Kharkov, Ukraine, June 5, 2018
Modern politicians are unable to unite the Church, but can only cause greater divisions. Therefore, they should remain within their own sphere and not interfere in the Church’s internal affairs, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev said in his sermon on Friday in Kharkov, reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Recalling the historical experience of Church-state interaction, the Ukrainian primate spoke of the wise position taken by St. Constantine the Great during the 4th-century Arian controversy. He published the Edict of Milan in 313, granting freedom to Christianity, which provided the opportunity and impetus for the flowering and spread of the Church. “But the devil, who always fights against believers in Christ … began another fight—no longer the physical destruction of the faithful, but he began to sow delusions in their unskilled human minds, that is, mistakes in the faith,” meaning heresies, which led to divisions in the Church.
But the holy King Constantine wanted to heal the divisions that arose out of the Arian heresy, which proclaimed that Christ is not equal in Divinity to God the Father, and he did his best to reconcile the bishops of the Church, although he could not bring them to peace. He understood that in order to find peace, he had to call the First Ecumenical Council, “and charged the bishops with solving the question of uniting the Church, and solving the issue of the heresy that existed at that time.”
“And the holy hierarchs, priests, and deacons of God found the royal path that the Church must walk, and they showed the people where to go—where Christ was. And the Church continued its procession to Christ,” Met. Onuphry explained.
Politicians today, the hierarch noted, are ignorant of Church matters, yet want to organize the life of the Orthodox people according to their own pleasure.
“We love our politicians—they are our stewards, but God gave them neither the mind, nor the means, nor the right to organize Church life,” His Beatitude emphasized.
“Politicians interfered in Church affairs in the 90s, and they provoked schisms. They are not able to unite; they are able to divide,” he affirmed.
His Beatitude then noted that only those who have received the grace of ordination can conciliarly solve the issue of divisions in the Church. “The priest receives the Mystery of Ordination … and in this Mystery he is given gifts that other people do not have. Among these gifts … is the gift of the arrangement and organization of Church life. And a priest can correctly choose the right path,” Met. Onuphry explained.
Politicians “just need to realize that everyone should do his own work. If politicians will be engaged in politics, and the Church will be engaged in man’s salvation, then … our country will rise economically and spiritually... But if I start doing politics, and politicians start doing the Church’s work instead of me, we will have chaos.”
“The Divine will almost never coincides with the will of man—especially of those who do not know how the doors to the Church are opened. Let us ask the Lord to grant us understanding of God’s commandments,” His Beatitude concluded, calling on all to preserve the purity of the Orthodox faith.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia made the same point in a recent meeting with Ukrainian politicians, saying, “any participation of state officials in Church matters is unacceptable in a democratic society.”
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