Belarus, August 17, 2020
As protests and political unrest continue to grow in Belarus following the recent presidential elections, the schismatics of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) and the “Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (BAOC) are using the situation to lob accusations at the canonical Belarusian Orthodox Church and call for the Belarusian people to separate from the canonical Church and establish their own group.
On August 13, Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic OCU addressed the Belarusian people, calling on them to “request a tomos [of autocephaly—O.C.] from the Mother Church,” referring to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which issued a tomos of autocephaly to the OCU in January last year.
“These days, the people of Belarus are suffering greatly—our neighbors, with whom we have had many centuries of common ecclesiastical and state history … making up a single Kievan Metropolis until 1686,” Dumenko wrote on his Facebook page.
“Its non-canonical annexation by Moscow has had and continues to have tragic consequences for Orthodoxy throughout Eastern Europe,” he continued, referring to the novel interpretation of the transfer of the Metropolis of Kiev from the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the Moscow Patriarchate that undergirds the existence of the OCU.
“With the will of the faithful and with the blessing of our common Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Ukraine has been established among the Autocephalous Sister Churches. The Orthodox Church of Belarus has the same reasons and right to request a tomos from the Mother Church whenever it wishes,” Dumenko writes.
The OCU cannot but feel compassion “when the future of the Belarusian people, the independence of the state, the freedom and security of citizens and their lives are under threat,” writes the head of the OCU.
However, His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk of the canonical Belarusian Church noted in January 2019 that there is no real desire for autocephaly in Belarus, and if it caused so much trouble in Ukraine, it would mean the destruction of the Church in Belarus.
Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Ukrainian Church in America and one of the two exarchs who first invaded Ukrainian Church territory in the summer of 2018 to begin creating the schismatic OCU mocked Met. Pavel for this position, saying that only “people who fear the spiritual growth of their own flock can speak this way.”
On August 14 this year, “Archbishop” Svyatoslav Login of the schismatic BAOC published his own appeal to the Belarusian people, not only calling on them to “protect their freedom of choice and the future of their state,” but also accusing the canonical Belarusian Orthodox Exarchate of un-Christian behavior.
The BAOC was created in America in the second half of the 20th century. Login is its sole bishop, with 3 parishes in America, 1 in Canada, 3 in Australia, and 1 in England. It has no official churches in Belarus, though there are religious communities there.
While the whole civilized world stands with those who “defend their dignity and their voice in the presidential elections in Belarus,” “Unfortunately, not all Christian churches in Belarus support and pray for their people,” Login continues.
“For example, the so-called primate of the Belarusian Exarchate of the ROC (sent from Ryazan, Russia) congratulated the dictator even before the official announcement of the winner of the election (Scripture says, Ye shall know them by their fruits [Mt. 7:16]),” he writes.
In September 2018, Login expressed his support for the autocephaly of the Ukrainian schismatics, as he hopes to also acquire autocephaly for his independent group.
Despite Login’s assertion, prayers are being offered for the Belarusian people and land in every church and monastery of the canonical Church, and Met. Pavel has called on the Belarusian authorities and people to find a peaceful solution to the present crisis.
The Holy Synod of the canonical Belarusian Church made the same call in a statement issued on August 15.
Moreover, the clergy and laity of the Church are busy collecting medicine, food, and hygiene products for those who have been injured and detained during the protests over the past two weeks.