No announcement yet.

Religion and the Majdan

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Hannia
    Constantinople could grant autocephaly to Belarusian Orthodox Church next, Gorbik says
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2018/09/16 - 08:12

    Ukrainian Archpriest Sergey Gorbik says that Constantinople could grant autocephaly to the Belarusian Orthodox Church in the near future and for the same reason it is in the process of doing so now: The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has never recognized what is now the territory of Ukraine or Belarus as part of Moscow’s canonical territory.

    Belarusian Orthodox have been following developments in Ukraine closely for many months, Father Gorbik says; and they are aware of this reality. But all too many in Ukraine and elsewhere are not because Moscow has thrown up so much confusion that the record has been obscured.

    The basis for offering autocephaly to Ukraine, the Kyiv specialist on canon law says, is that “the Kyiv metropolitanate is the canonical territory of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and the transfer of this territory to under the power of the Moscow Patriarchate is illegal.”

    “Even more,” Father Gorbik says, the Ecumenical Patriarch has been explicit that the grant to Moscow of the right to appoint the Kyiv metropolitan did not change the borders of the canonical space of the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Moscow Patriarchate, whatever Moscow believes.

    According to the church commentator, “the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate and particularly its Western borders is recognized [to this day] by Constantinople in the variant of 1589, and this is very important for Belarus, since in this case, its territory never was included within the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

    “Naturally,” Father Gorbik continues, “the Constantinople Patriarchate from the end of the 17th to the beginning of the 20 centuries did not have any opportunity to restore its control over the Kyiv metropolitanate or any of its parts. But when the Russian Empire collapsed and on the territory of the Kyiv metropolitanate appeared as new independent states, the Ecumenical Patriarch openly declared about his canonical rights.”

    “On this basis took place the extension of autocephaly to the Polish Orthodox Church in 1924, an act that was recognized by all Orthodox churches except for the Russian Orthodox Church which, besides its own imperial ambitions, was under the control of the Bolsheviks,” the Ukrainian churchman says.

    Constantinople, of course, is not seeking to restore the borders of the Kyiv metropolitanate to what they were in 1589. No one is talking about that because its territory is today divided among five independent states: Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and the western part of Russia.

    Moreover, Poland already has an autocephalous church; and Ukraine soon will as well.

    Rather, from the point of view of canon law, Father Gorbik says, Belarus’ Orthodox are not part of Moscow’s canonical territory and can thus choose either to be an autonomous formation within the Constantinople Patriarchate or pursue autocephalous status as Poland did and Ukraine now is – and only Constantinople has a voice in the matter.

    “Thus, the offer by Constantinople of autocephaly to Ukrainian Orthodox practically means that Belarusian Orthodox believers are a step from an analogous status. Its offer depends only on the presence of their desire and on political circumstances in that country,” the Ukrainian expert says.

    Father Gorbik notes that Belarusian Orthodox faithful have been discussing this issue for some time and considering how what happens in Ukraine will affect them. Now that Ukraine is on the verge of receiving autocephaly, that Belarusian attention will certainly intensify. Constantinople could grant autocephaly to Belarusian Orthodox Church next, Gorbik saysEuromaidan Press |

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Poroshenko meets with Orthodox envoys dispatched for independent church preparations (Video) 00:58, 18 September 2018 Ukraine 175 0 The Exarchs are ready for cooperation with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, as well as for dialogue with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
    UNIAN 18 September 2018

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met with two envoys, Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton and the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Canada and Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia and the Western Eparchy of the UOC in the United States of America dispatched to prepare for establishing a Ukrainian church that is ecclesiastically independent from the Russian Orthodox Church.

    "I am very grateful to His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the courage and wisdom shown with your appointment," the presidential press service quoted Poroshenko as saying at a meeting with the envoys in Kyiv on September 17. "We know that Ukrainians have prayed for hundreds of years to have an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine."

    The Ukrainian president emphasized that the beginning of the mission of the Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine, Archbishop Daniel and Bishop Ilarion, is an extremely important event for all Orthodox people in Ukraine.

    Archbishop Daniel in turn noted that almost a month had passed since his last visit to Ukraine.

    "This time we arrived in Ukraine with an extraordinary mission, we personally represent Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and at the same time the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in order to continue working on the fait accompli that the beginning of the process of granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine has begun. We are on the straight line that goes to the finish line," Archbishop Daniel said.

    "We have much work to do," he said, adding that he could not agree with statements by some mass media that the appointment of the Exarchs will divide the Ukrainian Orthodoxy. "On the contrary, [we arrived] to take even more steps to bring unity for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," Archbishop Daniel said.

    He noted that the Exarchs are ready for cooperation with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, as well as for dialogue with the "Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church," with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. "We have no reasons not to meet with representatives of different religious organizations, listen to their opinions and constructively cooperate with them," the Archbishop said. In turn, Bishop Ilarion read a letter by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed to President Poroshenko.

    In turn, Bishop Ilarion read a letter by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed to President Poroshenko.

    "It is with particular joy and spiritual exaltation that we would like to inform you that in the framework of the already initiated process of giving the long-awaited status of autocephaly to the Christ-loving Ukrainian people, the Holy Synod unanimously decided at the last meeting to appoint His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia from the United States and His Eminence Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada, both serving in the respective countries to the Ukrainian Orthodox believers under the canonical intercession and spiritual care of the Constantinople Mother Church, Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine," the letter reads.

    "This remarkable historic decision of the First Orthodox Church will definitely contribute to the processes of granting autocephaly, which we pray for and work over day and night. With this joyful message from the Constantinople Mother Church, the First Orthodox Church, we warmly congratulate you on faith in the wonderful process that we, together with you, have initiated for the spiritual prosperity and independence of the Christ-loving and long-suffering Ukraine," the letter reads.

    Archbishop Daniel also informed that several meetings had already been set up with various representatives of religious organizations.

    Poroshenko thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for this letter and stressed that he was touched by the words of His All-Holiness: "I ask to convey the words of my personal gratitude and gratitude of the entire Ukrainian Orthodox people to His All-Holiness. The Lord hears our prayers."

    The Ukrainian president stressed that the church should be separated from the state and especially from a foreign state.

    As was reported, the prospect of an autocephalous (independent) church in Ukraine has deeply angered the Russian Orthodox Church, which has given a sharp spiritual rebuff to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and questioned his status as "first among equals."

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople over Ukraine
    BBC 15 September 2018

    The Russian Orthodox Church has effectively cut diplomatic relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has authority over the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

    It follows signs that Constantinople's Patriarch Bartholomew will recognise Ukraine's Church as independent from Moscow Patriarch, Kirill.

    Many Ukrainian Christians reject Kirill's perceived support for Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

    The Kremlin says it will not interfere.

    Spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the reports of an impending split alarming, adding: "Of course for Moscow and indeed for the entire Orthodox world the single preferable scenario is the preservation of unity of this Orthodox world."

    Russia sees Kiev as the historic cradle of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The Russian Orthodox church has long held sway over the church in Ukraine, but breakaway churches were set up during Ukraine's brief independence after the fall of the Russian empire and again after communism collapsed in 1991.

    Russian Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said the ruling body, the Holy Synod, had decided to suspend participation in all structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    It will cease all joint services and Patriarch Kirill will stop mentioning the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, in his prayers, the Synod's decision says.

    Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Church's foreign relations department, described it as "a breakdown of relations".

    "To take an example from secular life, the decision is roughly equivalent to cutting diplomatic ties," he was quoted by Ria news agency as saying.

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Holy divorce: Russian Orthodox Church quits Constantinople-led structures
    Russian Patriarch Kirill will no longer pray for the health of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople amid the Ukraine row.
    UNIAN 19:20, 14 September 2018

    Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Kirill will no longer recall Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, during the service, Russian media report, referring to the head of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.

    "The synod decided to suspend the commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople during services at the Russian Orthodox Church," said the Metropolitan.

    In addition, the ROC ceases participation in all structures presided by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    "Eucharistic communication between the churches is not being severed. This decision so far does not deprive the clergy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the ROC of the possibility to perform joint services," explained the spokesman of Patriarch Cyril, priest Alexander Volkov.

    As reported earlier, Kirill on Friday convened an extraordinary meeting of the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church due to the arrival in Ukraine of the Exarchs of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

    On August 31, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew informed the head of the ROC Kirill during the latter's visit to Istanbul that Constantinople intended to provide autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Filaret (Denysenko), is convinced that a united local church will be established in Ukraine before the end of this year.UNIAN:

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    ATLANTIC COUNCIL Taras Kuzio September 10, 2018
    Why Independence for Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Is an Earthquake for Putin

    On September 7, Ukraine inched closer to a globally recognized international church. That day, Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew I placed Ukraine under the canonical jurisdiction of US Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Canadian Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton who head Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in both countries under Constantinople’s canonical jurisdiction. Since 1685, the Russian Orthodox Church has claimed Ukraine lies within its canonical territory, but no longer. The two appointments are preparation for granting the Orthodox Church in Ukraine autocephaly (independence) from the Russian Orthodox Church.

    It’s no exaggeration to write that the granting of autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church to Ukraine’s millions of Orthodox believers is as significant as the disintegration of the USSR for Ukraine. Granting Ukraine’s Orthodox Church a Tomos is the last step Ukraine needs to take in order to become truly independent.

    Why have the stars aligned now?

    Ukraine has been seeking autocephaly since it became independent. When Metropolitan Filaret broke with the Russian Orthodox Church to establish the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarch (UOC-KP), it was never recognized by Constantinople. In 1990, under pressure from the nationalist drive for independence, the Russian Orthodox Church revived the autonomous status of its exarchate in Ukraine and renamed it the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), so there have been two competing Orthodox churches in Ukraine since then. The UOC has been loyal to Moscow, while the UOC-KP represents an independent Ukraine.

    Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church and UOC have been unable to maintain neutrality. Russian Orthodox Church clergy have blessed Russian nationalists traveling to the Donbas. Some UOC clergy have refused to serve at funerals of Ukrainian soldiers and UOC Metropolitan Onufry (Berezovsky) and senior clergy refused to stand in parliament in honor of slain Ukrainian soldiers.

    There’s another factor working in favor of independence now. As the former ideological secretary of the atheist Communist Party in Ukraine, President Leonid Kravchuk had no legitimacy on church-state matters, while President Viktor Yushchenko’s strongly supported the UOC-KP and was perceived as anti-Russian. President Leonid Kuchma was even-handed, while Yanukovych openly backed the Russian Orthodox Church.

    President Petro Poroshenko is a deacon in the UOC and Constantinople does not view him as “anti-Russian.” Importantly, due to his influence, senior UOC clergy have supported the UOC-KP and smaller Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in seeking autocephaly. The Ukrainian parliament strongly backs independence. Poroshenko adopted a legalistic approach to seeking autocephaly that left the Russian Orthodox Church with little room to maneuver.

    Russia also overplayed its hand in the Balkans and this also contributed. Russia’s involvement in an attempted violent coup in Montenegro to thwart it from joining NATO was followed by the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers from Greece attempting to derail the country’s rapprochement with Macedonia (permitting the latter to join NATO and EU).

    The decision to grant Ukraine autocephaly should be understood in three ways:

    First, size and power. Greece and the Constantinople Patriarch have had enough of Russia’s interference and see the emergence of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a way of cutting it down to size. In the USSR, two-thirds of Russian Orthodox Church parishes were in Soviet Ukraine. Today, despite Ukraine having a third of Russia’s population, both countries have roughly the same number of Orthodox parishes (14,000).

    In the USSR, a majority of Russian Orthodox Church parishes were in western and central Ukraine, and that remains the case today. It was always therefore wrong to describe Ukraine divided between a “Catholic West” and “Orthodox East.” There are far fewer Orthodox churches in the Donbas.

    There will not be a “civil war” over religion, and most UOC faithful will peacefully join Ukraine’s new autocephalous church.

    Second, national identity. The USSR and Russian Federation have used the adoption of Orthodoxy in 988 to lay claim to Kyiv Rus as the “first Russian state.” This falsehood is sometimes repeated by Western journalists and nearly always in Western “histories of Russia.” Russian and Western historiography ignores the existence of Ukrainians until many centuries later and forever links them to Russians and Belarusians.

    Russians believe, and Russian President Vladimir Putin constantly reiterates, Kyiv Rus gave birth to the three eastern Slavs and their desire in the Tsarist, Soviet, and contemporary eras was always to remain in union. Nationalists opposed to this idea were working for various Western empires, governments, and intelligence agencies.

    In 2007, the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) was meant to unite Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine around the Russian Orthodox Church and become the core of the Eurasian Economic Union. Putin and Russian nationalists understand the word Russkiy to include the three branches of the “Russian” people (Belarussians, Russians, and Ukrainians) and regard Ukrainians as “Little Russians.” Ukrainians and Russians are “one people”’ and, as Putin said to the NATO-Russia Council in 2008, Ukraine is an artificial state.

    Ukraine rejects Russkiy Mir ideology and support for membership in the Eurasian Economic Union has plummeted. Autocephaly will reinforce growth in Ukrainian patriotism, support national integration, and spur a final divorce from Russia.

    Third, geopolitics. An independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church would mean that the Russian Orthodox Church is no longer the world’s biggest Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian and Romanian Orthodox Churches will be roughly equal in size. Constantinople will have a staunch Ukrainian ally in its dealings with the Russian Orthodox Church. While the Russian Orthodox Church is predictably anti-Western like Putin’s regime, the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be pro-European.

    Autocephaly will deepen existing changes in Ukrainian identity reflected in opinion polls. Ukraine’s emerging identity is premised upon European integration and distancing from Russia.

    Since 2014, Russia's soft power in Ukraine has collapsed. Only one percent of young Ukrainians support the Russian model of development while 69-71 percent of Ukrainians oppose it, including 56 percent of Russian speakers. This is an outgrowth of Russia associated in the eyes of Ukrainians with “aggression” (66 percent), “cruelty” (57 percent), and “dictatorship” (57 percent).

    With the Russian Orthodox Church as the last source of Putin’s soft power now gone, Ukraine’s movement out of Russia’s orbit is irreversible. The creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church is Ukraine’s ultimate answer to Putin’s aggression. Why Independence for Ukraine‚Äôs Orthodox Church Is an Earthquake for Putin

    Taras Kuzio is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and is the author of “Putin’s War Against Ukraine” and co-author of “The Sources of Russia's Great Power Politics: Ukraine and the Challenge to the European Order.”

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Constantinople moves to grant autocephaly to Ukrainian Church, outraging Moscow
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2018/09/09 - 11:10 Paul A. Goble

    Yesterday, the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it has appointed as its exarchs in Kyiv an archbishop from the US and a bishop from Canada “both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate … [as part of] preparations for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

    This is the clearest public statement yet that Patriarch Bartholomew in his role as the senior and universal patriarch has decided to grant autocephaly and has rejected Moscow’s insistence that Ukraine is part of the Russian church’s “canonical territory” and thus must be subject to Moscow’s diktat.

    Not surprisingly, the Moscow Patriarchate was outraged. Vladimir Legoyda, who heads the Moscow Synod’s department for relations with society and the media said that Constantinople’s action “without the agreement of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Blessed Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine is an unprecedented crude intervention into the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

    Such actions, Legoyda said, “cannot remain without an answer,” although he did not specify just what that “answer” might look like. Constantinople moves to grant autocephaly to Ukrainian Church, outraging MoscowEuromaidan Press |

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Russian Orthodox Church Threatens Retaliation Against Istanbul-Based Patriarch
    September 08, 2018 21:02 GMT

    The Russian Orthodox Church has threatened to retaliate against its Istanbul-based rival if it allows Ukraine to cut its spiritual ties with Moscow and thereby end Russian religious rule in the country.

    Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's External Relations Department, said on September 8 that if the patriarch of Kyiv was recognized, "we will have no choice but to sever relations with Constantinople."

    Hilarion also accused Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople of acting in a "despicable and treacherous way."

    Bartholomew, known as the "first among equals" of Orthodox Christian leaders in the world, is expected to rule in the coming months on an appeal from Ukraine to break away from Moscow and create an independent church.

    The Russian Orthodox Church is especially upset with a decision on September 7 by Bartholomew to send two envoys to Ukraine as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the church there.

    The Istanbul-based Patriarchate said it will send two bishops to Ukraine "within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine," strongly suggesting it had already decided to grant independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

    "When one brazenly and cynically interferes in the affairs of a local Orthodox Church, one creates not only a hopeless situation, but threatens the global Orthodox world with a schism," Russian news agencies quoted Hilarion as saying.

    Bartholomew's rival in Russia, Patriarch Kirill, has called the prospect of the Ukrainian church being separated from Moscow an "all-Orthodox catastrophe."

    The Russian church claims authority over the church in Ukraine. But many Ukrainian parishes reject the Moscow Patriarchate and have formed a separate church that is pushing for recognition as a self-governing, or autocephalous, institution.

    The Orthodox Church in Ukraine is therefore split between a branch whose clerics pledge loyalty to Moscow and one that is overseen by the unrecognized Kyiv-based Patriarch Filaret.

    While Constantinople is the oldest Orthodox Church, Moscow is currently the most powerful, with the largest number of worshippers.

    It is unclear what granting Ukraine the right to create an independent church will mean in practice.

    But experts say it would be a blow to Russia's spiritual authority in the Orthodox world. The row comes against the backdrop of a four-year conflict between Kyiv and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine that has made many Ukrainians turn away from the Moscow church.
    With reporting by AFP and AP

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Ecumenical Patriarchate refutes reports on Russia's attempt to poison Patriarch Bartholomew during talks
    UNIAN 03 September 2018

    At the same time, Yevstratii Zorya of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (KP) noted that it was the Russia delegation who were apparently afraid that Patriarch Kirill could be poisoned in Constantinople.

    Archbishop Job Getcha of the Constantinople Patriarchate made a remark on the reports about "an attempt to poison the Patriarch Bartholomew" during the talks with the delegation of Russia's Patriarch Kirill.

    "Stupid fake news. The servant giving drinks is a worker of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, do not allow guests to do the service. Greek hospitality forbids!," the Archbishop, a Canadian with Ukrainian roots, who was the official spokesman of the All-Orthodox Council in 2016, commented on Facebook, according to Yevstratii Zorya of the Chernihiv Diocese chief at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.

    He now represents the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches.

    At the same time, Yevstratii Zorya noted that the real attention in the video in question, released by the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church Facebook community, should be paid to the moment where the Russian security guard points to Patriarch Kirill the glass he should take that has apparently been checked.

    "That is, the Muscovites really believe that their patriarch could be poisoned in the Ecumenical Patriarchate," the cleric wrote. The detail, which well demonstrated the price of Moscow's verbal assurance in 'happy brotherly feelings' the meeting has left. [Patriarch Kirill's] 15 guards, too."

    As UNIAN reported earlier, on September 2 meetings (Synaxis) were held of the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, to consider the question whether the Church of Constantinople is authorized, without the consent of other churches, to grant autonomy, or autocephaly, to a church that has requested it.

    Following the meetings, the answer was positive: "Yes, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is authorized to grant autocephaly without any consent [from other churches]."

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Ecumenical Patriarch to grant Ukrainian Orthodox autocephaly, Greek Church source says
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2018/09/02 - 12:59
    The Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I of Constantinople (R) receiving Moscow Patriarch Kirill (L). Istanbul, Turkey. August 2018 (Photo:

    The Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, has decided to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, according to a Greek church site, giving a major victory to Kyiv and inflicting an even larger geopolitical defeat on the Moscow Patriarchate and the Kremlin.

    Archbishop Yevstraty Zorya, the press secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, citing the Greek outlet, says that Bartholomew informed Moscow Patriarch Kirill about his decision during the latter’s recent visit to Constantinople.

    Yevstraty added that the headline in the Greek source could be translated as “The Die is Cast! Ukraine is Receiving Autocephaly.”
    He said that Patriarch Kirill left his meeting with Bartholomew “in not the best spirit.” But Ukrainians are celebrating what will be a major victory for them.

    A spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarch told that “no one wants yet another split,” something Moscow has threatened if Constantinople proceeded.

    “Everyone wants unity in the Church.” But he added the Ecumenical Patriarchate won’t be guided in its action by “threats from anyone,” a clear rebuff to Moscow.

    According to the spokesman, the Ecumenical Patriarch took the decision about offering autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church in April and is now in the process of implementing it. And in the months since, Constantinople has signaled that it intends to meet Ukraine’s request although it has not provided a specific date.

    It is important to recognize what the grant of autocephaly in Ukraine will and won’t do.

    It will elevate the status of the Ukrainian church and underscore its separation from Moscow, but it won’t end the existence of the Moscow Patriarchate’s network of churches in Ukraine, although it will undoubtedly cause many of them to shift their subordination to Kyiv.

    Most important, it will undermine the Moscow Patriarchate’s claim to speak for all Orthodox on the former Soviet space and cost the church itself a great deal of its income given that half of its existing congregations are in Ukraine rather than in Moscow. And it will call into question Moscow’s claim to be the largest Orthodox church in the world.

    Obviously, Moscow both religious and secular isn’t going to accept this without a fight. But the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch means that Ukraine has won a major victory, one that it is likely to build on in the future and one that may serve as a model for other post-Soviet states as far as Orthodoxy is concerned. Ecumenical Patriarch to grant Ukrainian Orthodox autocephaly, Greek Church source saysEuromaidan Press |

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Fancy Bear And The Patriarchs: Russian Hackers Said To Target Orthodox Clergy
    RFE/RL August 31, 2018 14:36 GMT
    AP News Agency

    An investigation by the Associated Press claims hackers from Russian intelligence have been targeting the e-mail of senior clerics from the Orthodox Christian Church. Some analysts say this could be part of the Kremlin's attempts to keep Ukraine's church under Moscow's control.

    See video:

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Waiting for Constantinople’s historical decision on Church autocephaly in Ukraine
    EUROMADAN PRESS 2018/08/30 - 12:15
    Aleksandr Morozov, Russian journalist, political commentator

    The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has reached an important milestone. Not only is Constantinople’s promise to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church decisive for Ukraine, but it is also important for Europe as a whole.

    When Russia annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas in 2014, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the issue of an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine would once again be on the agenda.

    And so it is… In April, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople officially accepted the appeal to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, a document that would allow a significant part of Ukrainian Orthodox faithful and churches to quit the Moscow Patriarchate and become one of the legitimate Local (Autocephalous) Churches.

    Previously, the Ecumenical Patriarchate was not very willing to make a clear statement on the future of an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine. However, Patriarch Bartholomew has publicly confirmed that work on the Tomos is underway.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Orthodox parishes in Ukraine were divided into three groups. Initially, most of the parishes belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate; a few parishes joined the Kyiv Patriarchate led by Metropolitan Filaret, and the smallest group called itself the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church. Today, the number of faithful and parishes belonging to the Kyiv Patriarchate and supporters of autocephaly far outnumbers the number of pro-Moscow parishioners. Moscow has not recognized Metropolitan Filaret to this very day.

    We are currently caught up in an active phase of negotiations and controversy. Will Patriarch Bartholomew receive the support of the other leaders of Local Churches – there are 15 of them – in order to decide on the creation of an autocephalous church in Ukraine even if Moscow is against it? Such a decision seemed virtually impossible before. Moreover, even among the Orthodox parishes in Ukraine there never used to be a strong movement toward autocephaly. But, the historical situation has changed. Everyone understands this, both in Kyiv and in Moscow, as well as at the headquarters of the other eastern churches.

    It’s a straightforward question. If the Ecumenical Patriarch declares a Tomos to create a canonically recognized Local Church in Ukraine, then the parishes of the afore-mentioned three groups will be allowed to join this newly-created independent Local Church. The authorities in Kyiv guarantee that those who do not want to join can retain their old status and parishes.

    Moscow argues that such a decision could lead to conflicts, a split in Orthodoxy and might even result in civil war in Ukraine. This is, of course, a gross exaggeration. The unity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with Moscow has already been severely damaged by the Kremlin’s policies after 2014. A Local Church in Ukraine would mean the end of this frozen situation, which has remained static after the collapse of the USSR.

    Why should the European Union and the European countries pay more attention to this situation? Until 2014, the Moscow concept of the “Russkiy mir” (Russian world) was generally cultural and historic. But, when Russia invaded Ukraine, it became clear that Moscow was using the “Russian world” as a neo-imperial concept and just another tool for its hybrid war.

    Unfortunately, the Moscow Patriarchate did not distance itself from this ideological change. Thus, another situation has arisen, whereby belonging to the “Moscow church” is a sign of adhering to the ideology of Moscow’s neo-imperial hegemony. This argument was the basis for a movement that has gained more and more momentum within Ukrainian parishes and among the episcopate. Even Metropolitan Onufriy, the current head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, is said to have supported autocephaly as a historical mission in the early 1990s.

    The appearance of an important canonical Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe, which would be focused on European development and integration, constitutes a very significant historic event. Several European countries have a dominant Orthodox Church. Some of them are already members of the European Union (Greece, Bulgaria, Romania); others (Serbia) are on their way. The creation of an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine would place it among these European countries.

    Moscow has the power and resources to exert pressure on the Synod of the Church of Greece, and also expects that Georgia, Bulgaria and Romania will not support the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Kyiv. According to the Ukrainian media, the Tomos has already been drafted, but not yet signed by Patriarch Bartholomew and members of the Synod of Constantinople. Metropolitan Ilarion – the right hand of Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church – visited Greece in late June, and often meets with the leaders of the other Local Churches. In fact, he seeks to destroy the slowly-emerging alliance in favour of Ukrainian autocephaly.

    Seen from a long-term historical perspective, it is clear that Moscow will not retain its ecclesiastical domination in Ukraine. As a matter of fact, it would be beneficial for Moscow to agree to Ukrainian autocephaly. In the future, canonical relations between the two countries would become simpler and equal to those of Moscow with the Serbian and Bulgarian Church.

    Autocephaly would allow both churches to escape politics and remain “sister churches” exclusively in the Christian sense.

    In this sense, if the Ecumenical Patriarchate now makes this historic decision on Ukrainian autocephaly, it will lay solid foundations for the future development of a true European Orthodox community. Waiting for Constantinople's historical decision on Church autocephaly in Ukraine |Euromaidan Press |

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Cleric: 'No going back' on Ukraine split from Russia Church
    Associated Press AYSE WIETING Aug 31, 2018 09:07 AM CDT

    ISTANBUL (AP) - A senior official in the Orthodox Church says "there's no going backwards" in granting Ukrainian clerics full ecclesiastic independence from the Russian Orthodox Church to which they have been tied to for hundreds of years.

    However, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, who is part of a committee dealing with the Ukrainian question, told The Associated Press that the final step of the procedure has yet to be reached.

    His comments came as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I welcomed Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Istanbul on Friday.

    Ukraine's president has launched a campaign to persuade Bartholomew, seen by many as the first among equals of Orthodox leaders, to accept Ukraine's request.

    Ukrainian politicians see a declaration, known as a "Tomos of Autocephaly," as a key step in consolidating their country's national identity.

    Russian religious leaders see it as an attack on Orthodox unity and are fighting to stop it.

    "Today, the Ecumenical Patriarch repeated in person, in this meeting of the two primates, that the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is reached and we are not going backwards," Emmanuel said. "So we are following this decision, we are implementing the decision."

    He added: "We have not reached the end of the procedure. The Tomos, which is the decision that is issued, is at the last stage of this implementation. But we have still some work to do and this is what the Ecumenical Patriarchate is coordinating."

    Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported on a Russian digital espionage campaign targeting Bartholomew's top aides in the midst of the religious tussle between Kiev and Moscow over the religious future of Ukraine.

    The AP found that the same hackers charged with intervening in the 2016 U.S. presidential election also spent years trying to eavesdrop on Bartholomew's entourage.

    The granting of the "Tomos of Autocephaly" would be a momentous step, eroding the power and prestige of the Moscow Patriarchate, which has positioned itself as a leading player within the global Orthodox community.

    Russia's Tass news agency, meanwhile, quoted Patriarch Kirill after the meeting with Bartholomew that "the organization of the Orthodox churches is such that not one church can make a decision that contradicts the position of the other churches. Therefore we are simply programmed for cooperation."

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Russian Parents Worried Orthodox Priests Are 'Zombifying' Their Kids At Summer Camp
    RADIO FREE EUROPE - RADIO LIBERTY August 27, 2018 15:22 GMT
    Aleksandr Molchanov & Robert Coalson

    PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, Russia -- Earlier this month, a local eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church announced its "Bells Over Kamchatka" project.

    Priests, it pledged in a small notice on its website, would "carry out meetings and conversations" at all the children's summer camps in the region before the beginning of the school year.

    The church's article described one priest's visit to the Voskhod (Sunrise) camp, during which he lectured on the history of bells in the church and gave the children the chance to ring a miniature carillon. The visit was conducted under a joint program between the eparchy and the Kamchatka Krai Ministry of Youth and Education.

    A week later, local resident Aleksei Nikolayev appealed to the regional prosecutor's office over what he saw as proselytizing to his 10-year-old daughter at the same camp this summer.

    "I didn't care about this until it affected me personally," he said. "At summer camp, some priests spoke with my child and this made me mad. I read about it first on [local news website] Kam24 and then, naturally, spoke to the child."

    Nikolayev asked prosecutors to file criminal charges against the clergymen and government officials who organized the events.

    Kam24 reported on August 20 that children at another camp, Mettalist, had been baptized with the consent of officials at the camp.

    "I saw several publications on the Kam24 website about how priests carried out a mass baptism of children at the camp," Nikolayev told RFE/RL. "There were reports that members of the National Guard were kissing some [religious] relics. Prosecutors, too. I don't know exactly what relics, but some sort of bones were brought around to all the offices."

    A spokesperson at the eparchy acknowledged in the Kam24 report that there had been baptisms.

    "Fourteen children from children's correctional home No. 3 who were vacationing at the Metallist children's camp were baptized," the spokesperson said. The church also reported that local nuns were made godmothers to the newly baptized children.

    "We have bureaucrats who are growing fat at the expense of the people," Nikolayev said. "And now there is the church as well, which is also getting fat at our expense. I have very negative views of religion, of the church. And not just the Orthodox Church but all of them."

    The director of the Voskhod camp, Olga Petukhova, told RFE/RL that she saw no problem with the church's presentation to the children at her camp.

    "I was personally present during the entire lecture," she said. "Father Boris Murzin came and told the children about bells in Russia and gave the children the chance to ring a church bell. I don't understand why some parents are reacting in this way. After all, this is our history, part of our life. During the whole lecture, the word 'Orthodox' was not pronounced. The whole thing was about the historical side of the issue."

    Although the Kamchatka eparchy declined to comment for RFE/RL's story, the article on the church's website describes the Voskhod visit as "a missionary trip."

    Critics in Russia have expressed concern about the Russian Orthodox Church's close relations with the government under President Vladimir Putin and its perceived influence in cultural and social affairs.

    Inna Zagrebina, a lawyer who specializes in church-state relations and who is participating in Nikolayev's appeal, told RFE/RL that the law forbids children under the age of 14 from being "drawn into the activity of religious organizations." Other laws protect children under the age of 18, she added, saying that the authorities are obliged to respond to complaints from parents of such children.

    "Missionary activity should not be taking place in children's camps," she said. "It is another matter if in this particular case we aren't talking about missionary work but about exposing the children to historical and cultural values."

    She said that prosecutors would likely be looking into the legal status of the event and whether there was "an agreement on cooperation between the camp and the eparchy."

    "They will also have to check whether the parents agreed to this program or not," Zagrebina said.

    Nikolayev recalled that last year, parents at his daughter's school were asked to choose an elective course for religious and moral education.

    "They gave us the option of six or seven confessions," he said, "plus there was the choice of 'foundations of secular ethics.' That is the one that we chose, since I protect my daughter from everything religious. [In my daughter's class], 21 of the 28 children are studying secular ethics. Several are studying Islam, but not one is taking Orthodoxy."

    Nikolayev said a few years ago parents were upset to learn that priests were teaching in public schools.

    "People got angry and wrote to the prosecutor and so on," he said. "The priests stopped going to the schools. Now they are going to the camps. They don't give up. They are zombifying underage children and imposing their religion."

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    On A Holy Roll: Russian Church Flexes Secular Muscle With Restitution Push
    RADIO FREE EUROPE Russia Svetlana Prokopeva & Robert Coalson
    Aug 18, 2018 13:20 GMT

    VLADIMIR, Russia -- The unique, UNESCO-protected 12th-century Golden Gate is a gem of this ancient city some 200 kilometers east of Moscow.

    Currently, it is owned by the Culture Ministry and houses an exhibition about the seizure of the city by Mongols in 1238. It is one of the key stops along the legendary Golden Ring tourist route of quintessential medieval cities including Yaroslavl, Suzdal, Kostroma, Rostov, among others.

    But if the Russian Orthodox Church gets its way, the Golden Gate could soon become church property. The church has submitted a claim to the fortification, one of hundreds of similar claims it has filed with the government since passage of a 2010 law on the restitution of church property.

    Officials and many locals in Vladimir are not happy at the prospect of turning over a talisman of the city to the church.

    "The Golden Gate has long been the symbol of our city -- and not a religious symbol," said Aleksandr Karpilovich, spokesman for the mayor's office. About 1,000 people have signed an online petition urging that the church's request be denied.

    Local activist Ilya Kosygin, who started the petition and whose grandmother's family actually was assigned housing inside the Golden Gate in the 1920s, agrees.

    "It is the foundation of our local identity," he said. "This is the Golden Gate – Vladimir is an ancient city, a former capital. This is an important feeling to have."

    The church's claim to the edifice is based on the presence of a small church above the gate, inside the fortification.

    "But the Golden Gate was never a working church," said Alica Aksyonova, former founding director of the Vladimiro-Suzdal museum complex. "In all eight centuries of its existence, almost nine now, they only held services there for [only] 40 years."

    She added that one must ascend 64 medieval steps to reach the church, meaning it is essentially useless for services intended for the Russian Orthodox Church's largely elderly constituency. In addition, she added, the museum complex has never stood in the way of the church conducting services in any of the buildings under its control. But now things have changed.

    "The main thing [for the church] is to be able to report that one more monument of the 12th century belongs to the church," Aksyonova told RFE/RL. "They are going after everything -- every day, insatiably."

    The 8-year-old restitution law was intended to enable the church to regain control of religious buildings that were forcibly nationalized by the atheist Soviet government. Many of those buildings were destroyed, while others were abandoned or used as storage. Beginning in the 1960s, however, many of the most prominent monuments were restored by the government and turned into museums.

    Under the 2010 law, the decision on restitution is up to the government's property agency, Rosimushchestvo, which is one of the most opaque agencies in the Russian government. The Culture Ministry, which owns many of the properties in question, is only able to submit a counterstatement with its objections. The law stipulates that if a property is handed over to the church, the state must give an "equivalent" property to the previous owner.

    In the case of the Golden Gate, said museum director Igor Konyshev, that is simply nonsense. He added that past experience shows that restitution to the church means sharply reduced public access to the country's cultural heritage.

    "In the mid-1990s, about 15 local churches were handed over to the church," Konyshev said. "Among them was the UNESCO monument the Prokrov na Nerli Church. These days, the Prokrov na Nerli Church has basically been eliminated from the tourist agenda.... Yes, you can see it on the covers of [history and culture] textbooks, but just try to get inside it!"

    Since 2012, the church has applied to have 26 monuments in Vladimir Oblast restituted, including the Georgiyevsky Cathedral in Gus-Khrustalny and the Spaso-Yefimiyevsky Monastery in Suzdal. Most of the church's applications are eventually granted because, under the law, they can be refused only if it can be demonstrated the building never served a religious function.

    But it is far from a local phenomenon. There is no general database, but local media reports from the last few weeks show the church seeking three buildings in downtown Yekaterinburg, a residential building in Moscow, a riverfront plot of land in Cheboksary, and the St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

    According to the newspaper Delovoi Peterburg, authorities in St. Petersburg alone have transferred 101 monuments to religious organizations since the restitution law was passed -- most of them to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Last month in Yaroslavl, church lawyers gathered for a seminar on how to make applications under the 2010 law.

    On August 10, the entire country was rocked when the iconic, 18th-century wooden Uspensky Church near the far northern town of Kondopoga went up in flames and was completely destroyed.

    Although authorities suspect arson, some experts are blaming the Russian Orthodox Church, which gained ownership of the masterpiece from the Culture Ministry in May 2017.

    "The church was given a gift of enormous value," said Vyacheslav Orfinsky, a professor of architecture and director of the Folk Architecture Research Institute. "The church definitely bears responsibility. We all thought those people would be doubly interested in protecting it -- for religious reasons and because of their moral code. But this incident shows their complete lack of care. Gaining control of such a monument, they should have done everything to protect it. The church has to answer for what happened."

    "This was not only a religious monument," he added. "It was a cultural monument, a monument of our common culture. I think that in the best case, what happened shows irresponsibility and bungling by the church.... Such national treasures must be under the protection of the Culture Ministry."

    Leave a comment:

  • Hannia
    Colorado Springs Catholics helping churches in Ukraine
    THE GAZETTE Michelle Karas Aug 5, 2018

    After visiting a sister parish in Ukraine in 1995, the Rev. Paul Wicker returned to his congregation at Holy Apostles Catholic Church with one recommendation: “We have to do this.”

    While on the trip, Wicker encountered proud people who had maintained their faith despite living in extreme poverty.

    “I was there for the Easter season,” he recalled. “They had a little church, and the condition of it was terrible. There was no heat, and the windows were Saran-wrapped. Later I watched as people lined up for one loaf of bread. There was no infrastructure and no jobs. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

    Wicker said he saw “Christ rising from the graves of communism” in Ukraine, which had been freed from Russia in 1991 but still struggled in its shadow.

    With the support of the Holy Apostles parish in Colorado Springs, Wicker started Catholic Outreach to Northern Ukraine. By 2000, CONU was an established nonprofit whose members made team visits to that area, helping to rebuild churches and provide aid. The group sent pediatricians, nurses and dentists, help for orphanages and rehabilitation centers, and supported a blind community and nuns who were helping single mothers.

    Wicker, who retired from Holy Apostles in 2015, continues his mission today as executive director of CONU.

    “The mission was to give them self-reliance. We are trying to help them help themselves,” he said. “They, in return, gift to us their stories.”

    CONU, which raises money for a variety of needs in Northern Ukraine, is holding an informal meeting Wednesday to attract interest and show appreciation to donors. A slideshow of CONU’s activities will be shown.

    The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Third Space Coffee Shop, 5670 N. Academy Blvd. All are welcome to attend.

    “We’ve been heartened by the community’s response to CONU over the years. This meeting is a larger attempt to reach more people,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. David Humpert, a former Air Force Academy Russian language assistant professor who, with his wife, Mikell, is social media director for CONU.

    The Ukrainian Catholic community still needs help, Humpert said.

    “Churches were closed or destroyed by the communists, but there remained a kernel of faith,” he said. “They’re good people with good Slavic hearts. They’re very spiritual. They would put a lot of us who we consider to be faithful to shame.”

    Like Wicker, the Humperts felt called to help the faithful in Ukraine.

    CONU’s board has 11 members from Colorado Springs, plus three from the Ukrainian parish.

    “We’re just a group of like-minded people,” Humpert said.

    The latest project is helping to build a pastoral education center in central Ukraine.

    “We can help with the renewal of their spirit. They bring to us the example of working through darkness,” Wicker said. “You’ve heard of pay it forward. We want to pray it forward.”

    Leave a comment: