The ir­re­versible path

How close is Ukraine to au­to­cephaly for its Or­tho­dox Church?

The Ukrainian Week - - CONTENTS - Yuriy Doroshenko

Just half a year ago, most Ukraini­ans didn’t know what to­mos is and how the word is spelled. Now, the sit­u­a­tion is the op­po­site. The fight for to­mos, a doc­u­ment grant­ing au­to­cephaly to the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, has grown into a na­tion­wide cam­paign. Sup­port­ive pub­lic dis­course and Ukraine’s diplo­matic ef­forts pro­vide se­ri­ous re­in­force­ment to the clergy’s cam­paign for the doc­u­ment. Soon enough, Ukraine is likely to re­ceive its in­de­pen­dent Or­tho­dox Church rec­og­nized in the world.

The word au­to­cephaly is a com­bi­na­tion of the Greek words for own and head, that stands for in­de­pen­dence or self-gov­er­nance. The fam­ily of Or­tho­dox Churches is com­prised of au­tho­cephalous churches with the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate of Con­stantino­ple stand­ing “first among equals”. Herein lies its difference from the Ro­man Catholic Church with its clear ver­ti­cal hi­er­ar­chy. No spe­cific le­gal norms or es­tab­lished pro­ce­dure reg­u­late the foun­da­tion of au­to­cephalous churches. As a re­sult, the is­sue con­stantly fu­els ar­gu­ments. How­ever, there is a uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized list of fac­tors for a church to be es­tab­lished as au­to­cephalous. It in­cludes the ex­is­tence of an in­de­pen­dent state where that Church acts, the Or­tho­dox cler­i­cal struc­ture and the re­spec­tive will of the sec­u­lar au­thor­i­ties and the peo­ple.

In old times, pa­tri­ar­chates were founded by the holy apos­tles preach­ing the Word of God. Ac­cord­ing to the­ol­o­gists, the emer­gence of new au­to­caphalous Or­tho­dox churches is based on Apos­tle Rule No34, among oth­ers, stat­ing that “the Bish­ops of ev­ery na­tion should know the first among them and rec­og­nize him as the leader.”

Kyiv Rus leaned to­wards the in­de­pen­dence of its church body and rit­u­als since the first cen­turies fol­low­ing the adop­tion of Chris­tian­ity. Un­der Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1051 it elected Ilar­ion, a man of Kyiv Rus rather than Greek ori­gin, as head of its metropoli­tan cathe­dra. This was a clear de­mon­stra­tion of in­de­pen­dence by the Kyiv Church.

Kyiv Metropole’s purely nom­i­nal sub­or­di­na­tion to the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate of Con­stantino­ple up un­til 1686 se­cured its in­de­pen­dent devel­op­ment. The Cos­sacks be­came the foun­da­tion and the ba­sis for its devel­op­ment. Ac­cord­ing to many re­searchers, Kyiv Metropole was vir­tu­ally au­to­cephalous in its sta­tus at the time. This pro­vided the ground for Kyiv Metropoli­tan Petro Mo­hyla to cre­ate the project of con­sti­tu­tional trans­for­ma­tion of the Kyiv Metropole into a pa­tri­ar­chate.

Prob­lems be­gan when the Ukrainian Church was il­le­gally sub­or­di­nated to the Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate as a re­sult of the loss of state­hood by Ukraine and the in­te­gra­tion of its lands with the Tsar­dom of Rus­sia. Given the tra­di­tional con­trol of State over Church in Mus­covy, this sig­naled full sub­or­di­na­tion of all re­li­gious life in Ukraine, lead­ing to the uni­fi­ca­tion and elim­i­na­tion of any na­tional dif­fer­ences. In such cir­cum­stances, the is­sue of au­to­cephaly for Ukrainian Church would come up with ev­ery wave of Ukrainian na­tional lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. It did so in 1917-1920, and it has been on the agenda since Ukraine de­clared its in­de­pen­dence in 1991.

Some re­spected the­ol­o­gists claim that to­mos for the Ukrainian Church has “al­ready been writ­ten”. This may be true, but it will hardly be pub­licly dis­closed this sum­mer. It is more likely to ap­pear closer to the end of 2018. The main thing is that Pa­tri­arch Bartholomew has more than once demon­strated re­sis­tance to Moscow’s in­tim­i­da­tion and black­mail in an at­tempt to counter the to­mos, and has shown that he will not give up his lead­ing role in the cause of the Ukrainian Church.

He was re­cently vis­ited by a group of en­voys from the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church of Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate led by the no­to­ri­ous MP Vadym Novin­skiy and priest Mykola Danylevych. The group of clergy known for their openly pro-Rus­sian views was on a mis­sion to per­suade the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch to drop the in­ten­tions to help Or­tho­dox Ukraini­ans and leave them un­der Rus­sia’s re­li­gious sub­or­di­na­tion. Ac­cord­ing to ac­counts by eye-wit­nesses, Novin­skiy black­mailed Pa­tri­arch Bartholomew by say­ing that there would be war and blood­shed in Ukraine if it re­ceived au­to­cephaly, and ask­ing whether Pa­tri­arch was will­ing to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that devel­op­ment. Ilar­ion Alfeyev, chair­man of the Moscow Pa­tri­archy’s Depart­ment of Ex­ter­nal Church Re­la­tions, echoed this phrase about war and blood­shed shortly af­ter.

Pa­tri­arch Bartholomew re­ceived the en­voys in a diplo­matic man­ner, lis­tened to them and gifted them with sou­venirs. When they re­turned home, he de­clared once again that he would not walk away from his in­ten­tions while au­to­cephaly for the Ukrainian Church could be a step to­wards unity, peace and devel­op­ment of Or­tho­doxy. The state­ment was made on July 1 in the Hall of the Throne at his res­i­dence. “Let us not for­get that Con­stantino­ple never ceded the ter­ri­tory of Ukraine to any­one by means of some ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal Act, but only granted to the Pa­tri­arch of Moscow the right of or­di­na­tion or trans­fer of the Metropoli­tan of Kyiv on the con­di­tion that the Metropoli­tan of Kyiv should be elected by a Clergy-Laity Congress and commemorate the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch. Lis­ten to what is men­tioned in this re­gard in the Tome of au­to­cephaly, which was granted by the Mother Church to the Church of Poland: “For it is writ­ten that the orig­i­nal sep­a­ra­tion from our Throne of the Metropo­lis of Kyiv and of the two Or­tho­dox Churches of Lithua­nia and Poland, which de­pend on it, and their an­nex­a­tion to the Holy Church of Moscow, in no way oc­curred ac­cord­ing to the bind­ing canon­i­cal reg­u­la­tions, nor was the agree­ment re­spected con­cern­ing the full ec­cle­sial in­de­pen­dence of the Metropoli­tan of Kyiv, who bears the ti­tle of Exarch of the Ec­u­meni­cal Throne,” Pa­tri­arch Bartholomew said.

Mean­while, fre­quent cat­e­gor­i­cal state­ments of some top rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate both from Rus­sia and Ukraine sig­nal that they are set to ag­gra­vate the sit­u­a­tion, in­clud­ing with provo­ca­tions (which Ukrainian se­cu­rity ser­vices have to be ready to counter).

When the leader of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate, which presents it­self as “in­de­pen­dently ad­mi­nis-


tered”, goes to an assem­bly of the Rus­sian Or­tho­dox Church in Rus­sia’s Yeka­ter­in­burg and dis­cusses the prob­lem of Ukrainian au­tho­cephaly with peo­ple who should hardly have any­thing to do with it, it ex­plains a lot.

The on­go­ing his­tor­i­cal stage of the strug­gle for the to­mos is de­ci­sive. The ef­forts of Poroshenko’s team in this re­gard leave ob­servers op­ti­mistic and make them believe that this cam­paign will be ef­fec­tive. The as­sets of Ukraine’s cam­paign for au­to­cephaly in­clude of­fi­cial re­quests from the Pres­i­dent of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, the bish­ops of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church of Kyiv Pa­tri­ar­chate, the Ukrainian Au­to­cephalous Or­tho­dox Church, and some of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate’s clergy to the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch, as well as diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions with the lead­ers of other Or­tho­dox Churches re­quest­ing their sup­port for the to­mos.

Listed be­low are the fac­tors that have ac­ti­vated the cam­paign for au­to­cephaly in Ukraine:

1. The estab­lish­ment of Ukraine as an in­de­pen­dent state with the Euro­pean vec­tor of devel­op­ment which the Rus­sian ag­gres­sion failed to break.

2. The devel­op­ment and strength­en­ing of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Kyiv Pa­tri­ar­chate as the Church of the Ukrainian peo­ple.

3. Ag­gres­sive im­pe­rial poli­cies by Rus­sia and Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate. The lat­ter has been grow­ing more as­sertive in po­si­tion­ing it­self as the main pa­tri­archy and chal­leng­ing the su­pe­ri­or­ity of the Con­stantino­ple Pa­tri­ar­chate.

4. Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties now see au­to­cephaly for the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church as part of na­tional se­cu­rity. There­fore, ef­forts aimed at ob­tain­ing it have be­come far more pro­fes­sional and proac­tive.

5. The cri­sis of Or­tho­doxy which re­quires a strong Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church to re­in­force the fam­ily of Or­tho­dox churches, strengthen the balance and block the Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate’s am­bi­tions to be­come an equiv­a­lent of the Vat­i­can in the Or­tho­dox Church (a project ini­ti­ated by Joseph Stalin).

6. The geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the world where Euro­pean na­tions, the US and Turkey un­der­stand how dan­ger­ous the neoim­pe­rial poli­cies of Putin’s Rus­sia are and do not wel­come its re­in­force­ment in the re­li­gious seg­ment, too.

In this sit­u­a­tion, the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church has the fol­low­ing prospects of re­ceiv­ing the to­mos of au­to­cephaly. The doc­u­ment may ap­pear by the end of this year, but the process is more likely to last an­other year as the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch has de­cided to go through the whole or­ganic pro­ce­dure of agree­ing this move with other Or­tho­dox Churches. This will ac­tu­ally con­trib­ute to the le­git­i­macy of the doc­u­ment. By the way, the process of grant­ing the au­to­cephaly to­mos to the Pol­ish Or­tho­dox Church (based on the fact that it had been part of the an­cient Kyiv Metropole) lasted three years and was com­pleted in 1924.

How can the cause of au­to­cephaly for Ukraine de­velop? The de­ci­sions de­clared at the synod of the Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate in Yeka­ter­in­burg sig­nal that this Church will in­sist on re­ject­ing au­to­cephaly for Ukraini­ans. This will push the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate far­ther into iso­la­tion­ism from the in­ter­ests of the Ukrainian peo­ple and state: they will not go for any of­fi­cial ne­go­ti­a­tions on the is­sue while play­ing the Krem­lin’s card and claim­ing that the cam­paign “breeds vi­o­la­tions of the rights of Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate be­liev­ers by na­tion­al­ists.” This fun­da­men­tal­ism is likely to fur­ther un­der­mine the sup­port for this Church from Ukraini­ans.

Mean­while, the bish­ops of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Kyiv Pa­tri­ar­chate, Ukrainian Au­to­cephalous Or­tho­dox Church and part of the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church, Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate will gather for an assem­bly and read out the to­mos of au­to­cephaly for the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church from the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch. An elec­tion of the leader of the newly-au­ton­o­mous Church fol­low. Pa­tri­arch Fi­laret of Kyiv Pa­tri­ar­chate is the most likely can­di­date for the seat.

Then the Verkhovna Rada can con­sider a bill to con­duct rereg­is­tra­tion of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties in Ukraine: the pre­vi­ous reg­is­tra­tion took place a long time ago, so the cur­rent reg­is­ter lists many com­mu­ni­ties and monas­ter­ies that no longer ex­ist. This bill would also reg­u­late the names of con­fes­sions: the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Church of Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate would go back to its ac­tual name of the Rus­sian Or­tho­dox Church in Ukraine.

In 1918, Olek­sandr Lo­tot­skiy, the Min­is­ter of Con­fes­sions in charge of re­li­gious pol­icy in Pavlo Sko­ropad­skiy’s gov­ern­ment, spoke to the bish­ops of then-pro-Rus­sian Or­tho­dox Church in Kyiv. Au­to­cephaly for the Ukrainian Church “is not only nec­es­sary for the Church, but for the na­tion and the State. This is the high­est ne­ces­sity for our Church, our state and our na­tion. Those who un­der­stand and sin­cerely em­brace the in­ter­ests of the Ukrainian peo­ple, also em­brace au­to­cephaly of the Ukrainian Church,” he said.

Lobby with­out cas­sock. Vadym Novin­sky`s vis­its to Con­stantino­ple prevent grant­ing au­to­cephaly to Kyiv

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