Phanar starts military actions against Ukrainian Orthodox Church
This is how one can regard the appointment of Patriarch Bartholomew's two exarchs, whose mission in Ukraine will be to prepare for granting autocephaly.
Thus, the "Mother Church", as the Phanar calls itself, is launching a campaign not in words but in action to destroy its "daughter", the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
On September 7, the Phanar announced the appointment of its exarchs to Ukraine:
"Within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon (the US) and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton (Canada) as its exarchs to Kiev, who both minister the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in the lands of the Ecumenical Patriarchate."
Let us examine this curious document in detail.
The phrase "within the framework of the preparations for granting" means nothing else than the creation in Ukraine of the subject to be subsequently granted autocephaly. Some ecclesiastic structure in the jurisdiction of the Phanar. Jurisdiction, parallel to the UOC, which in itself is no longer canonical. This is also a violation of the ancient canonical regulations, according to which only one bishop (in today's conditions it is called ruling) can be in one city, of their own promises and documents of the Cretan Council of 2016.
It is noteworthy that the Phanar violates the decisions of the Council, which he tries to impose on everyone as ecumenical and universally binding. Thus, the document "Orthodox Diaspora" says: "It is stated that the common will of all Holy Orthodox Churches is the soonest possible solution of the problem of the diaspora and its structure according to Orthodox ecclesiology, the canonical tradition and practice of the Orthodox Church." In other words, according to the rule: one city – one bishop. Although the document notes the impossibility of such an organization at the present stage, but firstly, the Cretan Council recognized the existing practice of parallel jurisdictions as a problem rather than a norm, and secondly, expressed the common will of all Churches to solve this problem. In the case of Ukraine, the Phanar, on the contrary, wants to cause this problem.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople "appointed its exarchs”. The term "exarch" has several meanings. The main meaning is the title of the head of the church structure, the exarchate, consisting of several dioceses. For example, within the Constantinople Church there is a West European Exarchate, which today is headed by Archbishop John (Reneto) of Charioupolis. However, the term "exarch" is also used to designate an envoy or trustee. The aforementioned hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are appointed in this second meaning of the word "exarch", though it is quite obvious that with the creation of the ecclesiastical structure subordinate to the Phanar in Ukraine, the interpretation of the word "exarch" will change to mean a leader, not a messenger.
Who are these exarchs?
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States and His Grace Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton from Canada.
These are young bishops (both 46 years old), emigrants from western Ukraine who "carry out ministering for the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in the lands of the Ecumenical Patriarchate." The UOC in the United States and Canada are the church structures of the initially schismatic UAOC, which in 1995 were accepted into the jurisdiction of Constantinople. In connection with the personalities of these bishops, two questions arise: why Ukrainians and why young? It would be much more logical to send wise and experienced clergymen out of the Greeks.
The answer is as follows: Patriarch Bartholomew deliberately sends bishops who are "patriotically" minded and therefore, most tolerant of the schismatics. One of them, Archbishop Daniel Zelinsky, generally began his spiritual path in the Uniate Church and studied at Catholic educational institutions: the Ivano-Frankovsk Uniate Seminary and the Catholic University of America. While the Greek bishops have deep respect for the UOC and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphy (who basically has a great authority in the Orthodox world), the young emigre Ukrainians are completely deprived of this "shortcoming".
In connection with the appointment of the two exarchs, one may refer to the news, which appeared in February 2018 that Phanar is going to open its representative offices in Kiev and Lvov. It seems that "in the context of the preparations for granting autocephaly" this idea got its second wind.
Both bishops will be engaged in Ukraine with creating an exarchate or a metropolia under the omophorion of Constantinople, in other words – with legalization of the split. The Phanar hopes that by pledging to first create an exarchate and then grant it autocephaly, both the schismatics and renegades from the UOC will rush into the new structure. However, this may not be such a simple matter.
First and foremost, given the excessive ambition of schismatic bishops, they may simply not be able to share a "cushy job" in the created exarchate, and second, many of them may not buy into the promises to bestow autocephaly. The Phanar even showed by today's actions that its words and promises do not mean anything. Patriarch Bartholomew assured all the time about the recognition of the Primate of the UOC as the only legitimate head of the Church, but now pretends that he does not exist at all. In addition, there are a number of arguments for the fact that Phanar will not bestow autocephaly but do with just creating the exarchate.
Firstly, it is profitable for the Patriarchate of Constantinople to gain the flock (and obviously a large one) in Ukraine. If it gets it, the Phanar is not going to lose it at once.
Secondly, if it grants autocephaly to its Ukrainian exarchate, then this will spur the American Archdiocese that keeps claiming about secession from the Phanar.
Thirdly, it is unlikely that Phanariots will manage to settle all the issues and grant the Tomos on autocephaly before the presidential elections, and after that it will not be so relevant and, accordingly, autocephaly can be slowed down.
Fourthly, it is unlikely that the main leader of the Ukrainian dissenters, Mr. Denisenko, will agree to join the exarchate. To do this, he will have to give up the status of "patriarch", for what "patriarch" can there be in the exarchate? Yet he is not ready for such a turn in his career at all.
Fifthly, there is a historical precedent when the Phanar promised to bestow autocephaly but it did not. In 1923, the Finnish Orthodox Church, which used to be autonomous as part of the ROC, under the pressure of the authorities and also the promise of Phanar to grant autocephaly, arbitrarily withdrew from the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and became the Finnish Archbishopric. However, it has not received autocephaly until now. Moreover, under the "wise leadership" of the Phanar, the number of parishes in this Church has been declining steadily of late, while the Finnish Archbishopric Council of 2017 decided to reduce the parishes from the 21 to the 7 (!) in 2020.
Thus, the creation of an exarchate is a matter far from a foregone conclusion. But attacks on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church can be fired long before its final decision.
Firstly, one may expect a legislative blow. Spokesman of the Verkhovna Rada A.Parubiy has already announced that once the Tomos is here, the VR will adopt a law on re-registration of the UOC to the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. In the event that Constantinople declares the creation of its exarchate, this law can be adopted without even waiting for the Tomos arrival. The reason for such haste is elections. Voters of the forces that today have a majority in parliament are nationalist-minded citizens. And they are definitely going to acclaim this law.
Secondly, the impact of the mass media. The media are even now active defaming the UOC from all sides, and if the exarchate appears in Ukraine, these attacks will increase many times, for there will be an argument, "here we already have a canonical Church independent of Moscow."
Thirdly, the incidence of raider seizures of temples and violence, which is the case at the moment, will step up many times. If now the defenders of shrines appeal to the fact that they defend canonicity, in the event of exarchate offenders will answer they are supposedly also canonical now. The declared intentions to lay hold on the monasteries can be translated into actions without a tomos. "Let us be not independent so far, only the exarchate, but still not the Moscow Patriarchate."
Fourthly, the appearance of the exarchate will spark numerous conflicts within the UOC itself. There are also priests, laymen and, probably, bishops who will want to transfer their epachies and parishes to the exarchate. This will be resisted by other priests and laity. There may follow separations in parishes, monasteries, and eparchies which may be literally torn apart. Such conflicts are always accompanied by hatred, violence and property claims. What regular parish life, worship, social work can there be in such conditions?
With the advent of the exarchate (not even Tomos), a period of very difficult trials awaits the UOC. Of course, Patriarch Bartholomew is unlikely to want repressions against the priesthood and believers of the canonical Church of Ukraine. But reality shows that they can hardly be avoided.
In the history of Orthodoxy, there have not been cases when the "Mother Church" would start persecutions against its "daughter". Does Patriarch Bartholomew want to be the first?