Moscow, June 2, Interfax - The self-defense forces in southeastern Ukraine do not have broad support and are "separatists," Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko), secretary of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, said.
"It was generally believed that people in the southeastern regions oppose European integration. However, it became obvious in the past few months that the rumors of 'Soviet mentality' of the southeastern regions are very exaggerated. No matter how much the outside forces want it, it is virtually impossible to divide Ukraine because the separatists are actively supported by a minority even in Donetsk and Lugansk," the metropolitan said in his video blog.
He said the "Orthodox Militia of Donbass" has "nothing in common" with the Orthodox faith.
The metropolitan also believes that in this new historical situation the Church should give up "the utopia of Orthodox civilization" and stop thinking of itself as "part of the state body."
He also recalled that the church canons do not envision a one-time and mechanical change of its canonical status due to changes of the state border.
At the same time, the metropolitan said the history of Orthodox faith indicates that "the creation of politically and culturally complete statehood, as a rule, leads to for the formation on its territory of a canonically self-sufficient church structure."
"The recent events show that most citizens of Ukraine think of themselves as part of Europe and want to live in an independent state. These processes began earlier and are intensive in Western and Central Ukraine," the metropolitan said.
He also sharply criticized Viktor Yanukovych, who was previously considered the main political ally of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, for allegedly issuing the order to open fire on protesters in Kiev and "thinking of himself of something like an 'Orthodox emperor.'"
Metropolitan also criticized those who are trying to use the Church to achieve political ends, saying the Church is allowed to engage in politics "when the purpose of politics is to protect moral values," "restore the Holy Rus," or create a new, post-Byzantine "Orthodox civilization."
The debate on the future of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the possibility of it becoming independent of the Moscow Patriarchate, and creation in Ukraine of a unified local Church, including Churches that are now not recognized by the canonical Orthodox Churches, including the "Kiev Patriarchate", has intensified in Ukraine in the light of the events that occurred in the country in the past few months.
Some experts believe granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Moscow Patriarchate may weaken the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate in the world, bearing in mind that many parishes of Moscow Patriarchate are located on the territory of Ukraine.