Historian Vladimir Poliakoff sent its response to an interview with a Greek journalist Athanasios avgerinos with the Metropolitan Prussian Elpidoforos (Ecumenical Patriarchate) on the question of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church.
Metropolitan Elpidophor. Photo: screenshot from YouTube
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No matter how inflexible it may seem, the position of the Metropolitan Elpidoforos, by itself, his point of view has its value in our time when at stake is the question of the unity of world Orthodoxy.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate is convinced that, the more difficulties there are, the more we feel the need for councils and meetings and maintain a dialogue so we could spodobivka of the descent of the Holy spirit and the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, to overcome these difficulties,” says our source are regarded as “the manifestation of the theological and ecclesiological incompleteness of the absence of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.” Describing the Church, who took the ultimate decision to not attend the Cathedral as “satellites of Moscow”, with the exception of the Department of Antioch, the Bishop claims that they simply summed the reasoning “under in advance taken by the Russian Church’s decision to take a course of isolation”. “It is generally recognized that the participation of Moscow and of other Churches was not due to their theological, ecclesiological or canonical beliefs,” – said in this regard, the Hierarch.
First of all, it is surprising, as Metropolitan Elpidophor gives the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate to withdraw from participation in the Cretan Cathedral, calling it “pre-accepted” and actually accusing the Russian Church in the deliberate disruption of the Cathedral. As you can see, Metropolitan Elpidophor believes that the Moscow Patriarchate is in principle not able to have their own “theological, ecclesiological or canonical” position regarding its participation or non-participation in convened by the Patriarch of Constantinople the Cathedral, but can only to intrigue and to put spokes in the wheels of this initiative Fanara, a priori evaluated solely in a positive way.
Thus, according to the logic of Metropolitan Elpidophoros Moscow was obliged to send to the Cretan Cathedral of its representatives, regardless of their attitude to the initiative of Constantinople, and the pre-prepared Panaram projects conciliar documents. It turns out that the delegation of the Russian Church should take part (including financial) to it, it should be noted, very expensive event to give the Greeks themselves to be used as extras, depicting an imaginary unity of the Orthodox world, and at the same time a personal triumph Patriarch Bartholomew and his policies for the construction of some in the Orthodox world of the Eastern analog of the papacy, and only then to declare his disagreement with the proposed (or rather — imposed) Fanara solutions.
Metropolitan Elpidophor, it seems, and today continues to look to Russia and the Russian Church, with a haughty gaze of the medieval Byzantines, who saw in Russian only “Northern barbarians” incapable of self-development of the theological or canonical positions and designed to act as “cash cows” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The unwillingness to obey the dictates of Constantinople, as we see, Metropolitan Prussian, like a thousand years ago, actually equates to rebellion, denying the right to look at things with my own eyes.
And certainly beyond the basic decency remains the statement of the Metropolitan Elpidoforos of the local Orthodox Churches refused to participate in Cretan Cathedral as “satellites of Moscow”. It seems that the notorious “the spirit of Hellenism” (or more simply, the trivial Greek nationalism) obscures the eyes of the hierarchs of the Constantinople Church so much that he even does not notice how slips into outright rudeness. Metropolitan Elpidophor, as can be seen, generally denies local Churches (first of all — not Greek) the right to have their own position, believing that their freedom boils down to an alternative — to join Moscow or Fanaru.
At the same time, Metropolitan Elpidophor believes that “the ties have not destroyed, the channels of communication are still not blocked, but just ROC should make more of an effort to re-gain the trust not only of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but of the ten Orthodox Churches that grazed behind the scenes on her part that led to the participation of other Churches.” “This is a Church with a numerous congregation, with which the Ecumenical Patriarchate in difficult times and shared all the hardships of the way Orthodox Nations, so that behind the scenes actions can not serve as her example of Mature behavior,” stressed his Eminence.
Painfully familiar rhetoric used by the Metropolitan Elpidophor! The absence of Cretan Cathedral “other Churches” Bishop believes it is possible to explain only one factor: behind-the-scenes activities of the Moscow Patriarchate. Not understand, whether the Lord of Elpidophor before he formulated his point of view, thoroughly consulted in Washington and Brussels, whether in the Patriarchate of Constantinople simply decided that in its relations with the Russian Church should follow the vector common to the “entire civilized world”, which Fanar so carefully demonstrates, which is also ready to go with him in the leg.
Responding to our question about finally convened in June 2016, despite all the differences, the Cathedral, which gave the impression of the event held under the high patronage of the us Department of state, Metropolitan Elpidophor called these estimates “malohudozhestvennyh fiction” and explained that “the Ecumenical Patriarchate, carrying the burden of responsibility for the conduct of the Cathedral, was attracted to the organization of American Greeks, with relevant experience, including the order of the archons of the Patriarchate, consisting exclusively of Church leaders serving in the American Archdiocese and has no other relation to the public service, American or any other.”
Indeed, what could be suspicious in relation to Fanara about the auspices of the state Department and financial support from overseas! We are talking about the true gentlemen, known for their crystal honesty and tireless care about Church unity, not some scheming from Moscow, whose “behind the scenes” “recognized” and without any evidence.
With regard to the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, Metropolitan of Elpidophor spoke emphatically on the level of disagreement even with the same compromise position Fanara suggests including the consent of the other Orthodox Churches: “the Granting of autocephaly of the local Church for almost 1350 years subject to the exclusive jurisdiction and competence of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople.
About the statement of Metropolitan Elpidophoros that “the granting of autocephaly of the local Church now 1350 years subject to the exclusive jurisdiction and competence of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople”, I would like to note the following.
With base on the site of ancient Greek Byzantium Emperor Constantine the New Rome — Constantinople and the transference to it of the capital of the Roman Empire began the rise of the Episcopal chair in that city. In the year 451 the Fourth Ecumenical (Chalcedonian) Church took its 28th rule, by which the learned Archbishop of Constantinople to the Patriarchal dignity and gave him second place in the diptychs after the Pope. Moreover, it was proved only a single argument: the status of Constantinople as the second capital of the Empire and the seat of the Emperor.
So it would be nice today to remind you of the Constantinople Patriarchate, which for nearly six centuries because of the death of the Byzantine Empire and the treatment of its capital in Turkish Istanbul there’s absolutely no justification for the immoderate ambition Fanara. But in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as was wittily said, still seem to have not noticed that the Empire of the Romans long gone.
In this regard, I would also like to remind you that when in 1593 the patriarchs of the East (and Constantinople among them) issued a letter of recognition of the Patriarchal dignity of Moscow, in her justification of this step is also to mention again the 28th rule of the IV Ecumenical Council. That is, the Moscow Patriarchate received as the new capital of the Orthodox Empire — the notorious Third Rome, which is so fond of now to sneer and make fun of the Greek hierarchs, once fully recognize this fact.
As for the claims Fanara the exclusive right to grant autocephaly to the other Churches, it should be noted that until the early twentieth century the Patriarchate of Constantinople was forced to reckon with the fact that in most countries of the Old world and New world Orthodox parishes existed almost exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. Any statements regarding the fact that only the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to grant autocephaly was not then in sight. At that time, to even hint about such did not dare neither of Fanari, nor any other ancient Patriarchal Department that existed solely thanks to the intercession for them before the Turks from the Russian emperors and generous financial aid from Russia.
But everything suddenly changed after the Russian revolution of 1917, when the Russian Empire and for the Russian Church it is the hardest times of persecution. The Patriarchate of Constantinople, then, in contrast, flirted with the Bolsheviks and supported them inspired Renovationist schism, which the Soviets destroyed in Russia, the Orthodox Church. At the same time Fanar has not only become to seek in a fit of panhellenism to subordinate the jurisdiction of the Greek Diaspora in Europe and America, but also to collect in its jurisdiction in these countries, all Orthodox, whose numbers in Western Europe and especially in America by the early twentieth century has significantly increased as a result of migration processes, caused by political cataclysms.
It was then to justify their actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople began to use its own highly controversial interpretation of the ancient canons of the Church, and began to build the strategy of collecting under his omophorion of the Orthodox Diaspora throughout the world. First of all, a distorted interpretation has been subjected to all the same 28th the fourth Ecumenical Council, which, in particular, specifies: “…only the metropolitans of the regions of the Pontic, and Thracian Ossiiskoi and as the bishops of the stranger bisericani areas bisericani come from the Holy see the Holy Church of Constantinople…”. Despite the fact that this rule clearly and unequivocally States solely about the “foreigners” of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, that is, regions, in the area directly adjacent to Constantinople on both sides of the Straits, Patriarch of Constantinople, forcibly appropriated the status of the spiritual leader of the entire Orthodox Diaspora outside Africa, referred to jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Middle East, which is considered, though in a rather vague framework, the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch.
However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, despite its right to grant autocephaly, does not ignore the rest of the local Church, as is testified by the history of the Church to this day. In the case of Ukraine it is entrusted to a special delegation that visits and conducting meetings with the primates of Orthodox Churches to disseminate objective picture of the status of the issue and, of course, in order to debunk misinformation and misleading information. “The criterion and goal for the mother Church in this case is not autocephaly by itself, as such, is not an end in itself,” he stressed and concluded: “However, it is preferred from the ecclesiastical point of view, as the best and most canonical solution, at the moment, because only this can serve the unity of the Orthodox people of Ukraine, which is known to be completely divided”.
These words of the Greek Metropolitan is truly full of outright hypocrisy and blatant cynicism. First, confidential talks with the primates and hierarchs of other local Orthodox Churches, which leads Fanar in order to induce them to stand on the side of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Ukrainian question, Metropolitan Elpidophor tries to give a consensus on the issue of granting and recognizing the autocephaly. Secondly, the Greek Hierarch did not even bother to recall that on the eve of the Cretan Cathedral of a local Church have agreed on quite a different understanding of the pan-Orthodox consensus to grant autocephaly, which it was decided to provide only in the case when all the local Churches will consent to this step. And about any recognition for the Patriarch of Constantinople “right to confer autocephaly”, which he has appropriated to himself, the speech didn’t.
In this re-authorize itself alone to judge others and assign blame, Fanar accuses the Russian Church in the spread of “misinformation and deceptive information,” who nobly set out to “debunk”. Any evidence the Metropolitan himself, again, does not trouble what if the perpetrator is already assigned!
To the question, what is the “spread of misinformation”, was given the following answer: “the same thing we heard ten years ago, in 2008 when I was preparing an official visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine under President Yushchenko and the Kyiv Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan). Then the Russian Church has developed exactly the same information campaign among all the other Churches, threatening schism, the Armageddon, the end of the world, claiming that the Patriarch goes to Ukraine, bringing the split, etc., etc. However, none of this happened, so at the moment I aren’t worrying about all this rhetoric from the Moscow Patriarchate.”
And again, Metropolitan Elpidophor throws in the address of the Russian Church allegations that are accompanied by a blatant lie! The Greek Hierarch can not know that in 2008, “none of this happened” for only one reason and one reason only: the then Patriarch Bartholomew, despite the machinations of Yushchenko, yet did not venture to declare the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church in the conditions of strong protest from the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Alexy II. It should also be noted that in 2008 the granting of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church was planned according to the scenario, which involved the repentance of the false-Patriarch of Kyiv Filaret (Denisenko) before Patriarch Bartholomew and his subsequent transition into the jurisdiction of Constantinople in the rank of Metropolitan, but not the Patriarch. Schismatic leader ultimately refused to do so.
Very sorry, more than a realistic warning from the Moscow Patriarchate on the possible dramatic consequences of Fanara intervention in Church Affairs in Ukraine, the Metropolitan of Elpidophor calls the “rhetoric” that is “not worrisome”. However, to expect from a proud Hellene concerns about problems that may arise from the “barbarians,” it seems, indeed, not necessary. But in vain, for in the Phanar, seems to still not understand that as a result of their clumsy actions in Kiev, not just exacerbate the split in the Church life of Ukraine, but the dramatic consequences are affecting the whole Orthodox world. So a would-be architect of a new “Ecumenical Council” may go down in history as the new “cardinal Humbert.”
In response to the indication that Ukraine plunged into a civil war in which the government has been shelling the whole area, and the President himself, who filed a petition for autocephaly, hands stained with the blood of their fellow citizens, the Archbishop said that as a Bishop and as a man of the Church will not succumb to the temptation to comment on the political situation and political figures. “It is beyond my competence and my office,” – said the Hierarch said that “the solution of the Church question will not exacerbate an already worse position, which, as you described, there is at the moment in Ukraine, but, on the contrary, believe that it can contribute to peace, unity and calm of the passions surrounding religion.”
Metropolitan Elpidophor again demonstrates a rare hypocrisy. It is significant that he did not deny the guilt of Poroshenko’s regime for the bloodshed in the Donbass, he just, like Pilate, washes his hands and abstrahierte from the unpleasant political context, preferring to pretend that it soars high above politics.
Like a mantra of Elpidophor repeats the phrase that the decision on autocephaly “can contribute to the peace, unity and calm of the passions surrounding religion.” Although the Metropolitan, of course, well aware that nothing like this will happen, because to the existing today in Ukraine the Church communities — canonical Orthodox, schismatic and Uniate — just added another, created with the filing of Fanara, because even with all the cynicism of the leaders of the Patriarchate of Constantinople it will be impossible to grant autocephaly or Ukrainian Orthodox Church for autocephaly was not asked (as she recently publicly stated that the Ukrainian hierarchs visited Fanar), or outright dissenters, so you need to create in Ukraine a kind of ecclesiastical structure in the immediate jurisdiction of Constantinople. Not necessary to be seven spans in a forehead to understand that her appearance will only exacerbate the tensions in Ukraine and further escalation of sectarian violence. In particular, if the latter-day Church of phanariotes attempt to deprive the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, its parishes or shrines such as the Kiev Pechersk Lavra and Pochaev Lavra. It is obvious that their centuries-the sacred temples and monasteries adherents of the Moscow Patriarchate do not just give up, so, inevitably there will be new conflicts, and it is possible that with the bloody outcome of a religious war, as history shows, alas, are usually the most violent. And Metropolitan Elpidophor undoubtedly studying Church history, for sure, knows this, but prefers to pretend that the issue “goes beyond my competence”.
The Metropolitan stressed that a petition for the granting of autocephaly, filed by the President of the state is not a personal request: “We distort the essence, considering the question from this point of view. The President of Ukraine brought in Fanar petition of the Ukrainian people, upon approval of the Parliament by an overwhelming majority. Therefore, the autocephaly does not represent the object of desire of the President of the country, and the Ecumenical Patriarch at the moment is the issue that concerns not only the leader of this country.”
But this statement of the Metropolitan Elpidoforos even hypocrisy can hardly be found: here just put everything on its head. Whether the figures Fanara a shred of conscience and a sincere intent to heal the split in Ukraine, they would have the right to call a spade a spade and say that the treatment, according to Patriarch Bartholomew is a gross violation of not only the Church canons, but also of the Constitution of Ukraine, involving the separation of Church and state and freedom of religion. The voices of politicians from Parliament, many of whom are Greek-Catholics (as, for example, strong advocates of the autocephaly of the speaker of Parliament Parubiy) or even non-believers, Metropolitan Elpidophor willing to admit “the petition of the Ukrainian people”, but about the hundreds of thousands of letters to the adherents of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church aimed at Fanar asking them not to interfere in Church life of Ukraine, Greek Hierarch do not even remember.
It was impossible not to ask His Eminence about what is this referred to his “ecclesiastical authority”, which was requested autocephaly, while none of the recognized canonical Church in Ukraine makes no such requirements, so in our opinion his position may cause various forms of opposition. “If anyone anticanonical, this does not mean that it does not exist”, – said the Metropolitan of the Prussian and explained: “the fact that he was declared a schismatic, not takes away his right to ask about their rehabilitation and settlement of their defective position at his Church, and finding that his Church puts him in an unfair position to appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch, giving him the Church’s appeal, the so-called “ecklie”.
Metropolitan Elpidophor, as you can see, makes a fabulous breakthrough in the field of Canon law, declaring the law of dissenters in “their rehabilitation and settlement of their flawed position.” Analogue to this, perhaps, can be found only in the development of Western democratic ideas, which by the beginning of the XXI century in a noble effort to protect the rights of minorities came to apology practically all forms of perversion. That the Metropolitan Prussian similarly willing to creatively develop the canons of the Orthodox Church, removing them from obsolete, as it seems, the concept of “repentance” and replacing it with “rehabilitation”. In this case, indeed, from the schismatics can not demand old fashioned remorse in the perpetration of a split painfully while addressing the issue of bubblecontest their hierarchy and sacraments.
It is because in Ukraine there are schismatics and uncanonical, which tried to appeal to his ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and was rejected, they may, in our opinion, it is legitimate to appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to review and revise their position by making not subject to appeal.
Of course, Metropolitan Elpidophor did not stoop to explanations of who, when and based on what canonical rules gave the Patriarch of Constantinople such extensive rights — in fact, on the model of the Pope of the Eastern rite. How does he have the right to abolish legal sentences of the ecclesiastical court of other local churches?
However, due to the fact that Metropolitan Elpidophor clearly hints at the possibility of a retrial Filaret (Denysenko) it is important to note both. In 1992, the former Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine was deprived of his office, and then was deposed not only for its divisive activities, but also for the dictatorial manner of management of the Ukrainian Church, and most importantly for an immoral life, and this fact was then confirmed by the majority of Ukrainian bishops. Fanar is ready today to review these facts that were the basis for pronouncement of anathema Filaret? Not a lot of takes on His all Holiness Bartholomew of Constantinople, and is not afraid whether it is in full compliance with the canons of the Orthodox Church itself be subject to anathema, entered into communication with those to whom it is absolutely legally have been imposed? Perhaps, at 78 years of age should think about pastoral matters?
At the moment, of course, Patriarchy has not begun consideration of an appeal filed by someone from Ukraine. Perhaps in the future, the Patriarchate will proceed to the consideration of cases already filed such appeals. However, with regard to the petition of autocephaly, filed with the canonical Church, I believe that we should not place emphasis on this observation. I would prefer to put the question in another plane: whether today canonical Church in Ukraine to petition for autocephaly, even if they want to? We all know how things are in the Moscow Patriarchate. Who dared to take this step, would have been cast forth from the Church at the most simplified procedure”.
But it is generally indescribable! The Jesuit sophistication of Metropolitan Elpidophor tries to convince us that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of today has problems not because of pressure from state or Fanara intervention in its Affairs, and allegedly suffers under a tyrannical fifth of the Moscow Patriarchate. And so that to even hint about autocephaly can’t. However, the Lord in this case is silent about the number of bishops and priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has long and repeatedly called for the autocephaly. This Metropolitan Alexander (drabinko), and Metropolitan Sofronii (Dmitruk) and Archpriest George Kovalenko, and others, whose position, however, was not shared by the majority of the episcopate, clergy and faithful, and whose voice, did not become dominant in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. However, none of them, contrary to the said Metropolitan Elpidophoros still “has not been spued out of the Church at the most simplified procedure”.
I would like in connection with the foregoing, Metropolitan Elpidoforos to recall the events of 1992, when Filaret (Denysenko), at that time — not anathema for the perpetration of a split of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church forced the bishops to sign a petition to Patriarch Alexy II on autocephaly. But as soon as the Ukrainian bishops found themselves in the Cathedral in Moscow, in freedom from pressure Filaret and the then President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk, almost all of them recanted their signatures under the appeal for autocephaly, accusing Filaret that he had a severe pressure on bishops, forcing them to sign the request.
But for some reason, when in June 2018, the delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church arrived at the Fanar its negative position in respect of the granting of autocephaly has not changed. It would seem that being in the free Turkish world, away from Moscow’s tyranny, it’s time to complain to the mantle of Patriarch Bartholomew to Moscow to his brother and say that in fact, the UOC-MP only dreaming, how to become separatist. So no, again and again from the lips of Ukrainian bishops sounded the same adamant: we do not need any of autocephaly, we are quite satisfied with the current canonical status.
And understand the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in General is quite possible. The imaginary dependence of the UOC of Moscow, which exists only in the sick imagination of Ukrainian politicians, autocephaly, of course, will relieve, but the interference in Church life by Poroshenko and other arbiters of the political fate of Ukraine, which led the country to the brink of disaster, it is unlikely — likely worsen.
And whether it is generally granted, but this autocephaly? Something is still involuntarily suggests that savvy phanariotes once again try to outsmart everyone. So the Ukrainian authorities in response to their initiative can eventually obtain the coveted Autocephalous Church, and something like the Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Also, do not forget about the problems inside the Church of Constantinople. For many years, the American Archdiocese, more and more seeks to become independent. Increasingly, voices on the need to create an independent “American Church” independent from Fanara. I wonder what would happen if other Orthodox Churches will forget about Canon law and wants to support the desire of American brothers in the faith in their desire to withdraw from subordination to the Patriarch of Constantinople? Whether our Church is to refrain from judgment on this issue in case of negative developments of Ukrainian autocephaly. But American history is not unique, why rise to the escalation of threats and animosity between brothers in the faith? I hope this turns out peaceful solution.
However, let’s wait and see.