How to reason with His All-Holiness he endorses schism instead unification?
By Phanar’s logic, schismatics of UOC KP and UAOC with the episcopate, clergy and believers of the UOC must race to the new structure. But reality proves the opposite.
The main thesis of all the Phanar hierarchs on the “Ukrainian issue” is a demonstrative “unifying peacemaking”. They are purportedly invading the canonical territory of the UOC not at all because they want to annex the Church in Ukraine, but right on the contrary – to bring peace and prosperity here. Or rather, to unite absolutely all Orthodox Ukrainians around the Ecumenical Throne. And those protests that are heard from representatives and believers of the UOC — this is only due to their misunderstanding of the situation.
That’s what one of the exarchs of the Phanar, Archbishop Daniel (Zelinsky), at a meeting with the President on September 17, stated, “Let me disagree with the theses of some media. We did not come here to further divide Ukrainian Orthodoxy, but on the contrary, to bring the wanted unity for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
Exactly the same thesis was voiced by another hierarch of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, "We do not want to create another split, but to unite the churches."
According to the logic of Constantinople, after the decision of the Synod of Constantinople of 11 October 2018, both schismatics from the UOC KP and the UAOC, as well as the episcopate, the clergy and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, would have to speed along to the Phanar-forged church structure. In other words, the UOC, according to the Phanar, should simply vanish into the thin air. Otherwise no association can actually occur.
However, the latest developments speak very clearly and unequivocally about the directly opposite thing: Phanar obviously causes one more split in Ukraine, not a union of existing religious organizations at all.
The only hierarch of the UOC who has almost signed up for the non-existent Single Local Ukrainian Church is notorious Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko) of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky, “I tend to think that if everything goes the canonical way as it goes now, then I see no obstacles and impediments to become a member of this United Local Ukrainian Church.” In the opinion of His Eminence, everything is now proceeding in a "canonical way" and therefore, the door is open.
However, one cannot build a united church on one Metropolitan Alexander, and one cannot even create the semblance of “one church” Metropolitan Emmanuel spoke about. Back in April, some “insider” information was circulated that ten hierarchs of the UOC signed an appeal to Patriarch Bartholomew about autocephaly. Mr. Denisenko also spoke about them, announcing the “unification council” of the SLC. But despite the fact that the case of autocephaly, according to the Phanar “Exarchs”, came to the “finish line”, none of these ten sympathizers of the Local Church has yet been identified, except for the Most Reverend Alexander.
By the way, in one of his interviews, he suggested that the diocesan bishops, after the decision of the Istanbul Synod, should hold clergy meetings in the dioceses and decide on their future. It can be assumed that Vladyka Alexander, as well as the Phanarian bishops, believed: the clergy should show their centuries-old crave for the Ukrainian autocephaly and unanimously vote for SLC. Even if the hierarchs, allegedly associated with “administrative dependence” on the leadership of the UOC, do not want to support the idea of uniting with schismatics under the Phanarian maxim, then ordinary priests should definitely support autocephaly.
In fact, they really began to organize such meetings with the clergy raising their voice with regard to the autocephalous church. Moreover, they did it by secret ballot, where no one pushes anyone so you can freely express your position. Their attitude to autocephaly turned out extremely negative. Ordinary clergy declared their loyalty to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy.
On October 10 there was a meeting of the priesthood of Voznesensk eparchy of the UOC.
After discussion, all the clergy unanimously adopted a statement: "We, the clergy of Voznesensk eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in light of the situation around of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, declare that we remain faithful to our ruling Archpriest, Bishop Alexiy of Voznesensk and Pervomaisk, and our Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kiev and All Ukraine.”
On October 17 there was an eparchial meeting in Kherson eparchy.
The result is the full support of the UOC and its current status. Of particular significance was the performance at this meeting of the ruling bishop Metropolitan John (Siopko), who stated that with any ecclesiastic scenario (that is, even if the clergy vote for the SLC), he will remain with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy. After all, Vladyka John already had the experience of being in the UOC KP, where in 1993 he was "Bishop of Yagotin" and was accepted into the UOC after his repentance.
On October 22 there was a meeting of the clergy of Odessa eparchy.
The result is the same – the support of the UOC, though no other outcome was foreseen for Odessa eparchy, since the idea of autocephaly in the southeast is unpopular. Nevertheless, supporters of the SLC could sincerely express their opinion, because the vote was secret.
Three clerics voted for autocephaly, four abstained. The rest 406 votes – for loyalty to the UOC out of 413. But again, for Odessa, this is not surprising. The sympathizers of the Single Local Orthodox Ukrainian Church expected that western eparchies would certainly join this project, but even here the clergy remain faithful to their Church.
Here we go – a message from the eparchy, which is located in Western Ukraine. On October 19, an extraordinary meeting of the clergy of the Rovno eparchy took place in Gorodok-based St. Nicholas Convent. The meeting was attended by over 200 clergymen of the eparchy, abbots and abbesses of all monasteries.
The reason for the meeting was the events that alarmed the Orthodox around the world: anti-canonical actions of the Phanar and the response of the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches to them.
“The decision of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople, taken unilaterally and without agreement primarily with those whom these decisions concern are lawless,” said Metropolitan Bartholomew of Rovno and Ostrog. He called everyone to intensified prayers and informed decision-making.
The result of the meeting of the clergy of the eparchy was a declaration of loyalty to the UOC and condemnation of the anti-canonical actions of the Phanar.
However, truly amazing events took place in Cherkassy eparchy.
Metropolitan Sofroniy (Dmitruk) is a long-standing and consistent supporter of autocephaly for the UOC and is not afraid to openly express his opinion. It could be supposed that the clergy in this eparchy should therefore vote for the SLC, but no way – the expectations were not met. Moreover, the result was so unexpected that they did not even dare to publish it on the official website of the eparchy, confining it to a neutral message.
Screenshot of the official website of Cherkassy and Kanev eparchy
However, according to the clergy, who took part in the diocesan assembly, the majority of priests declared their loyalty to the UOC. And this is despite the fact that in the ballots for the secret voting the question was worded so that it would be easier to get a positive answer for the SLC sympathizers: “Do you support the decision of Constantinople Church to grant autocephalous status to the UOC?”
But even with such a formulation, the result was disappointing for the supporters of the “Local Church” project: it turned out that the overwhelming number, namely, 100 clerics voted against. For – only 27 and three abstained. And this is despite the fact that the idea of autocephaly constantly sounds from the mouth of the ruling Cherkassy bishop, who has been running the Chair since 1992 (!).
Following the meeting, the clergy in the Zaporozhye eparchy sent an open letter to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy with an expression of support and a statement of loyalty to the Church: “Your Beatitude! Our Archpastor and Father! Today our Mother Church is faced up to a difficult period of its history <...> We, faithful children of our spiritual Mother – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by you, testify that we do not recognize the decisions taken on 11 October 2018 by the Synod of the Constantinople Church, and express to you, Your Beatitude, our support and sonly obedience and together with you "we remain with the persecuted Church, but stand in the right position, the position of the true Church ..."
Dnepropetrovsk, Krivoy Rog and Kamensk eparchies
On October 23, a meeting of bishops and secretaries of Dnepropetrovsk, Krivoy Rog and Kamensk eparchies of the UOC was held in Dnepr city. The event in this format was held not so much for the statement of loyalty to the UOC, but rather to work out measures to prevent possible seizures of churches and clashes on the grounds of religious confrontation. It was attended by representatives of the Main Directorate of the National Police in Dnepropetrovsk region and Dnepropetrovsk Regional Department of the SBU.
The general opinion was expressed by Metropolitan Iriney (Seredniy) of Dnepropetrovsk and Pavlograd, “We express our loyalty to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by its Primate, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufriy. And we pray to the All-Merciful God for the preservation of the purity of our Orthodox faith and for the gift of peace to the long-suffering Ukrainian land. I inform you that not a single cleric from our eparchy expressed a desire to change his status and join the schismatics.”
On 25 October 2018, a general meeting of the entire clergy of Poltava eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was held in Poltava.
After a number of topical issues of church life had been discussed, the assembly made a unanimous decision to recognize the existing canonical status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as the most optimal in current conditions.
Also, the meeting’s participants unanimously expressed support for the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kiev and All Ukraine.
All these diocesan assemblies are very revealing. They unequivocally bear witness to the fact that the words of the Phanar legates that they came in Ukraine not to cause a split, but for the sake of unification, have nothing in common with reality.
The UOC faithful declare to the whole world they are truly loyal and are not going to obey the anti-canonical decision of the Phanar. Therefore, if Constantinople pursues with its lawless activities in our country, it will generate another split instead the unification promised. So far not all the UOC eparchies have declared their position, but the above statements currently allow us to say with confidence that there is no mention of any association around the Phanar in Ukraine. In fact, Patriarch Bartholomew was only able to gather around him schismatics from the UOC KP and the UAOC. This means he does not heal the schism plaguing Ukrainian Orthodoxy for a long time, but deepens and roots it even more.
His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew has failed to become a unifier, because a good deed cannot be accomplished via evil deeds. How the Phanar is going to get out of the situation in which it has driven itself is the Phanar’s concern. The cause of believers in Ukraine is to hold on to their Church, their Primate, Metropolitan Onufriy, and not to be tempted to solve the issue of religious separation, bypassing God's commandments and the canons of the Church.
If there are no traitors in the UOC or at least there are no more of them than among the apostles of Christ (Jude is one of 12), then this may be exactly the circumstance that will make His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew think again and refrain from further steps on the destruction of the Church of Christ.
If Patriarch Bartholomew sees that all twelve odd thousand parishes, more than two hundred and fifty monasteries remain loyal to their Church, that they do not give in to Phanar’s anti-canonical provocations or open threats from secular authorities and national radicals, he will have to make the choice: either abandon his lawless actions or publicly recognize the role of the No 1 schismatic and executioner of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
Let us pray that His All-Holiness will choose the former option. In case of choosing the latter, he will sign before the whole world that he is not so much the Primate of one of the oldest Local Churches, as a passive tool in the hands of the destroyers of the Church of Christ.