Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 28.07.2018
This weekend is the commemoration of the 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’. A millennium ago the centre of the Christian world and the heart of Western civilization lay in two cities: Constantinople and Kyiv. In 2018, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is about to receive a ‘tomos’ (τόμος) of autocephaly and a full restoration of the Metropolitan of Kyiv. Also, the fake Orthodox Church, the Moscow Patriarchate, is about to lose the illegally usurped title ‘Ukrainian’ and be deprived of its stolen property in Ukraine.
In a further move to restore to the Orthodox church in Ukraine its own head, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, is visiting Kyiv. Meeting with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, on July 27, Patriarch Bartholomew made clear that Ukraine will be granted a ‘tomos’ (a ruling of the Synod of the Eastern Orthodox churches) and that the Metropolitan of Kyiv will return to the natural state it enjoyed before the year 1686.
In his address to the Ukrainian people through President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew gave news the nation was yearning to hear: “Recognizing the high responsibility of the First Holy See Church of Constantinople, which never ceased and did not reconcile to illegal and non-canonical situations that shocked the natural functioning of the Orthodox Church, during these crucial times, it took the initiative to restore the unity of the Orthodox believers of Ukraine with the ultimate goal of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian church.” Moscow had no right to grab the Metropolitan of Kyiv 332 years ago. That injustice will be corrected now.
The Synod of the Eastern Orthodox Church is clear-eyed about the autocephaly for the church in Ukraine and about the falsity of the Muscovy claim to be the inheritor of Kyivan Rus’. On July 12, Metropolitan Elpidophoros, Metropolitan of Bursa and Exarch of Bithynia, said “the Moscow church is a daughter of the Ukrainian church, which – the Ukrainian church is a daughter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” In other words, from Constantinople to Kyiv to Moscow is how the true story goes. Metropolitan Elpidophoros also points out that the Baptism of the Rus’ was not the Christianization of the Russians, but of today’s Ukrainians who are the descendants of the people of Volodymyr the Great.
To militate against the powerful and positive effect of the visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Kyiv, the Moscow church held what was effectively a counter-demonstration (on photo). It was called a religious procession to mark the 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’. Police estimate that about 20,000 demonstrators took part, mostly older people who grew up in the time of the Soviet Union and the Muscovy occupation of Ukraine. The chief of police of Kyiv declared that the threat level this weekend is ‘very high’ because of the procession organized by the Moscow church.
During the procession, on Hrushevsky Street in Kyiv, a provocateur unfurled a Russian flag. Given that Russia is waging war against Ukraine and has inflicted death, injury, mayhem, destruction, and misery on the Ukrainian people, it is difficult to think of anything more designed to rouse feelings of anger.
Near Arsenal metro station, participants in the procession lined up to receive a payment of 200 hryvnia each. That’s around seven and a half dollars. No one would answer questions about who was making the payments and why.
Russian hate propagandists against Ukraine are pushing hard the narrative that autocephaly for the Orthodox church in Ukraine amounts to a “religious war and the genocide of Orthodox believers.” The naturalness of the Ukrainian church returning to a self-governing state – having its own head – is ignored. For Russia at war with Ukraine, it is reasonable for Serbia and Romania and Bulgaria and Georgia and Cyprus and Greece and Albania and Poland and Czechia and Slovakia and the United States to have autocephalous Orthodox churches – but not Ukraine.
Russia wants a provocation. Putin is searching for a ‘casus belli.’ The hatred that drives Russia’s war against Ukraine could very well turn the invasion of 2014 “to protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine” into an expanded invasion in 2018 “to protect Orthodox believers in Ukraine.” The ‘civil war’ propaganda lie from the Kremlin is now focused on what the Muscovites call ’schismatics and nationalists’ in Ukraine.
The Kremlin war machine and its Moscow Patriarchate proxy is “nailing the colours to the mast” opposing the restoration of the Orthodox church in Ukraine. Putin and Gundyayev (the Moscow church head) are going against the careful judgement of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Synod of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, President Poroshenko, Ukrainians, and Orthodox believers world-wide. Far from protecting Orthodox believers, the Moscow church is committing apostasy. Badly mis-reading the zeitgeist, the Moscow Patriarchate is going to crash out of the Eastern Orthodox communion if it persists in being nothing but a tool of the Kremlin’s implacable war against Ukraine.