As it became known, the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew “In preparation for the granting of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine” appointed two bishops as their exarchs. Representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, in communion with which she is canonically, has condemned the decision as “a gross violation of canonical territory.”
There are two concepts related to the qualities of a leader is power and authority. It’s not the same. Power is the ability to manipulate people and resources. Authority is the ability to command respect and trust. Herod the great had power, but not authority. St. John the Baptist had authority but not power. We can say that power is when you face a power, an authority when you face the truth.
The acquisition and retention of power is a game waged by politicians. It involves a variety of resources – the big battalions, media, intelligence agencies, certain groups of supporters, and, of course, money. A lot of money.
This is a game without rules – and it involves taking advantage of a quickly changing situation. Today’s ally may be tomorrow’s enemy and Vice versa. Eternal, Holy alliances can be broken and replaced by others. Many thousands of human pawns can be sacrificed to provide a slightly better negotiating position.
Colleagues yesterday, abnomalies in front of cheering crowds, today may send each other to jail. Of course, politicians make speeches about philanthropy and truth – in strict accordance with the advice of Machiavelli – but, if you see the whole process some time, you would never look at politicians the spiritual and moral leadership.
Another thing the religious leaders. Important to them it is the authority – the belief that they are the true representatives of the tradition in whose name they speak, and that they themselves are wise and virtuous people who seek all temporal and eternal good. Of course, in the history of religious leaders often acted and continue to act as politicians. But this inevitably leads to the destruction of them, in fact, spiritual authority.
From the point of view of policy behavior Patriarch Bartholomew (and his entourage) is completely natural – any politician, being able to increase their resources will do it. For a politician to take advantage of a favorable situation – a self-evident thing. Yesterday was early, tomorrow will be too late, as one well-known political figure. A foothold on the territory covered by the disorganization and confusion is what powers do just automatically. Then the springboard you can use to further increase their influence.
For policy considerations like “does it help the offensive of the world”, “how will this affect the well-being of the people,” and especially “does it serve as the good of the Church and the salvation of souls” do not have and cannot have values. Politician fighting for the interests and when these interests and whatever religious and moral considerations conflict, it is resolved in favor of interests. These are the very rules of the political game.
Another thing is that one of the Orthodox Patriarchs, moreover, a man who wanted to look the leader of the Orthodox world, such behaviour is completely incongruous to his high status. It is destructive to his authority.
To present himself as the good shepherd for the entire Orthodox world and behave towards the largest of the Orthodox churches as a politician behaves in relation to the foreign and hostile state – a situation which leaves very little room for any pastoral authority.
To play on the side of the secular authorities against the canonical Church, Fanar which is formally in communion, to strengthen the conflicts and troubles where they already have to put the Orthodox people under attack the nationalists, while helping to justify their violence – and all are some to enhance their power and influence, this behavior, which is well within the image machiavellistic policy. But to combine it with the image of a wise and good shepherd, alas, is impossible.
The Ukrainian crisis was to Constantinople by the ability to acquire true spiritual authority, to show wisdom and concern for the welfare of the Church. At the time, the Russian Orthodox Church, when she was asked to take the territory of South Ossetia under his care, refused to do so, in order not to violate the canonical territory of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Crimea is still recognized by Moscow as the territory of self-governing Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Moscow Patriarchate does not seek to redraw the canonical boundaries of the following political changes or to take advantage of the situation to expand their territory.
Constantinople could do the same – moreover, Patriarch Bartholomew could do a lot of good Ukraine and of the Church, and to elevate his Department is not political games, and an example of wise and worthy conduct before the face of historic challenges. Alas, he chose himself to be secular politician – and to take seriously his claim to pan-Orthodox Ministry, alas, impossible.
We need to remember that, although in Church history it was – and still is – every promise of the Lord – “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt.16:18) remains immutable. The Church has been through so much. And it will survive.