At the Synaxis of the Constantinople bishops held early in September Patriarch Bartholomew came out with a program speech and unexpectedly for many people stated that the Moscow Patriarchate did not have a canonical right to “interfere” in church affairs in Ukraine unlike the Constantinople Patriarchate which master this right being the Mother Church. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church's spokesperson Vasily Anisimov in his interview with Interfax-Religion commented this speech.
- Vasily, what was the reaction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Patriarch Bartholomew’s speech at the Synaxis in Istanbul? Its extracts were posted at the website of UOC in the USA, which belongs to Constantinople jurisdiction.
- The piece of information has come from the overseas. The UOC in the USA originated from self-blessed schismatic group of Mstislav Skripnik’s former advocates of the autocephaly. Mstislav Skripnik by the way was Simon Petlura’s nephew. Patriarch Bartholomew has recently taken them under his omophor and on his own head. It is a small, but extremely angry ethnophilic Russophobic community that does not shy to use lies and provocations. We have lately received a lot of provocative news reports on the meeting between the patriarchs in Istanbul, and I believe the current one is one of such. It's hard to believe that a church hierarchy respecting himself could have uttered this text, which is illiterate from all standpoints, including the canonical, historical, and even literary one.
The authors of this provocative text seem not to know that the cathedra of Kievan metropolitans was relocated to Moscow in the 14th century not from Kiev but from Vladimir, where it had been relocated after Kiev had been totally pillaged by Batu Khan.
As the capital of the only fully independent Orthodox Church, Moscow was a place of pilgrimage for Eastern patriarchs suffering from foreign yoke for centuries, where they came for material support and for collecting alms. And they always received this. Two Constantinople patriarchs even died during these trips in the territory of the current Ukraine.
Constantinople has always urged the Russian tsardom and the Russian empire to bear the mission of defending the Orthodox faith, of liberating Orthodox nations. Philosopher Vladimir Solovyov claimed that it was the goal of endless bloodshed Russian-Turkish wars, which resulted in freedom and independence of Balkan peoples from Osman yoke. The Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church was revived everywhere. This freedom was bought by hundreds thousands of Russian soldiers’ lives - great grandfathers of current citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldavia. Kiev monasteries, including the Kiev Lavra of the Caves are cemeteries of heroes-liberators of Balkans (the injured were transported through Kiev, placed in hospitals where many of them died).
And now they recalled that 700 years ago, Kiev metropolitans ordained in Constantinople, without coordination with Tsargrad or Golden Horde moved the see from Kiev. They arrived at the Kievan ashes, shed some tears and directed to the North. No one discussed it for 700 years. And now suddenly they say: it is a disorder! It is time to punish Kiev metropolitan Maxim, who was Greek by origin, who in 1299 finally moved the residence of Kiev metropolitans from Kiev to Bryansk, and then to Vladimir. He should be defrocked! And the Moscow Patriarchate half a thousand years ago without any coordination with Constantinople, which then accepted the Catholic Union, organized itself in a different manner than it now seen in Istanbul. The question is: why have you kept silence for centuries and now you have seen it through? Is not it silly? Perhaps, we should also revise the results of the battle at Thermopylae? Why are we making a laughing stock of the whole Orthodox Church?
- Patriarch Bartholomew reminded that in 1686 his predecessor Patriarch Dionisy IV, in result of “strongest political pressure and under influence of painful circumstances, caring for preserving peace in the Church” was forced to give out the letter in which he granted Moscow the right to appoint metropolitan of Kiev, though each metropolitan pf Kiev would pray for the Ecumenical patriarch as their spiritual guide. And then the patriarch confessed that he did not know any other act that would have changed canonical state of Kiev and entirely given Kiev to Moscow in church aspect.
- Provocateurs do not know that there was not only “one letter”, but there were plenty of tomoses, issued by the Constantinople patriarch and the Jerusalem patriarch to believers of the Kiev Metropolia, to the Moscow Patriarch, to Moscow tsar, to hetman Samoylovich and others - these documents blessed joining of the Kiev Metropolia to the Russian Orthodox Church. The Constantinople tomos was signed not only by the patriarch, but by the whole Council of Constantinople metropolitans. These charters were issued in the 19th century. Do they say a word about “preserving the authority of Constantinople?”
Constantinople had a plenty of authority in the Polish-Lithuanian state Rzecz Pospolita: to the early 18th century at the whole right bank of Ukraine and Byelorussia there was only one Orthodox see - in Byelorussian Mogilyov, the Kiev Metropolia was almost eliminated by the authorities, turned in the Union. They did not let to elect the Kiev metropolitan for ten years and persecuted clerics as Turkish spies. Elite, landlords and militants betrayed the Orthodox Church, no one wanted to defend it, except Cossacks of Zaporozhye, who according to Polish description were criminals as Nobel laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz showed them in his novels. Cossacks - hetman Ivan Samoylovich, his assistant Ivan Mazepa, colonel Lisitsa and others were initiators of reunion between the Kiev Metropolia and the Russian Orthodox Church.
No one doubted the canonical legacy of this act for 200 years, it was considered a great good. In fact, the persecutions were stopped, Orthodoxy bloomed in our land, thousands of churches and hundreds of monasteries were erected. Kiev turned from provincial military town with ten thousands of people in the 18th century to a European capital in the late 19th century, three hundreds of churches and monasteries were restored or built. Is not it a providence of God! Most of them were destroyed in the atheistic epoch, but even those, which remained, impress. After atheistic persecutions the Orthodox Church in Ukraine was revived, the number of churches increased fourfold. No one in Constantinople claimed it power over ruined Kiev metropolia, and when the metropolia was revived by efforts of several generations, they ask for it. Is it worthy?
- And what do you think about Patriarch Bartholomew’s reproaches addressed to modern Russia as “it is unable to solve the problem” of schism itself?
- It is silly, to say the least, to accuse the Russian state of not being able to resolve the schism problem in Ukraine, as provocateurs are doing. Do they really believe that Yeltsin ordered KGB secret agent nicknamed 'Comrade Antonov' ['Kiev Patriarchate's leader Filaret] to organize a schism, to hide the Communist Party's gold and Putin now needs to issue a reverse order? Then why is it being done by Patriarch Bartholomew, not Turkish President Erdogan?
What does it have to do with the Ukrainian authorities, which have already been declared criminal by their opponents, its anti-constitutional, anti-law God-building requests? According to all polls, they do not have any chance of prolonging their existence. And responsibility for everything that has been done will have to be born. Does Constantinople want to be known as an accessory of a criminal administration? Do they in Istanbul really want secular state structures to run church affairs? If Patriarch Bartholomew begins fulfilling wishes of Pyotr Poroshenko, how can he deny the wishes of those who will replace him?
- What could be the probable of consequences of Constantinople’s decision to give Ukraine tomos? What do you think?
- It is obvious that any actions by the Constantinople Patriarchate not authorized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, including the lifting of disciplinary punishment from Mikhail Denisenko (Filaret), upon whom an anathema has been pronounced, the organization of parallel church structures, the granting of self-governance, autonomy and autocephaly to schismatics, will be extremely negatively received by Ukraine's Orthodox Christians. That will lead to another wave of opposition and will aggravate the socio-political unrest in Ukraine, which is in a severe socio-economic crisis and is stuck in the bloody conflict in Donbas.
Finally, the reference to the Great Inquisitor by Dostoevsky does not stand any criticism. They say that the Constantinople Patriarch does not rewrite the Gospel as the Inquisitor (satan). The Inquisitor did not reveal the Gospel, but tempted Christ with bread instead of freedom and truth. It is evident that American-Ukrainian advocates of Istanbul from diaspora who surrounded our authorities as dung flies only seek bread in Ukraine with their near-church intrigues. And tempt Patriarch Bartholomew with the same things.
By the way, how are things with the multi-million gift for the tomos to the Constantinople Patriarch, which was broadly discussed in Ukraine? No one in Kiev or Istanbul confirms or denies that. Official inquires have been made in Ukraine with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau on that matter. Or is that such a small thing that it should be ignored?