Autocephaly: Goal, path, collision of interests – expert

16:50, 25 June 2018
Ukraine
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Photo from UNIAN

"I have already written about five main propaganda theses, on which the information campaign against the recognition of the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) is based," Oleksandr Sagan, religious scholar, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, wrote in an article on LIGA.net.

Moreover, on June 23, 2018, permanent members of the Synod of the UOC-MP, consistent opponents of not only the idea of the autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, but the whole policy of Constantinople in general, visited the Patriarchate of Constantinople to personally exert personal influence on Patriarch Bartholomew on the issue. This is evidenced both by their statements and the disregard of church rules and customs regarding the church leader's visit to the territory of another Church – for example, being in the patriarchate with crosiers, wearing two panagias by Metropolitan Agafangel, etc.

Metropolitans Agafangel (Savvin), Illarion (Shukalo), Theodore (Gayun) Anthony (Pakanich) tried to persuade the Ecumenical Patriarch that granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox may only harm the unity of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.

The lack of a "pro-Moscow" stance obviously led to the replacement of Mitrofan, Metropolitan of Luhansk and Alchevsk (he was presented as a negotiator on the official page of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) for Illarion, Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol, Sagan said.

Read alsoUkrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate to lose right to be called "Ukrainian" once Constantinople grants tomos – Filaret

Judging by comments of another negotiator, odious in his intervention in the church affairs, MP Vadym Novinsky (who speaks about the state's interference in church affairs, and that "autocephaly can be granted only to the canonical church," etc.), Patriarch Bartholomew was invited to grant Tomos only to the UOC-MP, and on the terms of the Moscow Patriarchate. That is, in fact, creating another ally for the Moscow Patriarchate, and therefore – another opponent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, rather restrained comments by Moscow-Ukrainian clerics following the talks show that the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate has not succeeded. Despite the "good vibes," which Novinsky's Facebook page radiated.

It should be noted that the visit of the delegation of the UOC-MP took place after their insistent request, not at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch. At the same time, they were received not in St. George's Cathedral, as the delegates of the UOC-MP said, but at the residence of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the quarter of Fener, Istanbul, where the Cathedral is located. And to be even more precise, the meeting was not held in the Throne Room for honorary guests on the second floor of the residence, but in the hall of archbishops on the first floor.

But the Patriarchate of Constantinople, for its part, received an important argument against possible accusations that the Ecumenical Patriarchate acted without consulting the Moscow Patriarchate. On the official website of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the delegation of the UOC-MP is indicated as a delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate – this is its present canonical status in the Universal Orthodoxy, which clearly corresponds to the Charter of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Read alsoPropaganda war against Ukraine's aspirations to gain Tomos on autocephaly

In addition, it was clearly stated at the meeting that it was the Patriarchate of Constantinople that was the Mother Church for Orthodox believers in Ukraine, and not the Moscow Patriarchate.

It is also important that Patriarch Bartholomew clearly outlined the goal of his activities on the "Ukrainian" issue (and it is also presented on the official website of the patriarchate): "the establishment of peace in the country, as well as the reconciliation of all communities and their cooperation for the benefit of Orthodoxy in Ukraine."

Attempts of MP Novinsky (who financed the trip and even became a member of the delegation) to present in his comments the results of talks as "successful" for "canonical" Orthodoxy do not stand up to criticism. His statements that "the support of only the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was expressed" and that "autocephaly will be granted only to the canonical Church and there can be no recognition of the split" and so on are refuted both by previous statements of the Ecumenical Patriarch and current statements by the negotiators from the Greek side.

"In addition, we remember similar comments after the visit of the delegation of the UOC-MP with the participation of Novinsky to the Primate of the Polish Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Sawa – the interpretation of the policy of Russian origin regarding the meeting with the Polish Orthodox Church was subsequently refuted," the author said.

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