The Dystopian Papacy Of Bartholomew I of Constantinople

Ukrainian firefighters attempt to save a church building, Photo: spzh.news Ukrainian firefighters attempt to save a church building, Photo: spzh.news     

Patriarch Bartholomew’s new Orthodox Papacy has not had the best beginning.

It seemed like such a good plan.

Patriarch Bartholomew would, invoking a newly self-accorded unilateral authority,1 nullify the 300-year-old compact that made Ukraine the canonical territory of Moscow. Claiming the agreement had been “only temporary,” he would assume sovereignty over Ukraine and draw all its churches together into one (carefully circumscribed) “autocephalous” body responsible to him.

Philaret was in. Makary was in. The UGCC’s Sviatoslav was in.2 President Poroshenko was in. The Moscow upstarts were upset, of course, but once the deal was done, what could they do? They would have to obey, if only to save face.3

The other Local Churches were dubious, but they’d come around. They always did. His was the First Throne of Orthodoxy, after all! And he, Bartholomew, was First Without Equal, whose grave, even onerous responsibility it was to keep Orthodoxy in line. 4

Onuphry? He’d have to join up. If not, he’d just lose his churches. Poroshenko’s army and national police would take care of that. Some discomfort at the beginning, but in the end, peace and security. Constantinople would unite a country tragically divided by Moscow’s oppression, and Moscow’s defeat would ensure Poroshenko’s re-election, so the muscle would stay in place.5

Key to the deal was the UGCC. Once the deal was done and all the papers were signed, an ecclesial body would be created that was recognized by both the Phanar and the Vatican. This would bring Rome and Constantinople into formal communion, and Orthodoxy would have to either hop aboard or be left behind.

Bartholomew, close to retirement, would go down in history as the man who established the Patriarchate of Constantinople in its rightful glory, and reunited Christendom.

Such a good, sound plan.

It just didn’t work out that way.

Shaky From the Start

Moscow did not “obey.” On September 7, 2018 Bartholomew appointed two “exarchs” to Ukraine with instructions to set up a Stavropegia (representative body of a First Hierarch). A week later, on September 14, as promised, the Moscow Patriarchate suspended communion with Constantinople and her dependents. Patriarch Bartholomew would not be commemorated. Russian Orthodox clergy would not concelebrate with his clergy, Russian Orthodox faithful would not communicate in his churches, nor would the Russian Church participate in any organization or meeting that had a Constantinopolitan chairman.

The other Local Churches wanted no part of Bartholomew’s invasion. Reactions ranged from shock, to outrage, to outright disbelief. All of them declined their participation, or even their acknowledgment.

Metropolitan Onuphry made it clear, privately to Bartholomew and publicly to the world, that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church did not want, and did not need, autocephaly. They were already fully autonomous, answering to Moscow for nothing, yet enjoying membership—and hence influence—in the synod of Orthodoxy’s largest and most influential Church.

As for the UGCC, it had everything to gain and nothing to lose. The Vatican had coveted Orthodoxy for a thousand years. If Bartholomew could pull this off, UGCC Patriarch Sviatoslav would be a hero. If not, he was still secure as head of the UGCC. His only part was to sit and let events unfold.

Unfold they did.

The “unification council” went forward, despite the absence of the canonical Church. “Patriarch” Philaret presented his secretary, Epiphany Dumenko, as his candidate for “Metropolitan” of the new group. He made it clear that Dumenko’s election was a deal-breaker for the KP’s participation, so Dumenko was elected. The problem was, and remains, that Mr. Dumenko is a layman. He has never been canonically ordained to anything, and Bartholomew did nothing to correct that. No ordination. No consecration. He didn’t even attend the “enthronement” to lay hands on him. So, apart from everything else, the leader of Ukraine’s “autocephalous church” has no Apostolic succession.

The terms of the tomos called for the dissolution of the “Kiev Patriarchate” and the “UAOC,” and their incorporation into the new “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” Their corporations, however, were not in fact dissolved. The KP and the UAOC continue to be legally—and separately—incorporated.

What if you gave an enthronement and nobody came?

On February 3, 2019, to great fanfare, Epiphany Dumenko was enthroned as “Metropolitan” of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” All the Local Churches, despite much arm-twisting, had declined their invitations. Among the missing was Patriarch Bartholomew himself, who sent four representatives.

Also missing were the customary letters of congratulation and declarations of “Axios” to the new hierarch. One letter of congratulation did, however, come—from “Kiev Pride,” the Ukrainian LGBT lobby. In response, Dumenko declared that “unlike Russia,” the new “church” would have a “more tolerant attitude.”

Fire and Sword

There commenced a season of conquest. President Poroshenko, himself a Uniate, unleashed the martial power of the state upon the canonical Ukrainian Church, declaring it to be an “agent of Russia,” despite its fully Ukrainian composition and leadership.

Companies of thugs were deployed in civilian clothes to bring the “recalcitrants” to heel. UOC churches were vandalized. Some were burned. Altars were smashed and Tabernacles violated.

UOC faithful protested, and they and their clergy were brutally attacked by the gangs of thugs. Many were hospitalized. At least two were killed. Priests and bishops were called in for “questioning” by the State Security forces. Through it all, the UOC stood firm.

Then came the seizures.

Poroshenko deployed his thugs to go from village to village, declaring themselves to be the “local parishioners” of the village church. They would hold an “election,” install themselves as the leadership of the target parish, and declare they wanted “their” parish to join the OCU. The compliant (and doubtless frightened) mayor would enforce the order, and conveniently stationed police would thereupon forcibly remove the legitimate parishioners and clergy, padlocking the building’s doors and registering the parish for the OCU.6

Bartholomew’s plan for “unification and stability” had thrown the country into division and chaos.

On Sunday, March 21, President Poroshenko conceded electoral defeat to Volodymyr Zelensky, an actor who played the role of Ukrainian President on a popular TV sitcom. Expressing their distaste for what had been going on, the Ukrainian people handed the actor-comedian over 70 percent of the vote.

Bartholomew’s muscle was suddenly gone. The raids stopped. A wary Parliament held back on any further anti-UOC legislation. A dazed Ukraine shook its head awake and beheld the carnage and rubble the “unification” orgy had produced, and fell uneasily silent.

A Schismatic Schism and the Man Who Would be Patriarch

Philaret never had any intention of renouncing his “patriarchy.” He and Dumenko agreed that he, Philaret, would be the actual head of the new “church,” and Epiphany would be the equivalent of a foreign minister. Philaret removed his “patriarchal” klobuk on January 5, 2019, the day of the signing of the tomos. It was back on his head on January 6.

Philaret has asserted that he had only agreed to the terms in order to get the tomos. He further asserts that the OCU and the UOC-KP are actually one and the same. Accordingly, even though the “unification” agreement calls for ceding all parishes outside Ukraine directly to Constantinople, Philaret has declined to do so.

Philaret has insisted on real autocephaly for the new group, and Bartholomew has responded that anyone who disagrees with the terms of the tomos cannot consider himself to be “within the bosom of the OCU.”

The official Kiev Patriarchate website represents the KP and the OCU as one entity, with Dumenko as “Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine,” and Philaret as “Patriarch.” Nevertheless, Dumenko appears to have come to enjoy being “His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine,” and to have thrown his mentor under the church bus.

Philaret has issued a statement to the effect that everything would be fine if Dumenko would simply be obedient to him. Dumenko, however, appears to think things are fine just the way they are. Subsequently there have been reports that Philatret is breaking with Dumenko and reviving his “patriarchate.”7

Makary accused Philaret of being “disobedient to the tomos” not more than two weeks after the signing. He has been keeping a low profile since, keeping his own parishes in order and issuing no statements.

Dénouement

Many observers see the OCU as unstable and imploding, and it’s no wonder. The whole business was a web of lies, intrigue and fantasy from the start: The canonical territory isn’t Bartholomew’s; the autocephaly isn’t really autocephaly; the unity isn’t really unity; the Metropolitan isn’t really a cleric, and the KP and the UAOC didn’t really dissolve—they still legally exist.

As for the players: Poroshenko, the man who would play Charlemagne to Bartholomew’s Leo III, was buried under an electoral landslide. Philaret, the hard-bargaining power broker at the outset, has been betrayed by Mr. Dumenko. Makary is keeping his head down.

Wary of the message sent by the voters, the parliament has ceased all action on Poroshenko’s confiscations, although local attacks continue.8 The courts are in the process of reviewing the mess. President Zelensky has engaged in no polemic, and is occupied with cleaning up the wreckage of the past months. The thugs are mostly gone, presumably back into uniform. Some, however, appear not to have gotten the memo, and sporadic local harassment continues.

And Bartholomew? Serenely he sits on the Ecumenical Throne in the Phanar, having achieved his initial goal. Like Napoleon, who proclaimed that the way to win a war was through “audacity, audacity, audacity,” Bartholomew successfully invaded and established his presence on the canonical territory of a brother patriarch. The “OCU” may not be legitimate and its alliances may be falling apart, but it exists on paper, regardless. It’s a piece of paper into which the UGCC can be included. and that’s all Bartholomew needs.

As for Orthodoxy, the question seems to be not so much whether there will be a schism, but what form it will take. Some of the Local Churches have refused to take sides in the matter, others have indicated there are circumstances under which they would recognize the schismatic group. So, these will probably wind up following Bartholomew into his grotesque alliance with Rome. The great numerical bulk of Orthodoxy, however, will remain faithful.

More and more, the focus is shifting from Ukraine to Istanbul. There is talk of convening a council with or without Bartholomew. If that should happen, a clear definition of Constantinople’s powers—and limitations—can be made. The “OCU” can be definitively declared non-canonical. Orthodoxy will have stood united against its greatest threat in a thousand years. Bartholomew will have nothing to bring to the Roman table, and God’s ancient Church will have dodged the devil’s bullet once again.

Fr. James is Rector of St. Joseph of Arimathea Orthodox Church and House of Prayer (ROCOR Western Rite) in La Porte, Indiana. His opinions are his own.

Fr. James Rosselli

6/15/2019

1 See Novikov, Orthodox Christianity, http://orthochristian.com/115685.html

2 See RISU, 8 January 2019, https://risu.org.ua/en/index/all_news/confessional/interchurch_relations/74222/

3 See, “Russian Church has no choice but to obey us—Pat. Bartholomew,” Orthodox Christianity, January 2019.

4 See Stickles, Orthodox Chrtistianityhttp://orthochristian.com/116986.html.

5 See Orthodox Christianity: http://orthochristian.com/120189.html

6 ibid., also, Pravmiron-church-seizures-and-vandalism-ramp-up-in-pat-barthhttp://www.pravmir.com/persecutiolomew-s-post-tomos-ukraine/

7 See: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Filaret-breaks-with-Ukrainian-autocephalous-Church.-Epifanyj-closer-to-Greek-Catholics-47004.html. Also: Shemliuk, Union of Orthodox Journalists https://spzh.news/en/zashhita-very/62107-pcu-dvoih-ne-vyneset-kak-filaret-i-jepifanij-razrushajut-svoju-cerkovy

8 See: Kurozvany, Orthodox Christianityhttp://orthochristian.com/120565.html

Also: Moschanitsa, ibid.: http://orthochristian.com/121782.html

Also: Vaslovovtsi, ibid.: http://orthochristian.com/121609.html

See also
The Two-headed Hydra of the Ukrainian Schism and World Orthodoxy The Two-headed Hydra of the Ukrainian Schism and World Orthodoxy
Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev)
The Two-headed Hydra of the Ukrainian Schism and World Orthodoxy The Two-headed Hydra of the Ukrainian Schism and World Orthodoxy
Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev)
For the past four months not a single Local Orthodox Church has recognized the act committed by Patriarch Bartholomew in flagrant violation of Church canons. A number of Churches officially expressed their disagreement with this act, as well as their non-recognition of the legalization of the schismatics, and expressed their support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Onuphry. Other Churches took time to examine the situation. None of them has supported the lawlessness. Why?
“Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church “Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church “Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church “Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church
“With great sorrow and concern we learn about what is happening in the Orthodox Church as a whole because of the non-canonical granting of autocephaly to the schismatics of Ukraine without the consent of the canonical autonomous Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphry, which continues to consider the new autocephalites as schismatics, having no communion with them and, on the basis of the sacred canons, with all of those who have communion with the schismatics,” the letter opens.
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.
Comments
MC6/29/2019 9:33 pm
Panayotis, I am surprised that the editors post your comments, since they contain blatant obfuscation of the matter at hand and simply misinformation. "Anyone who knows ROCOR" is in fact quite a lot of people, so it is obvious that they can't all be named. But you could have named the one ROCOR bishop who supposedly made that accusation against Met. Onuphry. It sounds more like you are trying to tie Onuphry somehow to the secret services, which is absurd. But your hope is that the suggestion will stick to someone and maybe bring forth some hideous fruit. I can only say that I don't know why you want to do that, but I don't find it admirable.
Panayotis6/29/2019 5:39 am
You lost me there. “Irenic” just means peaceful. I was actually complimenting you on your polite tone, in hopes of maintaining a polite discussion among fellow Christians.

There’s no need for personal remarks and if your argument is “anyone who knows”, well, then there’s not much more to say.

With that said, thanks to the editors of this fine site who publish all my comments despite likely strongly disagreeing with them.
MC6/28/2019 11:31 pm
Panayotis: Well, aren't we clever--dropping the term "irenic", which completely discredits the argument if you don't know what the term means (or don't look it up). Also very flimsy of you to discredit Met. Onuphry by citing an unnamed ROCOR bishop, when anyone who knows Met. Onuphry or the ROCOR bishops also knows that there is great mutual respect between them. The ROCOR bishops were among the first to come to his defense when the trouble broke out. An old trick--spray out malodorous ink when threatened, to obfuscate the matter.
Panayotis6/28/2019 8:00 pm
I appreciate your helpful and detailed comments which were made in an irenic spirit

Context is everything, isn’t it? You may be completely right but we don’t know if the article you referenced provides the full context. For instance, could the secret service have played a role in shaping he outcome of those events? After all, in 2005 a ROCOR bishop accused none other than Met. Onufry of instigating the security service to threaten members of his flock who attempted to form a rival parish somewhere in Chernivtsy

I use this example only to show the complex nature of these kinds of ecclesiastic disputes and to say that we need to exercise caution before uncritically accepting every report
MC6/22/2019 7:08 pm
To Pannayotis, continued: The three hierarchs, Onuphry of Cherovitsi, Sergei of Ternopyl, and Alipy of Donetsk (note, that includes west, east and south of Ukraine) who dissolved their signatures on the petition where deposed from their cathedras the very next day by Philaret. This caused the Ukrainian faithful to trust Philaret even less. On May 27-28, a council of Ukrainian bishops was held in Kharkov at which they deposed Philaret and elected Vladimir (Sabodan). The bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, now at a different venue, said that they were under pressure from the dictatorial Philaret to sign the request for autocephaly. They have not asked for it since. (see https://pravoslavie.ru/103919.html).
MC6/22/2019 6:58 pm
Panayotis: The 1991 council in the Kiev Caves Lavra was headed by none other than Philaret Denisenko. You have to provide the facts of the previous and following history in order to understand that move. The UOC had already been granted autonomy by then, but for Denisenko, who had just lost the election for patriarch of Moscow and All Rus', (and his bosses in the Ukrainian government), that was not enough. Denisenko wanted to be a patriarch. Right after that petition was signed and sent to Alexiy, 36 delegations from all over Ukraine came to Kiev demanding that the petition be recalled and nullified. Some of the bishops who signed it, including Onuphry, removed their signatures.
Theodoros6/22/2019 6:39 pm
To Brandon continued
Where exactly is this reconcililiation you speak of? The canonical church is being persecuted.
The schismatics are now splitting into three factions from two. No this is nothing but a power grab
On the part of patriarch bartholomew. What is playing out in Orthodoxy is a possible schism.
Nothing but evil has emanated from this invasion of Ukraine.
Theodoros6/22/2019 6:30 pm
To Brandon,

Vladimir Putin is an Orthodox Christian and the comments he has made pertain to protecting
The faithful of the canonical church from persecution unleashed by the poroshenko regime and
The schismatics with their fascist allies. American leaders such as mike Pompeo, joe Biden, and
Geoffrey Pratt have openly endorsed this fake autocephaly. They see the church entirely from a
Secular view a and not as the church of God. Their disregard for the role of God in
The church, the conciliar tradition, and canon law is blasphemous. For them the church is an
Instrument to be used against Russia. All Orthodox should be offended and outraged.
Panayotis6/22/2019 5:26 pm
“When the Ukraine became an independent nation...(t)he Orthodox clergy did not deem it a good time to become totally independent”.

This narrative is complicated by the fact that at the November 1-3, 1991 Assembly of the Ukrainian Church held at the Kiev Caves Lavra, 23 hierarchs - including the now Metropolitan Onufriy - supported autocephaly. Together with his brother bishops, Metropolitan Onufriy had actually signed three appeals to Patriarch Alexi which went unanswered.
MC6/22/2019 12:45 pm
Brandon: Not waiting for an answer from you since you have decided to take leave of the website, but you really should know that there is no blood feud between the canonical Ukrainian Church and the MP. This site has provided a pretty thorough history of the situation, all there for the reading, if you are able to open up your mind. Many articles are written by Ukrainians living in Ukraine. Many articles are by His Beatitude Met. Onuphry, who was born and raised in Ukraine, and cares much more about his people than the EP ever can. It is very prideful of the EP to think they know better than the Ukrainians themselves. Pride is always the cause behind schisms.
Brandon6/22/2019 12:02 pm
MC: I will answer your post before I do take my leave of this website. I am an Orthodox Christian under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. HAH Bartholomew and many others do not want to see the Ukrainian Church broken up. Quite the contrary. Perhaps the EP made a huge mistake in Ukraine (a strong possibility, given the circumstances). I myself agree with Cyprus and Albania, who champion the intentions behind the EP's efforts but are critical of how it was done. This blood feud has gone on long enough, don't you think? If there is a chance to turn the page, why not take it? Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Cyprus and Albania are working together to fix this. I hope everyone works together
MC6/22/2019 11:30 am
Brandon: Please no offense--I am only asking if you are Orthodox because your polemic sounds very typical of all the Catholics and Uniates who are so interested in breaking up the Ukrainian Church, and blaming the whole thing on the Moscow Patriarchate.
MC6/22/2019 11:25 am
Brandon, I am talking about Ukrainians who live in Ukraine and not abroad. Of course Russians and Ukrainians abroad will go to EP parishes because they may be the only ones in their area. But the fact remains, that what the EP did made things far worse than they were. And if the MP desires that other local churches not actively meddle, they have that canonical right. Also, whether you like it or not, Ukrainians and Russians have historically been one people, and they know each other much better than others do. By the way, are you Orthodox?
Brandon6/22/2019 9:41 am
Theodoros: Why is Vladimir Putin commenting on Church affairs? The fact is, geopolitics is hopelessly intertwined here. Reconciling all of those Ukrainians to the Church is the right thing to do. We'll see what happens. The EP intervention was done with the best of intentions, even if the canonicity of it is questioned. Fortunately, the Church of Cyprus is working towards a true Pan-Orthodox solution. Will the MP take it? Or will they tell the Greeks to "mind their own business" and double down. I hope they don't do that. Anyway, this will be my last post on this website. It does no good to argue. May Our Lord bless you all, and Panagia protect you.
Brandon6/22/2019 9:33 am
Continued2-The question is, will the MP actually submit the Ukrainian question to a Pan-Orthodox solution? They talk about it, but what if things progress and the EP is persuaded by circumstances to call one, with the Cypriot alternative on the table (The EP is on board with their peace initiative, by the way). Will Moscow take it? That is MY question. Or is the Russky Mir more important? Millions of Ukrainians have a chance to be integrated into Orthodoxy (it could even draw some former Catholics too). This "Uniate" plot of a Vatican-Phanar union is sheer tin foil hat lunacy. Ugly propaganda to do the very thing I mentioned before: Snuff out any serious autocephaly initiative.
Brandon6/22/2019 9:26 am
Continued-Catholic baiting will only get you so far, and yet MP partisans do it with relish (except when HE Hilarion meets with the Pope, then it is all smiles and tea). The Greek Catholics have their own history and grievances against the Moscow Patriarchate. They, like Philaret are a convenient bogeyman. The fact is that it is much more nuanced and complicated. The MP is utterly incapable of healing this wound, because they are compromised (by history if not by Putin). You don't like what the EP did, fine...the Church of Cyprus has picked up the torch, in concert with Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Albania. A true Pan-Orthodox alternative may arise from this alliance.
Brandon6/22/2019 9:18 am
MC: I have heard from both Ukrainians and Russian friends/acquaintances on this issue. Granted, they have ties to the EP and have worshipped in both Churches. Perhaps they are the "wrong" Ukrainians to listen to? My Russian friends see this mess as political and still worship in EP Churches. Perhaps they are the "wrong" Russians, too? That is the problem with anecdotal "evidence." Different people have different opinions and experiences. What I got from those conversations was the very painful and complicated nature of all of this. The history here is messy. No doubt the Catholics remember how the MP happily took their churches when the Soviets liquidated them.
Theodoros6/21/2019 4:41 pm
To Brandon,
As a Greek, it is my belief that patriarch bartholomew has no business in Ukraine and is
Motivated solely by power. Metropolitan onuphry is the only legitimate bishop in Ukraine.
Patriarch bartholomew is trying to hide behind the Greeks to mask his violation of church canons.
His public statements of "our people" and the implication that the Russians are anti Greek are morally
Grotesque. Many Greeks like myself sickened by what patriarch bartholomew has done in Ukraine.
The Russians are absolutely correct that nato and the us are involved here. Why are American
Officials involving themselves in church affairs in Ukraine and now Greece as well?
MC6/21/2019 11:34 am
Brandon: My question: Have you talked to anyone in the UOC? Do they confirm what you are saying? I have talked with many, and they do not confirm what you are saying. When the Ukraine became an independent nation, the Uniates in the western part suddenly revived with the help of their brothers abroad, and persecutions began against the Orthodox. The Orthodox clergy did not deem it a good time to become totally independent--they needed all the support they could get. Philaret started shouting about independence only after losing the election for patriarch of Moscow. The Ukrainian clergy say that if he had become patriarch of Moscow and All Rus', there would have been no talk of independence.
Brandon6/21/2019 4:42 am
MC: The MP has been very successful in suppressing any open discussion of autocephaly by attributing such desires to schismatics and wielding "canonical sanctions" against any clerics who might be so disposed. Philaret is a very useful bogeyman in this effort. For all the talk of a "Pan-Orthodox Synod" to solve the crisis, The EP was not wrong when he declared it a waste of time. Because it is. The MP is not interested in an open dialogue and wants to hear only two things: The EP is wrong, and Ukraine is ours. The MP will not even discuss the possibility of a brokered independent Ukrainian Church, and any push in that regard will be denounced as a NATO plot or Greek hubris (or both).
MC6/20/2019 12:49 pm
Brandon: The Orthodox Church is not a multi-national corporation in which you organize things according to business plans. I repeat, when the canonical Ukrainians decide they want autocephaly, that is when the mother Church begins to review it. Otherwise, it is simply a caving in to geopolitical interests. The Orthodox Church is a living Body, and not a chessboard with pawns that people who "know better" just move around.
Brandon6/20/2019 12:19 pm
MC,
I assume NOTHING. And in this era of disinformation, NOTHING is "obvious."
I know that many Ukrainians bear no animus towards Moscow and may even desire to retain the status quo. The question is, is the Status quo tenable? It's not all a CIA funded conspiracy. All of this talk of unity, but NOBODY is actually doing anything to facilitate it (except the EP, say what you will about the effort or its legality). Keeping Ukraine a basket case serves Moscow's geopolitical interests. The MP, is serving those interests whether they know it or not. I think if there was a real chance to turn the page, opinions on a viable autocephaly might change. Look at the OCA. It isn't the end.

MC 6/20/2019 11:52 am
Brandon, avoid making judgments about issues that you obviously don't know very much about. Please consult rather the canonical Ukrainians themselves, and ask them if they want autocephaly. The nearly unanimous opinion is that their canonical position at the present is optimal. You assume that all Ukrainians want to separate forever from the Russian Church, but that is not true. The Western media mistakenly paints that picture, because the West wants to break up the unity that has always existed in order to weaken Russia. By the way, most of the people who so zealously desire Ukrainian Church independence are not even Orthodox. They are usually Uniates.
Brandon6/20/2019 3:35 am
Mr. Dominick,

The heart of the schism is the broken trust between the Moscow Patriarchate and a significant portion of the Ukrainian population. The wounds of the Soviet period run deep, and the fact that the MP fails to appreciate that is troubling in itself. The hardline has been taken for decades, with the result being a hardening of hearts. SOMETHING has to be done. Now the Church of Cyprus is working for a compromise. A Moscow issued Tomos may be the ONLY way to break the empasse, and force a settlement of at least the autocephaly issue once and for all (the Diaspora et al will have to wait). The UOC-MP would agree with it, I think, if that were the only way to solve this.
Theodoros 6/20/2019 3:12 am
comments continued
In addition, Patriarch Bartholomew is dragging the Church of Greece into this assault on the Russian Church. Several
Bishops, theologians, and priests have rightfully condemned Patriarch Bartholomew's actions. Others tragically appear
to be supporting Patriarch Bartholomew possibly under pressure from Patriarch Bartholomew and the US Government.
It is very clear to those who have followed developments in Ukraine that Patriarch Bartholomew has caused a crisis in
Orthodoxy without precedent for many centuries.
Eventually, the local Churches will have to take action, convene a council, and depose him. Enough is enough.
Theodoros 6/20/2019 3:05 am
To Gregorios,

Patriarch Bartholomew has invaded the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is under the omophorion
of the Moscow Patriarchate. He has violated canon law and is twisting Orthodox ecclesiology declaring himself to be "First without
equals" and claiming authority over the Church and its tradition of conciliarity.
Having made himself an accomplice to the persecution of the canonical Church in Ukraine, he has proceeded to promote
conflict between the Greek and Slavic Churches. He invited the fake Bishops of the political "Church" in Ukraine to Mount Athos
and bullied several Athonite Abbots into concelebrating with the non priests.
Jesse Dominick6/19/2019 10:07 am
Brandon, your error is in thinking that the Ukrainians unanimously want a tomos. The canonical Church has stated multiple times that it has no interest in separating from the Russian Church. So what good would come from issuing a tomos to people who don't want it and wouldn't accept it? The canonical Church has also said that unity in Ukraine is a prerequisite to autocephaly. Perhaps the first step here is ... repentance, rather than documents?
Brandon6/18/2019 4:59 am
The suffering in Ukraine was occurring before the Ecumenical Patriarch got involved. The Tomos is a path to end the strife. If Moscow was truly interested in healing the Schism, they would have issued their own Tomos and let the chips fall where they may. The Church of Cyprus is rumored to be working on just such a plan: Either a negotiated Tomos between the EP and MP, or the MP issuing it's own Tomos, allowing a true reunion council to take place free from EP/MP influence (or the other Churches just recognizing the MP Tomos, and negotiations with the EP taking place from there).
The only way for the Schism to be healed on all sides, is for Moscow to LET UKRAINE GO. Will they?
Fr. James Rosselli6/17/2019 10:47 pm
Hi, Gregorios--

Batholomew's behavior is completely above his pay-grade. Moscow meets with Rome in attempts to evangelize them. Bartholomew meets with them in hopes of bringing an unrepentant and morally disastrous Rome back into communion with us.

He is, too, an ecumenist, continually citing blather from the WCC in definition of his actions.

As for this latest: throwing an entire nation into a religious civil war, and mounting an armed invasion of another bishop's universally-acknowledged jurisdiction, are not acts inspired by God. And thinking you can do these things just because you're--well--you, is simply prelest.

Kudos for loyalty. But some loyalty is undeserved, my brother.
Gary Cox6/17/2019 3:09 am
Father James, a good and I believe accurate assessment of the situation. Probably a schism regardless of the Patriarchs decision. Hopefully it can be kept to a minor schism. I'm not saying that a small schism is good but maybe better than a huge one that tears the worldwide Church apart. The thing that we can all do is to support our Patriarchs and Bishops with our prayers. This is especially important now while they are under severe pressure and threats to cave in. Keep the prayers going and God will see us through this attack on the Church. Gary Cox
Editor6/16/2019 4:29 pm
Anthony, our readers have been begging us for a long time now to stop posting your comments. After your last one, we have decided to comply with popular demand. Only people with weak arguments resort to the old "We did this, but you did that" tirade. Good bye.
Mikhail6/16/2019 3:59 pm
Excellent synopsis Fr. James!

The EP's power grab has backfired, and sadly, I fear it will cause a ripple effect of schisms. It is particularly sad that Bartholomew's only recourse at this point is to complain that he is a victim of fake news. If a council is called to address his canonical abuse, it should conclude with him being deposed.
Photios6/16/2019 12:50 pm
From old men in a hurry,
Lord deliver us!
Editor6/16/2019 10:16 am
Gregorios: This is not an attack on Patriarch Bartholomew, but an attack on what he is doing. It is becoming very clear to nearly everyone in the Orthodox world that he is way off the mark. What is most disturbing is that some people have more compassion for the CP than they do for the Ukrainians who are suffering because of his decision. If one's philosophy is to shield the CP from all criticism even when his decisions are wreaking havoc and causing suffering, his position is no better than a Jesuit's, who blindly shields (even encourages) his pope while his politics persecute the Orthodox.
Gregorios 6/15/2019 1:03 pm
Why do you guys always attack the Ecumenical Patriarchate? You always try to paint him as a "heretical Eastern Pope" who has ecumenistic meetings with Mr. Francis. Why don’t you ever expose the ecumenism in the Russian Orthodox Church? Like in the 60s when the Russian Orthodox Church established a partial communion with the Vatican (Metropolitan Nikodim’s secret)? Or when Patriarch Kirill, when he was a Metropolitan, bowed down to Mr. Benedict XVI? Or when Metropolitan Hilarion stated that Roman Catholics have "valid" mysteries, and prayed with Latin bishops with his epitrachelion on? You seriously need to stop being so biased and one-sided!
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