What kind of "Oikoumene" are Ukrainians being dragged into?
The authorities say that the new style of the calendar in the OCU and the UGCC is gratitude to the West for helping in the war against Russia. What is the price of this gratitude?
On February 11, 2023, Ukrainian Ambassador to the Vatican Andriy Yurash said that Ukraine should switch to a “new calendar” in worship in order to thank the countries of the Western spiritual Oikoumene for their help in the fight against Russian aggression.
At the same time, Yurash stressed that it was not only a matter of “gratitude”. According to him, “this transition is a very symbolic act… it is not so much a theological issue but cultural and ideological. We are part of Western culture. Logically, we must confirm our belonging in this dimension.”
In other words, the transition to a “new style” in worship should become a kind of “symbolic act” to consolidate the belonging of a certain part of the Ukrainian people to the “Western spiritual Oikoumene”.
Andriy Yurash is a very iconic figure in the Ukrainian government. It was he who for a long time was the head of the State Department for Religious Affairs, i.e. he was responsible for the interaction of the state with confessions. Therefore, his words are not just lip-service.
True though, he did not specify what kind of "Oikoumene" it is and what its spirituality is. Well, we’ll have to clarify it then.
What is behind the "calendar reform"?
Yurash's words have quite specific confirmation that the "calendar issue" is just one of the steps aimed at dragging Ukrainians into a new union. So, both the OCU and the UGCC are already preparing with might and main to switch to the “new style”. While all the earlier rhetoric about this was considered frivolous, now the situation is different: the calendar for Dumenko and Shevchuk is a matter of identity, not theology.
This "Western identity" should be the exact opposite of the "Eastern identity". In what respects? We have repeatedly heard representatives of the UGCC and the OCU, along with politicians, say that Christmas should be celebrated with Europe, not with Moscow, that the “new calendar” in worship will bring us closer to Western Christians. Now it seems that a variety of forces are actively involved in the process of “rapprochement”.
Thus, a powerful campaign has been launched in Ukraine to discredit and subsequently ban the UOC. At the same time, the UGCC and the OCU talk a lot and often about their unification. We also note the incredible efforts of the Phanar and the Vatican to create a new union.
At the same time, a "calendar reform" is necessary” in all "unifying" processes. What does it imply?
Basically, the purpose of this "reform" is not only to push the Ukrainians into union with Rome. Everything is moving towards Orthodoxy being replaced by a new "spirituality" of Western civilization on our land, as Yurash called it – the Oikoumene. This «spirituality» is now being forged with the active participation of Christian denominations – from the Anglicans and many other Protestant denominations to the Vatican and the Phanar.
This situation is somewhat reminiscent of the one that developed in the 16th-17th centuries, when the Orthodox Christians of present-day Ukraine and Eastern Europe were forcibly drawn into union with Rome.
Then the main efforts to promote it were made by the Jesuits, who sought to spread Catholicism in the East. This campaign, supported by the authorities, which staged an open persecution of Orthodoxy, was especially "successful" in the Commonwealth, where a significant number of Orthodox Christians lived. However, despite all the efforts of the Catholic hierarchs, the gentry and the authorities of various Western states, the Orthodox people did not accept the union, considering it a betrayal of their faith.
The problem is it appears much worse now. After all, if in the 16th-17th centuries the West at least formally remained Christian, and the authorities in Europe supported Christian values. Everything is different now.
"Western Spiritual Oikoumene" and the Anglicans
It is getting more and more obvious with every year that today’s Europe has become the center of the struggle for values that are completely alien to Christianity. The governments of many countries have long decided to legalize gay marriage. In almost all European states, those criticizing homosexuality or even expressing their disagreement with LGBT ideology can end up in jail without any exaggeration.
While until recently all this was promoted exclusively in the secular plane, now the authorities of some European powers are putting enormous pressure on church structures, forcing them not only to recognize the new “gender reality”, but also to give church blessings to perverts.
In early February 2023, the Church of England made a decision to "bless" LGBT couples. However, according to Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, this decision was pushed through by the authorities, who "threatened with parliamentary action" if the Anglican Church refused to perform "church ceremonies" or at least bless homosexuals. Here are his words: "I was twice summoned to the Parliament and threatened with parliamentary action to force same-sex marriage on us, called in England equal marriage."
At the same time, Welby noted that in the UK and in many European countries, the majority of people are atheists: “They are not Christians, not Muslims, not pagans, not Jews, not Hindus. They don't belong to any faith." In other words, it is Western atheists who are now "forcing" believers to recognize what is alien to the nature of the Church. Moreover, we are talking not only about Anglicans, but also about Catholics and Orthodox.
"Western Spiritual Oikoumene" and Catholics
Similar processes are evolving currently in the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Francis has long gained a reputation for being sympathetic to LGBT ideology. In October 2020, he said, “Homosexuals have the right to be in a family. They are children of God and have the right to a family. Nobody should be excluded. What we must do is to pass a law on civil unions. Thus, homosexuals will enjoy legal protection.” These words caused a scandal among Catholics and Christians in general. But soon on January 25, 2023, he says without any scruples that “non-traditional relationships” are not a crime.
It seemed like he didn't say anything. But let's remember that we are talking about the Catholic Church, where every word of the pope has the force of law. Therefore, it is not surprising that already in mid-August 2022, the German “Synodal Path” prepared a 13-page report that called for heeding LGBT and abortion supporters and stop marginalizing them.
On September 20, 2022, Cardinal Josef De Kesel and some other Belgian bishops published a document titled “Being pastorally close to homosexual people is the duty of a Church that excludes no one.”
This document contains a blueprint for a "blessing" rite for gay marriages, including prayers, scripture reading, and a paragraph in which the couple can "express before God how devoted they are to each other."
Moreover, these bishops announced that each diocese would appoint a “spiritual guide” who would “supervise the situation of homosexual people, their parents and families.”
The most interesting thing is that one of the supporters of the church "blessing" of sodomites, the Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny, said that this initiative was agreed with the Pope and that the pontiff supports the blessings of same-sex unions. “Now I know what he thinks about it. This is the most important thing for me. And I know that our recommendations for blessing gay couples, which we recently published, are in line with the opinion of Pope Francis,” said Johan Bonny.
“Worship services” for gays are already in full swing in Germany and other European countries, Catholic priests openly “bless” gay couples, and bishops support homosexuals in churches. There can be no doubt that soon "all this" will reach out to the Orthodox.
"Western Spiritual Oikoumene" and the Orthodox
We remember the scandal that erupted due to the fact that on July 9, 2022, Archbishop Elpidophoros, the head of the Archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the United States, baptized the children of a gay couple in the church of Panagia Faneromeni in the suburbs of Athens. His act caused great discontent among the believers of Greece and even resulted in a statement from the Holy Synod of the Greek Church.
Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus noted that Elpidophoros made "the actual approval of unrepentant sodomites and their promotion within the Church as allegedly 'God-fearing persons'", which "directly offends the anthropology and soteriology of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."
It would seem that the act of the head of the Phanariot Archdiocese in the United States should have caused at least some backlash from the Phanar. However, Patriarch Bartholomew, on the contrary, expressed support for Archbishop Elpidophoros. The National Herald reported that during the meeting of the Synod of the Phanar, “despite the opinion of the synodals, the patriarch ignored this issue (the baptism of the children of a gay couple – Ed.) and did not allow anything about it to be included in the communiqué. The patriarch said that "we cannot change archbishops in America every three years."
However, as it turned out later, the point was not only that Bartholomew did not want to change Elpidophoros. Everything is much sadder, since there is evidence that the head of the Phanar also backs the LGBT agenda. On October 3, 2022, commenting on the baptism of gay children, one of the most authoritative theologians of the Phanar, a person close to Bartholomew, Archdeacon of the “Ecumenical Throne” John Chrysavgis stated that “today we, theologians, cannot support our views only by looking at the past, no matter how sacred and convincing it may be. We must also respect modern science, medicine and psychiatry."
In other words, if today medicine says that LGBT people fit the norm, then the Church should say the same.
What if medicine and science say that euthanasia is also ok? What should the Church say in this case? This is not an idle question, because the same Justin Welby says that the movement towards euthanasia in Europe is becoming more and more commonplace, and very soon the Church will be faced with the need to approve "assisted suicides".
Quote: “We live in a completely different culture, in a financially richer world than 30 years ago. We have replaced morality and Christian faith with personal control over our bodies. The birth of genetically engineered children is not far off. And death is something that, according to many, we have the right to choose at our own discretion and at the time we want. Even my predecessor, George Carey, spoke out strongly in favor of assisted suicide in the House of Parliament – the House of Lords."
Therefore, it is easy to guess that if the Anglicans recognized LGBT marriages under pressure from the authorities, they will also recognize euthanasia.
"Western Spiritual Oikoumene" and Ukraine
Given all of the above, is it any wonder that the process of dragging Ukrainians into the union is taking place in Ukraine in parallel with the process of promoting LGBT values and everything that Yurash calls “Western spiritual Oikoumene”?
For example, back in 2018, Dumenko said that the issue of recognition of LGBT people by Ukrainians needs to be worked on. For what? “So that we give up conservatism, so that we depart from this Russian tradition, so that the Church is open. Because we are moving towards Europe, and Russian Orthodoxy is very conservative and far from people. And my position is that we must be with people, understand their problems,” Dumenko said then. In this case, as well as with the “calendar issue”, as we see, it is about moving away from Eastern Orthodoxy, which Dumenko calls “Russian”.
At the same time, Epifaniy emphasized that the issue of LGBT support is “a difficult issue not to be raised at the beginning of our journey, because Ukrainian society, you know, is still conservative about this issue. Now we need to work on this so that the Ukrainian society takes it naturally. It's a long way. Of course, we will look for answers to difficult questions.”
It seems that Epifaniy did find these answers.
Just as the UGCC did. Thus, on October 10, 2022, the Churcher telegram channel published a message that a manual was being distributed within the UGCC on how to work with representatives of different gender orientations in Catholic schools.
Now the Ukrainian Uniates are sure that “according to Christianity, gender is something separate from biological sex. Gender is usually freely determined, and gender is given by the Lord. Gender can change and oscillate between a woman and a man, and this is a subjective personal choice.”
Sympathy for LGBT people is nothing new for the UGCC. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic University, whose rector is Boris Hudziak, has long earned a reputation as a center for gay propaganda.
In addition, the same Hudziak, whose father was close to politicians from the US Democratic Party, wrote recommendations to two candidates for episcopal consecration in the UGCC – Mykola Semenishyn and Andriy Khimyak. The first was previously vice-rector of the Uniate Theological Seminary in Ivano-Frankivsk and the confessor of the Three Saints Uniate Seminary in Kyiv, and the second is an acting Secretary of the Synod of the UGCC. Both Semenishyn and Khimyak are called regulars at closed Uniate gay gatherings. Accordingly, their consecration is another evidence that the leadership of the UGCC has set a course for the legalization of LGBT people.
- There is an ongoing "dialogue" between Rome and the Phanar, the OCU and the UGCC on unification.
- All this is accompanied by the promotion of LGBT ideology within the Christian denominations.
- The authorities of Ukraine are doing everything to outlaw the UOC, and at the same time they say that Ukrainians must change the calendar in order to join the "Western Spiritual Oikoumene."
Consequently, these facts prove that the declared change of the calendar is not just a change of dates, but a movement towards the substitution of Christianity by a kind of surrogate called “Western Spiritual Oikoumene”, which has nothing to do with Christ, the Gospel and the Church. And if you do not fight it, this surrogate will soon become our reality.