Christ and Barabbas: What Met. Onufriy and Filaret wished to Zelensky
The Euro-Atlantic course or life according to the Commandments of Christ – what the primates of two Ukrainian confessions wish to the newly elected President.
After the sensational victory of Vladimir Zelensky in the presidential election, the Primate of the UOC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy and “honorary patriarch” of the OCU Filaret congratulated him one day apart.
From these two texts we can draw conclusions about the hopes and aspirations of the representatives of different Orthodox denominations, associated with the name of the new President. What do they expect from Vladimir Zelensky and, ultimately, from the new Ukrainian government in general?
It is known that out of the fullness of the heart speaks the mouth. This means that even small and seemingly insignificant reservations (as they say, “according to Freud”) can tell a lot about a person, about what is in his/her heart. In this sense, it is very interesting to compare the congratulatory messages of Metropolitan Onufriy and “patriarch” Filaret. In fact, these texts contain the answers to the questions posed above.
What His Beatitude Onufriy said
1. Metropolitan Onufriy emphasized that Zelensky received a great deal of credibility from the people. The people, in the words of His Beatitude, strive for unity, peace and prosperity, and also hope to "eradicate everything that contributes to discord and enmity within the Ukrainian state".
In other words, our Primate once again declared that the Church wants peace and unity. He did not say a word about war, hostilities, aggression and malice. The Lord Jesus Christ is the God of peace, not of war.
His Beatitude emphasized that within the country there are things that divide the society and contribute to hostility between Ukrainians. This is not only a church problem but also linguistic, historical and cultural problems. It is impossible not to take them into account and, at the same time, it is impossible to forcibly impose the opinion of one part of Ukraine upon another part. A strong state is able to find compromises and solutions that unite the people, not separate them.
2. The second thesis of His Beatitude is the most important one, since it contains the hope that the new President of Ukraine "will act as a guarantor of the observance by state authorities of the Constitution, of the principle of non-interference of the state in the affairs of the Church, defined by the Basic Law, as well as the rights and freedoms of believers of all denominations".
In other words, Metropolitan Onufriy asked the President to leave the Church alone and to engage in his direct duties. For example, to ensure compliance with the Constitution, according to which the Church is separated from the state.
"You can count on the unconditional support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in all matters that will contribute to the establishment and development of the spiritual and moral values of Ukrainian society."
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy
As publicist Sergey Komarov rightly noted, “the lines of appeal make one feel pain and suffering that the UOC has experienced from the very beginning of the ‘Tomos’ epic, started by Petro Poroshenko”. Indeed, “the Church at all times had only one desire in relation to the state: to be left alone. It will pray for power, educate its parishioners to be exemplary law-abiding citizens, bless warriors and in case of any civil unrest will always act as a peacemaker – if only it would be allowed to calmly pray and glorify the Risen Christ”.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus said almost the same thing in his congratulatory address and expressed "sincere hope for the completion of the disappointing period of oppression and discrimination of citizens of Ukraine belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church".
The same idea has been voiced by Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Vladimir Zelensky is asked just to understand in human terms that pain and travails are inflicted on the Church.
3. At the very end of his congratulatory letter, Metropolitan Onufriy made it clear to the future President that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the Church of Christ and not of politicians. His Beatitude guaranteed the ecclesiastical support for the Ukrainian authorities only in those issues "that will contribute to the establishment and development of the spiritual and moral values of Ukrainian society". Thereby, he once again reminded that the mission of the Church is to lead a person in particular and society as a whole to Christ, that the Church does not play political games and is not going to play in the future. She will not sanctify what She disagrees with, nor shall it maintain with Her authority what contradicts the Gospel.
What Filaret said
Absolutely different words that convey a different mood appear in a congratulatory address of “honorable patriarch” of the OCU Filaret. Basically, he did not say anything new for us and unusual for himself, but reading his passages still leaves an unpleasant aftertaste.
1. Filaret had long and firmly practiced the ability to drastically change his opinion depending on the situation until it became his second nature. More recently, he wrote letters to the President and the Parliament of Ukraine with a request to solicit before Patriarch Bartholomew the granting of the Tomos to the UOC KP, which actually prompted them to violate the Constitution of the country, while today he calls on the new President "to observe the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws".
More recently, Filaret didn’t care about the opinion of compatriots who didn’t want the President and Parliament to interfere in the affairs of the Church, while today he says that the Ukrainian authorities should take care of the “welfare of the Ukrainian people, defend the rights and freedoms of citizens” and “fulfill their duties in the interests of all compatriots".
Why did “patriarch” Filaret not say a word about this before for five years? Because the power acted in his interests. However, as soon as the prospect of a different policy line loomed, his rhetoric immediately changed, too.
2. In the third paragraph, Filaret made interesting historical parallels, urging Vladimir Zelensky to continue the state cause of “St. Vladimir the Great, St. Yaroslav the Wise, Vladimir Monomakh, Daniil of Galicia, Bogdan Khmelnitsky, Ivan Mazepa, Mikhail Grushevsky, Simon Petliura”.
Honestly, a few names from this list do not really fit into that “state cause” that Filaret implies. For example, Bogdan Khmelnitsky is a person thanks to whom Ukraine became part of the Russian Empire.
Ivan Mazepa is a great friend of Peter the Great, who participated in both campaigns of the Russian sovereign against Azov, the second cavalier of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called founded by Peter, who helped Peter in the beginning of the Northern War. Over the 20 years of his service to the Moscow state, Mazepa became one of the richest people not only in Ukraine but also in Russia. He owned 19,654 yards in Ukraine and 4,117 yards (about 100,000 souls in total) in southern Russia. True, Mazepa later betrayed his friend, defected to the Swedes and was anathematized.
“I want to sincerely congratulate you on your victory and express hopes that you will be conscious of the confidence of our people and will continue the state-defined pro-European and Euro-Atlantic course of Ukraine.”
“Honorary Patriarch” of OCU Filaret
The figure of Grushevsky, who in 1919 brought sincere repentance to the Soviet government for his counter-revolutionary activities, and in 1929 received the status of a full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, can also be quite controversial. Even after his arrest, trial and release, he quietly lived and worked in Moscow until he died at one of the resorts of Kislovodsk in 1934.
Even stranger is the mention of the name of Simon Petliura as the builder of the Ukrainian state. This is especially true of his early views. For example, politician and writer Vladimir Vinnichenko wrote that the main direction of work of the magazine Ukrainian Life published by Petliura was “propaganda among Ukrainians of the slogan ‘Fight for Russia until the bitter end’”. Petliura claimed that he favored the unification of all (including Galician) Ukrainians under the auspices of Tsarist Russia. Later, Petliura headed the Government of the Directory and, in an agreement with Poland, agreed to establish the border between Poland and Ukraine along the Zbruch River, thereby recognizing the entry of Galicia and Volyn into Poland.
We can cite other examples of not quite “state-oriented” activities of the people listed by Filaret, but these are enough. It seems that the "patriarch" simply named the first few names that came to mind, without thinking about what was behind them. And it is completely incomprehensible why Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevich and Dmitry Dontsov were not included in the list of Filaret. Doesn't he want the new President of Ukraine to be like these people?
3. Further, the “honorary patriarch” mentioned that Zelensky should continue “the state-defined, pro-European and Euro-Atlantic course of Ukraine”. This must be done because “the Ukrainians have defended the above values on the Maidan more than once, and they continue to defend them in the war with the Russian aggressor”. In other words, Filaret believes that dying for the Euro-Atlantic alliance is normal. Well, it is also remarkable that all the Filaret-remembered values are limited to the state, European and Euro-Atlantic course of Ukraine. Strange values for a person who calls himself a "patriarch".
4. Filaret elaborated on his favorite topic – the war and the fight against the aggressor. True, perhaps for the first time in the past few years, he remembered unity and national consolidation. And in the context of his last speeches, quite unexpectedly he quoted Yaroslav the Wise, who urged his children to live in love. For five years now Mr. Denisenko has been talking about the war, and now he remembered about love ...
5. Well, in the end, the “honorary patriarch” assured Zelensky that his denomination will support the new government in the issues of “consolidating all pro-Ukrainian and state forces”. Pay attention to this very significant point, because here Filaret clearly defined the main mission of his religious organization – politics, politics, and again politics.
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The congratulatory address of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy is a text written by a pastor who is concerned about the Church. The Primate of the UOC speaks of peace and unity, the need to seek compromises and unite the Ukrainian society. But the main thing is the fate of the Church and the cessation of persecution. This position is not surprising because history teaches us that the country, in which the Church of Christ is persecuted, is doomed. In addition, His Beatitude emphasized that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is out of politics. This means that the future President can be supported only in those issues that do not contradict the teachings of Christ.
The congratulatory address of “patriarch” Filaret is the words of a sophisticated politician, but not the words of a disciple of Christ. War, aggression, corruption, Euro-Atlantic alliance – but nothing about morality or spiritual values. Nothing was said about peace except that "we do not need the peace in captivity". True, Filaret calls for unity. But the unity in his understanding is not based on the elimination of what brings discord and hostility in the Ukrainian society but on the "consolidation of pro-Ukrainian forces".
In other words, His Beatitude wishes peace for Ukraine and calm for the Church, while Filaret stands for the continuation of the course, embarked by the previous President. With his congratulations, Metropolitan Onufriy says that the Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, while Filaret, in the same way as before, demands to release Barabbas.