Someone in the Ukraine need autocephaly and what’s going on

Who actually requires autocephaly, why the Moscow Patriarchate, and whether Constantinople to overcome the split – says Sergey Hudiev.

Photo: Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

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Do Orthodox believers of Ukraine the right to an Autocephalous Church?

Sergey Hudiev

In principle, Yes – the problem is that what is happening now cannot be called a “process of granting autocephaly.” Autocephaly is possible to provide only existing canonical Church, and in doing so can the Patriarchy, to which it belongs. That is, the Moscow Patriarchate would grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, if she’d asked – which she has not yet been done.

The recognition of the schismatic community, separated from one local Church from another – this is a canonical nonsense, and call it the “autocephaly” it would be a mistake.

Who requires of autocephaly?

Note again that the only community that would be entitled to insist on it – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate – no autocephaly is not required. The autocephaly of the requests, according to Patriarch Bartholomew, “my dear sir, the government of Ukraine.” Indeed, the request is coming from the secular authorities – and many government officials, actively seeking autocephaly, are not members of the Orthodox Church even formally classify themselves as non-Orthodox religious communities, or even atheists.

In fact, we are dealing with a situation where the state creates religious structure under its state goal and talks about it quite openly. For example, as the President said Petro Poroshenko, “Autocephaly – is the question of our independence and our national security. Therefore, have a fierce resistance the city of Moscow and its fifth column in Ukraine.”

Legally, in a state that considers itself secular and democratic, is state interference in Church Affairs is an obvious iniquity.

What are the motives of the authorities?

In addition it is clearly voiced for political reasons to pay attention to the fact that nationalism (Ukrainian in particular) is ideologically not compatible with Christianity. For the nationalist the nation above all, for the Christian is Christ.

Nationalist greeting “glory to Ukraine” is a deliberate replacement of the pious Ukrainian greeting “glory to Jesus Christ.” As this time drew the attention of the Greek Catholic Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, “a Similar manifestation of atheism is to replace the words “Glory to Ukraine” eternal praise, which exalt Jesus Christ: “Glory And(SUSU) to Christ!” It is obvious that none of the Ukrainians can’t have nothing against the exclamation “Glory to Ukraine!” but replace the word religious glorification of Christ is the expressive trend to remove Christ and to put their homeland in its place, therefore, is an expression of ungodly trends, which deceives the naive Ukrainian patriots. Ukraine can not exist as an independent state, and especially to be a nice power without the will of the King of kings and Lord of lords eternal God I. Christ, our Saviour, Father and Lord”

Nationalism assumes the existence of a certain kind of Church – but only if its faith and practice completely subordinated to his ideology.

Petro Poroshenko, in connection with the upcoming elections, in dire need of any means to raise the rating and seeks to rely on the Patriotic electorate, and the suppression of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate could bring him certain points in this environment.

Photo: AP

Will the intervention of Constantinople overcoming the schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy ?

Alas, no – first, because such purpose is not put, secondly, because blatant violation of the canons, and expressing extreme contempt for the legitimate rights of the Primate of the Ukrainian Church, Metropolitan Onufriy, we can only deepen and not to heal the splits.

The purpose of the whole struggle for autocephaly, as it is openly and clearly Express its leading civilian authorities, consists in the suppression of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

President Petro Poroshenko, speaking at events dedicated to 1030 anniversary of the baptism of Rus, called the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “tentacles which are inside our national body wielding country-aggressor”, and these “tentacles” “you must loose” – and, in his words, autocephaly is needed for this. The assistant Minister of internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, Zoryan Shkiryak called believers in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate “vampires” who “have no place on the Ukrainian land.”

Patriarch Bartholomew, alas, involved in activities aimed at “chopping off the tentacles” and “ghouls banishment”.

Does Patriarch Bartholomew legitimate canonical right to control the Ukraine?

No, no way. The canonical aspect is discussed in detail by experts in the field of ecclesiastical law, but even if you have difficulty in the interpretation of the canons, you can turn to this witness, as the Patriarch Bartholomew, who until recently fully recognized canonical rights of the Moscow Patriarchate and proclaimed Metropolitan Onufry is the only legitimate head of the Church in Ukraine.

Or all this time the Patriarch Bartholomew supported the canonical lawlessness – and all his predecessors in the chair of Constantinople did it centuries before him – either he commits iniquity canonical now.

Why are the accusations of “Eastern papism” made to Patriarch Bartholomew?

Mainly, it claims, put forward in a speech before the congregation of bishops. To quote some of his statements:

“For Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the leaven that “leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9) the Church and the history… As the First Throne of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate bears a prophetic Ministry, preaching the mystery of the Cathedral Church and in Christ Jesus throughout the world at all times…In the beginning was the Word… In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:1,4). The beginning of the Orthodox Church – Ecumenical Patriarchate, “in this life, and this life is the light of the Churches.”

The late Metropolitan Gortinsky and Arcadia Cyril, beloved Hierarch of the Mother Church and my friend was right when he said that Orthodoxy cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarch… the Ecumenical Patriarchate has canonical jurisdiction and all Apostolic privileges in his responsibility not only for the preservation of unity and intercommunication of local Churches, but also for the spread of Orthodoxy in the modern world and in historical perspective…

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is responsible for the conversion of cases in the ecclesiastical and canonical order, because he alone possesses the canonical privilege, as well as prayer and blessing of the Church and Ecumenical Councils to fulfill this Supreme and exclusive duty as a caring Mother, and the mother Churches. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate refuses this duty, and leave the inter-Orthodox scene, the Local Church will be “as sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), spending their energy in Church endeavors, that will blend the humility of faith and the arrogance of power”

Why are the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate do not agree with these claims?

Developed in the history of the Church management system implies the equality of the Patriarchs of the local Churches, between which there may be differences in the primacy of honor but not power. Each Patriarch has the authority within their local Church, and here the important role played by the concept of canonical territory. No Bishop, no Patriarch can’t invade a foreign canonical territory.

For example, after the war in South Ossetia the Orthodox parishes in this country have asked to adopt them under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate, but the Patriarch refused to do, in order not to violate the canonical territory of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

The primacy of Honor of the Patriarch of Constantinople was due to the fact that in the middle ages Constantinople was the capital of the Orthodox Eastern Roman Empire, the most important political, cultural and religious center of the ancient world. The title “Ecumenical” was related to the fact that “the universe”, “ecumene” in the time called the inhabited world – the people of the Empire to her, for the most part and was. But alas, the Empire gradually weakened, lost territory, and in 1453 it fell under the blows of the Turks. But for a long time the Patriarch of Constantinople was recognized by the Turkish authorities as the leader of the Greek population of the Ottoman Empire.


After a disastrously unsuccessful attempt of the Greeks to restore the Empire in the 1920-ies famous Greek population was subjected to mass expulsion from Turkey, and at the moment the Orthodox population of Istanbul is no more than a hundred people.

Thus, the claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople connected with the glory of the Orthodox Empire, which to this point were only memories.

Moreover, these claims does not fit the story of his falling away in the Union – which, in 1439 accepted the Patriarch of Constantinople Joseph in the hope to obtain Western aid against the Turks. This hope did not materialize, the other Orthodox Patriarchs did not support the Union, and, after some time, Constantinople back to Orthodoxy. This historic episode of temporary fall of Constantinople, when the rest of the Church remained in Orthodoxy, it is impossible to reconcile with the claims of this Department for teaching in relation to the whole Orthodox world.

Why is the current behavior of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is regarded as unacceptable?

First, the claim to sole authority in the Church is deeply unacceptable from the point of view of Orthodox ecclesiology and are on the verge of heresy.

Secondly, the appointment of the Exarch without the consent of Metropolitan Onufriy and Patriarch Alexy, whom Constantinople recognized more recently, is a gross violation of both canons, and Christian ethics.

Thirdly, the Association with the extremely hostile towards the canonical Church, the secular authorities, and actions on their side against the Church are extremely unethical and is particularly incompatible with a claim to the role of the shepherd to all the Orthodox world. For a pastor – that is what is intended to demonstrate the selfless care and love, protect and protect – this behavior is unthinkable.

Whether the current conflict can lead to a split similar to the split in 1054?

The Russian Orthodox Church is doing everything to avoid this. But alas, such a development cannot be ruled out. If someone claims to spiritual authority over you, you, in the end, you can tell him either “Yes” or “no”, and if someone preaches a certain doctrine, you can either accept it or not.

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