Kiev, July 1, 2019
Since the entire Ukrainian Church crisis began, the question on the minds of many analysts and observers has been: What is Constantinople’s main goal or motive? Is this the rise of some peculiar form of Eastern Papism, or as some evidence would suggest, is Constantinople under the influence of political powers and acting in their interest?
Now, another far simpler motive has emerged — money. According to Vesti Ukraine and other Ukrainian sources, 28 million dollars per month is being demanded by the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), which it created at the request of the Ukrainian government, with the support of the US State Department, as OCU “Hierarch” Makary Meletich has openly admitted.
We remind our readers that former Ukrainian President Poroshenko already promised Patriarch Bartholomew properties which his Patriarchate would personally possess in Ukraine, namely in the form of as many as twenty podvorye (stavropegions i.e. church properties which Constantinople, as opposed to the OCU, would possess and collect money from.)
Now, according to Vesti Ukraine, the representative of Constantinople in Ukraine, Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul has since May already begun demanding that this deal, brokered under the previous president, be fulfilled. Metropolitan Emmanuel reportedly insisted that Rostislav Pavlenko and Andrei Yurasha, associates of the ex-president organize a meeting with “Metropolitan” Epiphany, the “Primate” of the OCU and the new President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The goal of this meeting would naturally be to ensure the new president will honor the old agreement, and transfer the desired properties to the Phanar, as Zelensky so far has been relatively silent, if not apathetic to church issues, especially given that the creation of the new schismatic structure was perceived as the pet project of his opponent Poroshenko, with schismatic clergy going as far as to claim anyone who votes for Zelensky and not Poroshenko will “burn in hell.”
According to Vesti Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew is demanding from Epiphany and the OCU a monumental “tithe”, specifically from its 7100 communities, the Phanar is allegedly expecting anywhere between $4000 to $20,000 per month. This means even if we take the smallest possible “tithe” and say each church community is expected to pay “only” $4000, then this means the OCU will pay a total of $28 million per month!
A little math is all it takes to realize this number is not only ridiculous but completely unrealistic for Ukraine. One need only know that minimum wage in Ukraine is around 160 USD  a month to realize how simple parishes cannot be expected to afford this.
Philaret, currently in rebellion against the OCU of which he is “Honorary Patriarch”, was quoted in this Ukrainian language article confirming those numbers demanded by the Phanar, and apparently trying to justify his micro-schism within the already schismatic OCU as based in this. Philaret indirectly corroborated the Vesti report, claiming that the OCU is essentially being threatened with this tithe, and to be fined that exorbitant amount by Constantinople each month, until those properties Poroshenko promised are transferred to the Phanar.
Philaret’s motives are not necessarily altruistic, as it is a well-known fact that he refuses to dissolve his “Kievan Patriarchate”, as the Tomos from Constantinople demands, and in fact some of “his” properties are among those to be transferred to the Phanar. Those properties allegedly include the Kiev Theophany Brotherhood Monastery and Manyavsky Skete under the “Kievan Patriarchate”, as well as the famous and historical Lvov Dormition Church associated with the Holy Hierarch Petro Mohyla, and Saint Andrew’s Church, the legendary landmark of Kiev built on the very hill where by tradition, the Holy Apostle Andrew prophesied a great Christian city would one day be built.
There were also churches of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church among those to be “transferred”, most notably the beautiful Florovsky Convent with its gigantic main church. One shutters to think how Poroshenko intended to transfer communities of the UOC such as Florovsky Monastery to the Phanar; would he or Zelensky send armed soldiers to evict the nuns?
The idea of one of Kiev’s most famous landmarks such as Saint Andrew’s Church being potentially given to the Phanar is also shocking. One hardly understands how alleged patriots of Ukraine would give away such a church; it would be like the Russian government transferring Saint Basil’s Cathedral to the use of not the Russian Church, but a different Patriarchate.
Having very little property or income from its own jurisdiction in Turkey, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is almost entirely dependent on funding coming from abroad, and so acquiring new churches may prove lucrative, especially if they are major tourist attractions. It is also quite ironic that the number 28 million is not far off from the 25 million which former US diplomat James George Jatras suggested may have potentially been used as a pay off in this Ukrainian church crisis.
In any event, it seems there are not only ecclesiastical and geopolitical interests at play, but with them major financial concerns as well.
As expert Pavel Pudyakov told Ukrainian TV channel Pershyy Kozatsky (First Cossack), this Tomos is in fact worth more to Bartholomew than anyone in Ukraine!