NEW – May 27, 2022
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP) has decided to turn away from Russia. This decision was made today, on May 27, at the convoked Sobor of the UOC [the photo above was taken after the Sobor – SZ]. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Sobor’s resolution define: “We express disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine. The Sobor adopted the relevant additions and amendments to the Charter on the Administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which testify to the full independence and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” Formally, the word “autocephaly” was not written. But considering that the Sobor “had ideas about the restoration of Myrrh-making in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the willingness to go to the independent making of Myrrh is a course to building an autocephalous church. At the same time, it seems that the UOC expects to establish itself in a new religious configuration as the assembly centre of the split Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Thus, paragraph 9 of the Sobor’s resolution states:
“It is especially insulting that the recent actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Ukraine, which resulted in the creation of the ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine‘, only aggravated the differences and led to a physical confrontation. But even in such crisis circumstances, the Sobor does not lose hope for the resumption of dialogue. In order for the dialogue to take place, representatives of the OCU need to: stop the forcible seizure of churches and forced transfers of parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, realise that their canonical status, as it is enshrined in the ‘Charter of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine’, is actually non-autocephalous and significantly inferior to the freedoms and opportunities in the implementation of church activities, which are provided for by the Charter on Governance of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to resolve the issue of the canonicity of the hierarchy of the OCU, because for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as for most local Orthodox Churches, it is quite obvious that in order to recognise the canonicity of the hierarchy of the OCU, it is necessary to restore the apostolic succession of bishops.”
In other words, the UOC extends a “fraternal hand” to the OCU, offering it to enter into dialogue from which the Moscow Patriarchate and, quite possibly, also the Patriarchate of Constantinople are excluded. It is not yet clear exactly how the implementation of the proposal “to solve the issue of the canonicity of the hierarchy of the OCU” is seen. However, if a compromise is found with the “restoration of the apostolic succession of bishops”, this will help the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to gain recognition from those Orthodox Churches that refused it because of doubts about the canonical status of the hierarchy of the OCU. However, it is not entirely clear what the Orthodox Church of Ukraine can provide to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in return. Unless we are talking about the implementation of a political project, when the leadership of the two Churches will be pushed to a kind of unification, the creation of a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Such a new Church will also claim to go beyond the borders of Ukraine. The UOC Sobor took a step towards this by declaring its intention to organise church communities in the diaspora. This may also affect Russia, where many citizens of Ukraine have left, especially from the southern, eastern and central regions of the country.
But in the near future, the main thing will be how the decisions of the UOC Sobor will be perceived in dioceses that are located in territories controlled by Russia and do not support the idea of severing relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. And whether the Moscow Patriarchate will decide to provide them with its alternative, for example, joining the Russian Orthodox Church.
A cleric of the UOC addressed me and asked to publish his appeal to Bishop Iona Cherepanov [it seems to be exactly he who has cooked up this betrayal within the UOC – SZ].
I publish it as it is, without edits:
“Appeal to the Archbishop. Iona (Cherepanov), in connection with the upcoming Sobor of the UOC.
Dear Bishop! For many years, your spiritual father was the highly respected, ever-memorable abbot of the Athos Monastery of Dochiariou, Elder Grigory (Zumis). His spiritual authority has always been indisputable to you, hasn’t it? You were lucky enough to talk to him repeatedly, consulting on a variety of issues. I am sure that these were not only everyday issues, but also spiritual ones. You know, Bishop, it happens that the words of the elder (and Gerondas was undoubtedly visionary) are not perceived immediately, but are realised only over time, when the warnings he expressed become reality. And that’s when you suddenly get the essence of the information that was already revealed to him in advance and he, in turn, tried to warn you against wrong actions and conclusions.
So, unlike you, I have been to Mount Athos much less often, but every year I necessarily stayed overnight at the monastery of the Archangels, each time rejoicing that I have the opportunity to pray together with the brethren and the venerable elder Grigory. One day, after the liturgy, he invited our group (from Russia) for coffee, to talk. It wasn’t just us. All Russian speakers were invited. There are 15 people in total.
Neither before nor after that in Dochiariou was I invited to such a conversation with the elder anymore. The elder immediately began his speech with the story that Greece is no longer the same, that everything is very bad with spirituality, and the economy is even worse. That all the major industries have been sold or leased to the British and Germans for a long-term lease. You know perfectly well the temperament of the elder and you can imagine how he was getting more and more agitated and indignant every minute. He spoke about many problems of the Greeks themselves, regretting their lack of spirituality, apostasy from Christ, etc. Then he spoke about the Russian Orthodox Church, which ‘today is the most powerful and fully-fledged stronghold in the Orthodox world, and which the Americans will try to destroy’. Yes, yes, precisely the Americans (!), this is his direct speech. And here’s another verbatim: ‘These Americans have already bought many countries. Everyone owes them. Everyone became their debtors. And they dictate their ruinous rules to everyone. I’ll tell you what: we need to take all these Americans and drive them all the way… Chicago!’ And he said it without humour. He said it very seriously. Us Russians. He gathered us especially for this purpose. To be honest, I expected that the conversation would be exclusively on spiritual topics, but in fact it turned out to be some kind of a vinaigrette of political economy, sociology and only interspersed with spiritual reasons. Yes, then, in 2016, it seemed like a vinaigrette, but now I have everything sorted out on the shelves. And not so much with the beginning of active military and economic actions on the part of Russia, as after the news that the UOC is going to convene a Sobor, where the question of withdrawal from the ROC will be raised.
Dear Bishop, I have only one request for you: tell the whole Sobor that your Gerondas Grigory called the Russian Orthodox Church the ONLY FULLY-FLEDGED STRONGHOLD OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH. That is, in fact – the LAST STRONGHOLD. And if we are divided, then the Americans will thereby celebrate another victory in their satanic ambitions to destroy not only peace in Ukraine, but also the Church of Christ. Because no one will give the UOC the right to a separate existence. Because adequate Orthodoxy simply should not exist in their opinion. And even when you are later attached, God forgive me, to the OCU you will forever remain ‘Moscow priests’.
You are a literate person and a bishop. I do not believe that you do not see the essence of what is causing hundreds of people to die in Ukraine every day. And that the provocateur was the West, which, even at this terrible time for Ukraine, instead of lifting sanctions and establishing peace talks with the Russian Federation, wants to take out the last stocks of Ukrainian grain in exchange for weapons, which certainly does not contribute to peace in any way.
All wars end. But not all splits are cured. And splits on national grounds are probably never cured! There are too many war-torn human bodies in Ukraine right now.
Let’s leave alone at least the One Body of Christ, which is His Church?!
Why did I write all this to you? Well, because, firstly, you are very dear to me as a person and a Bishop of our Church and you have always been a model of a kind and caring pastor for me, secondly, you are far from the last person in the UOC and I am sure your voice will be listened to, and thirdly… I think my message to you is not mine. It is for you from your elder, to whom you will certainly have to look into the eyes one day. And for some reason I think it would be nice for him to see the eyes of a confessor, a man of the Church, whom he knew.
Priest of the UOC.”
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