Why was OCU "procession" unnoticed, or Who is Pat. Bartholomew going to?
The Cross Procession of the UOC (350,000 people) and a small "procession" of OCU took place in Kyiv. But it is the OCU Pat. Bartholomew calls his “multimillion” flock.
On July 27, 2021, the Great Cross Procession of the UOC, which numbered more than 350,000 people, took place in Kyiv. And although the police announced a figure of 55,000 people, anyone who watched the procession from the inside would agree that there were a lot of participants – much more than in previous years. Mass media, both Ukrainian and foreign, paid a lot of attention to this event. Yes, its assessment varied dramatically – from sympathies and completely neutral reports to strong rejection and criticism. But anyway, the media simply could not “fail to notice” the Great Cross Procession of the UOC.
On July 28, 2021, the OCU held its traditional "Ukrainian procession". For the first time in many years, the number of participants in this event was not announced – either by representatives of the National Police or by the schismatics themselves. The reason is simple: there was nothing to voice. Without state employees, without politicians and without people – this is how the “Ukrainian procession” of the OCU can be described. Moreover, it passed unnoticed not only for believing Ukrainians but also for the Ukrainian media.
Patriarch Bartholomew constantly says that in Ukraine he has a “multimillion flock”. At the same time, the Phanariots stubbornly pretend that they "do not notice" the really huge flock of the UOC, ignore its believers and keep saying that the schism in Ukraine has been overcome.
About the figures and the truth
Recently, the leading media have been full of headlines that the OCU has 2.5 times more believers than the UOC. The source of such theses was the results of a survey of a private company "Kyiv International Institute of Sociology". Victory publications about this appeared both on the official website of the OCU and on Phanariot Internet resources.
Thus, two realities are formed – virtual and objective. In the virtual one, the UOC has almost no support, and 58% of all Orthodox Ukrainians belong to the OCU; objectively, the UOC gathers hundreds of thousands at religious processions, its churches are full. And what about the OCU? Its few (in comparison with the UOC) churches are half-empty, and there are practically no сross processions.
But it is precisely the virtual reality in public space that Phanar is guided by. Bathing in a "warm bath" of opinion polls from the OCU, Phanariotes keep telling everyone about "millions of Ukrainians" whom they "joined to the Church". Thus, there is a vicious circle, which can only be broken by the truth about the true state of affairs, according to which the figures of sociological surveys and figures of practical participation in worship are very different.
According to opinion polls, millions of Ukrainians are "looking forward" to the arrival of Bartholomew to Ukraine, but in reality, several thousand people, at most, come to one of the main feasts of the OCU. All other survey participants have absolutely nothing to do with the Church. They do not go to churches, they do not participate in the Sacraments of the Church, and they absolutely do not care about the arrival of Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine.
Ukrainian media and the OCU
Before the Day of Rus’ Baptism, all of Ukraine was filled with Sergei Dumenko advertising with a very strange inscription "OCU: over 1033 years in the establishment of Ukrainian statehood". The adverts were on billboards along the streets, on TV, in the subway, and even on intercity trains.
The Ukrainian media, which in past years massively promoted the celebration of the OCU on the Day of the Baptism of Rus’, shyly kept silent this year. If you google for "OCU Baptism of Ukraine-Rus’", you will get as many as ... 4 results. Of these, two belong to Radio Liberty, and two more belong to Left Bank and Ukrinform (these are the resources of the OCU information pool).
Yes, there were broadcasts on Poroshenko's “Priamyi” and “Channel 5”, on “UA Pershyi” (this is understandable), and a couple more on YouTube. That’s all. The news feed is not replete with messages about any celebrations of the OCU on the occasion of the "Day of the Baptism of Ukraine-Rus’". We do not see a lot of reports, and even those resources that traditionally sympathize with Ukrainian schismatics practically did not mention their event. And if they did, it was very impersonal.
It is not hard to guess that this silence is caused, first of all, by the too obvious contrast between the celebrations of the UOC and the OCU. Yes, Dumenko's structure explains the absence of parishioners at the "celebrations" in Kyiv by the announcement that the "Ukrainian procession" was cancelled. But it did take place!
A great number of the "clergy" of the OCU came to Kyiv from the regions, there were laymen from their eparchies (which is clearly visible on the video broadcast), and people walked from St. Michael’s Monastery to the Vladimir Hill – just like in previous years. In addition, the "priests" of the OCU reported that at the last meeting of the Kyiv "clergy", Dumenko discussed with them the details of the future "cross procession", which, despite official statements, was nevertheless planned and held. Why wasn’t there such promotion as usual?
The fact is that the attention the media showed to the actions of the OCU was dictated not by interest in this religious structure but by the participation of the authorities or first-rank politicians in the event.
For example, in 2018, the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, many politicians and officials took part in the “Ukrainian procession” of the schismatics (the then UOC-KP). Everything was organized at the state level – from television broadcasts to bringing state employees who took part in the "procession". And even though this whole political action was not much like a religious procession, it still received a lot of space in the media. In 2019, Poroshenko participated in the “walk”, and again media attention was very high.
In 2021, none of the "stars" attended the event. And that's all – Dumenko with a handful of his adherents became of no interest to anyone. And here it is time for Patriarch Bartholomew to give it a thought.
What should the Phanar head think about?
First, the absence of believers at one of the main feasts of the OCU suggests that Phanar does not have any “multimillion flock” in Ukraine. There are several thousand people who are seeking not Christ in the OCU but the satisfaction of their nationalist ambitions (therefore, they brought a huge flag of Ukraine to the “procession”). For them, Bartholomew is not a benefactor, but a cut-off piece that has done its job and "can go away".
Secondly, the absence of the authorities at one of the main feasts of the OCU is an important and alarming signal for the Phanar head. Zelensky has once again demonstrated that he is trying to keep a certain distance in relation to church issues. If the President of Ukraine shows any interest in church matters, he does this not at his will. Yes, Zelensky is interested in the benevolence of the United States, which means he is forced to show signs of attention to the OCU with the Phanar and criticize the UOC. But how interested is he personally in this?
It can be assumed that the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine stems not from Zelensky's disposition to the OCU but purely from political considerations. This means that Vladimir Zelensky does not feel any special joy from the August meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as a meeting "in a particularly warm atmosphere" with the Phanar head is not expected. Besides, there is a huge bunch of problems related to the provision of "extras". So, everything will be under the protocol and official.
Thirdly, the participants of the opinion polls are not looking forward to the arrival of Patriarch Bartholomew. He, as, in fact, the OCU, presents no interest to them. On TV – it is still possible, but live and in Kyiv – no. Not interested.
Fourthly, the Ukrainian and foreign mass media are also not interested in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Compare: the UOC celebrations were covered by 455 journalists, of which 22 are representatives of foreign resources, including Agence France Presse, Deutsche Welle, BBC World Service and others. How many journalists received accreditation for OCU “celebrations”? Unknown.
Based on all this, it is easy to guess that if during the arrival of Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine, the President of the country Zelensky does not attend the "divine service" of the OCU, then the "service" will pass unnoticed by both the media and most Ukrainian believers. No matter how Patriarch Bartholomew tells himself the tale that the Tomos has joined "millions" of the residents of Ukraine to the Church, this fairy tale will not come true. It affiliated several tens of thousands of schismatics with the Phanar, without repentance and changing their mindset. They, by and large, remained semi-pagans, who are very difficult to teach how to say "Christ is Risen!" instead of "Glory to Ukraine!", to whom it is difficult to explain that at religious processions icons, not flags, are carried, and who are impossible to persuade that Christianity is a religion of love, not hatred.
And Patriarch Bartholomew can see this already in August.