a win – win position: I didn’t see anything, I didn’t hear anything, I don’t know anything, which means that everything is fine in Ukraine, so I did everything right. And if the current events took place in the Middle Ages, this version would have the right to live. But we are not in the Middle Ages, and any information is instantly known around the world.
The head of the Phanar took, as it seems to him, a win-win position: I didn’t see anything, I didn’t hear anything, I don’t know anything, which means that everything is fine in Ukraine, so I did everything right.
Patriarch Bartholomew arrived in Ukraine together with his subordinates. One of them is a certain Nikolaos Papakhristou, director of the Press and Communications Department of Patriarch Bartholomew (yes, he has one). On the eve of the visit, Papakhristou gave a detailed interview to one of the OCU resources, in which he demonstrated an excellent acquaintance with the protests of the UOC faithful against the actions of the Phanar, and in general – the situation in ecclesiastical Ukraine.
Therefore, we have no doubt that Patriarch Bartholomew has the most complete information about the seizures of churches of the UOC, the number of participants in the Great Procession, and, in fact, about the standing of the laity under the Verkhovna Rada, who waited several hours for him to talk. Moreover, we would venture to assume that the entrance of Bartholomew’s motorcade to the Parliament through the back door was made at his personal request, so as «not to lose face». But did the idea succeed? Hardly.
«His all-holiness» simply did not have the heart to face the people who were beaten, humiliated and expelled from their churches in order to force them to join the OCU project. Not everyone is able to honestly look at the results of their actions and bear responsibility for them, even if only morally.
However, the next day, on August 22, Patriarch Bartholomew in Sofia of Kiev hinted that he was ready to listen to the UOC faithful, but within the framework of a certain «consecrated church tradition». «We, as the mother Church, are ready to listen to problems, dispel doubts, heal anxiety, heal injuries by the grace of God of all our children, always, but within the sanctified church tradition,» the head of the Phanar said.
It should be understood that by «church tradition» Patriarch Bartholomew means that believers who were expelled by his grace from their churches should crawl to him on their knees, kiss his shoe and ask him to «dispel doubts». But they just don’t have any doubts. They are loyal to their Church, to their Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy, and are not going to sell their faith for thirty pieces of silver.
Does Patriarch Bartholomew have a delusion of persecution?
Even before arriving in Ukraine, the public was surprised by some, let’s say, excessive precautions that were taken at the actions with the participation of Patriarch Bartholomew. We can still understand the fear of meeting with the UOC faithful, where he would have to blush for his own actions, but many facts indicate that the head of the Phanar avoids and fears even his few supporters from the OCU – the very «beloved Ukrainian people» that he so often talks about.
On the eve of Patriarch Bartholomew’s arrival in Ukraine, the OCU announcedthat water, food and posters would not be allowed to enter the territory of St. Sophia Cathedral, where a service with the head of the Phanar was to be held on August 22. Many people were surprised by such precautions, but they were flowers.
On August 21, Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated Vespers at St. Andrew’s Church, the Stauropegia of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Kiev. During the service, the police completely blocked the Andreevsky Descent, where the church is located. That is, even people who wanted to see «their patriarch» and pray with him did not have such an opportunity. Accordingly, St. Andrew’s Church was almost empty – there were only «hierarchs of the OCU», journalists and «vip parishioners»: Petro Poroshenko, Andrey Yurash, criminal authority Alexander Petrovsky (nickname «Narik» — Ed.) and others. Of course, we cannot say that if the police had not blocked St. Andrew’s Descent, ordinary parishioners would have come to the service of Patriarch Bartholomew, but there was such a chance.
If the Ukrainian people love Patriarch Bartholomew so much (and he loves the Ukrainian people), why does he need so much protection, even at the divine service? Who is he afraid of?
And on August 22, a joint «liturgy» was held by the head of the Phanar, Sergey Dumenko and other «hierarchs» of the OCU. As already mentioned, it was forbidden to bring water, food and posters there. People were allowed to enter the territory of Sofia through metal frames (were they looking for weapons?). Well, the most interesting thing is that in the» altar » next to Patriarch Bartholomew, there were several security guards in suits and, for some reason, dark glasses for the entire service. They stood out vividly against the background of people in vestments and looked very comical. The question is – if the Ukrainian people love Patriarch Bartholomew so much (and he loves the Ukrainian people) — why do they need so much maybe even at a church service? Who is he afraid of?
Persecution of the UOC will continue
Unfortunately, the assumptions of many experts and analysts that the arrival of Patriarch Bartholomew in Ukraine may provoke a new wave of seizures of churches, have every chance to be true. Believers of the UOC have been appealing to both the Ukrainian authorities and phanariots for quite some time now with a demand to give at least an assessment of the lawlessness and violence committed by supporters of the OCU. But instead, both the authorities and phanariots actually stand in solidarity with the opponents of the UOC. At a meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew on August 20, Zelensky said that the religious factor is «one of the factors that the aggressor uses.» against Ukraine as a hybrid weapon», clearly hinting at the UOC. The head of the Phanar, in an interview with Ukrinform on the eve of his visit to Ukraine, said that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cares about foreign interests, and not about church criteria.
Thus, both the Ukrainian authorities and the Patriarchate of Constantinople declared their negative attitude towards the UOC. And this is not just a negative attitude, but an approach, the essence of which was very succinctly expressed by the ancient Roman persecutors of Christians: «you should not be». Phanar stated that the UOC no longer exists. Serhiy Dumenko says that all parishes of the UOC belong to the OCU, and the Ukrainian authorities are trying to do everything possible to make it so. However, we should not forget that everything is in the hands of God. The truth of these words can be seen firsthand in Ukraine: the UOC lives and grows, and the OCU seeks support in the authorities offices and officials of the US State Department.
Sergey Dumenko is a favorite
Recently, the head of the Phanar literally crumbles in compliments to Sergey Dumenko. In the same interview with the Ukrinform news agency, he said that S. Dumenko is an effective leader who is trusted in Phanar. «Epiphanius is a prudent primate who knows how to manage church affairs efficiently and in the spirit of the canonical tradition of Orthodoxy,» Patriarch Bartholomew said. When he arrived in Kiev, he said that in decades to come, Ukrainians will celebrate the name and example of S. Dumenko. «Your work will be hard, but after many decades, your descendants will praise your name and your example. We have come to know you as a man of action, as a God-fearing man, with unshakeable faith in Christ, love for the Church and your homeland, » said the head of the Phanar.
Yes, for a normal person, this all sounds absurd and even mocking. But these are not just diplomatic curtsies. This is a response to those» bishops » of the OCU who are trying to make their own game in the struggle for power in the OCU and within the framework of this game are looking for their own channels of communication with the Phanar. Now such » hierarchs «are given a clear signal – to sit and not doubt the abilities of an»effective leader».
Patriarch Bartholomew is the creator of a new «reality»
In an interview with the Ukrinform news agency, the head of the Phanar criticized the opponents of the Tomos for the OCU and said: «The problem of these people is that it is difficult for them to recognize reality, or they refuse to recognize it. They are also ignorant of what autocephaly means, as well as the history and canonical practice of granting it.» In other words, Patriarch Bartholomew is trying to convince everyone that it is he, the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who creates the real «reality». And if what you see with your own eyes does not coincide with what the head of the Phanar says – you need to believe him, not your eyes.
Patriarch Bartholomew is trying to convince everyone that it is he, the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who creates the real «reality». And if what you see with your own eyes does not coincide with what the head of the Phanar says – you need to believe him, not your eyes.
For example, 10 thousand people who were waiting for him near the Verkhovna Rada on August 21, as well as those 350 thousand people who went in the Great Procession-this is not reality. His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy is also not a reality, just as more than 12,000 communities of the UOC are not a reality. But Sergei Dumenko, who does not have any holy orders at all, is a man who calls the words of the Gospel proverbs «this is real. His few supporters, who did not even dare to hold a full-fledged religious procession on the day of the baptism of Russia, are also a reality. In his «Bartholomew» reality, only he, Patriarch Bartholomew, can grant autocephaly, and it does not matter whether he grants it to schismatics or Orthodox. And anyone who thinks otherwise is declared profane.
And on 21 August, while in Michael’s Golden-domed monastery, the Patriarch Bartholomew said that Fanar «was originally a reliable guard the good of the Church, and although in its heyday and numerical strength he could enter and install pyramid-shaped structure of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but it was with disgust that rejected the idea and left nothing passed to it from ecclesiology, or from established and consecrated Cathedrals system «Pentarchy»».
First, the question itself is interesting: «we could if we wanted to.» Here we hear again the statement of what a Greek bishop once said in plain text:»In heaven, of course, the Lord is the head of the Church, but on earth the head of the Church is the Patriarch of Constantinople.»
Do the Phanariots seriously believe that they can arrange and rebuild the Church as they see fit? All church history shows that it is the Lord who rules this earthly, historical Church, and no «times of prosperity and numerical strength» mean anything without the Providence of God.
Secondly, of course, Patriarch Bartholomew credits the Patriarchate of Constantinople for not formally subjugating the rest of the Eastern Patriarchates during the heyday of the Byzantine Empire and the decline of Orthodoxy. But he says that ecclesiology was allegedly transferred to Constantinople, and therefore, this particular patriarchate is its guardian. This statement is absurd, since ecclesiology cannot be transferred to any one Local Church. The doctrine of the Church is one of the dogmatic elements of the Orthodox faith, without which this faith becomes defective, and therefore does not exist. life-saving. One cannot remain Orthodox and read the Creed without «I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.» However, the Phanar tries to convince everyone that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is the only guardian of Orthodox ecclesiology, and only it has access to» sacred knowledge » of how church affairs should be arranged.
Third, the Ecumenical Councils did not establish or even consecrate the system of «pentarchy.» This system of the five most influential sees: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem was formed naturally under the influence of mainly political factors. The Ecumenical Councils introduced some rules for regulating relations between these departments, but they did not at all establish the existence of these departments and the territories over which the influence of these departments extended as an unshakable dogma. The Council’s rules simply described the reality that existed at that time, although it is fair to say that both then and now there were people who argued that the Church could not exist otherwise than in the form of the five patriarchates. These people were genuinely perplexed when the Roman See separated from the Ecumenical Church and there were four patriarchates. By the way, when the status of the Russian Church was recognized as a patriarchate in 1589, the supporters of the» Pentarchy » saw this as a restoration of the shaken theory, and claimed that Moscow allegedly took the place of Rome. Needless to say, all these theories and speculations have no basis in the New Testament and are they at best an attempt to regulate inter-church relations in specific historical conditions?
Today, the so-called «Pentarchy» theory is a historical phenomenon rather than a modern structure of the Church, and certainly not an ecclesiological dogma. And to justify any special rights with this theory is nothing more than speculation on historical topics.
And fourthly, if we talk about the theory of «Pentarchy», then it does not imply that Constantinople is endowed with any exclusive rights, but recognizes the equality of the five patriarchates that existed in the first millennium. And if we go even further, and recognize the Moscow Patriarchate as one of the five patriarchates of the «Pentarchy», then in general it turns out that Constantinople is completely wrong.
What will happen next?
Let’s venture to assume that a new wave of seizures, if it starts, is unlikely to be large-scale. And this hope is based not on the» conscience » of the authorities, but on the strength of the Church. Over the past year, the UOC flock has become noticeably more active and organized in defending its constitutional rights. The mass nature of the Great Procession, the ability to quickly gather tens of thousands of people for prayer stands under the Verkhovna Rada and other authorities, makes these very authorities think about the price that will be given to continue the anti-church policy.
On the one hand, it is quite obvious that under the influence of the US State Department, the authorities have returned to the anti-church policy of the former president. But on the other hand, everyone understands perfectly well that mantras about the absence of interfaith conflicts in Ukraine are only good for diplomatic receptions, and in reality, attempts to put even more pressure on the UOC will lead to an even more negative attitude of Ukrainian society towards the current government with corresponding figures in the next elections. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that both the external and internal political situation is rather unfortunate for this government. On the topic of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, both the United States and Germany made fools of Ukraine. The issue of «green energy» is being imposed on Ukraine, which threatens to finish off the remnants of our industry, as well as lead to an energy collapse. There is growing discontent in society about the sale of Ukrainian land, which V. Zelensky legalized in order to please our Western partners (probably, it is better to say, curators). A significant increase in tariffs for gas, electricity, and utilities has already been announced. Moreover, this increase may be such that it will put most of the population on the verge of survival. All these circumstances will play against the current government, and one more additional factor in the form of a reaction to the anti-church policy is not necessary for it.
And, probably, the main factor that will influence the policy of the Ukrainian authorities, and not only in the religious sphere, is a noticeable decrease in the influence of the United States on world affairs. A symbol of this was the recent events in Afghanistan, where Americans had to evacuate chaotically, and Afghan citizens who served the United States faithfully were thrown to the mercy of the new Taliban. In many countries, many politicians have seriously considered whether it is worth following the orders of the American administration so recklessly, especially if these orders directly contradict both the interests of these countries and often the current legislation?
As for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it is going further and further in its quest to assert its privilege and exclusivity in the Orthodox World. Phanar, instead of looking for ways to retreat from the apparently failed project of the OCU, on the contrary, declares that this project is «reality».
On August 22, in Sofia, Kiev, Patriarch Bartholomew said that calling the Patriarch of Constantinople an anachronism and a museum exhibit is wrong. But if Phanar does not come to his senses, and in the very near future, it is possible that this will happen to him.
Kirill Alexandrov, UOJ