Istanbul, November 9, 2020
Yesterday, November 8, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople consecrated his Patriarchal Exarch in Ukraine to the episcopate.
Archimandrite, now Bishop, Michael (Anischenko) has been serving as Patriarchal Exarch in Ukraine since January 2019. He serves in the St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Kiev that was given to Constantinople by the Poroshenko government as part of the deal to create an autocephalous church in Ukraine, on the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Anischenko serves without the blessing of the local ruling hierarch, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. He was elected to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on October 6.
His consecration, headed by Pat. Bartholomew together with two “hierarchs” of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”—Alexander Drabinko and Matthew Shevchuk, was live broadcast on the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Facebook page:
During the service, Pat. Bartholomew addressed the current crisis in Church relations due to Constantinople’s invasion of the Ukrainian Church’s canonical territory, specifically accusing the Patriarchates of Moscow and Jerusalem:
The care of the Ecumenical Throne was the motive and firm criterion for its decision to grant autocephaly to the Church in Ukraine, which suffered as a result of the schism and longed for communion and unity. What is said and written shamelessly about other motives in the relevant decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is false.
… The Ecumenical Patriarchate has long held a dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate on the Church situation in Ukraine. However, Moscow has constantly hampered the progress and was the stumbling block to the positive outcome of this dialogue. That is why we have been led to the Ukrainian autocephaly, which no dispute or any effort by any Church can cancel.
Any attempt, whether it is called a unilateral break of Eucharistic communion, or a “fraternal meeting,” as had been the case months ago in Amman, Jordan, or an attempt to discredit the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its primate by falsely blaming them for creating the problems in Orthodox relations, not only they do not lead to a positive result, but cause further tensions, tarnish the image of Orthodoxy in the eyes of other Christians, and weaken its testimony in the modern world.
The power of the Great Church is not secular. The logic of power prevails in the secular institutions, but the Church is governed by non-negotiable divinely written and given spiritual laws. The Church of Constantinople was blessed by God to be the guardian of the Tradition of the Apostles and the Fathers. On the basis of this Tradition, the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, the divine and sacred Canons and the inviolable church practice, the Ecumenical Patriarchate was and remains the First Throne in the Orthodox Church, which granted autocephaly to all the junior local Orthodox Churches, including the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Challenging the role of the Great Church of Christ brings instability and disrupts the unity of Orthodoxy.”
In 2016, two years before the creation of the OCU, “Bishop” Matthew Shevchuk, who took part in yesterday’s consecration, declared that Constantinople cannot be considered the Mother Church of Ukraine as it had sold its children to Moscow.
“There is the Roman church, which also captures Ukrainian souls. And it is famous for its wealth and beauty,” Shevchuk said during the consecration of a church. “There are the Greeks who manipulate and talk: ‘We are the Mother Church.’ Well, no. After all, the Mother Church would never renounce her children for 300 gold and sable fur coats. Whatever gifts were given. What kind of mother renounces and sells her child? Especially to slavery to Moscow. But the Greeks sold their child. And now they say: ‘We are the Mother Church.’ No, our mother is our land.”