Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On Thursday, October 18th, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted at the second attempt the law on transferring St Andrew’s Church in Kiev to the continuous use to the Constantinople Patriarchate. Such a decision was supported by 237 deputies with the necessary minimum of 226 votes.
“St Andrew’s Church of the Saint Sophia’s Cathedral natural reserve, which is an outstanding object of cultural heritage and an architectural monument of national importance as a religious building owned by the state, is being transferred to the free continuous use of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the commission of church services, religious practices, ceremonies and, processions,” it is said in the text of the law.
The president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko thanked parliamentarians for supporting his draft law. In his opinion, this approached Ukraine “to the aim — receiving Tomos of Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine”.
Such a decision of the parliament didn’t cause delight among Orthodox Christians in Ukraine. The head of the Information-Educational department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church archbishop Kliment noted that “from a canonical point of view this decision creates a whole number of violations”.
And the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the “Opposition Bloc“ Vadim Novinsky on the air of the “Ukraina” TV channel stated that “… this action will be one of the ways of paying the Constantinople Patriarchate for its loyalty to the Ukrainian authorities and the illegal granting of Tomos of Autocephaly”.
The well-known Kiev orthodox publicist Dmitry Skvortsov in an interview to the “ukraina.ru” publication noted that the transfer of the temple was supported by politicians who are very far from Orthodoxy — Uniates, scientologists, and pagans. He also commented on the results of the research of the “Rating” sociological group, according to which more than a half (54%) of respondents are positive about the idea of creating a “United local church” (the opposite opinion — 19%, and those who are indifferent – also 19%).
Dmitry, the conclusions of sociologists are somewhat surprising…
“And what here can be surprising if this project of autocephaly, the project of Tomos, is absolutely political? I.e., only those who consider themselves to be the Ukrainian political nation, and not as Christ’s congregation, stand for this. The Ukrainian political nation, in fact, was created by Uniatism. And if to look at the results of the poll, the largest number of those voted for autocephaly are in Western Ukraine. And more than 90% of the population of Western Ukraine consists of Uniates. That’s why it turns out that the representability of such a choice is because it is the Uniates who generally vote for autocephaly.
There is nothing to be surprised about here, because this autocephaly has no relation to Orthodoxy.”
But after all, it is about autocephaly for precisely the orthodox church?
“Orthodox Christians know very well that the salvation of the soul that the orthodox church gives doesn’t at all depend on the status of this orthodox church — whether it be autocephalous, autonomous, a metropolitan district, or certain independent dioceses…
Autocephaly is always a consequence of some political things. Christ said: ‘That they all may be one’. And autocephaly is always a negative phenomenon in Orthodoxy. Although in the world there are 15 autocephalous churches, but it’s not because of something good that they became autocephalous.
The Russian Orthodox Church for as long as possible tried to be a part of the Constantinople Patriarchate. But when the latter became ingrained in its Uniatism, then in fact the Russian Orthodox Church simply didn’t want to remain in the same bosom with Catholics.
It is the same for other churches. When other states obtained their independence – real independence, Constantinople continued to remain under the yoke of adherents of other faiths, and these adherents were changing Constantinople Patriarchate at ease, flung them in prison, made them absolutely dependent, approved them, removed them … And it is clear: how in some independent country can an orthodox church be dependent on a dependent patriarch? That’s why in the world autocephalies were forcedly taken.
Sometimes they developed historically. For example, the Constantinople church, after all, isn’t the very first. Before it there were both the Antioch and Jerusalem ones … And the Constantinople church towered only in the 4th century, when it became a state one in the Roman Empire.”
In other words, autocephaly is not an end in itself?
“For Orthodox Christians it isn’t an aim at all. It is politicians in Ukraine who turn autocephaly into an idol, which is something that is forbidden to worship in Orthodoxy. And they do it precisely because it is a political phenomenon.
And it is both especially ardent and especially shameless Maidanists who lead the way to autocephaly. After all, we see who thrusts autocephaly into the Verkhovna Rada. For example, today [October 18th – ed] the law on transferring St Andrew’s Church (to the Constantinople Patriarchate) was adopted. This, first of all, was supported by Parubiy— an out and out Uniate, the deputy from the ‘People’s Front’ Elensky — a scientologist, and Irina Lutsenko — a paganist …
All of them are supporters of Ukrainian autocephaly. It is in this way that this slice is obtained from all over Ukraine.”
But there are not only Uniates, scientologists, and pagans… For example, according to the results of the “Rating” group, among the supporters of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church every tenth person doesn’t object to the new local church being led by the head of the “Kiev Patriarchate” Filaret after receiving autocephaly. How can this be explained?
“Firstly, after all, it doesn’t mean that every tenth is ready to go there, to Filaret. Well, if they create this ‘new local’ church, then probably it will be logical if Filaret sits on the throne.
And secondly, do you think that propaganda really doesn’t work? Let’s not forget about the education system, which has worked for already 25 years. Two generations have grown up with the slogan that every independent state needs an independent church.”
Possibly, this statement doesn’t push the youth to ask questions.
“But, excuse me, in the world there are about 200 states, but only 15 local churches. So what does this slogan really mean? If to take the Catholic world as an example: for some reason in the state of Spain, in the state of Portugal, and in the state of Germany there is no local Catholic church. What does it mean? That they aren’t independent states? And only Ukraine is truly independent?”
It’s a selective approach…
“It not a selective approach, it’s not even manipulation, it is simply the frank lie of the Ukrainian authorities.”
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