"Dignity-faced" or "Janus-faced": Why Petro Poroshenko bets on Uniates
The ex-President no longer hides the fact he wants to get OCU united with Greek-Catholics.
On September 1, 2019, the former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, took part in the celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church of St. Sophia in Rome. Shortly before that, he visited the spiritual center of the UGCC in Zarvanitsa. What do these curtsies of the main lobbyist of Tomos and the creator of the OCU towards the Greek Catholics mean?
Even during the presidential election campaign, Poroshenko’s spin-doctors began to fashion him as bearing similarity to Holy Prince Vladimir.
St. Vladimir baptized Russia? Well, you need to make Poroshenko the second baptist of Ukraine, Rus, Ukraine-Rus, whatever. In turn, the head of the OCU, Epiphany Dumenko, declares that granting of the Tomos is the second baptism of Ukraine.
And to make the image of the presidential candidate even brighter, they decided to include his name in the list of outstanding historical figures.
“Your name, Mr. President, will forever go down in the history of the Ukrainian people and the Church alongside the names of the rulers, our princes Vladimir the Great, Yaroslav the Wise, Konstanty Ostrogski and Hetman Ivan Mazepa,” Dumenko said at the Tomos-signing ceremony.
What did the above people go down in history with?
- Holy Prince Vladimir the Great baptized Rus. He united under his authority the scattered principalities on a vast territory and created one of the most powerful states of the then world. He built a lot of temples, founded the educational system, and taught the people by his own example of mercy and the fulfillment of God's commandments.
- Holy Prince Yaroslav the Wise built in Kiev the main temple in Rus – the majestic St. Sophia Cathedral – and many others. He founded the first Russian monasteries. He built dozens of cities, including Yuryev (Tartu), Yaroslavl (in the Volga region and the Carpathian region), Novgorod-Seversky and others. He published the first code of Rus Church and civil law: the Church Statute and Ruska Pravda (Russian Truth). Under his rule, a developed system of schools was created in which children from all social layers could receive education. Under him, the state reached such a peak that the western chronicler of the 11th century, Adam of Bremen, called Kiev the rival of Constantinople, "the most beautiful pearl".
- The great Lithuanian hetman Konstanty Ostrogski won 63 victories over the Tatars and was a great patron of the Orthodox Church before the Lithuanian authorities. It was thanks to his cares and solicitations that the legal status of the Church was firmly established in the country, actions were taken and partially implemented to raise the moral and spiritual level of the Orthodox people, the position of bishops and clergy was strengthened, and the interference of secular persons in church affairs was limited.
We will keep silent about hetman Ivan Mazepa due to an ambiguous assessment of this historical figure.
What did Petro Poroshenko join this line with? Let us recall his merits and, first of all, the most prominent election pledges in 2014.
- To end ATO in a few hours. After this pledge there were Ilovaysk and Debaltsevo coppers in which thousands of people were lost. Soldiers and civilians are dying now – the war is still going on.
- To provide soldiers in the anti-terrorist operation zone with a salary of UAH 1,000 per day. At the 2014 exchange rate of 11 UAH / $ 1, this amounted to about $ 2,500 per month. In 2018, military personnel in the ATO zone received approximately 17,000 UAH per month, or about $ 600 at the then exchange rate.
- To sell Roshen and other business assets. Nothing was sold. Furthermore, Poroshenko’s income over the years of his presidency, according to his declaration, increased 95 times.
- Not to open criminal cases against journalists. But there were such cases.
- To ensure the exchange rate of 10 UAH / $ 1. At the end of Poroshenko’s presidential term, it reached 28 UAH / $ 1.
- To block all offshore assets. In 2017, the OCCRP Center for the Investigation of Corruption and Organized Crime published the so-called “Panama Archive,” where Poroshenko was listed as the owner of a number of offshore companies, to which Roshen was also incorporated.
- To make Zhitomir the capital of Ukrainian space. No comments.
The results of Poroshenko’s reign were a multiple increase in tariffs, a massive increase in prices, a slump in production, and migration of millions of Ukrainians abroad to earn their living. According to some reports, every fifth Ukrainian of working age left the country. According to the IMF, Ukraine under Poroshenko became the poorest country in Europe, and according to the statement of the International Anti-Corruption Bureau “Transparency International” – the most corrupt one.
In the spring of 2019, the Public Organization Public Audit made up a table of the results of Poroshenko’s rule.
But despite all this, Epiphany Dumenko puts Poroshenko on a par with the great rulers of the past.
Basically, the Orthodox are patient and for them the material impoverishment of an entire country is not so important as the fact that Poroshenko turned out to be an open persecutor of the Church. “My dear, you have nothing to do here. There is nothing for your Church to do <...> Go home to Russia,” he said on November 7, 2018. And these were not just words. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church survived the atrocities of the radicals, the raider seizure of temples, anti-church laws, criminal cases against clergy, interrogations and “conversations” in the SBU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. All this was organized by the former President.
In the conditions of a complete failure in domestic and foreign policy, economy and social sphere, Poroshenko tried in the 2019 elections to bet on the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. And he managed to create it from two schismatic denominations – the UOC-KP and the UAOC. But the bet went awry. Poroshenko lost the presidential election to showman Vladimir Zelensky with a crushing score: about 50% behind the winner.
“My dear, you have nothing to do here. There is nothing for your Church to do <...> Go home to Russia."
Petro Poroshenko – to the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
And now this actor, apparently, decided to change his bet and began to obviously play footsie with the Uniates.
One can recall his visit to Lvov, where he delivered his speech at the Ukrainian Catholic University on April 29, 2019, and called this educational institution a symbol of Ukraine and the valour of the nation: “I am staying in the holy walls of the UCU, the walls that for every real Ukrainian are a symbol of the greatness of our nation, a symbol of our country, with one goal – to thank you that you have made a very important decision for the country, for me, and for yourselves – to support me in the presidential election.”
In July 2019, Poroshenko visited Zarvanitsa-based spiritual center of the UGCC, where he called on most Orthodox Ukrainians to join the communal prayer with the Greek Catholics. He told the leader of the UGCC, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, that he was counting on cooperation: “I will just be glad if our cooperation continues. Indeed, only together we can find the answer to new risks, challenges and threats confronting Ukraine.” Everyone knows the essence of this cooperation: Shevchuk, almost more than Dumenko, campaigned for Poroshenko during his election campaign.
On September 1, 2019, the ex-President attended the celebrations in Rome on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Here, he already bluntly declared the unification of the OCU and the Greek Catholic Church on the basis of state interests: “Today, the Greek Catholic Church plays an extremely important role in the unity of the state. And for me, the unification of our Churches is extremely important – I’m here as an Orthodox, most of the present here are Greek Catholics, but we are together because we pray for Ukraine.”
After an exclamation “Glory to Ukraine!” someone shouted “Glory to Petro!” In this photo you can see Poroshenko’s facial expression after these words.
Poroshenko failed spectacularly at the election. Now he is just an MP. But it is likely he has been pregnant with an idea to return to power again. On August 29, 2019, during the first meeting of the newly elected Verkhovna Rada, the deputy from the party “Civil Servant”, Liza Bogutskaya, wrote to someone in the messenger that the ex-President was preparing a coup.
In the chat there are the following words: “Helen, I will write a post about this later. Just fancy an FB attack on the entire faction of CS ("Civil Servant" – Ed.). I just want to write to you – we leave [Arsen] Avakov (as head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – Ed.). There is no other way. Poroshenko is preparing a coup. And he really means it. He expects us to dismiss Avakov to let it off immediately. Today, most likely, we will remove immunity from him but leave him as a Minister of the Interior. I am very upset, but there is no other way. He will stay until December. It is in December that Petia (Petro P. – Ed.) is preparing a coup.”
We don’t know whether Poroshenko is preparing a coup or not. But the very appearance of such a message can say a lot.
During the presidential election, Poroshenko tried again to enter power on the shoulders of the Tomos and the OCU, created by him. The bet was a failure. Is he now trying to make his comeback already on the shoulders of the Ukrainian Catholics of the Orthodox rite? The Uniates have enough experience of active participation in coups d'etat – the UOJ has repeatedly written about their, to put it mildly, significant contribution to the organization of two Ukrainian Maidans.
But there’s something else to think about: is Poroshenko’s wavering from the Orthodox to the Uniates a sign of his two-facedness, double-mindedness?
“He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (Jacob 1:8).
So if such a person founded or, at least, took an active part in the founding of the OCU, it is time to think about what this organization is. The name of Petro Poroshenko is inscribed in the Tomos and this fact does not remain silent – this is history. But if a politician can allow himslef to be hypocritical, can a religious organization, calling itself the Church, stoop to this? Can the leaders of such an organization, calling themselves Orthodox, strive to unite with the Greek Catholics? Epiphany Dumenko declares that he can. But St. Theodosius of the Caves says he cannot.
“Do not join the Latin (Catholic) faith, do not adhere to their rites, escape their communion, and avoid all their teachings and abhor their customs. Beware, children, the crooked believers and what they say, for our land is filled with them. If anyone saves his soul, then only living in the Orthodox faith, for there is no other faith better than our pure and holy Orthodox Faith” (from the testament of St. Theodosius to Grand Prince Iziaslav).
Which of them shall we listen to?