Why the “SLC Founding Fathers” lie to us

A "Single Local Church" project is pinned to numerous lies and manipulations

There are a lot of rumors related to the Ukrainian Tomos. But there are even more fakes, manipulations and lies from the very creators of SLC project. Why do they lie?

The issue of granting a Tomos on church autocephaly to Ukraine has been a front page story for several months now. The president and his political consultants almost managed to convince the Ukrainians that the most urgent need for them now is the creation of a new, unprecedented Church in the country.

Everyone speaks about autocephaly and do it in different ways. This is quite natural: someone is for, someone is against, someone doesn't care. However, there is one significant detail that fundamentally changes the tone of the discussion and imparts it a very important hue – in the theses of the creators and advocates of the SLC project, there are exceeding fakes or, in layman’s terms, blatant lie. But if we treat indefatigable fantasies of many Ukrainian politicians as for economic and social achievements of the country with a certain amount of indulgence, then manipulations and lies in terms of the creation of the Orthodox Church are beyond understanding of not only Christians but even the most inveterate atheists.

If one collects all the false claims and statements of supporters of autocephaly at least for the last month, they will amount to a book let alone an article. Not to be unfounded, we will now turn to specific examples. And in order not to offend anyone, we will tolerantly substitute the word “lie” with the term “fake”.

Fake #1: from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

On September 26, a message appeared on the website of the Embassy of Ukraine in Cyprus that the Church of Cyprus “supports autocephaly for Ukraine”. Literally, Ukrainian diplomats said the following: "The Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II expressed support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, emphasizing the right of Ukraine as a large independent state to have its own autocephalous Church."

However, in the text of the news about this meeting, which was published on the official website of the Cyprus Archbishopric, the words of Archbishop Chrysostomos have a completely different, directly opposite meaning:

“Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos expressed concern about the latest events in the Ukrainian Church, having wished that there should not be a split that would harm (hurt – author) the unity of all Orthodoxy. Also, the Archbishop confirmed in his conversation that the Church of Cyprus will become the bridge for the settlement of the troublesome Ukrainian issue that has arisen.”

Fake #2: from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Oddly enough, it is also born by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thus, on September 25, the site of the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reported that the Vatican was in favor of autocephaly. Here is a quote: "The Holy See respects the decision of the Ukrainian people regarding the creation of the Unified Local Church ... The support of the Holy See and a clear position on how to get a Tomos is an important step to strengthen an interfaith dialogue." However, the very next day, the Apostolic Nunciature in Ukraine refutes this message and clearly states that "the issue of creating the Single Ukrainian Orthodox Local Church is an internal matter of the Orthodox Church, on which the Holy See never did and has no intention whatsoever of expressing any evaluation, in any venue."

Fake #3: on the position of the USA

Ukrainian media and politicians are full-on retailing absolute support for the autocephalous processes in the country from the United States. For example, on the President’s website, a report on the meeting with Ambassador Sam Brownback, a former US Senator and Kansas Governor, and now a Special Representative on International Religious Freedom, says: “President Poroshenko outlined measures taken to create the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The head of state thanked the American side (i.e. Brownback) for their active support in this process.” But this is a one-track message since there is not a word of Brownback himself in it.

American expert James George Jatras (deputy director of the American Institute in Ukraine) in an analytical study for the UOJ writes about his findings on this topic: “Having made a thorough analysis of his conversation with Poroshenko, I concluded that Brownback did not say anything about what was attributed to him in Poroshenko’s statement about the ‘right to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church’."

It is difficult to say unequivocally where the truth is and where it is not, but it’s quite obvious: everything is much more complicated in this matter than it seems at first glance. Why? Because the statements of various Ukrainian departments and American politicians very often, if not contradict each other, then, at least, allow for several variants of interpretations.

For example, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says that "the United States respects the ability of Orthodox religious leaders and Ukrainian believers to follow the path of autocephaly in accordance with their beliefs."

Please note the above words refer to religious leaders and believers of Ukraine, not about politicians. But those religious leaders and believers who have chosen the path of autocephaly have already had it (albeit self-proclaimed). Nobody took this right away from them and is not going to take it away. In turn, the modern autocephalous itch has nothing to do with “religious beliefs” being a purely political idea. But representatives of the State Department seem to turn a blind eye to this fact just like to the millions of believers who precisely in accordance with their "religious beliefs" resent this autocephaly.

Moreover, literally in the next paragraph, Ms. Nauert writes that the States "resolutely support freedom of religion, including the freedom of members of groups to manage their religion in accordance with their beliefs and freely practice their faith without government intervention." What government and what believers are we talking about? After all, everyone knows that it was the Ukrainian government that initiated the process of obtaining the Tomos, and it is for the Ukrainian government that this issue is of the highest priority from the point of view of politics inasmuch as the UOC believers only want to be left alone and allowed to "manage their religion in accordance with their beliefs and without government intervention." But it seems that the State Department divides believers in Ukraine into “right” and “wrong” without noticing the government altogether.

Of course, it can be said that everything written above sounded from the lips of politicians, the truth appearing not the most profitable ally to them. However, in the matter of the Ukrainian autocephaly not only secular politicians but also church leaders resort to lies. Thus,

Fake #4: from the Phanar’s hierarch

That’s it. What just recently looked completely unthinkable and absurd today has become a reality. It turns out that representatives of the episcopate of the Orthodox Church-first-in-honor may tell lies.

For example, Archbishop Job (Gecha), hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, declared that the UOC had no right to “expel” the exarchs of Constantinople from Ukraine, since “in inter-church relations the UOC MP is not an independent unit in a dialogue, it does not maintain correspondence which is exclusively held by the ROC.” .Speaking in simple secular language, Vladyka Job declared that the UOC in Ukraine is a “scratch”, therefore she ought to sit silently and keep quiet.

But his words were refuted by the head of the UOC DECR, Metropolitan Mitrofan of Lugansk: “This is not true,” said Metropolitan Mitrofan, “because we are in direct correspondence with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the proof of which is the number of reciprocal letters that now lie in the archives of both Kiev and in Constantinople. And His Grace Job cannot but know this fact, therefore it is strange for me to hear such statements of his.”

That is, prior to the expansion of the Phanar to Ukraine, the leadership of Constantinople quite successfully communicated with the head and episcopate of the UOC and did not consider that “the UOC is not an independent unit in the dialogue”; however, new plans of the Ecumenical Throne as to the Church of Ukraine have significantly weakened their memory.

Fake #5: from the Phanar’s hierarch

The same Archbishop Job (Getcha) said that 10 years ago, namely in 2008, the Patriarch of Constantinople came to Kiev, allegedly without an invitation of the UOC, and this did not cause any resistance from our Church. Again, his words were refuted by Metropolitan Mitrofan, who remarked:

“This is also not true. There was an invitation from our Church then. I will allow myself to recall the words from the commentary on this topic by the then Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC, Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun), who said that “the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is coming to Ukraine by a double invitation: from the Church and the state. The church invitation has the main priority for him, since he could have come to Ukraine without an invitation from the President; yet without a church invitation such a visit would have been impossible." It is a pity that today the Patriarchate of Constantinople behaves completely differently.”

Fake #6: from the Phanar’s hierarch

Again we have Archbishop Job. Recall that in 2016, he arrived in Kiev and met with His Beatitude Onufry. Then Vladyka Job declared that he coordinated his visit with the canonical Church, i.e., with the UOC. Obviously, two years ago in Constantinople, the UOC was considered to be an “independent unit in holding a dialogue”. In an interview with the Pravlife edition, Vladyka Job assured that the Patriarchate of Constantinople would not create a parallel jurisdiction in Ukraine “because such a non-canonical position will only aggravate the problem.”

But judging by the developments of today, it becomes quite obvious that if a Tomos is granted, it is about the creation of another Church in Ukraine, albeit under the Phanar’s protectorate. So, in an interview with Priamoy channel, head of the Department of the Ministry of Culture for Religious Affairs Andrei Yurash said that “Ukraine will have two parallel structures that will be called Orthodox ... There will be two gracious structures, two canonical Churches that will fight for influence”.

And, it seems, his words have good reasons because, as Kommersant newspaper reports, a representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople said that “Ukrainian hierarchs believe in vain that the Tomos will be granted to one of the existing Churches. This will be a new structure: the hierarchs will be primarily determined by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the parishioners of the Ukrainian Churches, as well as the clergy will have the opportunity to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in unity with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

That is, given the fact that the UOC will not disappear anywhere (even if it is forced to change the name), the Phanar is now doing exactly what it promised not to do two years ago, namely the creation of a parallel ecclesiastical jurisdiction despite the absolutely fair words of Archbishop Job (dating to 2016) that “such a non-canonical situation will only aggravate the problem”.

Fake #7: from the Phanar’s hierarch

At the beginning of September, Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as specially trained bishops, spoke at the Synaxis of the Phanar in early September to justify the expansion into Ukraine. The speech of the head of the Church of Constantinople in its being saturated with extravagant theses deserves not only an article but a separate dissertation, therefore we will not even touch upon it. But the speech of Bishop Macarius Christopolis, who read a report on the history of the Kiev Metropolis, deserves mention.

Substantiating the need for the Phanar to intervene in the affairs of the Ukrainian Church, Vladyka Macarius told the assembled hierarchs of the brutal persecutions which unfortunate Ukrainians are subjected to in the Russian Church. And he illustrated it with a specific example of ardent Ukrainophile Filaret (when he was canonical Metropolitan of Kiev and head of the UOC), who, according to Macarius, was not elected Patriarch of the Russian Church in 1990, solely because ... Filaret was Ukrainian by nationality.

Needless to say how ridiculous this “argument” looks like, if we recall that Filaret arrived third in those patriarchal elections, gaining frugal 66 votes? He was outstripped by Ukrainian Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) of Rostov and Cherkassy winning 107 votes and Metropolitan Alexy of Leningrad and Novgorod, Estonian with German roots, who eventually became the Patriarch.

All this looks like truly “intolerable atrocities” of Russian nationalists in the Russian Orthodox Church, which so obviously infringe upon other nationalities, and first of all – the Ukrainians. How can the “Mother Church” not intervene?

Such fakes look ridiculous but not so significant. Yet the following example is not so harmless and can entail the most tragic consequences.

Fake #8: from the Phanar’s exarch

At the meeting with Petro Poroshenko, one of the Phanar-delegated exarchs to Ukraine, Archbishop Daniel (Zelinsky) stated that they “did not come to separate Ukrainian Orthodoxy even more but rather take steps to unite it”.

Beautiful exalted words from the Phanar’s hierarch! However, how much are they linked to reality?

Let's recall the objective facts:

1. Exarchs arrived in Ukraine against the will of the only canonical Church – the UOC.
2. The Holy Synod called the appointment of Constantinople exarchs to Kiev as gross interference in the internal affairs of the UOC and the violation of its canonical territory (Synod’s Journal No. 17 of September 25, 2018).
3. According to the decision of the UOC Synod, the exarchs must leave the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
4. The Synod of the UOC considers that the activity of the exarchs is non-canonical and violates interfaith peace.

The statement of the UOC hierarchs is not unfounded. In fact, we are facing a situation in which using even with the most fantastic scenario, the Phanar cannot unite all Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Even if the radicals with the police will drive the UOC believers into the new structure of Constantinople with truncheons, it will still not be possible to drive ALL (oh, sorry, to unite them!). Absolutely any scenarios for the developments with the Phanar’s incursion lead to one final – another comprehensive split of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. And not to see this is impossible. Although, Poroshenko himself already admits this and makes statements about the anticipated renaming of the UOC (those who will not go to the SLC) into the Russian Church in Ukraine.

Therefore, the statement of Archbishop Daniel that he came not to divide but to unite is neither a mistake nor wishful thinking but an actual and cynical lie. And no matter how harsh such words could sound in relation to the hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, we have to say with regret they correspond to reality.

Of course, the creation of a Phanar-controlled church structure in Ukraine is a big plus for the Constantinople Patriarchate, in terms of asserting its geopolitical “papist” ambitions in World Orthodoxy. But is it right to do it with such methods? What do we, Ukrainians, have to do with that? Why pit us against each other also in the Church?

In the Holy Scripture the word "truth" occurs more than 60 times. The Church of Christ is the place where we learn the Truth of God as the highest moral standard. So how can one build a new church structure, if the construction process itself is already connected with the obvious violation of human truth, if these same builders, with their dirty boots, trample even on their Christian conscience?

The most important function of the Church is salvation of the human soul, and here it is impossible to lie. Because Christ said that “you will be justified by your words, and you will be condemned by your words” and “by your fruits they will know you.” We do not know what fruits will be yielded by the SLC project but the seeds of lies can hardly yield the spiritual harvest we anticipate.

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