Kiev, June 5, 2019
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople speaks with the logic of schismatics and politics, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, said, commenting on the Patriarch’s recent unfounded assertions that the canonical Ukrainian Church is a negative force in Ukraine and that he brought unity to Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
In fact, the interference of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the affairs of the Ukrainian Church brought more problems than solutions, Fr. Nikolai said in a recent interview with First Cossack.
“The logic of [his] statement is political, and it’s the logic of the outgoing government—the government that gave rise to this logic… It seems to me that our problems with the Patriarchate of Constantinople began when the Patriarchate for some reason accepted the logic of the schismatics, the so-called Kiev Patriarchate, as well as the logic of the already outgoing political authorities,” the UOC speaker said.
Church hierarchs should be, however, guided not by political but ecclesiastical logic, Fr. Nikolai affirmed.
Philaret Denisenko appealed to Constantinople multiple times over the years to lift the canonical sanctions against him, and the Ukrainian government appealed several times for Constantinople to create an autocephalous Church in Ukraine, though the Patriarchate always refused these requests or didn’t follow through on minor efforts. The Patriarch and Patriarchate changed its approach, however, when the Ukrainian government and schismatics again appealed in April of last year.
Patriarch Bartholomew claimed that by creating the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) and granting it autocephaly he restored unity to Orthodoxy in Ukraine and restored the entirety of the Orthodox people to canonicity, Fr. Nikolai recounts. “In fact, this is not true, as the vast majority of Orthodox faithful were and are in the canonical Church and never left it,” he countered.
“There are certain evident manipulations and distortions and the creation of a parallel reality. That’s not so. Here, in Ukraine, there is a completely different situation than how Patriarch Bartholomew presents it and how he declares it to the outside world,” the Deputy Chairman continued.
Pat. Bartholomew, the Ukrainian schismatics, and the former Ukrainian government under Poroshenko have continually declared that the three branches of Ukrainian Orthodoxy were united at the “unification council” on December 15, though only 2 out of 90 bishops chose to apostatize from the Orthodox Church in order to join the schismatic structure, and less than 50 out of more than 12,000 parishes have freely moved into the schismatic structure since its creation. The Patriarch has also never addressed the violence that is actively being carried out against canonical clergy, faithful, and parishes.
“We lived in peace before Constantinople was here. Now that it has interfered, it has really harmed Orthodoxy, the Church, because people are being expelled from churches,” Fr. Nikolai lamented, though adding: “Thank God, this process is already ending, it seems to us.”
Only one church voluntarily joined the schismatics in May, according to a new report from TSN, although others were still violently seized by schismatic radicals.
As an example of the harm done to the Church, Fr. Nikolai cites the recent consecration as bishop for the schismatic OCU of an archimandrite formerly of the Greek Orthodox Church, which was attended by two hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“I know that some Local Churches have already expressed their protest to Constantinople, because the question arises: Is it possible for them to serve with these hierarchs? After all, according to the 10th, 45th, and other Apostolic Canons, whoever concelebrates with schismatics is himself deprived of his rank. Therefore, this is a canonical question,” the Deputy Chairman explained.
Politics is constantly changing and harming the Church, Fr. Nikolai said. Therefore, political logic should have no place in the Church.
“We have to look at the faithful; we shouldn’t just sit in offices and see how the papers pile up into a heap. Unfortunately, the metropolitans and archbishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, especially those in Turkey, have no real flock—they are office metropolitans. They only bear titles, and therefore don’t feel the Churches, and the decisions they make, the statements they make don’t correspond to the ecclesial reality,” Fr. Nikolai commented.
“Why aren’t other Churches making these statements? Because they have real flocks, more or less, but they are pastors, not just politicians in riassas,” the UOC speaker added.
Archpriest Nikolai wished that all Church representatives, including of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, would first think about the real Church, about the people, and not about politics, “about how to return from schism, but by an ecclesiastical path, not a political path.”
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