TSN, Tomos and "progressive forces" of UOC
Recently, the 1 + 1 channel has run another story on granting the Tomos. Answering the "yes-no" question, the participants gave an unambiguous and expected answer:"Yes!"
We won’t be so categorical, but we won’t argue with respected experts. Let's try to simply analyze the television story: who was present in it, who said what and what conclusions can be drawn.
We must give credit to the authors of the story – they did not interview the schismatics: representatives of the UOC KP or the UAOC. They built the footage on the opinion of the pro-Tomos clerics, who seem to belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The personalities are well-known: Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun) and Protopriest Georgy Kovalenko. They talked a lot about the irreversibility of the Tomos bestowal, the fact that the no-return point is passed in this case, that there is a request for the Tomos in Ukraine, etc. Their statements will be analyzed below. But one circumstance immediately catches the eye of any person who watches the development of the "Tomos" project.
The journalists met with the main state supervisor of the Tomos Rostislav Pavlenko, in the recent past, the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. They also interviewed Kirill (Govorun) – an archimandrite, candidate of theology, a supernumerary clergyman of the ROC, and in the recent past the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Deputy Chairman of the Training Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church. Another interviewee was Protopriest Georgy Kovalenko, now the rector of the Open Orthodox University of St. Sophia the Wise, and in the recent past the head of the Information and Education Department of the UOC and the press secretary of the Primate of the UOC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan).
But there is a persistent feeling that someone is missing in this company of Tomos supporters.
Right! His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko)!
The only bishop of the UOC who openly speaks in favour of the Tomos! The only bishop who openly, without fear, goes against the opinion of the rest of the episcopate! In addition, Vladyka Alexander is a great speaker and feels free in front of cameras. That's he who could tell a lot of interesting things about the Tomos and whose words would have more weight than all the participants in the TSN plot combined.
Nevertheless, he was not present.
But why? Could the authors of the material have missed such an important and advantageous speaker? The fact that Metropolitan Alexander was not in the plot, in which he was meant to, already makes you think. Nor is his name mentioned among the signatories to the Statement of the "Network of Open Orthodoxy" – another initiative designed to demonstrate support for the Tomos in the Ukrainian society.
This eloquent absence of Metropolitan Alexander makes at least doubt that Tomos prospects are really so bright, as they are described by other participants in the tv plot.
The video about the allegedly Christian SLC begins with ... tanks!
An indicative start! Especially if you recall the Gospel and how the Church was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first speaker of the story was the director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Rostislav Pavlenko. He was appointed to this position after his dismissal from the post of the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, where he supervised the Tomos project. By the way, TSN does well, call things by their own names and recognize that the Tomos and the EOC is not a Church or even a religious organization, it's a project!
Here is an obvious alternative for Ukrainian citizens: to be a member of the Church of Christ or a participant in the "project"? Yes, and whose project? A project of the President, who thus tries to raise his rating before the election?
So, a former high-ranking official of the Presidential Administration says that his dismissal is in no way connected with the failure of the campaign to grant the Tomos to the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, this is just a coincidence. That he is now the Advisor to the President on humanitarian issues and continues to promote the project. Well, we'll trust him on this. But the fact that the state, rather than the Church, supervises the Tomos project makes it clearer that this project is not religious but political, and it pursues purely political goals, as the Guarantor of the Constitution has said more than a dozen times. By the way, the Guarantor of that very Constitution, in which it is written in black and white, that the Church is separated from the state.
Neither Rostislav Pavlenko nor Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun) said anything new: everything is going as planned, no one has set a task to receive the Tomos to the date (although everyone knows that there was such a task), the process passed a no-return point. Father Kirill even made a bet - 80% chance the Tomos will be granted in October.
Protopriest George Kovalenko spoke of a new initiative: "In fact, Ukraine has a great request among people, among the clergy for receiving the Tomos, and I do not think that the Universal Orthodoxy will neglect it."
And Father protopriest tried to express this "great request" in some form. It turned out to be a Facebook statement, open for signing by all interested. On the evening of August 28, there were 177 people who wish. Of course, the "Universal Orthodoxy" cannot neglect the opinion of these people. Otherwise, as Father Georgy said to the 1 + 1 television channel, "We, as faithful Ukrainians, will see that there are some geopolitical, political or other kinds of activity in the Church ... But we would like to see love, truth, justice in action in the Church."
But the opinion of those 300,000 Orthodox who oppose the "Tomos project" and whose signatures were transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople can be well neglected by "Universal Orthodoxy", according to Father Georgy Kovalenko. How could the almost unanimous opinion of the UOC episcopate, expressed in the Statement of June 25, 2018, be disregarded? It states: "The existing canonical status is sufficient for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to fruitfully fulfill its mission among the people of Ukraine. Attempts to change this status will only lead to a restriction of the rights and freedoms that our Church is endowed with, having the rights of broad autonomy. In addition, these attempts will not cure but deepen the schism in both Ukrainian Orthodoxy and in the Ukrainian society as a whole."
Well, the Statement of the initiative group itself, organized by Father Georgy Kovalenko, looks extremely ambiguous. For example, at the beginning, it says: "We, the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church." And then it turns out that "the statement is open for signing not only by the clergy and faithful of the UOC, but also by representatives of other Churches, both in Ukraine and abroad". How many of the 177 signatures belong to "representatives of other Churches" is unknown.
The statement is intended to demonstrate "a huge request for Tomos," but it turns out that among the signatories to the Statement, not everyone shares this desire: "Most of us are strong and consistent supporters of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine."
The signatories to the Statement declare: "Granting the Tomos on autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is only the beginning of the process of uniting Orthodox Ukrainians and creating the Ukrainian Church."
Who, as not the former press secretary of the Primate of the UOC, should know that the position of "Universal Orthodoxy", to which he appeals, is exactly the opposite: autocephaly must finalize the process of uniting Orthodox Ukrainians, which means the return of people from the schism to the fold of the Church.
Especially I want to dwell on how Father Georgy characterizes the Church on whose behalf he still speaks. In the view of the former spokesperson of the UOC, now there is no love and respect for each other in this Church, but there are we (the initiative group, – Ed.) who want it." In other words, neither His Beatitude Onufry, nor anyone else, but the "members of the initiative group" headed by Protopriest Georgy Kovalenko are the embodiment of the highest Christian values in the UOC.
Another characteristic of the UOC from the Statement: "To get rid of imperial, totalitarian and Soviet layers in our church and social life, we need not only the Tomos ...". Yes, it requires not only the Tomos, it requires a very rich imagination, because there are no "imperial, totalitarian and Soviet layers in our church life (if we talk about the UOC, – Ed.)." Let someone show these "totalitarian and imperial layers" in the life of the UOC. But the Tomos project is really an example of the repetition of the Bolsheviks’ policy in the 20s of last century. Communists, just like the Ukrainian authorities today, tried to promote the Living Church project by the same methods and also with the help of Constantinople.
The Statement ends with the words: "We believe that unity in diversity is possible since we are united by the love for the Heavenly God-the-Father and earthly mother-Ukraine and sacrificial service for our neighbour."
Anyone who is even slightly acquainted with Orthodoxy simply cannot help but be horrified at this phrase: "... we are united by the love for the Heavenly God-Father and earthly mother-Ukraine."
In Orthodoxy, God is always the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is this understanding of God that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. As for the mother, this is the name of the Most-Holy Mother of God ("Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”" (John 19, 27)), or the Church ("He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother " (St. Cyprian of Carthage)), but not "mother-Ukraine". And what Archpriest George declares sounds more like paganism. Here is a quote from the book by E.N. Temkin Myths of Ancient India: "In the pantheon of the ancient Aryans, apparently very early, like in ancient mythology, the image of the god-father was singled out ... The Greeks have Zeus, the Aryans have Dyaus, the god of heaven and heavenly light. <...> Dyaus is sung in several early hymns of the Rigveda together with Prithivi, the goddess of the earth. Dyaus and Prithivi, Heaven and Earth, are viewed in these hymns as universal parents, the parents of all living things, an idea that goes back to the oldest mythological perceptions of humanity."
It's amazing how 177 people who consider themselves Orthodox could have signed such a Statement. Even more surprising is that they put their names after the name of Protopriest Georgy Kovalenko who, more than a year ago, took off the holy cross and priestly clothes during the filming of the programme "The Secret Code of Faith" and, declaring that "God does not speak with the mouths of "arrogant" theologians", went to seek the truth outside the Church.
But Father Georgy cannot help but know that the Orthodox Church has called theologians only three people in its entire history: the holy apostle and evangelist John the Theologian, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Simeon the New Theologian. How could Protopriest Georgy Kovalenko have allowed himself to call them the word above is beyond human understanding.
There is no doubt that both Father Georgy Kovalenko and other signatories to the Statement, which is promoted in the TSN plot, are educated and intelligent priests. But do they act with their initiative for the benefit of their Church, which is now under the strict pressure of the authorities and politics? They seem to be more concerned about their personal PR for the time being. And this cannot but cause regret.