Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.10.2018
11 October 2018 marks the end of 332 years of religious oppression for Ukrainians. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine that was illegally annexed by Muscovy in 1686 is coming home. The native church with its head in Kyiv, that has existed for over a millennium, will have its seat restored. A tomos of autocephaly is going to be granted to the Church in Ukraine by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The Metropolitan of Kyiv will be restored. The Moscow Patriarchate can never again call itself the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
A Synod of the hierarchy of the world-wide Eastern Orthodox communion was held in Istanbul and concluded on Thursday. The secretariat of the Synod announced five decrees. Each of these announcements was unsurprising because the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople had carefully prepared for them for months, if not years. The Synod made its decisions after hearing from the two exarchs who had been assigned by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine: Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon (from the United States) and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton (from Canada).
Concerning autocephaly, the Synod decreed “to renew the decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.” The Ukrainian Orthodox Church will have its head in Kyiv and not in Moscow. This will be done by a grant of tomos of autocephaly.
After being shut out for more than three centuries, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will reestablish a Stavropegion in Kyiv. A Stavropegial institution – which can be a monastery, for example – falls under the direct authority of the Patriarch in Constantinople, and not any other intermediate hierarch. This decree means that the new, united Ukrainian Orthodox Church will derive its legitimacy from its own head in Kyiv and from communion with Eastern Orthodoxy with its recognized head in Constantinople.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate lifted the excommunication of the two leading priests of the Church in Ukraine. Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, and Metropolitan Maletych, head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, “have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church.” So read the third decree of the Synod.
The fourth decree of the Synod was to declare that the procedure by which the Moscow Church came to annex the Kyiv Church was uncanonical. It was illegal. Muscovy never had the legal right to dominate the church in Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchate has further lost its claim to be the Ukrainian Orthodox Church after a century of brutal Soviet occupation of Ukraine and now after four and a half years of brutal Putin regime partial occupation of Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarchate decided “to revoke the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through oikonomia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv.”
Fifth and last, the Synod held in Istanbul issued a decree “to appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of Churches, Monasteries and other properties, as well as every other act of violence and retaliation, so that the peace and love of Christ may prevail.” The Putin regime of state terrorism has already threatened further “harsh” measures against Ukraine for autocephaly. Paramilitary groups like the so-called “Kuban Cossacks” promise to spark violence in Ukraine. In contrast, Patriarch Filaret has said that there will not be any attempt on the part of the new, united Ukrainian Orthodox Church to seize churches or land. If a peaceful and natural process is allowed to unfold, Moscow Patriarchate parishioners will switch to the Kyiv Patriarchate. They are already doing so.
Ukrainians have historical continuity restored. The nation and the church in Ukraine today is a direct descendant of the nation and the church that existed over a millennium ago as Kyivan Rus’.
For the people of Muscovy, the world is tumbling down. The lies of the past 500 years are falling apart. The state that emerged from the Principality of Muscovy isn’t “Russia” and never was. That was stolen glory from Ukraine. The institution that called itself the Russian Orthodox Church illegally annexed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in imperial times and was nothing but a KGB front in Soviet times. Today, the institution headed by Putin pal Vladimir Gundyayev is an FSB front and little more than a hybrid war weapon in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.
When Putin launched his insane war against Ukraine, he strengthened the unity of the Ukrainian nation and accelerated the restoration of the united Orthodox Church in Ukraine with its head in Kyiv. Putin weakened the Russian Federation and pushed Ukraine faster along its path to the West.
There is no place for true Orthodox believers in the Russian Federation. In Ukraine, there is a newly-restored home for the faithful.
Ukraine is taken a huge step away from the dominating influence of Muscovy. Autocephaly makes Ukrainians masters in their own house. The Kremlin has lost a powerful lever of influence over the ‘hearts and minds’ of Ukrainians, and it will never get it back again. After autocephaly of the Church in Ukraine, there is only one remaining step to destroy the evil of 500 years of Muscovy domination of Ukraine: to defeat Putin at war, and to liberate Crimea and Donbas.