Archbishop Alexy: Phanar's words about UOC are a sign of moral blindness
The UOC has served the Lord Jesus Christ and the God-saved Ukrainian people and will continue doing so, stressed the ruling bishop of the Voznesensk Eparchy.
The words of Patriarch Bartholomew about "temporarily tolerated bishops" can be called moral blindness, Archbishop Alexy (Shpakov) of Voznesensk and Pervomaisk said in a commentary to the UOJ regarding the recent statement by the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople about the UOC.
According to the archbishop, the words of the head of the Phanar that in Ukraine there is only the OCU, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church does not exist and its more than 100 bishops are only titular, whom he “temporarily tolerates”, can be commented on from the canonical, historical and moral points of view.
“According to the canons of the Church,“ there should not be two bishops in the city”, the UOC hierarch reminded. “We are talking here about the ruling bishops in historically Orthodox countries. In countries of the resettlement type, where there are many diasporas, the situation is somewhat different, but we will not delve into this issue now. In Ukraine, the canonical UOC has existed and still exists today, with its own episcopate, clergy and believers. No one doubted its canonical status, including the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And in 2018, Patriarch Bartholomew recognized a parallel hierarchy in Ukraine, clearly violating this rule. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the "hierarchs" recognized by Constantinople did not have the canonical episcopal consecration at all, as almost all Local Churches said."
Also, Archbishop Alexy noted, the bishops of the UOC and, above all, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, did not commit any canonical transgressions for which they could be deposed. “Moreover, the Patriarch of Constantinople does not have the authority to decide matters not in his Local Church, and if he appropriates these powers for himself, then this is nothing more than an attempt to usurp power in the Church, which is familiar from the history of the separation of the Roman See from the Church, and is completely alien to Orthodoxy."
If we study the history of relations between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow, as well as the Kiev Metropolis, then, the bishop added, “you can see that the transition of the Kiev Metropolis in 1686 from Constantinople to the Russian Church, which took place in a completely canonical way, with the consent of not only Constantinople and Russian Churches but also of ancient patriarchates”.
“For more than 330 years, the jurisdiction of the Russian Church has not been disputed by anyone, and there have not even been such hints,” he emphasized. “During this time, the Kiev Metropolis developed into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The vast territories that were not part of it at the time of 1686 began to belong to it. The number of monasteries and churches has increased many times over, new theological academies and seminaries, Sunday schools, and so on have appeared. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has had nothing to do with this. And the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew announced the return of all this to the Church of Constantinople is a violation of one of the basic commandments of God – do not steal."
Finally, from a moral point of view, the statements of Patriarch Bartholomew cause undisguised sorrow, “because his words about the ‘temporarily tolerated bishops’ who, together with their flock, in the thirty years that have passed since the atheistic Soviet regime, have revived the Church, resumed monastic life in hundreds of monasteries, rebuilt thousands of churches, led millions of people to Christ, are difficult to call anything other than moral blindness."
“For some reason, Patriarch Bartholomew called these bishops titular, but he recognized as “true” those who patronize the seizures of churches, violence against believers and other iniquities. You must be truly blind not to see that huge difference in the moral character of the ministers of the UOC and those people whom Patriarch Bartholomew took under his wing,” added Archbishop Alexy.
According to the hierarch, one should pray for the enlightenment and reasoning of the bishops of the ancient Constantinople See, "and the following can be said to the statements of Patriarch Bartholomew: the UOC has served the Lord Jesus Christ and the God-saved Ukrainian people and will continue doing so."
“Our Lord Jesus Christ says to us: ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's’ ... When these concepts are mixed in the mind, then misunderstanding and division and all kinds of disorder that we have observe throughout the history of Christianity are born. “It is impossible to serve two masters ... God and mammon,” and our head is Christ Himself, as is the case with every Local Orthodox Church. But there are also other quasi-religious formations - there the head is a person with infernal thinking. So, thanks to the Holy Scripture, the canons of the Church, the works of the Holy Fathers, but not a personal opinion, we see and understand this. Where this is distorted, there is, unfortunately, no Spirit of God,” resumed Archbishop Alexy of Voznesensk and Pervomaisk.
As reported, Metropolitan Augustine of Bila Tserkva and Boguslav believes that the words of Patriarch Bartholomew about the UOC testify to the relevance of the expression of St. Nestor the Chronicler: "The Greeks are crafty."