"Patriarch" Filaret does not want to dance to Patriarch Bartholomew's tune
A letter by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, convening the "Unification Council", has been published in the media. It reveals very interesting details of the "Council".
The letter by Patriarch Bartholomew to the participants of the “Unification Council” raises many questions. It has a lot of unexpected details. But the most interesting thing is that these details are contrary to what the “Synod” of the UOC KP decided on the threshold of the “Council”.
Here is the text of the letter by Patriarch Bartholomew.
This is the text of the letter, which was received by the UOC hierarchs, therefore it mentions the name of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry, whose title Patriarch Bartholomew somehow lowered to “His Eminence”. It is possible that a different text was sent to UOC KP and UAOC representatives, but it is unlikely that it would differ substantially from this text.
Local Council vs. Bishops’ Council
It must be said that in the Church the Local Council or the Bishops’ Council may be held. The specific feature of the Local Council is that, along with the bishops, the priests and laity who are pre-elected and delegated by the eparchial council or another church body of the eparchy take part in it. Actually, thus the very “church people” can influence the decisions of the Church.
And Patriarch Bartholomew convenes precisely the Local, not the Bishops’ Council. This is evidenced by the fact that, according to the instructions of the Phanariots, each bishop must take with him to this event one cleric and one layman. And here the first bewilderment arises. In fact, when a full-fledged Local Council is held, each eparchy delegates the ruling bishop and a certain number of priests and laity elected by the eparchial council or another body of the eparchy. This is a certain element of democracy. Accordingly, the priest delegate receives his authority to participate in the council from the clergy, and the layman delegate from the laity. If the bishop simply takes two more people to come with, then the very meaning of their participation in the Council is lost, as the bishop will definitely tag along those who will vote as he does. The whole essence of the participation of the priests and laity in the Local Council is that they can express a point of view that does not coincide with the bishops’ one. In other words, this is the notorious "voice of the people".
But the invitation letter by Patriarch Bartholomew said nothing about how the participants of the “Unification Council” should be determined from the clergy and laity. The Phanar’s initial logic is clear: they want the “Unification Council” to be as representative and global as possible. But there is one more thing: the Byzantines deliberately do so in order to create some “excuses”, on the basis of which they can recognize the “Council” not legitimate if something goes not according to their plan. For example, they will not elect the right primate – it could be said that the voting priests and laity did not receive their authority from their eparchy by proper procedure. Given the Phanar’s requirement that the clergy and laity with the right to vote be twice as many as the bishops, all this does not seem to be just fiction.
But the most interesting thing is that knowing the Phanar’s requirement for the priests and laity (with the right to vote) to participate in the “Council”, the “Synod” of the UOC KP takes the opposite decision at its meeting on December 6! Namely: at the “Unification Council”, only “bishops” will have the right to vote. Here is a quote: “During the preparation of the regulations of the Council, it should be taken into account that it is the Bishops' Council of the single local autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, therefore only Ukrainian hierarchs-members of the Council should have the right to vote. The presence of the clergy, monasticism and laity is possible only without the right to vote. The participation of delegates from the clergy, monasticism and laity with the right to vote provides for a Local Council, which can be represented only on the basis of equality and proportionality (depending on the number of parishes), which complicates the procedure for convening the Council, especially within a specific time frame.”
This is a clear disobedience to the "Mother Church". The Kiev Patriarchate says that it is impossible to hold elections of delegates to the “Council” within the designated time frame, therefore it will consist only of “bishops”. But doesn't the Patriarchate of Constantinople know about the timing and impossibility of holding such elections? Of course, he does. Nevertheless, it requires that both “bishops” and “clergy” with the laity vote at the “Council”. Again, we remind you that there are twice as many of the latter than the "bishops".
Filaret against the right to vote for the hierarchs of the Mother Church
It should be noted that the UOC KP insists that only Ukrainian “bishops” can vote at the “Unification Council”: “When preparing the regulations of the Council, it should be taken into account that this is the Bishops' Council of the single local autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, therefore only Ukrainian hierarchs – members of the Council should have the right to vote.”
This is already a clear attack on the three Phanar exarchs, who, according to the letter by Patriarch Bartholomew, will hold the “Council” itself. Moreover, if you follow the logic of this document, only the exarchs will coordinate the work of the “Council”, we'll talk about that later. It is hypothetically possible to imagine that the chairperson of an event like the Council does not have the right to vote. But practically this does not happen. Moreover, as a rule, in the work of collegial bodies, if the voting results in an equal number of votes “for” and “against”, it is the vote of the chairman that is decisive. But here we see how the Kyiv Patriarchate is trying to push through some very strange decision-making procedure.
What will the “Council” participants vote for?
The Phanar informs that the delegates of the “Unification Council” will not vote at all for the head of the future Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine (OCiU). They will only shortlist three candidates for the primate: "We invite Your Eminence ... to form a ballot of three candidates in the Unification Council." What will further happen to this list, who will choose one of the three candidates is unknown. And this is the second "bewilderment". After all, it is quite logical to assume that the Phanar decided to reserve the ultimate authority to make the final choice. Thus, as the UOJ suggested in its numerous publications, the Primate of the OCiU will be actually appointed from Istanbul. This order of things categorically does not suit the UOC KP, which, by the decision of its Synod, claims something completely different.
Quotation: “The nomination of candidates for the Primate of the single local autocephalous UOC should take place according to a procedure that will be approved by the Council and will envisage that each candidate should receive open support of a certain number of Council members during the nomination. One member of the Council can only give support to one candidate. The number of candidates will be determined on the basis of the nomination procedure.” It is not clearly formulated, but one thing is obvious – there will be not three candidates, as Patriarch Bartholomew ordered, but as many as the “Council” (read the UOC KP, which will have a majority at the “Council”) will determine. Moreover, the UOC KP says that the voting should not be secret but open, in which representatives of the UOC KP will have much less courage to vote for someone other than their “patriarch”.
Who will "preside"?
Patriarch Bartholomew says quite clearly and definitely that the “Council” will be presided by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and appointed early exarchs. They will actually constitute the presidium of the “Council”. That is, none of the Ukrainian "hierarchs" will be allowed to go to the "Council" board. But the Kiev Patriarchate is against. It wants it different. A quote from the decisions of the Synod of the UOC KP: “Considering that the Unification Council of the UOC KP, the UAOC and the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate will be held in Ukraine, the Presidium of the Council to preside over its work should include representatives from these Churches, in particular, Patriarch Filaret of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine as Primate of the UOC KP”.
Again, the flagrant disobedience to the "Mother Church"! Patriarch Bartholomew says that the Phanar’s reps will preside at the "Council", while "Patriarch" Filaret rules out that he and his people will do it. It is clear that the question of chairmanship is a matter of principle. It is the chairman who will put to the vote those questions and candidates that he deems appropriate. The Phanar insists that this should be the Metropolitan of France, who does not speak either Russian or Ukrainian. He can calmly answer any claims to his leadership at the “Council”: “I do not understand you”.
What functions will Basileus have?
It follows from the letter by Patriarch Bartholomew that the “Most Respectable Petro Poroshenko” will be present at the “Unification Council”. Will he have a say? The question is open. On the one hand, the words that the “Council” will be held in its “honorary presence” indicate that he will not have the right to vote. However, why can’t he be the very layman who (according to the invitation letter) will arrive at the “Council” with some kind of “bishop” and have the right to vote? In any case, “Most Respectable Petro Poroshenko” will have the opportunity to speak before the attendees as many times as he likes and urge them to vote as the President considers necessary. And who is against is not a patriot of Ukraine. For the UOC KP, the presence of the Guarantor of the Constitution is not very pleasant, since he has no reason to seek the election of Mr Denisenko as Primate of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, but they cannot forbid him to come to the “Сouncil” by the decision of the “Synod”.
Stiletto of non-canonicity from the Phanar
The word “canonical” is repeated several times in the letter by Patriarch Bartholomew when it comes to electing the head of the OCiU. "The canonical election of the Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine ...", "... waiting for the election in a canonical way ...". Why this word? Is it possible to assume that such an election can be non-canonical (if, of course, to forget that all the Phanar’s actions, including the “Unification Council” are blatantly non-canonical)? But the fact is that this is a signal to the Kiev Patriarchate: if the matter does not go according to our plan, that is, the candidate who does not suit us is elected, his election will be recognized as non-canonical. There are a lot of “excuses”.
The conclusion from all this is one: Patriarch Bartholomew and "Patriarch" Filaret have clashed. Both are experienced and hard-boiled politicians. About 6,000 parishes of the UOC KP and the UAOC and what can be taken away from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are at stake. For this, everything can be used: intrigues, secret agreements (the Presidential Administration refused to disclose the agreement with the Phanar), blackmail and Office games. They announced the “Council” to be held on December 15, and neither the procedure for electing delegates, nor the voting procedure, nor the draft Statutes of the AOCiU, nor the text of the Tomos, nor the text of the agreement between P. Poroshenko and His Holiness – nothing is known. All this is evidence of the unscrupulousness of all the participants in the “Unification Council” and the entire project of the AOCiU. Godly deeds are not done in that way. An honest person has nothing to hide. Every sensible person must ask themselves: what will the “Church” born in such unclear circumstances, in the struggle of people who are only thinking about how to deceive each other, be like? Where will it lead its believers?
Well ... While the participants of the “Unification Council” are preparing for the final battle, it makes sense for the Orthodox to read psalms ... “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night!” (Ps. 1, 1-2), etc.