In the letter below, His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol responds to the invitations being sent out by the Patriarchate of Constantinople to take part in its so-called “unification council” that aims to create a new church in Ukraine. Met. Luke has not hesitated to speak his mind throughout the recent and ongoing ecclesiastical crisis, and this letter is no exception. Whereas His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine chose to return his invitation unanswered to Constantinople, giving us an example of meekness and humility, Met. Luke offers us an example of fiery, righteous zeal—both examples that are good and necessary in the Church.
Dear loyal subject of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Bartholomew!
(better known as the “Ecumenical Patriarch”)
to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the successors to the Church born in the Dnieper font), previously recognized by you as the sole canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine! Thanks for what, you ask? For what you contribute by your actions to our Orthodox flock in entering the Kingdom of God, subjecting it to the discrimination and persecution that it is presently enduring. Unfortunately, you probably don’t know our people’s wise saying: “Love can’t be forced.” Your actions are those of a man blinded by the illusory glow of caesarean authority. By your participation in political projects aimed at splitting the unity of the Church, you’ve already placed your status as the first honored hierarch in Orthodoxy in serious doubt.
You declare today that in your person you represent “the Mother Church” for the Ukrainian people. However, for some reason, you act as the ideological inspirer of a large-scale campaign aimed at inciting hatred towards the UOC, the seizure of its sacred sites, the persecution of its flock, and the undermining of the position of Orthodoxy in Ukraine in favor of the gathering momentum of the Uniate “crusade” on native Orthodox lands! What kind of mother helps torture her child?
Those awaiting the swift advent of the Tomos are not afraid to shout such slogans at their gatherings: “Death to the enemy”; and under the walls of our diocesan administration: “Moscow priests to the gallows, like the communists!” This is how your new pupils treat us and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a whole, being in Eucharistic communion with the See entrusted to you. Terrible things stand behind these slogans: the dominance of political expediency in any important question of Church life, the reign of total persecution against a Church that doesn’t correspond to the general ideological line of the ruling elite, the desecration of holy sites and objects, and the perversion of the canons by longtime opponents of Orthodoxy, who are now actively disguising themselves in the garments of supporters of the autocephalous project being pushed by you.
Are you yourself ready to believe in the “Ukrainian national God,” or is this just an attempt to take our people under your omophorion? Or, quite horribly, do the processes provoked by you have ordinary mercantile interests as their foundation?
In your attempts to subject all the Orthodox Churches to the throne of Constantinople (like the Catholic Church), you forget that it was not a priest but a ceasar who was in power in Byzantium—an empire that hasn’t existed for many centuries already. And one of the reasons it’s gone—and perhaps the main one—is that at that time, some of your predecessors, the Byzantine patriarchs, allowed the faith to become a bargaining chip in the games of big politics. It’s a great pity that you don’t take this into account—or have deliberately forgotten it. After all, more than 500 years ago, it was precisely the betrayal of the Orthodox faith by Constantinople and its departure into the Unia with Rome, and not the geopolitical conditions of those times, that became the driving force behind Orthodoxy gaining independence from Byzantium in the lands of Rus’.
Thank you, Mr. Bartholomew, for aiding in our salvation. The only thing the clergy (whom your throne imagines to be its own for some absurd reason) and flock inquire of you is: What prevented you from hearing us in the spring? What has so clouded your mind that you consider yourself the Patriarch of the entire world? Perhaps your next step will be the assertion that you created this world out of nothing?
With gratitude and hope in God’s admonition for each of us,
METROPOLITAN OF ZAPOROZHYE AND MELITOPOL