August 5, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Pravda.ru, translated by Tom Winter –
The Supreme Rada is now working on a package of church bills. If these documents are adopted – and MPs want to have time to vote on them before the summer holidays – then the split between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate will become even sharper.
In fact, the bill places the church of the Moscow Patriarchate under the control of the government of Ukraine, since the document notes that in case of a systematic violation of current legislation, and failure to comply with the legal norms provided for in its articles, the state agency may suspend the activity of a religious organization in the territory of Ukraine.
At the same time, the bill presupposes the need to coordinate the candidacies of priests with the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, and will allow checking out candidacies on the basis of the Security Service. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate unquestioningly supported this initiative.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine in mid-July accused the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) of cooperation with the self-proclaimed Lugansk Peoples Republic and the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Before that, cultural officials demanded from the UOC public condemnation of “Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”
In fact, a religious war is already in full swing in the country. And this accusation of the UOC in “supporting terrorists” is only one of the episodes of this war, aimed at preparing public opinion for the adoption of the church bills.
At the beginning of this year in the Odessa region, unknown people assaulted and set fire to the cathedral of the UOC-MP. There are many examples of such examples in recent years in Ukraine.
The pressure on the church of the Moscow Patriarchate is most felt in the west of the country. This began long before the events on the Maidan in 2014. But recently the police do not even interfere in times when radicals attack temples, beat priests, and intimidate parishioners. Particularly bad things have gone on in the Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Ternopil, and Zakarpattya regions.
Over the past 25 years, every Ukrainian president has been dealing with the issue of the official separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) from the Moscow Patriarchate.
Petro Poroshenko, who before his election was a parishioner of the UOC-Moscow Patriarchate, did not miss such an important question. But when he became president, he forgot about this moment of his biography and began to advocate the creation of an Orthodox church in the country. One of the goals of this initiative is to separate the UOC from Moscow.
“We will not look with indifference on the intervention of another state in church affairs, and its attempts to take advantage of the feelings of some Ukrainian Orthodox,” Poroshenko said last year.
However, such a question as the separation of the Kyiv Patriarchate is not being resolved at the level of the Ukraionian secular authorities. Autocephaly can be considered full-fledged only if it is approved by the All-Orthodox Council of the Primate of all Orthodox churches. In addition a separate consent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople would be needed.
The last attempt to hold the Pan-Orthodox Council was held in Crete in 2016, but due to disagreements, the Russian, Antiochian, Georgian and Bulgarian Orthodox churches refused to participate.
At the same time Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said that he had not received a request for the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate.
However, on the part of Kiev, there were attempts to influence him after the “revolution of dignity.” In 2015 Leonik Kravchuk and Viktor Yushenko visited Istanbul specifically to see Patriarch Bartholomew.
A second similar mission took place in August 2016, when two ex-presidents again handed over to the patriarch an appeal to grant independence to the Kyiv Patriarchate with five thousand signatures “from the Ukrainian intelligentsia.”
Pravda asked the candidate of historical sciences, associate professor of the Department of Journalism of Novgorod University Alexander Chausov for comment on this situation:
“Most likely, again there will be a prayerful standing at the Rada, and the deputies themselves will go a split. But even if they separate something legally, the patriarchy, and the Ukrainian metropolia, will not do it.
“As for Constantinople, the last time, Poroshenko sent to Barthomew almost openly, which means that he is beside himself with Ukrainian initiatives on the ecclesiastical subject.
“At the media level (if it comes to the adoption of these laws) there will be a hell of a noise, of course. But in the church world this initiative will not play. It is clear that the Filaretovs, who are now part of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate, will once again sing about the need for autocephaly. It’s only that Filaret, as it seems to me, is already perceived in Ukraine as an old man who has lost his mind with excessive ambitions.
“All this flirting with autocephalization is needful first of all in order to neutralize completely the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate, and not to strengthen the Filaretovs: it’s already a side-effect.”