UOCKP and UAOC no longer exist, Phanar takes everything into its own hands
Constantinople, through Archbishop Job (Getcha), makes it clear that it will supervise the formation of a new church structure in Ukraine.
During the last weeks after the scandalous Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, the Phanariots have remained relatively silent, not commenting on the decisions taken at the Synod. Now and then the supporters of this or that party expressed assumptions in this regard, but they did not add any specifics.
Considering this, a lengthy interview of Archbishop Job (Getcha), a representative of the Church of Constantinople, which he gave to the Russian service of the BBC, surprised both sides of the church conflict in Ukraine. The fact is that the things said by the bishop do not coincide with those recently declared by representatives of unrecognized church structures. Interestingly, there has been no reaction from the UOC KP and the UAOC followed yet. Such latency, in turn, may indicate that both denominations have put up with the scenario that the Phanar has zealously started to impose.
I would like to subject to constructive criticism this interview, which is really worth attention, in the "remark-to-remark" format. This is, first of all, necessary so that those who are interested in the situation can analyze Archbishop Job’s words and look at the situation from a different angle.
You know neither the day nor the hour ...
There is an old proverb in Ukrainian folk culture: “When a Ukrainian was born, a Jew began to cry.” Among the many meanings of this phrase, the following is often the case - sometimes the ability of Ukrainians to get some benefit from a given situation exceeds all Jewish tricks in this direction. Ukrainians are difficult to fool. The Ukrainian himself can outplay anyone, even the very Jews who have always been famous for their talent to benefit "from the air".
In the situation with Ukrainian Orthodoxy, this proverb should be paraphrased. Now it is more relevant to say: “When a Greek was born, a Ukrainian began to cry.” So, no one has yet beaten the Ukrainians so skillfully, coolly and craftily. And let the majority continue to convince themselves that everything is under control, but this is actually not the case. It is not the Ukrainian side that controls it. The Greeks skillfully turned those who should be a subject into an object, and the cherished church independence and other ambitious plans only boil down to the Tomos, which is still unknown how to be worded and whom to be granted.
This theory is confirmed from the very first words of the reply of Archbishop Job Getcha to the question of the “BBC” journalist about the dates of the unification Council. The archbishop answered frankly: “I would not want to make any forecasts, because previous forecasts — that this should have happened before August, in September, then it was said about October — looked ridiculous. There is no need to play some kind of lottery. The main thing is that there is a decision, and before implementing this decision there are certain procedures, certain issues that need to be resolved, and in due time it will appear.”
Remember, on October 11, a lot of Ukrainian journalists came to Istanbul. Then the “UA: Pershy” TV channel even made a broadcast on that day, expecting the Tomos to be bestowed right on the threshold of St. George’s Cathedral in Phanar. In the studio, together with the host, the spokesman for the UOCKP Eustraty Zoria, Protopriest Georgy Kovalenko, the theologian Liudmila Filipovich and many others spoke about what they would do tomorrow when they had already the Tomos. The talk was about the unification Council, the division of the eparchies and the “skins of the dead bears”, however ... the laconic Greeks did not realize the dream of the State Standards and read out several decisions taken on the Ukrainian issue. And no matter how hard the media and politicians headed by the President tried to convince the public over the next days that the Tomos had already been received, it was never there.
Archbishop Job (Getcha) told the sincere truth: previous predictions looked ridiculous. That's right, the Greeks just laughed at the hysteria in Ukraine around this issue. Getting the Tomos was transferred from month to month, as is often the case with the annual announcement and postponement of the upcoming end of the World. However, this is not all that the Greeks laughed at. And the following theses, which Getcha voiced, became a “cold shower” on the hotheads of those who are looking forward to the Tomos.
An independent Church – to an independent state?
Very often, representatives of the UOC KP motivated their existence by the 17th rule of the IV Ecumenical Council. It states the following: “Let the distribution of church parishes be in accordance with the administrative and territorial order.” This phrase taken out of context was used by the Kiev Patriarchate to explain the release of their head and several other clergymen from the ROC in 1992 and the formation of the UOC KP itself. They say that an independent state was formed, which now has the right to an autonomous and independent Church.
Despite this, the position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on this issue, as it turned out, is far from being exactlo so. “... in principle, when a new state appears, it is not an obligation, but it can ask for granting autocephaly to its Church,” Archbishop Job (Getcha) retorted this “dogma” of the UOC KP, noting that this development is completely optional. In principle, this is not surprising for how then to explain the fact that the Phanar very painfully - with curses and anathemas – released new autocephalous Churches. And having learned from the mistakes of past centuries, for some reason it is not in a hurry to form autocephalous churches in the USA, Canada, several European states and in South America. Hence, a question arises: what independence will the newly-formed church structure in Ukraine have then? Can’t it happen there, as, for example, in the Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia?
Archbishop Job explained the Phanar’s unprecedented excitemnet on the Ukrainian church issue as follows: “Because of the annexation of the Crimea and the war in the Donbass, the atmosphere in Ukraine has changed completely. In Ukraine, there are many Orthodox believers who want to be in the Church, but do not want to have ties with the Orthodox Church in Russia because of the conflict in the Donbass ... The sufferings of people affected us most of all. A lot of people in Ukraine have suffered and are suffering from the war in the Donbass. Many people because of political issues, this aggression which they say they experience in Ukraine from Russia and through the policy of the Orthodox Church in Russia, they do not find a place in the UOC MP. People wrote to us: ‘We can’t any more, our conscience does not allow us to go to such churches when we see what is happening in our state’.”
Who is the hierarch talking about? If you believe the statistics of recent years, the UOC has not reduced its number of parishes but on the contrary – increased it. Even official statistics bodies report this, unwillingly. The same applies to the temporarily occupied and already freed territories of Ukraine. That is, according to Archbishop Job’s logic, the liberated areas of Donbass should have poured en masse into the temples of the UOC KP and drove the “Moscow priests” out of cities and villages. However, this did not happen.
As for the sufferings, does the archbishop believe that only believers of the UOC KP and the UAOC are going through them? Does he really think that the UOC parishioners are excluded from the situation in the country? Does he really think that the UOC itself does not react in any way to the existing conflicts and the socio-political crisis? Despite this, such reproaches from the lips of a clergyman of such a rank and official representative of the Constantinople Patriarchate sound like a challenge not only to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but to the tens of millions of citizens of Ukraine who identify themselves with it.
By the way, during May-August 2018, hundreds of thousands of appeals of UOC believers to Patriarch Bartholomew were delivered to Phanar with a request that Constantinople not take any action aimed at shaking the situation in the Ukrainian religious sphere. Delegations of the episcopate, clergy and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who sometimes were not even properly met, came to Istanbul on several occasions. Are the voices of these people worthless in the eyes of the Phanariotes? Are the sufferings of those whose temples have been taken by force, who have been persecuted and persecuted on the religious ground are somehow inferior? It turns out - yes. Then what support or trust from the UOC does the Patriarchate of Constantinople count on in this matter?
Interestingly, Archbishop Job (Getcha) is 100% sure that the action plan that the Phanar has outlined for Ukraine fully responds to existing requests. “The only format that exists in the Orthodox Church over the past centuries is the model of autocephaly. Only the autocephalous church can unite all Orthodox believers in Ukraine,” said Getcha. However, how does this correspond to reality?
If we talk about those who appealed to Patriarch Bartholomew for the Tomos, the UOC KP and the UAOC apparently are not too optimistic about a future common existence. Otherwise, how can one explain the fact that during the entire time from the day of the Synod on Phanar, these two confessions have never gathered for at least some kind of pre-council meeting. According to the head of the UAOC Makary Maletich, no one has held any consultations or meetings in this regard so far.
The UOC, which is the largest religious denomination in Ukraine, whose number is twice as much as the UOC KP and the UAOC combined, is also out of this process. One after another, the eparchies of the UOC express support for the Primate and the existing status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the percentage of adherents of autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the general church sense is extremely low.
In this case, which autocephaly as a model for the unification of believers in Ukraine does Archbishop Job (Getcha) speak about? How can this autocephaly be able to unite those who, even in the period of high probability of receiving it, remain with their positions and views?
"We’ll break them all over the knee"
Even Andrei Kuraev, an opposition to the ROC, had to admit that Phanar’s actions were far from constructive. “There is a certain logic in this, only this logic is absolutely conflict in this situation, and it will not lead to unity. It does not take into account the real diversity of sentiments in this country, so this is a war-like logic rather than of peace in this case,” said Father Andrei. And this is true, because in this situation, the Patriarchate of Constantinople not only radically worsened its relations with the Russian Orthodox Church but also alienated a large part of the Ukrainian flock from various denominations.
First of all, this happened because (according to Archbishop Job (Getcha)), no one recognized the UOC KP and the UAOC, and therefore the Phanar crossed all the expectations of these denominations in this regard. “We did not recognize Filaret and Makary as primates of the Churches, we did not say that the UOC KP or the UAOC are legitimate because it would be very illogical: it would mean that we recognized two parallel church structures in parallel with the third canonical structure, which there would be the Moscow Patriarchate,” said Getcha.
The Kiev Patriarchate or the UAOC are unlikely to remain indifferent to the words that all of them, by the decision of the Synod in Istanbul of October 11, were transferred to the subordination of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the existence of their denominations was abolished. And although no one bothered to make an open resistance to these statements, the UOC KP and the UAOC persistently continue to ignore Archbishop Getcha’s words that neither Filaret nor Makary are now heads of their Churches. Now Filaret is only the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary is an ordinary priest.
By the way, it is interesting how Archbishop Job commented on their recognition as clergymen, as they say, "in the present dignity." “... The canons say that if baptism is recognized, then ordinations are recognized when the bishops return to the bosom of the Church. It was on the basis of this decision that all these bishops were accepted into the bosom of the Church, but, again, not to legitimize their schismt but to unite Ukrainian Orthodoxy,” noted Archbishop Job (Getcha).
I wonder whether those hierarchs of the UOC in the USA and Canada who the Phanariots responsibly reordained knew about this. Most of them were representatives of the UAOC. Why, then, did the Patriarchate of Constantinople ordain them as bishops again, and now — no? Why is its position so inconsistent? The same applies to the head of the UAOC Makary Malietich who, by the way, was banned in the ministry as a priest. Wasn’t the Phanar aware of that?
"UOC" or "Orthodox Church in Ukraine"?
Obvious is the fact that promising church independence in Ukraine, the Panar carefully but consistently deprived the UOC KP and the UAOC of any attributes of independence. All this has already reached the point that even the date of the unification Council, as it turns out, should be determined by Patriarch Bartholomew, and not by someone from Ukraine. Despite the fact that the leadership of the UOC KP and the UAOC are in no hurry to show obedience to the Mother Church, the APU and the Constantinople Orthodox Center will create greenhouse conditions for holding this meeting, with loyal bishops on board.
What will actually be written in the Tomos is kept in secret too. According to Getcha, Ukraine should not expect the status of patriarchate, and this may mean that it will go about a metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine, as it was supposed earlier. Indeed, among the statements about the primacy of the Constantinople throne in the Orthodox world, it was also said that the new structure would have no indication of any kind of self-identification in its name – it would be called the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The talks that the Phanar is struggling with ethnophilicism in this way does not have any arguments, because the Phanariots themselves do not call themselves the Orthodox Church in Turkey. Moreover, even those church units which are under the Phanar in other countries of the world do not bear such names as planned for the future Orthodox Church in Ukraine. For example, in Estonia it is not the OCiE, but the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (Eesti Apostlik-Õigeusu Kirik).
The same applies to local autocephalous Churches. In Greece, it is not the OCiG, but the GOC or in general the Church of Hellas (Εκκλησία της Ελλάδος). In Romania, not the OCiR, but the Romanian Orthodox Church (Biserica Ortodoxă Română). In Poland, it is not the POiP, but the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Polski Autokefaliczny Kościół Prawosławny). In the end, why was it then possible to give the UOC in the United States and Canada such “ethnophilistic” names? According to Archbishop Job’s logic, they should have been called "Orthodox Ukrainians in the United States and Canada", without indicating the national identity.
In addition, the following remark of Archbishop Job causes a certain sense of duality: “According to the canons of the Church, there cannot be two parallel churches in one territory. If it is the case, some may say: who does not want the Ukrainian autocephaly, may remain as the Russian Exarchate or unclear what – it is simply anti-canon. According to the canons of the Church, there should be only one Orthodox church in the territory of one state, and this autocephalous Orthodox Church should unite everyone.”
In this case, it would be interesting to hear explanations about how several patriarchates operate in the territories of different countries of the world, including the Constantinople one. According to what canons? How, for example, in Italy do the clergy and believers of the Russian, Romanian, Serbian and Constantinople Churches peacefully coexist? How do other local Churches open their representations and parishes in territories not under their control? Breaking the canons?
Which is older: Ecclesiastic Kiev or Byzantium?
Finally, I would like to mention the topic of the pentarchy that Vladyka Job touched upon. "The Ecumenical Councils established only five centers for the administration of the Church – in the church language this is called the pentarchy – it is Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem." Indeed, each of these Sees can really be considered a kind of administrative center, since they are all founded by holy apostles. Everything. Except one – Constantinople, which is odd on this list.
If we have no doubt about the establishment of the Sees of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem by the apostles, then there are such doubts about Constantinople. Why? Because the preaching of Apostle Andrew in Byzantium is mentioned in church legends. According to available data, Apostle Andrew received the lot of sermon in the lands of Thrace and Scythia. Geographically, these territories included not only modern Turkey, but also Ukraine. Thus, especially given the mention in “The Tale of Bygone Years”, at that very time Apostle Andrew could easily be even in present-day Kiev, where he prophesied that God's grace would shine on these hills.
In turn, Constantinople, as the administrative centre of the Byzantine Empire, was officially established only in 330. It is clear that the renowned primacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in church matters, for objective reasons, was awarded to Constantinople by the Greeks. However, this primacy was more political than mystical. Otherwise, if you follow the logic of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Kiev and Byzantium could argue for the right to be in the pentarchy? Why not Kiev to be the "Fourth Rome"?