Does Phanar curse His Beatitude Onuphry?
Phanar’s Archimandrite announced that his Church curses His Beatitude and all those who support him. Are we now under anathema? And what does it actually imply?
“May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” (Num. 24: 9).
Archimandrite of Phanar Romanos Anastasiadis announced that the Church of Constantinople curses His Beatitude Onuphry, as well as everyone who considers him the legitimate Primate of the UOC. What does this opus mean? Are we all from now on all under anathema? Is this the actual stance of Phanar, and if so – what consequences can it lead to? Let's try to figure it out.
On the namesake day of His Beatitude Onuphry, when the Primate of the UOC was congratulated by the primates and hierarchs of many Local Churches, which addressed him only as the Metropolitan of Kyiv, a certain Phanariotic Archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis published a provocative publication (to put it mildly) on his Facebook page. The photo of His Beatitude Onuphry was stamped with “Fake”, while the text of the post read as follows, “The curse of the Mother of the Holy Great Church of Christ not only on him, an unrepentant, uncanonical, miserable and unfortunate traitor to his people, an illegal passenger of the church ship of Ukraine, but also on all those who continue to reproduce the title ‘Kyiv’ (Metropolitan – Ed.), usurped (by His Beatitude Onuphry – Ed.) despite the clear prohibition of the Church."
Who is Archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis?
Anastasiadis is a resident of Crete and a cleric of the Metropolitanate of Rethymno and Avlopotamos. According to the spokesman of the UOC, Fr. Nikolai Danilevich, he is a very famous person in the Greek Orthodox world. Anastasiadis feels free to harshly criticize the bishops and even the primates of the Local Churches. For example, a not-face-to-face discussion with the head of the Albanian Church, Archbishop Anastasios, on the recognition of the OCU was published in print media. Responding to the attacks of the Phanar сleric in one Greek newspaper, Archbishop Anastasios called him in his article a "mouthpiece" (φερέφωνο), through which some influential patrons of the Cretan archimandrite whistle their ideas.
However, Anastasiadis is not a marginal. For Phanar, he is quite a “handshake” person and is regularly mentioned on the official page of the Metropolitanate of Rethymno and Avlopotamos – perhaps, because this person selflessly defends the interests of his church structure and does not particularly care how.
Let's fancy a clergyman of a Local Church who posts his avatar on a social network, on which, besides himself, someone else is depicted. This may be the case, but most likely it will be a photograph with the head of this Local Church or his spiritual father or one of the respected hierarchs. But Romanos Anastasiadis, a cleric of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, exhibits his photo with Sergei (Epiphany) Dumenko, head of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”. At the same time, he adds a heart in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, approximately at the nominal place for a thimble cross. In fact, explicit self-positioning.
All this speaks of a certain fanatical attachment of the author to Sergei Dumenko and his organization. A glimpse at his Facebook feed allows concluding that the poor archimandrite is mainly engaged in mud-slinging against the ROC and the UOC and does it in a very clumsy and blatant manner in the worst traditions of our domestic OCU propagandists. He offends both bishops and the Church as a whole in the terms being by no means appropriate for a person in the priesthood.
What does this opus imply?
There are two options:
- A nervous breakdown that occurred when the poor archimandrite saw an abundant manifestation of universal love for His Beatitude Onuphry on his Angel Day and congratulations from many hierarchs and Primates of Local Churches.
- Putting out a feeler for the official Phanar in terms of its reaction to possible "canonical" interdictions from Patriarch Bartholomew and the entire Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Of course, a lot says that the first option is more probable: both the reputation of Archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis himself and the tone of his publications on Facebook, coupled with the fact that the imposition of bans on Metropolitan Onuphry is Phanar’s insanity, which is going to spit further than its decision to cancel the transfer of the Kiev Metropolis into the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1686, and which is definitely going to discredit Phanar in the eyes of the entire Orthodox community.
However, the second option cannot be discounted. "Banning" Metropolitan Onuphry from the priesthood, the "deprivation" of his dignity or even "excommunication" is a completely logical continuation of the Phanar's policy towards Ukraine. Of course, this seems inasmuch incredible and impossible to us as it was three years ago when Phanar would call people without any priestly rank canonical bishops. After all, this is what the Church of Constantinople did no matter how incredible and impossible it might have seemed then.
Let us remind you that before the creation of the OCU, Patriarch Bartholomew ordered His Beatitude Onuphry to come to the "Unification Council", which Metropolitan Onuphry refused. What's next? Banning and falling on his face? The fact that Patriarch Bartholomew is not going to give up on the Ukrainian issue is evidenced by his numerous statements recently. Back in October 2020, he announced that "we temporarily tolerate the existence of Ukrainian hierarchs (UOC – Ed.) not as local ruling bishops, but only as titular or those who are based (have a residence) in Ukraine."
Apparently, Phanar is working out the issue of "bans" in relation to Metropolitan Onuphry and such a possibility is recognized as very likely, otherwise why would Sergei Dumenko be so brazen that in January 2021, he almost literally repeated the words of his patron: "We tolerate them until a certain time, but the time will come when they will join the recognized autocephalous Orthodox Church (OCU – Ed.).” Nobody is going to join the OCU, this is obvious to all adequate people. This means that this "certain time" is already gone or will be very soon. So, what is next? In for a penny, in for a pound?
It is unlikely that the poor Archimandrite Romanos was specifically tasked by any of the Phanariot hierarchs to make the FB publication he did, but the fact that this publication fully meets the interests of the Phanariots to throw a trial balloon into the media space regarding the excommunication of Metropolitan Onuphry cannot be denied.
The fact that the publication of Anastasiadis fully meets the interests of the Phanariots to throw a trial balloon into the media space regarding the excommunication of Metropolitan Onuphry cannot be denied.
Did Anastasiadis insult the Primates and hierarchs of the Local Churches?
Let's go back to the wording of the publication. The Phanar cleric stated that “The curse of the Mother of the Holy Great Church of Christ not only on him, an unrepentant, uncanonical, miserable and unfortunate traitor to his people, an illegal passenger of the church ship of Ukraine, but also on all those who continue to reproduce the title ‘Kyiv’ (Metropolitan – Ed.), usurped (by His Beatitude Onuphry – Ed.) despite the clear prohibition of the Church."
In other words, cursed are all who, contrary to the position of Phanar, consider His Beatitude Onuphry the Primate of the UOC and call him the legitimate Metropolitan of Kyiv. Now let's check facts. On the Namesake Day of His Beatitude, the Primates of the Antiochian, Georgian, Serbian, Russian, Polish Churches, the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, the hierarchs of other Churches congratulated Metropolitan Onuphry. In each congratulatory message he is named “Metropolitan of Kyiv”. Consequently, in addition to the millions of believers of the UOC, who consider His Beatitude Onuphry as their Primate, “the curse of the Mother of the Holy Great Church of Christ” extends to the aforementioned primates and bishops.
Are we now all anathematized?
Of course, we are not. This is not because the archimandrite by his status simply cannot excommunicate the Primate of the Church. And not even due to the fact that there is no decision of either the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople or personally Patriarch Bartholomew on any "bans" against Metropolitan Onuphry and the UOC, and even more so – about "curses".
The most important thing is that Metropolitan Onuphry and all his flock belong to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The excommunication of any person from the Church, not just a bishop, occurs as a result of sin, which is commonly called mortal. It is not for nothing that the rite of confession contains the following words: "Reconcile and unite them to your Holy Church ..." Metropolitan Onuphry is not guilty of anything like this. He served the Church of Christ until 2018 (when Phanar began its illegal actions in Ukraine) and continues to serve to this day. This means that in relation to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, as in relation to the entire Church of Christ, true are the words said in relation to the Old Testament Church, the people of Israel: “May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” (Num. 24: 9). These words were spoken by the prophet Balaam, who took money to curse Israel, but the result was not a curse, but a blessing. “When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him” (Num. 24: 2) and he could not curse Israel, but blessed it instead.
There are many cases in the history of the Patriarchate of Constantinople when bishops, at the behest of the authorities, overthrew their patriarchs from their thrones. This happened in the Byzantine period and multiplied many times during the Ottoman rule. However, the most famous cases and, probably, the most infamous for the Patriarchate of Constantinople are the two-fold overthrow of the great teacher and Saint John Chrysostom. By order of Empress Eudoxia and Emperor Arcadius, a council of obedient bishops of Constantinople gathered and overthrew the great saint from his see. In the first case, the bishops generally sentenced him to death, and only by the decision of Emperor Arcadius was the execution replaced by exile. A rhetorical question arises: with whom was the grace of God at that moment? With the bishops, obedient to the powers that be, or with St. John Chrysostom?
Nobody really hides the fact that Phanar intervened in Ukrainian affairs and committed its rampant lawlessness at the behest of Washington. Nobody hid the facts of negotiations between Phanariots, as well as Ukrainian political and religious actors, with the officials of the American Department of State on the eve of the most important decisions on the Ukrainian issue. The American diplomats themselves openly declared their contribution to the creation of the OCU and to all other actions. Therefore, if Phanar decides to "punish" His Beatitude Onuphry, it will be done again at the suggestion of American functionaries or with their permission/approval and will repeat the somewhat shameful exile of St. John Chrysostom. However, Phanar has not yet made this fatal mistake.
Does the "curse" reflect Phanar’s stance and what consequences can it lead to?
As already mentioned, the opus of the poor Archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis does not reflect the official position of Phanar. No measures were taken against His Beatitude Onuphry. There are no synodal decisions or those made by Patriarch Bartholomew. From the Phanar's perspective, Metropolitan Onuphry is simply a bishop living in Kyiv, who is "tolerated" by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Sergei Dumenko, but not "excommunicated" or "banned" from his ministry.
However, it is highly likely that Anastasiadis voiced the thoughts and intentions of a number of Phanariot hierarchs. While earlier Patriarch Bartholomew and Co were only considering “interdictions” and “excommunications” in relation to His Beatitude, then after powerful vibrations caused by the words of the archimandrite (they were published by many media outlets), it will simply not be possible to remain silent. Phanariots must respond somehow: either to confirm the "curse" of Anastasiadis or to publicly dissociate themselves from the words of their cleric.
After a powerful resonance from the words of the archimandrite (they were published by many media outlets), Phanariots must respond somehow: either to confirm the "curse" of Anastasiadis or publicly dissociate themselves from the words of their cleric.
Of course, one can keep silent. But, as Pope Boniface VIII once put it, “Silence is a sign of consent” (Latin Silentium videtur confessio).
Therefore, it is quite possible that soon we will see official decisions/interdictions in relation to the Primate of the UOC. Such a scenario fits well into the rationale of both Phanar's actions and the overall struggle against the Church of Christ, which is obviously taking place in Ukraine. After all, it is difficult to come up with a better move to bring forceful seizures of the UOC churches to a qualitatively new level. The accusations against the UOC of working for a neighboring state, which are commonly exploited by its enemies, are the tame stuff compared to the UOC and Metropolitan Onuphry being under "anathema". It will untie the hands of both national radicals and government officials who dream of quickly destroying the Church of Christ.
In addition, the possible "excommunication" of Metropolitan Onuphry, according to Phanar's plans, should split the Ukrainian bishops and push some of them to join the OCU. Phanar probably believes that the hierarchs of the UOC will be frightened by its curses and will rush “under the omophorion” of Sergei Dumenko. Hardly. Everyone understands that Phanar cannot "nationalize" the Grace of God and trade in it at its own discretion, its hypothetical "anathemas" hence being non-essential.
The truth is on the side of the UOC and His Beatitude Onuphry. Even if Phanar chooses to commit lawlessness again, it will finally put itself outside the Church. However, if events develop according to the worst scenario and Phanar still decides to “excommunicate” Metropolitan Onuphry, this will already be the final point of no return in interchurch relations and the moment of truth for all Local Churches. They will have to decide unequivocally who they are with: Christ and His Church or with the gambling Phanariots. It seems that the majority of Churches will remain faithful to Christ, and in those that choose a different option, there will be a significant number of bishops who will also refuse to recognize the decisions of Phanar. Moreover, the prospect of following Patriarch Bartholomew is clearly outlined by him personally: he will lead his adherents to another union with Rome. Perhaps this option will suit someone, but the majority will be powered by the instinct of self-preservation of their Orthodox identification, which will prevent from betraying Orthodoxy within a new union.
The truth is on the side of the UOC and His Beatitude Onuphry. Even if Phanar decides to commit lawlessness again, it will finally put itself outside the Church.
What should the Orthodox do?
First, remember that Christ says many times to his disciples: "Do not be afraid."
Secondly, do not pay attention to the words of the poor Archimandrite Romanos or to possible similar decisions of Phanar. The truth of God is not on their side, so no excommunication is valid without this.
Thirdly, to unite even more around His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, who, by obvious Divine Providence, was placed at the helm of the UOC at this difficult time.
And fourthly, to actively express your loyalty to the Church, for example, by participating in the “Miriane” movement, by participating in the Great Cross Procession on the Day of the Baptism of Rus, and most importantly, by participating in divine services, sacraments and prayers. By the way, a lot will depend on how numerous the Cross Procession will be this year, both in Ukraine and abroad.
May God bless us!