New York, November 1, 2021
Dropping all pretexts, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople admitted on Friday that he doesn’t care at all that there is a schism between the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople, that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia doesn’t commemorate him in the Divine services.
As is well known, the rupture in communion occurred because Patriarch Bartholomew teamed up with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the U.S. State Department to invade Ukrainian Church territory, enter into communion with anathematized schismatics, and create a competing ecclesiastical structure on the territory of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
However, Pat. Bartholomew “couldn’t care less” about the consequences of his actions, he told journalists at an event in New York, as reports the Orthodox Times and a number of Greek outlets.
The statement is a stark departure from his usual line, that Constantinople is but a loving mother, suffering unjustly at the hands of the cruel and ungrateful Russians. Pat. Bartholomew often points out that he continues to commemorate Pat. Kirill even though Pat. Kirill doesn’t commemorate him. The Patriarch’s latest statement is especially concerning in this light, coming from someone who presents himself as the guarantor and focal point of Church unity.
Addressing Constantinople’s self-understanding and the granting of the so-called “autocephaly” to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” the Patriarch said:
Why should we not have done the same with Ukraine, just as we granted autocephaly to Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Albania? It is the exclusive privilege of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant autocephaly. All of the aforementioned Churches received autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which empties itself because it grants territories under its jurisdiction to become autocephalous, independent Churches.
Why should the same not have occurred with Ukraine, which has a population of 40-50 million. Our Ukrainian brethren wanted not only now, but much earlier, though now more intensely, to have their own Church and not be under Moscow’s jurisdiction, not to be oppressed by Moscow. We did so with a sense of responsibility toward history and toward Ukraine and its residents. They removed my name from the diptychs and do not commemorate me. I couldn’t care less.
As Greek outlets such as makeleio.gr note, the Patriarch’s statement came in a moment of rare frankness.
The Patriarch’s attitude is not surprising, given his publicly expressed conviction that the Greek people occupy a special place in the Orthodox Church, which the Slavic peoples just have to learn to accept.
Moreover, the Patriarch’s statement is a repetition of his usual distortion of the facts, aimed at those who are largely ignorant of Church history, especially in Ukraine.
While he tries to give the impression that 40 or 50 million Ukrainians appealed to him for autocephaly, of course not all Ukrainians even identify as Orthodox, and among those who do, it was, in fact, a minority who appealed for autocephaly, as the largest Orthodox confession, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, already enjoys full independence in its administration and the recognition of the entire Orthodox Church.
Further, the canonical Church has the maturity to live in harmony with Russia, and therefore doesn’t identify itself in opposition to Russia, and thus has no desire to sever its ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Further, the clergy of the minority group that appealed to Constantinople trace their ordinations and consecrations to “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, who was defrocked for his severe moral failings, and later excommunicated and anathematized for his schismatic activity against the Church, and Viktor Chekalin, a defrocked deacon who is now in jail for fraud, forgery, and child molestation.
Commenting on the Patriarch’s lamentable statement, His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church pointed out that “there can be no ‘I don’t care’ for a person who cares about the unity of the Church.”
Contrary to Pat. Bartholomew’s statement, Scripture teaches us that whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it (1 Cor. 12:26), the Ukrainian hierarch points out.
“And no matter how Patriarch Bartholomew tries to show his attitude to the greater half of the Orthodox world, we see only one thing—a suffering and lost man who, by his words and actions, is moving further and further away from Christ,” Bp. Viktor summed up.