Funny Business in the Ukraine

We offer our readers more thoughts on the current political and ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine by an Orthodox-leaning Anglican priest of the Church of Ireland, who serves in County Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland. Fr. Patrick Burke is a graduate of National University of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin, with a Masters degree from Troy State University, Alabama.

Illustration for N.Gogol's story "The Haunted Place" from the cycle "Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka." Grandfather dancing. Artist: M. Klodt. Illustration for N.Gogol's story "The Haunted Place" from the cycle "Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka." Grandfather dancing. Artist: M. Klodt.     

Recent political developments in the Ukraine might be described as comical in a very literal sense.

Following the results of the first round of the presidential elections in the Ukraine it seems increasingly likely, unless there is a dramatic change in the mood of the electorate, that Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a man who was up until now pretty much unheard of outside of his country and most famous there for playing a politician on a TV show, will be the next president; and that the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, will suffer a massive defeat and be ousted from office. Observers in the West, naturally enough, are less than thrilled by what is happening.

The reason for the dismay is obvious. Poroshenko is very much seen as being not only pro-Western and a liberalizing force in his nation, but also as wishing to distance his country ever further from Russia. The Western media are pointing to his failure to deliver on promises to clean up institutional corruption and the undue influence of wealthy businessman in his country as key reasons for his thrashing at the polls. And no doubt these played a significant part. However, I would suggest a further reason that is not being mentioned by the media; and that is that he chose to meddle in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine.

It is, of course, deeply ironic that a politician who presents himself as liberal and West-leaning should make such a move. The separation of Church and State is one of the mantras of Western liberal democracy—although, it is to be noted that this might be well be seen more as a stick used by secularists to beat religious people whenever they say anything that goes against their agenda. Nonetheless, it is incredibly inappropriate for the leader of a state to interfere in the governance of a church; and it absolutely beyond belief that he should try to orchestrate what was essentially an attempt to abolish one church and replace it with another as was the case here.

This is behavior that anyone, even the most extreme secularist, should find outrageous (yet it was applauded in the Western media). The cynic in me can only see it as an opportunistic move on the part of Poroshenko to exploit the tensions between the Ukraine and Russia to his own political advantage in the Ukraine while at the same time winning him even greater approval from many in the West. Presumably he thought that nationalists would love him for it and that the Orthodox faithful would fall quickly into line—after all, one church is as good as another, isn't it?

His lack of understanding of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian is breathtaking. When news of his interference began to break some months ago I found it impossible to believe that the Orthodox faithful in the Ukraine would so easily be persuaded to abandon their Church; and so it has proved to be. The attempt seems to have failed miserably, with only a handful of parishes and clergy having chosen to align themselves with this new church. It would almost be funny were it not for the great suffering it has caused among members of the faithful.

The result is a mess in which Poroshenko has managed to disappoint nationalists by failing to deliver the Church to them while alienating a great number of the Orthodox faithful in the canonical Church, who, by the way, make up the vast majority of Christians in Ukraine. Far from gaining him votes, the only reasonable conclusion is that it has cost him votes—and rightly so. It is never wise for a politician to get too involved in Church affairs. It is particularly silly to do so when he’s not doing a great job of running the country. Put it all together and it really is no surprise that the electorate are thinking of replacing Poroshenko with Zelenskiy. An actual comedian can hardly prove himself any worse than an accidental one.

See also
Poroshenko requiring schismatic church to pray for his re-election, Parliament Deputy Chairman says Poroshenko requiring schismatic church to pray for his re-election, Parliament Deputy Chairman says Poroshenko requiring schismatic church to pray for his re-election, Parliament Deputy Chairman says Poroshenko requiring schismatic church to pray for his re-election, Parliament Deputy Chairman says
“I learned today that, as it turns out, the President’s administration is calling churches and telling them how they should pray that the current president would win in the elections,” Syroid said. “That is, they are sending instructions to the churches about how to remember in their homilies.”
Statement of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the current situation in Ukrainian and World Orthodoxy Statement of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the current situation in Ukrainian and World Orthodoxy
Ukrainian Church Crisis
Statement of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the current situation in Ukrainian and World Orthodoxy Statement of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the current situation in Ukrainian and World Orthodoxy
We state that the idea of overcoming the church schism in Ukraine by the granting of a Tomos of autocephaly to the non-canonical church groups (“UOC-KP” and “UAOC”) has turned out to be a grave error.
An American Perspective on the Ukraine Crisis An American Perspective on the Ukraine Crisis
Archpriest John Whiteford
An American Perspective on the Ukraine Crisis An American Perspective on the Ukraine Crisis
Archpriest John Whiteford
This is the text of a talk that I gave at St. Tikhon University in Moscow, at a conference entitled "Causes and Challenges of the Current Crisis of Inter-Orthodox Relations," on February 25th, 2019.
The Return of the “New Rome” The Return of the “New Rome”
Fr. Patrick Burke
The Return of the “New Rome” The Return of the “New Rome”
Fr. Patrick Burke
Constantinople’s resurrection as the New Rome leads inexorably to its bowing in obedience to the Old.
Ukraine ignores UN’s request for information on violations of rights of canonical faithful Ukraine ignores UN’s request for information on violations of rights of canonical faithful Ukraine ignores UN’s request for information on violations of rights of canonical faithful Ukraine ignores UN’s request for information on violations of rights of canonical faithful
A group of special UN Rapporteurs appealed to the authorized Ukrainian state bodies on September 30 with an information request on the violations of the rights of the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian authorities ignored the request; the reporters received no answer within the legally-prescribed time frame.
Poroshenko’s interference in Church matters is aimed at “division, enmity, hatred”—President Yanukovych Poroshenko’s interference in Church matters is aimed at “division, enmity, hatred”—President Yanukovych Poroshenko’s interference in Church matters is aimed at “division, enmity, hatred”—President Yanukovych Poroshenko’s interference in Church matters is aimed at “division, enmity, hatred”—President Yanukovych
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spoke at a press conference yesterday against current President Petro Poroshenko’s interference in religious matters that are aimed at division and enmity.
Comments
Mikhail4/6/2019 4:18 pm
And so it begs the question. The move to eliminate and persecute the canonical Church in Ukraine was so obviously suicidal to Poroshenko's presidential aspirations....shouldn't it been equally as obvious to Bartholomew that issuing an uncanonical and Church-destroying tomos would be tragic for Constantinople?
Gary Cox4/6/2019 2:22 pm
An accurate take on the situation. I get the feeling that he cares nothing for the Church. He thinks that Orthodox, uniates, and catholics are all the same. I have read that he comes from a Jewish background. If that is so then he could possibly want to destroy the Church in Ukraine and harm it as much as he can in Russia. If so then what better way than to pretend to be Christian and bring everyone together in one big happy, believe what you want church. The only requirement is that you hate Russia. He has one problem. He is fighting against God and there is that thing called Judgment Day. Gary Cox
Mark Betts4/6/2019 12:23 pm
I really hope Poroshenko does get ousted - for the reasons mentioned above. The U.S. State department will be less than happy, but they are implicit in the mess which is now the Ukraine just as much as anyone else.
Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 700 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 700

Subscribe
to our mailing list

* indicates required
×