The First Deputy Chairman of the Synodal Department of the Moscow Patriarchate for relations with Society and the Media, and member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Professor of the Faculty of Philosophy of Moscow State University – Aleksandr Shchipkov, in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti, commented on the latest actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and in light of them – the theme of Ukrainian Autocephaly. Interviewed by Sergey Stafanov.
—Aleksandr Vladimirovich, just recently, on August 31, we witnessed the meeting of Patriarchs Kirill and Bartholomew in Istanbul, and in the follow-up to the meeting, it was described as being of a fraternal character, which passed in the spirit of mutual understanding.
However the very next day, the Council [Synaxis] of the bishops of Constantinople began its work, and Patriarch Bartholomew made rather harsh statements with relation to the Moscow Patriarchate. How can this be put together and understood?
On the part of Patriarch Kirill, the attitude to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was and remains fraternal. The calm, patient behavior of Patriarch Kirill testifies to this brotherly attitude. And up until the very last moment, Patriarch Kirill tried to solve the existing problems in fraternal dialog, which, in his words: “occurs within a single body – the Body of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church <…> and imposes on us a certain accountability and duty, but also gives us strength and inspiration.”
—After yesterday’s [September 7, 2018] appointment of the Exarchs by Constantinople, is it possible to talk about the granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian church as a final decision [by Constantinople]?
—Without a doubt, this is the first step on this path.
—Yesterday, commenting on this decision, the Moscow Patriarchate noted that this step will not remain without response by the Russian Orthodox Church. What could this response be?
—In order to understand what the response might be, our reader should understand the general situation. Ukraine is the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. According to the canons of the Second Ecumenical Council1, bishops do not have the right to transgress the boundary of someone else’s canonical territory without an invitation. In this given situation, two exarchs—Daniel and Hilarion—were sent to Kiev without the agreement of Metropolitan Onufry! This is a direct violation of ancient canons!
Therefore I regard this as a direct declaration of War. Remember the words: “Kiev has been bombed! They declared to us that the war has begun!2” Now it’s the same thing, only it’s a religious war.
—What is lurking behind this action of Patriarch Bartholomew?
—Patriarch Bartholomew is obsessed with the idea of Eastern Papism. He dreams of becoming the single head of all Universal [Ecumenical] Orthodoxy, analogous with the Roman Catholic Church [and their Pope.—Trans.].
Bartholomew formulated the following idea: He said that Constantinople possesses a certain mystical exclusivity in comparison with other Orthodox Churches, that Constantinople is the “Ethos of Orthodoxy3”.
The key word is Ethos. What is it? Ethos is a certain stable, universal, and immutable character trait of a person, a nation, a social group. Patriarch Bartholomew states that he is the holder of the very standard of the Ethos of Orthodoxy. This immediately implies that all other churches are imperfect and must obey the Phanar. This curious example of religious racism will certainly enter the future textbooks of political science.
How will other churches react to this? Naturally – negatively!
On September 7, 2018, Patriarch Bartholomew went down in the history of the Orthodox Church as a teacher of schism!
I am speaking at first about intellectual concepts and semantic things; I am speaking theoretically. But canonical issues are extremely important, since we are not talking about animals, but people—Christians who are living on this territory.
This is not the first time Constantinople has moved towards a schism; if we look in history, then we remember it was Constantinople who initiated a transition in Orthodoxy to the New Style calendar.
This calendar split has still not been healed to this very moment. Some parts of the Local Churches under the influence of Constantinople passed into the New Style, some, such as in the Russian Orthodox Church, did not. Inside the Church of Greece, in Greece, millions of believers did not recognize this reform.
As for the relation between Constantinople and Moscow, I don’t know if our readers are in the know, but in the 1920s, Constantinople supported the “Renovationist Schism4” in the USSR.
This schism was artificially created and supported by Trotsky and the other Bolsheviks. Constantinople then demanded that a saint of our Church, Patriarch Tikhon, relinquish his authority and retire. At that time, our church, under the most difficult of conditions preserved the purity of Orthodoxy.
So what do we end up with today? It is known that Constantinople preaches a liberal trend in Orthodoxy. There is talk of joint prayers with Protestants and Catholics, which, to put it mildly, is not welcome in Orthodoxy.
Bartholomew just now allowed for second marriages for clergy—which is also forbidden by the canons of the Holy Fathers of the Church. They are constantly releasing semi-transparent hints and signals about the permissibility of unconventional sexual orientations and so forth.
Moscow, on the contrary, embodies the conservative, traditionalist path of development in Orthodoxy, and defends the purity of dogma. But scientific-theological discussions are one thing, while the direct invasion of someone else’s home is a totally separate matter.
The 7th of September will go down in history as a lamentable date. On this day, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proclaimed and signaled a schism in Universal Orthodoxy, along the liberal and conservative lines. And he is officially headed in a liberal direction.
—What kind of reaction can this cause in the Orthodox World? How might events develop further?
—Undoubtedly, this will cause a very harsh reaction in different Churches. Patriarch Bartholomew will develop his “Eastern Papism”; the Russian Church will not be able to agree with this liberalization of dogma and the disintegration of the ecclesiastical system of life.
First, in my personal opinion: it is necessary to form an inter-Orthodox ecclesiastical court, and make judgments about the anti-canonical actions and heretical ideas of Patriarch Bartholomew.
Second, in my opinion, inevitably the question of ecclesiastical eucharistic communion will arise. There is a high probability this will happen. Proceeding from this, certain practical actions will follow. A huge number of our flock is outside their fatherland, and particularly in Turkey. Today, they [can] go to the Churches of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and have the ability to confess and take communion there.
In the event of the interruption of this communion, they will no longer have such a possibility. Consequently, our Church will have to take some steps to take care of the Russians abroad. We will have to open parishes there, build churches, and send clergy there. We cannot abandon our children.
The actions of Patriarch Bartholomew carry with them very far-reaching consequences, which will take decades to heal.
—Earlier, the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the Moscow Patriarchate expressed similar views—that Patriarch Bartholomew is engaged in political games. In your opinion, how great is the influence of foreign political forces on the Primate [Bartholomew], in reference to certain foreign states, and was it decisive in the case of Ukrainian Autocephly?
—Turn your attention to the origins of the exarchs sent to Kiev. Bishop Daniel of Pamphilon arrived in Kiev from the United States of America; Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton was sent from Canada. These circumstances alone cause us to reflect on who is behind Bartholomew.
There is a great suspicion among many, that it is not Bartholomew who rules Bishops Daniel and Hilarion, but rather Bishops Daniel and Hilarion who are controlling Bartholomew. And who controls them… we can only guess.
The US, as we see, is now ramping up the military-political situation in Syria and Ukraine, using all sorts of methods—from false flag chemical attacks [in Syria.—Trans.], to instigating religious wars.
I believe that there are many participants in this game, among them: Patriarch Bartholomew, the Pope of Rome, and the American “deep state”. I think that in the near future, we will also talk about this.