This article is put forth to compare the All Ukrainian Cross Procession of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate on the Baptism of Rus’, with the one held by the schismatic “OCU”, which is recognized only by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
We will look at the cross processions in detail and understand what they mean both from a general religious perspective, and also within the spiritual and political life of Ukraine.
Ultimately, we will demonstrate how the cross procession of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) is an event intended to call Ukrainians to lay aside all earthly cares, and unite in one body to walk towards the heavenly kingdom in prayer.
The leader of the UOC, Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and all Ukraine explains that the church is neither trying to build a Russian world, or a Ukrainian world, but the world of God, which would unite all peoples of Ukraine into one family in Christ (together with all Orthodox Christians) regardless of what language they speak, or where they live.
The UOC is seeking a spiritual kingdom, in unity with the rest of the Orthodox world, rather than a spirituality entirely defined by being Ukrainian. The battle-cry of the UOC could be “God is with us, understand it all ye nations and submit yourselves — for God is with us!”
Events held by the schismatics, on the other hand, primarily focus on uniting Ukrainians around a national Ukrainian identity. Schismatics paint so-called “icons” depicting the Holy Spirit as the Ukrainian coat of arms, which also contain soldiers of armed groups which fought alongside the German army during the second world war.
The Ukrainian schismatics understand the church as something whose mission is to bless the Ukrainian nation and all that she does, and cannot separate their spiritual movement from their national one, in a way that it may be described as ethno-religious. The battle cry of the schismatics could be, as depicted in their “icons”: “God is with us, Ukraine is with us!”
These two ideologies are incompatible, and every year since 2015 especially, they are both displayed in Kiev during the cross procession. To understand the significance of the procession, you first must understand the importance of Kiev itself, which is the city in which Rus’—the precursor of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, was baptized.
Kiev the Second Jerusalem
“And the Apostle Andrew said “Do you see these hills? The Grace of God will shine upon them…” —The Tale of the Bygone Years
Kiev is the Baptismal Font of the Church of Rus' and the mother of all her cities. As the Apostle prophesied, the Grace of God shined over her viridescent1 hills, which are crowned with gold-domed majesty.
Beneath the incandescent wings of her patron, the Archangel Michael, the River Dnipro flows ever so azure, and iridescent when struck with sunlight. From her life-giving baptismal waters emerged a civilization of a thousand years.
All of her children are in awe at her sight, and her plight moves us to tears.
In the history of man, the capitals of many great empires fight to claim the name of Rome, and with it the right to rule, but Kiev is of a different order.
Kiev is not contested for her imperial magnificence, but rather for her spiritual significance, for Kiev is called the Second Jerusalem.
You can see the similarities between Kiev and the Holy Land and City; a river of baptism, a temple on a hill, life-giving caves and tombs2, and a famous struggle between those seeking an earthly, nationalistic kingdom, and those with their eyes fixed on the heavenly. Like Jerusalem, it almost feels like half the world’s religions and ideologies have their interests fixed on this city.
The Meaning of the All Ukrainian Cross Procession
Every year, on the Baptism of Rus’, all eyes become fixed on the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession, the massive religious procession held by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to celebrate the baptism that transformed Saint Vladimir of Kiev “from beast to man”, and the people of Rus’ from what was described even by Russian saints as essentially barbaric Viking raiders,3 to a people whom even Hellenic saints like the Venerable Maximos the Greek would call “Holy Rus’”.4
This is one of the most important religious events of the year, and which in recent years has attracted hundreds of thousands of believers to the city.
The difference between the cross processions of the Church and that of the schismatics can be understood simply with this one photo:
The UOC’s event is a Christian religious procession led by Ukrainians.
The schismatics’ event is a Ukrainian march with Christian symbols (and flags and military symbols).
See the difference?
What made the 2019 procession special?
This year, 2019, was very interesting, as it broke several records:
The procession of the canonical church had over 300,000 participants this year! That is an increase of around 100,000 people from last year’s 200,000.
This was the first year the Ukrainian Police declared the procession of the canonical church to be twice as large as that of the schismatics.
This was the first procession of the OCU, which didn’t exist last year. The OCU was created by Constantinople at the request of former Ukrainian president Poroshenko, according to top ranking OCU members, with the support of the United States.
“Honorary Patriarch” of the OCU Philaret held his event separate from the OCU, as in less than a year he has already formed a schism within the schismatic OCU.
This all happened under the new President Vladimir Zelensky. Former president Poroshenko marched with the schismatics this year, as usual. Zelensky, however, was distant from the event. Ukrainians are hoping he will simply defend the constitution and not interfere in religious events, unlike his predecessor.
To see the procession in two simple photos, here is the 300,000 strong 2019 canonical procession:
And here is the schismatics’ event this year:
To understand in depth the significance of the 2019 cross procession, we should first compare it to those of previous years.
Processions of Previous Years
The cross processions of the past three years have certain characteristic features which can be analyzed as follows:
The 2017 Processions
The 2017 Cross Procession is notable for the massive difference in numbers of believers and how clearly it displayed the temporal nature of the schismatics.
The Cross Procession of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church was attended by over 100,000 believers, while that of the “Kiev Patriarchate” collected an anemic crowd of around 2000.
This disparity can clearly be seen in this video, which shows the canonical cross procession up to the three-minute mark, after which the schismatic procession is seen:
The difference can be explained by the fact that 2017 reflected a more candid, un-staged, and natural picture of events, when the cross processions were not as politicized.
It seems the stark reality of 2017 motivated the ultra-nationalists and political forces involved to more overtly support the schismatics.
The 2018 Processions
The 2018 schismatic procession was distinguished by its extremely nationalist and political-triumphalist character; it was highly televised with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and his family marching front and center with false Patriarch Philaret; clergy carried Ukrainian flags and people chanted death to enemies.
The canonical church had between 200,000 to 250,000 people in attendance whereas the schismatics were bolstered from last year having between 15,000 to 30,000 people at the most.5 The police intentionally manipulated the numbers, claiming the canonical church (shown below) had “only” around 20,000 people.
The 2018 Canonical Procession of around 250,000 people, claimed by the police to be only 20,000. This photo is taken near the north corner of the Lavra, and faces towards Vladimir’s Hill to the far north. Photo: spzh.news
At the same time, the police claimed the schismatics, shown below, led by Philaret and Poroshenko, had over 65,000 people.6 Look at the two images for yourself and see if its possible that the image below could have more than three times the amount of people as the image above.
Philaret himself claimed his procession (above) had more than 150,000 participants.7 Basic math would prove this claim to be ridiculous, let alone a side-by-side examination of the cross processions themselves. While the “head” of the canonical procession reached Kiev Caves Lavra, its “tail” was still on Saint Vladimir’s Hill,8 and it is approximately 3 km between these locations. In the photo above, almost the entire schismatic procession is shown, which begins at the square beyond the bell tower of Sophia Cathedral to roughly in front of the Golden-Domed St. Michael Monastery; the distance between those locations is about 500 meters.
In any event, the schismatic procession was clearly increased greatly from 2017.
This does not mean that in one years’ time, a massive number of secularists miraculously came to the faith, but rather the schismatics were bolstered by the direct intervention of secular authorities.
President Poroshenko and his government directly intervened in support of schismatics,9 and arranged for civil servants to literally be bussed in to attend the schismatic procession, while authorities and schismatics disrupted or tried to block transit for members of the UOC all throughout Ukraine; acute examples of this happening were reported in the Odessa,10 Kherson,11 Zaporozhye,1213 Chernovtsy,14 Rovno,15 Khmelnitsky,16 Sumy,17 Ovruch,18 and Nezhin,19 regions.
Many people attended the schismatic procession not for religious reasons, but as a political statement—they perceived it as a state holiday in which to support Ukraine. This is evidenced by impromptu street interviews conducted by Ukrainian journalists.
There were even atheist and agnostic nationalists attending:
The Canonical Church managed to attract twice the number of believers compared to last year, despite major, and often literal roadblocks. As noted, dioceses and believers throughout other regions of Ukraine attempting to arrange transit to Kiev to attend the procession reported various provocations and attempts to prevent believers from attending.21
Busses carrying Ukrainian Christians were stopped throughout the country, in one instance in Zaporozhye, by armed officers of the Security Service of Ukraine, the successor organization of the KGB in Ukraine.22
Certain bus companies were not willing to arrange transit for the church under orders of the authorities otherwise fearing threats from radicals.23
Schismatic groups and violent Neo-Nazi and far right partisans literally made death threats against believers; few could forget when Oleg Bondarenko, a far right political activist said on national television in 2016:24 “You will not leave Kiev alive, you, who pray to an alien God, the Moscow God.”25
Despite this fact, rather than investigating and punishing those who staged provocations, such as those who literally in the past left bombs along procession routes, the Ukrainian officials warned that agents of Moscow may stage provocations.26
In Kiev itself, in the name of public safety, the police set up many checkpoints and metal detectors in the way of the canonical church, whereas the schismatic-presidential procession was unhindered.
Despite all of this, the canonical church thrived.
The 2018 Canonical procession. The photo is taken from the north looking south towards the Lavra. The colossal statue “the motherland” is visible in the background also on the left, farther from the Lavra.
The increase they enjoyed from last year can be explained by the phenomenon of how persecuting or forbidding something, actually makes it more popular. UOC clergy noted that government and schismatic attempts to block believers from attending the procession had the opposite effect.27 Believers felt more pressure against their Church, and that it was in serious danger, and so even those who normally wouldn’t attend felt the need to show up and take a stance for their church.
We must also emphasize and elaborate on the nationalistic nature of the schismatic procession. Simply put, the entire event was better described as a political rally than a religious procession.
This can be illustrated simply by looking at two pictures of the processions, starting with the canonical procession shown below: Metropolitan Onuphry is in the background with a cross behind and in front of him, and religious and diocesan signs and banners throughout. Nothing about this procession glorifies any politics, and a person of any religion should be able to immediately tell this is a Christian event by the cross.
Now compare the photo above with of the most famous images of the non-canonical procession, then-President Poroshenko marching beside Philaret with numerous flags behind and in front of them, and men in military uniforms beside them.
Imagine if someone never exposed to Orthodoxy were to see the two photos—which one demonstrates the Orthodoxy faith? They could easily assume that the second photo shows rulers of some sort, surrounded by generals, whereas ,the first photo obviously displays Christianity. It is generally not customary to wear full vestments outside of liturgical functions, such as on long processions.
Those two pictures are very good choices to compare, as they both show the leaders of the two respective processions. Not a single cross is clearly visible in the second photo! What better represents Orthodoxy, to be at the center of a cross procession: clergy with crosses, or the president and his generals with two old men in brocade robes and some politicians and bodyguards?
It should be said that, no one is against the Ukrainian flag as a matter of principle; the issue is that at the schismatics’ cross processions, their priests carried the Ukrainian flag more visibly than crosses!
Remember that these pictures weren’t taken in secret, capturing them in a compromising position. This is how they actively chose to display themselves at an internationally televised event. These “priests” did not randomly show up with Ukrainian flags, because it was all they had, the coordinators of the event consciously planned that instead of carrying crosses, or icons, that all these people should be carrying Ukrainian flags, which immediately capture the eye’s attention. It also shows you the mentality of the regular people supporting each movement—one group thinks of flags and the nation, the other of icons and Christ.
Simply look at the videos or pictures. What is your eye immediately drawn to? If you didn’t know what this was supposed to be, how would you differentiate this from a political rally? If non-Orthodox people saw both events, which one best represents the Orthodox faith? Which event has the most prayerful atmosphere?
It is not a sin to carry a flag—the issue only emerges when national symbols supersede, overshadow, or take precedence over religious symbols at a religious event. Then the event becomes a political march with religious symbols there merely to sanctify the former.
Metropolitan Onuphry for example has been known to lay flowers wrapped with a Ukrainian flag ribbon for those killed in the civil war, and to pray for all sides suffering from the conflict; so the canonical church is by no means allergic to the Ukrainian flag. But for the canonical church, the flag does not supersede the cross. A flag ribbon on flowers is not the same as painting the flag onto “icons” for no other reason than to yell, “Glory to Ukraine”.
The schismatics of the Kievan Patriarchate, as well as Uniates are known to even create so-called “icons”, which depict the bombing of the people of Donbass, as well as literal Nazi symbols, and actual Nazi officers. During their “cross procession” one of the main icons featured various Ukrainian soldiers with a Ukrainian flag.
Even the religious symbols of the schismatics must contain Ukrainian flags or military symbols, it seems! Among the believers of the canonical church, no national or political symbols of any sort were displayed.
The canonical church actually believes that a cross should be carried at the front and center of a cross procession! Besides crosses, believers carried icons, religious banners, as well as signs indicating which diocese they hailed from.
Believers sung the Jesus prayer among other hymns as they went on their way. Schismatics on the other hand literally chanted “death to the enemies”,28 as this English language video analyzing the 2018 cross procession, made by Orthodox journalist demonstrates:
The actual religious population of Ukraine clearly knew what a real church looked like, based on attendance. Most amusingly, judging from one of their marketing campaigns, the schismatics realized how strongly the people associate the UOC with true faith.
They created a deceiving advertisement, appropriating the image of Metropolitan Onuphry of the canonical church and superimposing it over a background of believers and Saint Vladimir, advertising for the schismatic cross procession! Instead of leading people to the canonical procession the day before, they switched the date to that of the schismatic procession.29 This simply displays the infamy of the schismatics, and the venerability of Metropolitan Onuphry and the authority his very image holds throughout all Ukraine, especially among regular non-politically charged Ukrainians, whom the deceptive ad was aimed at.
In conclusion, the 2018 processions can be summarized as a political march of schismatics vs. a religious procession of the Orthodox Church.
The 2019 Cross Processions — a return to tranquility and the Triumph of Orthodoxy
When over 300,000 Ukrainians march in support of a Church which, despite having a status almost equivalent to autocephaly in practical terms,30 and being freer than the Constantinople created OCU, still maintains canonical unity with Moscow, this tells you something.
If the Ukrainian people did not support the UOC, you would not see these numbers at all. During the cross procession, all the colors of Ukraine literally come out, and we see the Church, and the nationalist club.
For those who have still not seen this magnificent event, please see this short virtual reality enabled video, which allows you to move the actual camera around 360-degrees and see the cross procession from angles like never before. You really feel as if you are there, and watching it helps understand just how powerful this event really is.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists also published this excellent English language analysis of the 2019 Cross Processions, which covered some of the subjects we are discussing now.
Now, with that context in mind, let’s delve into the most important details of the 2019 processions. We will primarily focus on the differences with the schismatic procession, as the canonical church essentially remains prayerful as always; the only major differences they experienced being the rise in attendees, as Orthodoxy does not change from year to year like nationalistic fads, but remains the same throughout time.
State neutrality? Ukrainian Police admit canonical procession twice as large.
The big question that Ukrainian believers have is what will be the position of the new Ukrainian government and specifically the new President Vladimir Zelensky towards the Church. Ex-President Poroshenko, a persecutor of the church, suffered a crushing defeat both in the presidential elections, as well as subsequent parliamentary elections.
Under Poroshenko’s leadership, the percentage of Ukrainians with confidence in the government reached a world low, at less than 9%.31 As noted, Poroshenko was a key figure in the establishment of the schismatic “OCU”, which was largely seen in the political sphere of Ukraine as his pet project.
President Zelensky has so far not heavily involved himself in the life of the Church. All the canonical Church expects is that the President enforce the constitution, which defines the church and state as separate institutions in Ukraine, and guarantees religious freedom to all Ukrainians.
In his recent meeting with Pat. Bartholomew, Zelensky promised to do essentially just that. He also reportedly refused to sign an agreement that had been developed beforehand between Constantinople and government representatives, according to BBC Ukraine. This may very likely have involved previous deals struck by Poroshenko with regards to giving over 20 Ukrainian church properties to Constantinople. Pat. Bartholomew allegedly demanded, almost certainly in vain, that he receive 28 million dollars a month from the Ukrainian side until he receives the would-be representations. That number is ironic, as former US Diplomat James George Jatras alleged that over 25 million in American tax dollars may have been allotted as a payoff to start this religious strife in Ukraine.3233
The political history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is shady to say the least; there have already been conflicts over church properties, such as when high level E.P. donors, for example, openly homosexual media tycoon Michael Huffington demanded the resignation (of the now retried) Archbishop Demetrios, in connection with a massive embezzlement scandal.3435 This involved the disappearance of possibly 1036 to 15 million dollars allotted for the reconstruction of a GOARCH Church destroyed during 9/11, which experts are suggesting may all be connected to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s actions.
All of this information is crucial, as the conflict as a whole is monumental in scale; many forces, powers, and interests are clashing in Ukraine on many different levels. Under President Zelensky however, there is an chance that the church situation may calm, provided he simply enforces Ukrainian law preventing violent church seizures. There are positive developments under Zelensky, but it is still too early to tell what will happen.
In the post-Maidan years of Ukraine, violent church seizures have become all too common; in some cases, Uniate or schismatic clergy physically assault even elderly believers while seizing their churches,37 and police not only fail to help, but stand and watch or support the church-raiders themselves.38
This year, major changes were noted during the cross procession with regards to the position of the police to the church; there were no provocations set up against the canonical church unlike last year.
A key difference is noted by the way the police calculated the number of participants in the cross procession. As we previously reported, this is the first time in this crisis we have seen the Ukrainian police acknowledge that the canonical church has more worshipers than the schismatics.
At the same time, the police estimated that only 15,000 people attended the procession of the schismatic OCU, led by “Metropolitan” Epiphany and attended by former President Poroshenko and representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.40
That in and of itself is a major victory, as even though the police still vastly underestimate the canonical church, they have still effectively admitted it was larger than the schismatics.
The schismatics got smarter — a toning down of nationalism or a cunning PR trick?
What do you think is the most vile and insidious form the devil could take?
It is said, that the most dangerous form evil can take, is one which appears to be fair, because this deceives people into thinking evil is good.
This year, the schismatics got a bit smarter than last, it was as if they took a lesson from Edward Bernays, the father of PR, who we discussed in this article. If you don’t know his name, this means he won, as his entire strategy was based on how to influence people without knowing they are being influenced, and whether you know him or not, his PR and marketing techniques are imbued in almost every aspect of our modern culture, from Google and Facebook Ads to fake news.
This year, the schismatics actually tried to disguise their nationalist march as a religious event. Though they failed, it’s scary watching their strategy improve.
One feature of the 2019 cross procession was actually the toning down of overt nationalist symbols.
Whereas last year, even the priests carried Ukrainian flags, this year, the clergy themselves were more careful about these displays, even though many flags were still seen among the participants themselves. In fact, I would argue essentially all nationalistic elements seen last year were still present this year; they were simply made harder to find so Orthodox journalists would need to go through a lot more footage to catch these things out of shot and in the corners of the main footage.
For example, an beardless schismatic clergymen had a Ukrainian flag I.D. card hung around his neck along with his awarded cross,41 so clearly despite being a religious organization, the schismatics still think a Ukrainian flag should be a symbol associated with attending their parade; the only difference is a tiny I.D. card is much harder to notice and ridicule then giant flags, but the mentality is still there unchanged.
The toning down can be explained by the fact that the younger generation that has taken the helm of the schism (or perhaps led a “palace coup” against Philaret), led by figures such as Epiphany and Evstraty Zorya, is much more conscious about PR. The younger generation understands social media and the internet, unlike the out-of-touch older generation and their practically fossilized schismatic idol Philaret. They are more likely to understand that what you do and say can be recorded and played back forever, and therefore they need to be more cunning about their statements, and also how they portray themselves.
This is something very relevant to all of us who are studying and reporting on this situation in global Orthodoxy.
It seems the schismatics were humiliated by the fact that Orthodox media such as this and other websites have been making their disgraceful statements and actions, such as the yelling of “death to enemies” in the 2018 (in)famous procession, known around the world. Ukrainian journalists especially criticized and slammed the schismatics for this.
We should all take note, as this is proof that exposing their deplorable behavior is working! It is producing an effect on the ground. And the more we as Orthodox Christians expose the schismatics simply for what they are, the sooner we can resolve this crisis.
Another aspect of why the schismatics toned down the nationalism is Phanar oversight. Now that the Phanar is actively involved in championing these schismatics, they can’t have them openly behaving like extremists… or at least doing so on national television… or as least as much as they used to do. That’s my analysis of what happened at least, and the same position was essentially taken by experts on the Ukrainian situation, such as UOC Cleric Archimandrite Alipy (Svetlichny).43
This is noted not simply in the cross procession, but in the schismatic Tomos itself, which denies the OCU the right to canonize their own saints independently without the approval of the Phanar. Take note that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, unlike even the Church of Greece, can and regularly does canonize their own saints without requiring the previous approval Moscow or another Patriarchate.44 Saints canonized by the UOC, such as Metropolitan Petro Mohyla, whose works were highly regarded by Saint John of Shanghai,45 also become glorified for general veneration in the Russian Church, having been added to the calendar with the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II, and are also recognized by other Orthodox Churches.46
The Phanar likely denied the OCU this right that the UOC has always enjoyed not only because of their papist mindset, but also because the Phanar is not stupid. They are aware that the schismatics are mostly ultra-nationalists, and many schismatics glorify actual WW2 Nazi collaborators such as the SS Galicia Battalion and Stefan Bandera. So-called “Patriarch” Mstyslav (Skrypnyk), the darling of schismatics abroad and in Ukraine alike glorified Adolf Hitler by name in a newspaper,47
For the Phanar to succeed, they need to actively, carefully, and perniciously sell these schismatics as being authentically Orthodox to other Local Churches. In order to do this, they need the image of a church, and not a collection of Neo-Nazis and defrocked glory seekers who behave as if they escaped a mental asylum.
Despite an apparent toning down of nationalism, make no mistake, the same spirit of nationalism in the 2018 march is still a part of this schismatic entity, they’re just actively trying to disguise it better.
Priests marching with flags and death chants were far too obvious now that the Phanar is involved, far too many Orthodox believers and journalists pointed out the non-Christian nature of the schismatic parade;, however the nationalism was only superficially hidden. Upon closer examination, this year, we saw the same chaplains in military style cassocks, and the same flags, including that of the Ukrainian insurgent army.
Here are some examples of what we saw specifically:
Glory to Ukraine — Glory to the Heroes!
As a row of “priests” in military style cassocks walked by, we still heard the typical and essentially obligatory chant of Ukrainian nationalists: “Glory to Ukraine — Glory to the Heroes”.48 This is used interchangeably by the same people that yell, “Glory to the Nation — death to enemies”, it’s just another version of the same chant. If it quacks like a duck, as they say; , and believe me, there were a lot of quacks out there in more ways than one.
The Ukrainian National Anthem: “We’ll give our souls for Ukraine!”
One of the most egregious offenses to any pious Ukrainian soul is in fact the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem, in place of a more suitable Christian hymn, at the conclusion of the “moleben”.
This is not at all to say anything against Ukrainian music — Ukrainian songs are arguably among the most beautiful of all Slavic folk songs, and the roots of the most majestic and important Russian liturgical musical traditions can also be traced back to Ukraine — the so-called “Bulgarian” Chant, which is more likely Galician or Rusyn in origin, the royal Kievan Chant, and the beautiful yet simple Rusyn Prostopenije.
The issue with the Ukrainian national anthem is very specific, related to both its actual words and its musical composer. The music of the Ukrainian national anthem was composed by Mykhailo Verbytsky, a Uniate Priest from Transcarpathia and Galicia, who may be a part of what we call the Ukrainian school of Ppolish poetry. A simple study of Ukrainian history reveals to us the brutal persecutions the Uniates committed both in previous history, and in the 20th century century as Ukrainian priests have explained before in detail. The Uniates have always been key players in the Wwestern plot intention to destroy Holy Rus’.
And as forHere are the words of the anthem;, and the key issue with it is in one line specifically:
“Душу й тіло ми положим за нашу свободу, І покажем, що ми, браття, козацького роду49"
This is to sayThis translates: “We will give our souls and our bodies for our freedom and show that we are brothers of the Cossack race.”
Leaving aside the idea of a Cossack race (Cossacks were a feudal social class of free men, like knights, clergy, or merchants, and not a race), any Christian should understand the issue with giving their souls for anything, or to anyone , save for God alone.
If Ukrainians wish for this to be their national anthem, as a secular state, this is obviously their right and from a political point of view, there is nothing wrong at all with Ukrainians singing the Ukrainian national anthem. But any theologian should clearly understand why such words — giving your soul for freedom — should not be sung at an Orthodox prayer service!
How many Orthodox sSaints, such as Alexander Nevsky and Czar King Lazar, taught the very opposite — that it was better instead better to loose your earthly freedoms, your earthly kingdoms, and even your life in exchange of the Kingdom of Heaven. , and Yyet this song teaches the polar opposite!
And yet here it is sung, at the schismatic cross procession, as Poroshenko exits!50 These people are literally singing about trading their souls for their “freedom”. That is literally anathema!
It is perfectly fine and honorable to sacrifice your life for your nation — your body, but not your soul!
This is not the type of poetry an Orthodox cross procession should be displaying. It completely confuses the sacred for the secular, the divine for the temporal, and the heavenly kingdom for the earthly nation.
“Glory to Ukraine — Death to Enemies”
The anthem served as yet another opportunity for the nationalists to call for the death of enemies. If you thought this chant was absent this year, think again.
Whereas in last year’s procession, they yelled “death to enemies” more openly and literally during the march itself, here the words “our enemies will parish like dew before the sun” is sung as part of the national anthem. Near this point Poroshenko can be seen giving out autographs.
At the end of the national anthem, they still managed to shout “Glory to Ukraine — Glory to the Heroes”, (Slava Ukraiyini — Heroyam Slava).
The newscaster even says that the national anthem concludes the cross procession.
The differences between these two national hymns reveals the un-Orthodox, and foreign nature of the Polish-Uniate-Austrian project of Ukrainian nationalism, when compared to the hymns of the Rusyns who represent the natural ethnic culture of what is now Ukraine, before the foreign powers Ukrainianized some of the native Rusyns, adapting them to an artificial nationality juxtaposed against the Orthodox people of the Ukraine.51
Rusyn hymns such as those composed by Alexander Duchnovich, a Uuniate priest jailed by Ccatholic Hungarians for supporting the Rusyn identity, reveal the deep orthodox “with a little o” (at the very least) mindset of the ancient population of these lands.
His songs, such as “Subcarpathian Rusyns, arise from your deep slumber!” do not call upon the people to give their souls for Ruthenia, but rather calls upon Almighty God for Hhis blessings, that Hhe would might grant the suffering Rusyn people to see a better future. This is the Christian mindset of Ruthenia — the true Ukraine — as opposed to the Wwestern, nationalist mindset of the Uuniates.
The fact that the early Ukrainian nationalists had their seed-bed in anti-Orthodox projects, was in fact why the Bolsheviks promoted Ukrainianization in the early days, as they wanted to destroy the idea of Holy Rus’,52 which is focused not on the earthly kingdom of even Russia, but on the Heavenly Kingdom, and replace it with a materialistic nationalist identity.
The Rusyn hymns have a penitential nature to them, because they were produced from, at the very least, an orthodox (little “o”) mindset. The hymn created by the Polish-Ukrainian Catholic priest on the other hand is filled with nationalist and triumphalist language to the point of blasphemy, because it is written from the (spiritually) Western worldview, which became and grew more and more alien to Orthodoxy after 1054.
In place of the national anthem, why not sing the Romanian version of the kondakkontakion, “To thee the Champion GeneralLeader” — Apărătoare Doamnă?. Why Romanian? Because Saint Petro Mohyla, one of the greatest hierarchs of the throne of Kiev, and founder of the world’s first Orthodox seminary was Moldovan by birth, and Ukraine still has a minority of Romanian Christians.
Singing a Romanian Orthodox hymn would be a reminder of the ethnic diversity of Ukraine, which was always a multi-lingual and multi-cultural land, and Romanian people in Bukovina still sing that kontakkontakion. Ukraine’s Romanian parishes, however, affirmed their support for the canonical Church,53 the Cchurch of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla, and for that, they faced ethnic hatred, insults, and provocations from schismatics, who created a Romanian vicarate, despite not possessingthe fact that they possess no Romanian parishes, implying they may intend to seize them from the canonical church.54 Schismatics even shouted at an ethnic Ukrainian priest of the canonical Cchurch, serving in a Romanian parish that he is Romanian, and should go back to Romania.5556
The schismatics of course would never think of itnotice this, because they’re not interested in the intricate details of pre-Soviet Orthodox village life of Western Ukraine.
As much as they hate and deny it, the modern Ukrainian nationalists are effectively all post-Soviet creations, as it was only the Soviet Union, not Russia, Poland-Lithuania, Austro-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or Romania, ,which formed the modern borders of Ukraine.
It was the Soviets who deported Rusyns to Soviet Ukraine, and forced them to identify as Ukrainians,5758 and it was the Soviets who were so dedicated to eradicating the Christian folk culture — for them, some degree of Ukrainian nationalism, so long as it was tempered with socialist internationalism, was ideal, as it broke apart the idea of Holy Rus’, which which Ukrainian- born sSaints like Lavrenty of Chernigov and John of Shanghai preached.596061
The schismatics and nationalists constantly forget that their national borders are built on the literal military victories of the Soviet Union, which destroyed the Russian Empire in the Civil War, and merged Galicia and Bukovina with Soviet Ukraine after WW2; people like Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to it in celebration of three hundred years of unity, cleverly forgetting that unity came under the Russian Czars Tsars and the Ukrainian-Zaporizhian Cossacks who fought for them.
The labyrinthianlabyrinthine cultural situation in Ukraine caused by centuries of ethnic and religious conflict is only understood once all the history is connected. The partisans of the schism are hoping to gain support abroad, particularly in America and Canada, by relying on the ignorance of the population there to these crucial details, and the general lack of availability of this information in English.
It is our duty as Orthodox Christians to be informed about the issues facing our Cchurch, and that includes the necessary cultural context to understand these issues, even if it’s long and produces ‘stress-induced migraines’. The faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are relying on other Orthodox Christians to diligently study the situation, and not allow this crime to persist with the idea that it is happening “over there”. This is all happening within our home —our Holy Mother Church.
The nationalist “icon” — a blasphemy against God, a crime against pious Ukrainians
At the parade, the same canonically questionable icon, depicting the Mmother of God appearing to Ukrainian soldiers from anachronistic periods was brought out again this year in 2019, carried by the same chaplains in their military cassocks like just as in last year, in 2018.
The issue problem with the icon is not that it is wrong to dedicate prayers or churches to martyrs of a specific nation; in general, it’s a positive thing if Orthodoxy is seen as tied intrinsically to the national consciousness.
It is a perfectly traditional argument to say that a person can’t be a true Russian/Ukrainian, Greek, Serb, and the like, without being Orthodox, with the understanding that one can only experience the fullness of these Christian cultures by being Orthodox.
In that light, you could say, to be fully or truly Ukrainian requires you to be Orthodox, but there is a major issueproblem, however, when people begin to think that being Ukrainian is, in and of itself, being Orthodox, or that to be Orthodox means to simply be Ukrainian (or any other nation).
The idea of Holy Rus’ does NOT refer to the concept that, for example, Moscow is the Third Rome and therefore Rus’ is Holy. On the contrary, Holy Rus’ essentially refers to the Church of Rus’ superseding all national identifications on the territories of Rus’ and uniting all Orthodox to a single loving family in Christ regardless of them livingwhether or not they live in a single state or not.
Holy Rus’ refers to when how in the 15th fifteenth to the 17th seventeenth centuries, simple laypeople in Rus’ followed the same fasting and prayer rules as monks in monasteries; in Galicia and Transcarpathia, and various pious Ukrainian lands, some families read the hours and even the Ttypica in their homes!
Holy Rus’ means how the many martyrs and confessors who arose during the stormy persecutions of the 20th twentieth century, who loved and prayed for the unity of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and for the Royal Family; Holy Rus’ was the Church Abroad in Sremski Karlovtsi, in Shanghai, in Jordanville and in San-Francisco.
Holy Rus’ was always a spiritual concept, and Rus’ was called Holy even by a 16th sixteenth century Greek Saint.62 Above all, Holy Rus’ is a calling towards hHoliness, not a proclamation that Russia is holy under any and every condition simply because she is Russia. We could even say Russia is only truly Russia if she is Holy Rus’, and if something isn’t Holy Rus’, it isn’t Russia.
This icon portrays a different version of a sort of “Holy Ukraine-Rus’”, which is assumed to be holy not even because she is even Orthodox, as Uniates are included even among the architects of this ideology — this is holy in their mind simply because its Ukraine.
What we are seeing with in these icons, is an item dedicated entirely to collectively glorifying the Ukrainian nation, regardless of its Orthodoxy.
The “icon” does not depict any specific set of saints in any canonical format;, it rather it depicts a variety of fighters from different time periods, including the medieval princes, the Cossacks, and apparently a fighter of the Nazi-allied SS Galicia division which that was also glorified in other neo-Nazi pseudo-icons.63 In addition to those figures, a protestor during the Maidan coup, a modern Ukrainian solider carrying a Kalashnikov rifle is depicted.
From an iconographical perspective: , Wwho are these people being glorified, and why are they depicted in this way?, whatWhat is there spiritual feat which that makes them venerable?
We have here several anachronistic figures from ancient princes to Cossacks, to fascist allied soldiers to rioters on the Maidan, and Ukrainian soldiers with modern assault rifles., surelySurely there is no synaxis including all these people.
All theEven more troubling is that, the Mother of God is depicted in heaven above the people, and in the crowd both Saint Vladimir and Saint Michael appear to beare apparently shown as well.
Since there was no apparition of the Mother of God in some field with all these people present at the same time, what does this mean?
One of the Cossacks appears to be the anathematized Ivan Mazepa, but why was he depicted and not, for example, Saint Petro Kalnyshevsky, an actual Cossack sSaint recognized by all parties?.
None of the Cossacks appeared to resemble his image. Mixed in with these actual historical figures we have national personifications of Maidan rioters and soldiers who seem to represent no specific individual;, so for what reason are they on an icon, especially a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, on an icon?
These people all lived in different states, in different times. S, some are actually saints, others are historical figures who were hardly saintly, and some are simply national personifications not referring to any specific individual.
We obviously don’t canonize entire groups of generalized people as the Soviets glorified in their artwork so-called “working peopleproletariat”. Of course, we so do mass canonize hosts of martyrs whose names were unknown, but this is still a specific group of people canonized for a specific feat. These people are simply glorified for being on the Maidan.
Many people on Maidan were Uniates, for example, and they were hardly known for anything other than throwing Molotov cocktails., andAnd what is the Orthodox spiritual feat of the solider with the Kalashnikov?
It is clear he is meant to simply represent the Ukrainian army; , and so why does the Ukrainian Army, as a whole, belong on an icon?
The “icon” represents absolutely nothing spiritual, as the only thing these people have in common is that they all fought on the Ukrainian lands, some of them, like Mazepa, even against other Orthodox people; it is simply yet another nationalistic sacrilegious painting.
It would be one thing if this belonged to a private person, but this “icon” was on display in the very center of Vladimir’s Hill, as schismatics venerate various other icons seen here64 just followingright after former President Poroshenko and Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.65
Former President Poroshenko again held the place of honor in this procession, just like last year, smiling and waving to the crowd, to the immediate right of schismatic primate Epiphany, and to the left of Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.66
In one amusing moment, apparently spotting a supporter, he Poroshenko goes through a variety of gestures from waving, to making praying hands, to giving a thumbs up, as if he can’t quite grasp if this is a religious event or part of his election campaign.
Who is this ex-President, that he, and not the representative of Constantinople, should stand immediately to the right of a primate? If the movement was really one of the Ukrainian people and clergy, then why is an ex-President marching ahead of top bishops, giving speeches on the altar-platform, and another on Vladimir’s Hill?
If he was were President it would be onethere might be an argument, but not only did he lose the election, but his political party performed dismally. Why does he deserve any special right more over than any other Ukrainian citizen?
As noted, this year Philaret was all alone, and held a separate cross procession which that only went around his own cathedral. The “Honorary Patriarch” of the OCU, from which he is now in schism, barely gathered around 300 people.67 With his Kievan Patriarchate liquidated by the Phanar, and the Ukrainian government, together and with the OCU despite his protest, the tiny crowd he gathered was literally worthy of pity. I won’t even waste time showing photos, but the aforementioned links have pictures for those interested.
Philaret should not be counted out as an important figure in this crisis, as a founding and crucial member of previously the strongest schismatic organization in Ukraine, with stories of skeletons in his closet, but he has now become a fallen Ozymandias. In practical terms, unless he manages a major coup, which is unlikely, he has already ceased to be a major player in the Ukrainian ecclesiastical world.
Despite the toning down, there were still plenty of flags to be seen.
Examples of Ukrainian flags in place of religious symbols carried by participants can be found all across the procession. We continued to see people literally wrapped in the flag, like here, while the black and red flag of the Ukrainian insurgent army flies above him, and we see “clergy” and a “hierarch” of OCU pass by this flag, showing they clearly have no issue with it. Remember, this was a flag of WW2 era Nazi collaborators, it’s not simply a national flag. This flag is practically no different than a swastika; Nazi supporters often dress up in historical German style uniformswith this flag at “ceremonies”.
Some analysts have attributed the lack of Ukrainian flags in the same number among clergy as being due to the fact that this year, the Ukrainian government is under a new president who did use government workers to support the schismatics, unlike last year when Poroshenko’s people distributed flags to the schismatics.68
Once again, this is not a coming to faith and away departure from the nationalism of previous years;, the same people still attended, and still shouted the same nationalist chants. They simply disguised it better this year.
It should also be said noted how ridiculous Drabynko looked among his fellow “hierarchs”, and His Emininence, Metropolitan Emannual of GualGaul. All clergy were wearning appropriate head coverings, either mitres or kamilavkas save for Drabynko, who walked with no head covering and pair of sunglasses.
A reoccurring theme in this analysis was the schismatics doing things which in and of themselves, may not be sinful or wrong, but if taken together in context, they expose the heretical-ethnophylite nature of the schism.
At first glance, it may be hard to see the sins committed by the schismatics during their procession, or their false show of faith, just as at first glance, a Uniate church may appear to be Orthodox. As always, the devil is in the details, and context is key.
Sometimes, for example, doing something may even be virtuous and commanded by God. But even some virtuous things can be taken too far, to the point where the commandment is misunderstood, and virtue turns to vice.
For example, it is commanded by God to love your families, but if you love your family more than God, this love then becomes idolatry.
It would be better simply not to go on a cross procession, than to go with schismatics who deceive people into thinking they are being saved, as the Lord warned that such false shepherds would have been better off if they were not born.
Likewise, I would say patriotism is not simply a good quality — it is an extremely good quality.
I would go as far as to say it’s shameful if Ukrainians don’t read Gogol, sing Cossack and Ukrainian folk songs, or recite the poetry of Lina Kostenko, Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko.
I would also say Ukrainians should know that a very strong portion of the White Movement, pro-monarchist Cossacks, venerators of the Romanov family, and the Church Abroad were of a “Little Russian”, Rusyn, or otherwise, for simplicity, — Ukrainian character. A great deal of the character of the Russian Orthodox Abroad is actually rather Ukrainian actually.
Ukrainians also should love their national clothing, such as vyshyvanki, and appreciate all aspect of Slavic culture. Shame on any Ukrainian who could not discuss at least one of these subjects with me in the Russian or Ukrainian languages. Quite frankly, as someone who lives in Europe, I am tired of encountering Europeans who don’t love or even understand their culture, but quickly idolize anything seen as “western” or “American”, it is utter poshlost’ as Gogol would call it.
Poshlost’ is an interesting word often considered untranslatable and hard to explain, though I categorically disagree, and think there is a perfect way to explain it, and that is: absolutely barbaric taste and a certain self-satisfaction with one’s own vulgarity.
Poshlost’ is the opposite of the Prokimenon: for you have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. Poshlost’ is loving inequity and sinful behavior so much that, you hate righteousness. It is basically the cultural plague of our times.
Poshlost’ is what makes some individuals view homosexuality as “love”, and thanks to Poshlost’, love is being horribly misunderstood in Ukraine as well.
If this love of Ukraine, like love of family, is taken too far to the right or the left, and it misses its Godly mark, then the devil can twist it into something which is not love at all. If this supposed “love” of Ukraine means extremism is directed to against any other nation or people group, let aloneeven violence, then this “love” is hatred.
If this “love” means, as the schismatics chant, “Ukraine — above all else”, then its idolatry.
This is what we see with the schismatics.
Constantly throughout thise analysis, we saw that the schismatics do not simply love their national traditions but put their nationalism equal to or even above their faith and God.
This is what makes it so wrong—, not the love of Ukraine, but the fact that what they are doing is not love for Ukraine but , it is a satanic illusion which that is perverting and destroying the ideas of Kievan Rus’ — of Holy Rus’.
In the course of several years we saw the cross processions dramatically increase in number and significance. While Llast year the nationalism was at its peak, but this year the schismatics were greatly toned down while the canonical church continues to shine.
Under a new Ukrainian government, there is a possibility the situation may calm down, but it is too early to say.
In some situations, surprisingly, inaction may actually be the best action; inaction is at least better than a completely negative action.
While of course the ideal situation would be if the Ukrainian government worked in symphony with the canonical church, it is enough if the government would simply remain neutral, uninvolved, and simply enforce the law.
So far, President Zelensky has remained just that, but fallen short of demanding that seized churches be reunited. He has of course called for peace and unity, but now is the time for real action, backing up these admirable calls with action on the ground. He could start by simply making it clear any assaults on believers will be punished to the full extent of the law, and then we can go from there.
President Zelensky called for dialog between Ukrainian religious leaders; so faith unites, rather than divides Ukrainians, however as Metropolitan Anthony reminded him, the UOC is all for dialog, but there can be no dialog while churches are still being violently seized and nothing is being done about it.
Orthodox Christians are used to such false promises; all throughout Ukrainian history, Uniates and schismatics have even seized churches and in the same breath said the canonical church should really “clarify their relationship” with them, and come together in unity.
Dialog under this backdrop is completely pointless, and merely a PR smokescreen.
Church seizures continue to occur since the end of the procession even, and until all seized churches are returned, any dialog or apparent signs of improvement should be taken with a grain of salt.
What is certain, however, is that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is continuing to flower despite the persecution, and perhaps even because of it, as the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. Those words have proven true through millennia of persecutions since the Resurrection of Our Lord.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church will continue to flourish like a phoenix beneath the bright sun of Kiev, from the Carpathian Mountains and Pochaev in the West to the Holy Hills in the East. If the people repent and pray to God, and listen to the saints of their land, then as far as the east is from the west, so far will He remove all hatred and fratricide in Ukraine, and bring peace and unity to the lands of Rus’.
Glory to Jesus Christ—Glory Forever!