Ukrainian authorities are imitating the “red terror” of communism, Met. Luke believes.
Zaporozhye, Ukraine, November 23, 2018
The autocephalous model for Ukraine proposed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople will drastically reduce the existing rights and privileges of the Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol wrote in an address to the Deputies of the Zaporozhye Regional Council, published on the Zaporozhye Diocesan website yesterday.
The cause for the letter was information that the center of the Provincial Deputies’ Councils of Zaporozhye had recommended to pressure hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into participating in the upcoming unification council to be put on by Constantinople—something that has already been happening across Ukraine according to various diocesan reports.
“Striving to break the existing prayerful connection of the UOC with the Russian Orthodox Church, politicians who are far from Orthodoxy have decided that it’s better to lead it into a strict dependence on another foreign structure headed by a Turkish citizen, or, according to the idea of the Istanbul cleric Getcha, to turn into the ‘Turkish Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” Vladyka Luke writes.
However, the Zaporozhye hierarch is certain that the Ukrainian people will remain second-class citizens in the new structure:
But [the politicians] don’t take into account that for the Phanar, with its ideology of pan-Hellenism, we will remain mentally alien, as lower in the cultural development of our nation. Moreover, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has to survive in an un-Orthodox environment, which makes it very dependent on other foreign states! In the case of unification with this foreign religious structure, those who do it will in fact lose their independence and become marionettes in the hands of their masters from across the Black Sea, and through them—those who influence the latter.
His Eminence also noted the obvious—that the autocephaly of the Church is not a necessary element in the independence of a state.
“The Church and state are associations of a different nature, called to different purposes, and living according to different laws,” His Eminence writes. Nevertheless, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other politicians and schismatic hierarchs have repeatedly stated that autocephaly is needed to protect the state politically from Russia.
Poroshenko also recently declared that all representatives of the canonical Ukrainian Church have no place in Ukraine and should move to Russia. In turn, Met. Luke has previously referred to Poroshenko as a “modern persecutor of the Church.”
Met. Luke also noted that the percentage of people in the Zaporozhye Diocese who oppose a change in the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has leapt from 79.3% in 2015 to 96.9% today, and that the percentage who believe Ukrainian politicians are carrying out genocide against their own people went from 27.2% in 2015 to 37.99% today, thus demonstrating that the people, whom the Deputies are meant to represent, strongly oppose their actions and initiatives in regards to the Church.
Met. Luke also stressed that the autocephalous model that will be proposed after the upcoming unification council will drastically reduce the rights the Church currently has and will strengthen Constantinople’s influence, and he points to the history of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia as an eloquent example.
As OrthoChristian previously reported, Ukrainian religious scholar Alexei Smirnov has put forth the same idea, saying: “If Constantinople grants a tomos to the church, there is likely to be spelled out a special role for Constantinople—it will be addressed as a court of higher instance, and, moreover, the church will receive Chrism from there.”
The Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia first received autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate, in whose jurisdiction it was, in 1951. That tomos reads in full:
The Russian Orthodox Church, in the person of Alexei of Moscow and All Russia, and the entire sacred Bishops’ Council, in consideration of the petition of the Church Council of the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia, grants this Church, heretofore an Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate, autocephaly.
With one heart, the Russian Orthodox Church prays to the Heavenly Shepherd our Lord Jesus Christ to grant His Divine blessing to the youngest sister in the family of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Church of Czechoslovakia, and to crown it with eternal glory.
ALEXEI, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA 23.11.1951
However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, believing only it can grant autocephaly, never recognized this autocephaly. In 1989, after the fall of the communist regime, the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia began to seek to mend its relationship with Constantinople and to achieve the recognition of its autocephaly. However, this search culminated, rather, in the granting of a new tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople.
This tomos stipulates, among other things, that ecclesiastical courts in the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia are to be overseen by hierarchs from Constantinople, the Church is to receive its Chrism from Constantinople, and it is “obliged” to appeal to Constantinople in the event of any misconduct.
Thus, Czech theologian Dr. Jakub Jiří Jukl writes:
In principle, the tomos gives the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia independence, but at the same time, in court cases over bishops and in Church-wide matters it puts it in complete dependence upon the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The external manifestation of this situation is the obligation to receive holy Chrism from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Thus, Constantinople became already our fourth Mother. However, our Church, independent until today, which was in a position to deal with its own administrative affairs, by the reception of the tomos became a Church subordinate to Constantinople in essential matters, and moreover—it would have to defend the interests and positions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Church-wide forums.
The Zaporozhye hierarch also compared the current situation in Ukraine to the “red terror” of the long years of communist repressions, when the People’s Deputies also demanded that all who do not toe the party line be destroyed, which in the present context is sharply against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He goes on to wonder whether Ukraine’s current politicians, despite their official renunciation of communism, are imitating the past century or are simply historically ignorant.
Thus, Met. Luke calls on the Deputies to raise their prayers to God, and for those who do not pray, to turn to a more tolerant path that does not lie or betray the people.
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