Met. Anthony: Sophia has long been on agenda but Phanar dealt with Ukraine
If we consciously become part of big geopolitics and church life begins to serve these tasks, this does not go unpunished with God, the hierarch noted.
For several years, the President of Turkey has openly declared his intention to turn St. Sophia Cathedral into a mosque, but instead of defending the main Byzantine cathedral, the Phanar dealt with the Ukrainian issue. The UOC Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) of Boryspil and Brovary, said this in the Yan Taksiur programme “The Right to Faith” on the “1Kozak” channel.
According to the hierarch, a believer cannot feel neutral about a change in the status of Hagia Sophia since "this is not just a certain symbol".
“Firstly, this cathedral played a very important role for us, the followers of Kievan Rus,” said Metropolitan Anthony. “We remember the story of St. Nestor the Chronicler, that it was the outer beauty of the cathedral itself and the divine services in Hagia Sophia that played a decisive role in the choice of our faith by ambassadors and through them by Prince Vladimir. Therefore, this is still such an inner pain, it goes through the centuries, it is not just an event that was once done and has no consequences. Indeed, this cathedral is ours, even in such a sad, deplorable state.”
On the other hand, the UOC Chancellor stressed, this event did not happen suddenly.
“Everything went to this, and over the past years, the Turkish president has openly stated that he has such intentions,” he explained. “But even in relation to this event, the Phanar chose the path of not some actions to protect the cathedral – we did not see any serious publications, Patriarch Bartholomew’s statements about the need to protect this cathedral – he dealt with the Ukrainian issue, created a problem for us, for our multi-million flock and for the entire world Orthodoxy.”
Evil always has consequences, Met. Anthony added.
“The Church should always deal with the human soul,” the hierarch emphasized. “If we become part of politics and, consciously, part of big geopolitics, and church interests, church life already serve these tasks, then this always does not go unpunished with God. A believer should take care of his soul, the priest should deal with the salvation of the people who are entrusted to him, the bishop, respectively, – with these priests and the flock. The patriarch, and especially the first in honor, should have taken care, above all, of stability within world Orthodoxy and the Truth.”
According to the metropolitan, it is very difficult for him, as a bishop, to understand why in solving the Ukrainian question the Phanar once adopted the logic of schismatics: “After all, if you want to solve the issue, you are trying to solve it on the basis of truth and preserving yourself. But when you undermine the foundations on which the historical Church Body is based and go against the life of the majority of believers in Ukraine, these are not the messaged that on the decision of the Ukrainian schism should be based on.”
“It is important for the Church to always live the church life, the Church should be engaged primarily in the salvation of human souls, not to think about some geopolitical projects, not to try to please someone. Because politics is changing – players, tasks, entire states and empires are changing, and the Church must always be preserved. It will continue to exist without us, but we have a great responsibility. God always acts through people, but if we refuse to be an instrument in God's hands, then, unfortunately, we become an instrument in the hands of a completely different force, which leads both a particular person and the human race to destruction. Any situation that is already beyond our control at a certain moment had its history. And history is made up by people, specific people on whom the Lord has placed a very great responsibility,” resumed Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary.
Earlier, the ROC cleric said that with Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque, the Phanar’s head symbolically lost his See.