Splitter!

‘Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.’ Winston Churchill.

One of the many problems with schism is that it tends to undermine legitimacy. A long-standing institution, such as a church, has a certain legitimacy among its members just due to inertia. A sufficiently long tradition can by itself justify an institution to those who belong to it. But when a group breaks free, it lacks the same justification, and thus the same legitimacy. Consequently, it’s not surprising that splitters may end up splitting up among themselves. And so it is that we shouldn’t be altogether shocked by the extraordinary goings-on in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine/Ukrainian Orthodox Church, or whatever it is the various factions are calling themselves today (People’s Front of Judea, maybe?).

From the late 17th century onwards, Orthodox parishes in what is now Ukraine were part of the Russian Orthodox Church and were governed from Moscow; first through the Moscow Patriarchate; then following the latter’s abolition through the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church; and finally, after the Revolution, through the Patriarchate once again. This remained the case until the final days of the Soviet Union. At that point, the Church split. Russian Orthodox parishes in Ukraine formed a new Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which acquired autonomy from Moscow but remained ultimately subordinate to the Patriarch there. Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev, however, refused to go along with the new arrangements, and in due course broke away from the UOC to form a rival Church, also called the UOC, of which he proclaimed himself the Patriarch. Ukraine thus now had two UOCs, generally known as UOC (MP – Moscow Patriarchate) and UOC (KP – Kiev Patriarchate). Adding to the complications, from 1990 a third institution- the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) – also operated in Ukraine.

An interesting aspect of these schisms is that there was no apparent doctrinal reason for them. As far as I have been able to ascertain, none of the Ukrainian churches disagree on key doctrinal issues. Instead, the causes of the splits appear to have been the personal ambitions of certain clerics allied with nationalist politics. The latter then led last year to an attempt by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to unite the various churches in a single organization which would be free of control from Moscow. To this end, Poroshenko persuaded the Patriarch of Constantinople to issue a decree establishing a new independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which would combine the OUC (KP) and UAOC. The hope seems to have been that members of the UOC (MP) would then flock to join the new OCU, so destroying the UOC (MP).

This doesn’t seem to have happened. Some UOC (MP) parishes have joined the OCU (allegedly not all entirely voluntarily), but most have not, and those which have are mostly located in the west of the country. Rather than unite the country, the establishment of the new church seems only to have further accelerated its division into western parts (now overwhelming OCU) and eastern/southern parts (still mostly UOC (MP)). The new OCU also isn’t as independent as its creators imagined it would be, as it is officially subordinate to Constantinople and has been downgraded from being run by a Patriarch (Filaret) to being run by a mere Metropolitan (Epiphany).

The new arrangement has not pleased Filaret, who lost his position as head of the church he created. In May, Filaret declared that in his opinion the UOC (KP) had not been abolished, and he remained its Patriarch. He refused to sign the OCU’s charter at a meeting of its Synod, claiming somewhat bizarrely that, ‘The Synod (…) was aimed at the destruction of the Kyiv Patriarchate. Now there is an influence on our primate of these pro-Moscow forces that have entered. And their task is to destroy the Kyiv Patriarchate.’ Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, however, refused to back down, pointedly declaring that, ‘Filaret is no longer Kyiv Patriarch, but a former Kyiv Metropolitan.’

In response, Filaret has now gone one step further. On 14 June, he sent out messages to bishops inviting them to a Council of the supposedly abolished UOC (KP). The Council met yesterday. It announced that the UOC (KP) still exists, that Filaret is its Patriarch, and that it retains the rights to all its property. Unsurprisingly, the OCU has stated that it doesn’t recognize Filaret’s Council or its results. According to one source, on Monday the OCU will formally declare that Filaret and his supporters have split from the Church, albeit saying that, ‘it’s not a schism, it’s just separation of a specific group that supports the opinion of Patriarch Filaret’.

How many people will follow the Patriarch remains to be seen. His Council yesterday does not appear to have been well attended. Most senior clerics seem to be loyal to the OCU. Nevertheless, the new split can only harm the legitimacy of the OCU, and it makes it much harder for the OCU to claim that it is the one true Ukrainian church and that people should leave the OUC (MP) to join it.

Once again, religious doctrine appears nowhere in the disputes. Instead, the warring parties trade nationalist rhetoric, each portraying themselves as the true defenders of the Ukrainian nation. One article published with the headline ‘Only Patriarch Filaret will protect Ukrainian faithful in diaspora’ commented that the creation of the OCU had sold Ukraine out to the Greeks (i.e. Constantinople). By contrast, ‘Patriarch Filaret is almost the only leader in the Ukrainian Church who still believes that it must be independent and serve interests of Ukraine.’ Against this, supporters of the OCU accuse Filaret of playing into the hands of Moscow. As one Ukrainian religious scholar puts it, ‘It’s hard to say directly that this is exclusively the influence of the FSB, or some Russian intelligence services. But the fact that Holy Patriarch Filaret’s ambitions are being successfully warmed up is hard to deny.’

In the mid-19th century, the Slavophile theologian Alexei Khomiakov wrote an influential tome entitled ‘The Church is One’. He stressed the value of sobornost’, a sort of spirit of voluntary collectivism which results in decision making by consensus and agreement by all to respect the decisions taken. Sobornost’ seems to be rather lacking at the moment. And as the clerical battle heats up, God seems to have been forgotten. The OCU was from the start a political not a religious project. It’s hardly surprising that it’s floundering. There is, I think, I lesson there for religious and political leaders everywhere.

40 thoughts on “Splitter!”

  1. The author conveniently omits the fact that Moscow’s control over the Orthodox Church in Ukraine from the (late) 17th century was a tool for the Russification of the Ukrainian people. He also avoids the fact that two hierarchy from the UOC(MP) did, in fact, join the new OCU.

    That “Patriarch” Filaret is doing great damage at this point is clear, but this is due to ego. His following is small. If he continues on this track, he may find himself again reduced to the lay state or -more probably- ignored.

    The establishment of the OCU is an important development. The people of Ukraine should not have to be subordinate to a patriarch in Moscow who closely collaborated with the regime that is waging war against Ukraine.
    As for the isolation of the OCU at this point, let’s not forget that Moscow’s autocephaly was not recognized for some 150 years, and even then the recognition was extorted by the tsar.

    Finally, what does the author mean by nationalism? It is used in this article to imply something nefarious. In fact, it is a desire for self-determination. People deserve to pray in their own language, to celebrate their own religious culture, rather than be forever beholden to that of an aggressive neighbor.

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    1. “The author conveniently omits the fact that Moscow’s control over the Orthodox Church in Ukraine from the (late) 17th century was a tool for the Russification of the Ukrainian people.”

      [Sniff-sniff]

      Yup, smells like burned salo!

      >17th c.
      > Ukrainians.

      Pick one!

      “He also avoids the fact that two hierarchy from the UOC(MP) did, in fact, join the new OCU.”

      Out of how many?

      Btw – what about international recognition of this Frankensteinian φυλετισμός monster of yours?

      “The people of Ukraine should not have to be subordinate to a patriarch in Moscow who closely collaborated with the regime that is waging war against Ukraine.”

      Again – φυλετισμός heresy. I seriously doubt that you, userperson that never before commented here, really believes in God, let alone that you are a Christian. You sound more akin to a pagan, who feels a burning need to have a handcrafted “deity”, which would then serve as a wish fulfillment machine. Theology? Humility? Sacred Tradition? Does these words mean anything to you?

      “As for the isolation of the OCU at this point, let’s not forget that Moscow’s autocephaly was not recognized for some 150 years, and even then the recognition was extorted by the tsar.”

      a) Zelensky is not a czar. Proshenko is doubly so. What are YOUR hopes then? 😉

      b) You conveniently conflate recognition of “autocephaly” with the establishment of the Moscow patriarchate. What is this – lie by omission or your glaring ignorance?

      “In fact, it is a desire for self-determination. People deserve to pray in their own language, to celebrate their own religious culture, rather than be forever beholden to that of an aggressive neighbor.”

      Are you sure you are not a Protestant after all? Capitalism->Nationalist->Protestantism – that’s the “progressive” Trinity you have to espouse here. Because Orthodox Christianity with its long history and Apostolic succession, well, it’s obviously not for you… “professor”.

      P.S.
      Ukraine is one giant Zona from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Laws adopted by the humans doesn’t work here (hell, they even have they own “Svoboda” running around!). Even the laws that usually govern the physical reality fail to work properly – what with Babchenko the undead and pan Tymchuk dying from “cleaning an award gun” © while, technically, registered as attending Rada’s session. The only law that works is the 1st Law of the Ukraine. It’s more relevant and powerful then the 1st law of Thermodynamics. It says:

      IN UKRAINE ANY PEREMOGA WILL INEVITABLY TURN INTO ZRADA.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lyt,

        If this is the same Andriy Chirovsky (one should be careful), he’s a Ukrainian Greek Catholic:

        https://www.sheptytskyinstitute.ca/right-rev-dr-andriy-chirovsky/

        Among Ukrainian Christians, the Greek Catholics are a minority. It’s a high point of irony for someone from that denomination to denigrate the UOC-MP as being somehow historically bogus, given the way that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) was initially established – though coercion under Polish rule, serving as an obvious means of creating greater division among the Orthodox Christians with roots to Rus.

        So there’s no misunderstanding, I’m not saying that the UGCC should no longer exist.

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    2. Professor Andriy Chirovsky,

      What you say smacks of anti-Russian propaganda The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (ROC-MP) and those affiliated with it utilize Church Slavonic. Moreover, a good number of Orthodox Christians on the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR favor the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is loosely affiliated with the ROC-MP.

      Professor Robinson,

      Regarding your above piece, the following from it isn’t accurate:

      “Once Filaret had split with Moscow, however, there was no reason for others not to split with him, and so in due course a third group – the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) – also appeared.”

      ****

      The UAOC established itself during the Russian Civil War period. In point of fact, the Communists in the early years of the USSR (if anything) favored it over the ROC-MP.

      The reason for such had to do with limiting the role of the ROC-MP, which was viewed with suspicion (as being sympathetic to the anti-Communist Whites), in conjunction with promoting the idea of a separate Ukrainian identity – albeit within the limits of the Soviet preference.

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    3. maybe the OCU would be better served having a head office in washington.. after all, that’s the location where this schism has been cultivated to such a strong degree… filaret is only working from the same angle with one seeing the same results from both…
      how do you work around the fact there are many people in ukraine where russian is their first language?? this is in regard your last sentence…

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      1. He’s really hung up on the language bit, never minding what’s preferred among many in the former Ukrainian SSR.

        Comparatively speaking, Ukraine hasn’t been so linguistically repressed. Compare the use of Ukrainian in Ukraine to that of the native tongue in Ireland as a case in point.

        There’s a pre-Soviet Russian government conducted census around the turn of the twentieth century revealing extensive use of the Ukrainian language.

        In the post Soviet era and prior to the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that’s loosely affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate had a trilingual (English, Russian and Ukrainian) website, which is still evident:

        https://church.ua/en/

        Compare that to the websites of the:

        OCU
        https://www.pomisna.info/uk/

        UOC-KP
        http://www.cerkva.info/

        UAOC
        https://church.net.ua/

        The UGCC is trilingual along the lines of the established UOC opposed by Professor Chirovsky:

        http://ugcc.ua/

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  2. The Moscow Patriarchate, which came into existence in 1589, claims to be the mother church of the church of Kyiv which came into existence in 988: A 600 year difference in age.

    If anything, the Church of Moscow is the daughter church of the Church of Kyiv. Any serious discussion of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, or Russia, should begin with these facts.

    In March 2019, Thomas Bremer, a professor of Ecumenical Theology from the University of Münster, delivered an excellent lecture – sponsored by the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studis – which I encourage you to watch:

    “Kyiv Constantinople Moscow: An Ecclesial Triangle” by Thomas Bremer

    Saying that Paul’s space is hostile toward Ukraine is like saying Harvey Weinstein has a problem with women.

    So Paul’s audience would be better off aware that the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church received their faith from Constantinople as well (just like Moscow). According to Patriarch Shevchuk, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is an Orthodox church in communion with Rome.

    Christianity in Ukraine explained in 35 minutes, by Right Rev. Dr. Andriy Chirovsky

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    1. Actually, Bill, I am not on anybody’s side in the Church disputes in Ukraine. I’m not Orthodox, and as far as I’m concerned if people want to worship in a church which isn’t subordinate to the Moscow Patriarch, that’s fine by me. Likewise, it’s fine by me if they do want to. As a Christian, though, I do find arguments about whose church is older than whose, and who has the right to have authority over whom, to be rather silly and besides the point of how I understand Christianity. Likewise, when churches becomes symbols of political causes and battlegrounds in political struggles, it strikes me that something has gone rather wrong.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. On the other hand, AC and yourself are hostile towards Russia. With that in mind, things need to be leveled.

      Of course, the Moscow Patriarchate descends back to the Rus era as is true of modern Russia. Leading up to the Mongol subjugation period, the northern part of Rus was emerging as the more influential part. The Mongol subjugation period saw Kiev destroyed. It later came under the occupation of the Poles.

      “According” to the Constantinpole Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church isn’t recognized as being an Orthodox church, albeit having some similarities with Orthodox Christianity – not evident with other Roman Catholic churches.

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      1. I am not hostile toward Russia Mikhail. I am hostile toward the policies of the Kremlin, i.e. Russia ≠ Kremlin.

        Why people can’t have a fondness, or even respect for the Russian people, culture, literature, etc. while simultaneously criticizing Putin’s corrupt, violent, oligarchical system?

        Russia ≠ Kremlin ≠ Putin ≠ Oligarchy

        I’ve lived, worked, and studied in Russia. I even married one. Yet you claim I am hostile toward Russia.

        Chrystia Freeland publicly stated that she is a Russophile, yet she is viciously critical of Putin:
        https://qz.com/402855/chrystia-freeland-my-ukraine-and-putins-big-lie/

        This isn’t rocket science Mikhail. We all love the USA. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be hugely critical of Trump or Obama. Likewise we love Canada. At the same time, we’re very critical of PM Trudeau or his predecessor, PM Harper.

        So when it comes to calling Putin a violent, corrupt oligarch where are you guys? Where is the backbone of scholars of Russia, and Russians in general? Ukrainians wouldn’t put up with shit. They paid a heavy price. And then things are changing for the better for the people.

        As for the UGCC, listen to remarks by Patriarch UGCC (and the aforementioned videos):

        Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is an Orthodox Church

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      2. William,

        The UGCC isn’t part of the recently created OCU. Moreover, no OC church recognizes the UGCC as an OC.

        Over the course of time, the comments from Chrystia Freeland and Andriy Chirovsky don’t come across as pro-Russian. if anything, it’s the opposite.

        Granted, it’s possible to be anti-Putin and pro-Russian.

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      3. “I am not hostile toward Russia Mikhail. I am hostile toward the policies of the Kremlin, i.e. Russia ≠ Kremlin.”

        And the vast majority of Russian support said policies of the Kremlin that you deplore. Every time someone says “I’m not against Russians – I’m against the Regime!” it is obvious, they have their own, very-very narrow definition of “the Russians” comprising, at best, 3-5% of the entire population (and, oftentimes, not even ethnically Russian to boot).

        “Why people can’t have a fondness, or even respect for the Russian people, culture, literature, etc. while simultaneously criticizing Putin’s corrupt, violent, oligarchical system?”

        “Fondness” and “respect” for the abstracts mean nothing. At all. Using just blanket catch-all phrases like “Putin’s corrupt, violent, oligarchical system” likewise means nothing. Be exact, please.

        “I’ve lived, worked, and studied in Russia. I even married one. Yet you claim I am hostile toward Russia.”

        Yes. Just because you lived, worked, and studied in Russia doesn’t preclude you from be a Russophobe. That’s simple.

        “Chrystia Freeland publicly stated that she is a Russophile, yet she is viciously critical of Putin:”

        Exhibit One: using a granddaughter of the escaped Nazi collaborator as a pinnacle of “Russophilia”.

        “So when it comes to calling Putin a violent, corrupt oligarch where are you guys?”

        Still waiting for you to prove that Putin is: A) Violent. B) Corrupt. C) Oligarch.

        “Ukrainians wouldn’t put up with shit. They paid a heavy price. And then things are changing for the better for the people.”

        […]
        […]
        […]

        Are you that in denial or you are actually paid to write such nonsense?

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Sure the the UGCC isn’t part of the recently created OCU. But then prior to the tomos of 2018, no OC church recognized the UOC-KP either. And outside of Ukraine, Filaret was persona non grata. Right?

        Then one day in December 2018, the UOC was created and recognized. And Filaret’s “anathema” was instantly removed with pen stroke.

        None of this had anything to do with Christ, the Divine Liturgy or being a good person. That’s the Church I’m talking about: A place of worship one attends each Sunday for mass or Christmas and Easter, where your kids are baptized and attend Sunday school.

        Mikhail, you seem to perceive or value a church in its utility as a state “ministry,” not as a spiritual place of worship.

        By this logic, if you were a doctor, you would not treat a sick person – but only those “recognized” as sick.

        While “recognition” might make you FEEL good, recognition does not legitimate, nor substantiate an entity.

        The UGCC is an Orthodox Church with Orthodox theology, liturgy, spirituality, and canonical tradition.

        Ukrainian Orthodoxy and the Question of Autocephaly, Frank Sysyn

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      5. William Szuch
        June 21, 2019 at 10:26 pm – personally i am extremely critical of Chrystia Freeland for more ways then i care to articulate in this post today… i am hopeful she will be gone in the next election… maybe soros can find another task for her, as running for political office has been a disaster for canucks as i see it.. however, she seems to have served a narrow agenda of the ukraine diaspora in canada.. of that she will be given brownie points, but it doesn’t include me..

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    3. Ukraine and the Russian Federation may be in a political conflict, but churches ought to be able to rise about national sentiment and unite in common worship. Their failure to do so reminds me of J.C. Squires’ 1916 poem:

      God heard the embattled nations sing and shout
      “Gott strafe England!” and “God save the King!”
      God this, God that, and God the other thing—
      “Good God!” said God, “I’ve got my work cut out.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Russian and Georgian Orthodox churches get along just fine, with the former recognizing the latter’s jurisdiction in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Likewise, at last notice, the ROC-MP hasn’t usurped the UOC-MP in Crimea.

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    4. “The Moscow Patriarchate, which came into existence in 1589, claims to be the mother church of the church of Kyiv which came into existence in 988: A 600 year difference in age.

      If anything, the Church of Moscow is the daughter church of the Church of Kyiv.”

      Be careful with this strawman – in such hot summer like this one it might burn down in a sec.

      Because what you are doing is engaging in some pretty lame linguistic gymnastic. ROC (MP) does not claim to be a “mother church of the church of Kiev” – it is a μητρόπολις, that has historically derived authority over ALL lands of ancient Rus. You write it yourself – the Church was officially established in Kiev in 988. Splendid! But because you chose to omit this fact, let me instead enLYTTEN the others.

      These are the facts. In 1214 was established Vladimir-Suzdal eparchy of the ROC. In 1243 Kirill III was elected as the Metropolitan of Kiev. At first, he was close with the prince Daniel of Galicia, but when it became apparent that he seeks a king’s crown (and, therefore, becomes pro-Catholic in extreme – even to the point of conversion) Kirill III departed. In 1251 he went to Novgorod, where he first met with Alexander Nevsky. Since 1251 Kirill almost continuously resided in the north-east of Rus’, taking extensive efforts in reconstruction of the church in the region. In 1252, Alexander Nevsky became a ruler of Vladimir instead of his brother Andrew Yaroslavich, and since then he got the full support of Kirill III.

      He was succeed by Metropolitan Maximos, who transferred the official residence of the Metropolitan of all Rus first to Bryansk, and then to Vladimir (1299). In Kiev instead of a proper Metropolitan they now had a vicar (from lat. “vicarius” – substitute or deputy) appointed by said Metropolitan. Metropolitan, who and whose successors, btw, kept the title “of Kiev and all Rus”.

      Maximos, Metropolitan of all Rus was canonised a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church, and his feast day is celebrated on December 6 (December 19, N.S.).

      Next phase of development relates to Moscow. Metropolitans of all Rus had been residing on regular basis in Moscow (a capitol city of the princedom of Moscow) since 1325. In 1461 it became the Moscow Metropolia of the ROC, and its head assumed the title “of all Rus”. In 1589 it became “upgraded” to the Patriarchy (while also keeping “of all Rus”).

      Therefore utterly materialistic, physical geography bound very first sentence of yours makes not sense. It is not some “Moscow” claiming spiritual stewardship over Kiev. It is the ancient institution of the prime clerics of all Rus reasserting its legitimate authority. The fact that they reside in Moscow should not bother any faithful in the slightest, because, ultimately, they represent the “all of Rus”.

      “According to Patriarch Shevchuk, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is an Orthodox church in communion with Rome.”

      🙂

      Uniates are a theological “nuclear bomb placed under a foundation” © of the RCC that, given time and effort, might crumble the whole edifice. Things to consider: A) Pries marriages. B) Recognition of Saints.

      “Saying that Paul’s space is hostile toward Ukraine”

      Nah, only to the svidomites.

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    1. Pardon the wording in my opening salvo directly above. It should specifically note the aforementioned Kyiv Post piece as being in an anti-Russian leaning category.

      Regarding this excerpt from Bill:

      “So when it comes to calling Putin a violent, corrupt oligarch where are you guys? Where is the backbone of scholars of Russia, and Russians in general? Ukrainians wouldn’t put up with shit. They paid a heavy price. And then things are changing for the better for the people.”

      *****

      Pretty rich from someone who doesn’t seem to be so condemnatory of the mix of oligarchs and some extreme nationalists within Kiev regime controlled Ukraine.

      On the matter of comparing Russia and Ukraine:

      https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/04/24/gauging-ukraine-with-russia-and-belarus/

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/25042019-gauging-ukraine-with-russia-and-belarus-oped/

      BTW, in Russia there was the matter of a recently freed Meduza journo after much follow-up among Russian journos. In turn, some in Russia and elsewhere note the comparatively limited mass media support for Julian Assange.

      FYI, Russian academia has its share of diversity, including some who exhibit clear anti-Russian views. Meantime, Kiev regime controlled Ukraine has had a share of people with pro-Russian/counter Euromaidan views jailed, beaten and killed:

      https://www.counterpunch.org/search-results/?cx=000357264939014560440%3Aicshsy4bfu0&ie=UTF-8&q=Ukraine+murder+Odessa&sa=Search

      https://www.google.com/search?q=murder+of+ukrainian+journalist+oles+brizha&cad=h

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  3. ‘Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.’

    gotta look up the history of verbal usage of rat in the OED one of these days. ….

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  4. To me, the Greko-Catholic thing is probably the most bizarre Habsburgs’ experiment in social engineering. The previous, Polish attempt failed spectacularly, but this one lives! Which means that pretty much anything is possible. But of course now, after we’ve seen Nazbols and massive liberal mccathyism, it’s fairly obvious.

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      1. I mean, the whole concept: preserving the orthodox rituals and appearances, while placing the institution itself under control of the Pope in Rome. Instantly reversing, 180 degrees, the vector of indoctrination, within the same cultural environment. It’s so crafty, it’s perfect. It also reveals, I think, an incredible amount of contempt for the bydlo.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. “To me, the Greko-Catholic thing is probably the most bizarre Habsburgs’ experiment in social engineering.”

      Svidomites feel some… burning… passion for all things Habsburg (but not to their chins, though…). E.g.:

      They even had uber-loyal song, honoring their dualistic monarch:

      Боже, буди покровитель
      Цісарю, Його краям!
      Кріпкий вірою правитель,
      Мудро хай проводить нам!

      Прадідну Його корону
      Боронімо від ворога!
      Тісно із Габсбурґів троном
      Сплелась Австрії судьба!

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    2. babbling, Mao, I noticed the successful political action in instrumentalizing Constantinople against Moscow. But how could I understand within my limited knowledge in respective church history or the aligned history more generally?

      within the same cultural environment

      That may be a clue. Although maybe my personal Catholic hobby horse. As lover of churches and their history.

      Now, I am not able to put that into a nutshell. Bits and observational pieces. Two things I could do, I could ask my Jesuit academy close by about this at first sight religious historical curiosity? Guess: Based on the larger Greek struggle post WWII up to 1974? I could contact a respective theologian scholars at my university.

      But yes, this puzzles me. Not sure what tiny bit I understood.

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  5. One gets the impression reading this that this decision was based on an overblown sense of importance in the Orthodox Church as a centre of ‘pro-Russian’ attitudes and that splitting would solve all problems, ignoring the fact that Catholic countries have ignored the Pope and Rome whenever it was too inconvenient and that even in past splits such as the Church of England many English people despite official persecution remained staunch Catholics, including members of the aristocracy, and that the Church of England in its High Church faction is – to put it crudely- the Catholic Church where marriage and divorce is permitted. Indeed many of the rituals and prayers are the same, including blessings said in Latin, the occasional Te Deum sung. It also seems a part of the broader attempt by the Kiev government to deny history geography as they chase what they hope will be a more bountiful stream of donations from Washington and Brussels than what Moscow could offer them and for the more idealistic/naive among them the idea that becoming part of ‘Europe’ will solve all their problems.

    A real fundamental question though is – why are Brussels and Washington willing to underwrite this? What convinces people in European capitals and in Washington to pore scarce budget resources into a country that in 1989 was six times as rich as China in per capita terms and that now, at best, has a per capita income that is 1/3 of China’s.

    Why?

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  6. “Chrystia Freeland publicly stated that she is a Russophile, yet she is viciously critical of Putin:”

    “According to Patriarch Shevchuk, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is an Orthodox church in communion with Rome.”

    This kind of argument from assertion is downright silly. People can say whatever they want; it doesn’t make it true. David Duke has stated repeatedly that he’s not a racist. That doesn’t mean he’ll be getting party invites from Jesse Jackson anytime soon. Freeland might claim to be a “Russophile”, but she hasn’t shown any particular sympathy with or understanding of Russian culture, consistently measures Russians by Western yardsticks, and blames them when they don’t measure up to these standards (eg. Russians “have no one to blame but themselves” for the “fact” (as Freeland sees it) that their country is a “brutal dictatorship”. As an aside, Freeland seems to have a great deal of difficulty understanding how words work).

    As for Shevchuk, he’s a liar. And, in contrast to Freeland, I’m choosing my words carefully, and saying precisely the facts of the matter. Shevchuk is knowingly making false statements. Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are, among other things, bodies of beliefs. If you don’t hold to the beliefs constitutive of one of these bodies, you can’t claim to belong to it. I would ask Shevchuk a few questions.
    1. Is the Pope, currently Francis, infallible when he makes ex cathedra pronouncements on matters of faith and morals? In a related issue, does the Pope hold, by divine institution, universal ordinary jurisdiction over the church around the world?
    2. Do the clergy of the church have the authority to grant indulgences?
    3. Does the Holy Spirit, considered as to his existence and not only his manifestation, proceed from both the Father and the Son?

    I could add some more questions, but these are enough to make the point. If Shevchuk answers “yes” to any of these questions, he, along with the church he leads, is not Orthodox. If he answers “no” to any of these questions, his communion with the Pope is based on a lie, since he doesn’t hold to Catholic dogma. The dilemma is airtight, and I think Schevchuk knows it, which is why I have no hesitation calling him a liar.

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  7. I think there’s some crucial background here that balances out the picture. Unfortunately, it balances it out not so much by making anyone look better as by making the Moscow patriarchate look worse.

    First, a bit of ecclesiological background (ecclesiology -> doctrine of the church). In the theological sense (ie. in terms of what the Orthodox church sees as divinely instituted and constitutive of the church as such), there’s no such thing as a “patriarch” or “metropolitan”. There are only deacons, priests and bishops. There’s no further rank of hierarch above the bishop. St. Cyprian of Carthage stated the principle most concisely by calling the episcopal power “a unity of which each bishop holds his part in its totality”. The idea is that the church is constituted in the theological sense as a concrete community gathered around the Eucharist, not as an administrative body with superordinate and subordinate governing arms. The ceremony of ordination, along with other ritual details, make it clear that parish priests are deputies/representatives of the bishops (historically, parish priests appeared when the local churches got too big for everyone to gather in one single location), whereas the bishop is no one’s deputy.

    With this background, the question becomes what the basis for metropolitans and patriarchs is. The answer is that these things are human institutions that were brought about to ensure good church governance. There needs to be some mechanism to gather bishops together to collaborate on issues of common concern. In the ancient church, this led to a sort of “primacy of honour” for the bishops of major cities. This bishop would take the lead in gathering the regions bishops together to discuss issues of common concern in council. From the beginning, the principle underlying this common coordination was based on political boundaries. Even most of the words the Orthodox church uses to describe larger ecclesiastical regions are taken from Roman imperial language, because church boundaries were based on political boundaries.

    This principle hasn’t always been upheld consistently in church history, as bishops have tried to claim authority based on apostolic lineage, antiquated political boundaries, ethnic make-up, and so on, but these have always been distortions of proper church practice, not examples of it. However, in modern times, the church has made progress in more consistently applying ancient practice. This has led to the autocephaly of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Albania. Paradoxically, this practice is justified because basing church boundaries on political boundaries helps to minimize the politicization of the church. Despite the movement of the church to more consistent implementation of this principle, its greatest obstacle has been the Moscow patriarchate.

    The history of this goes back to the post-Soviet period. The Ukrainian bishops unanimously requested autocephaly in 1992, and were turned down. This is the deepest source of the current crisis in the church. An autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine would have been much better placed to push for peace and reconciliation after Maidan. As it was, the UOC-MP was put in an absolutely impossible position. Maidan is Exhibit A in terms of demonstrating why the Orthodox Church’s traditional approach is a good one. The UOC-MP probably did about the best it could in the circumstances, but it was put in a situation where there were no good options, and what put it in that position was the pride of Moscow. Moscow’s position, that it should be in charge of all of “ancient Rus” is inconsistent in a couple respects. Firstly, it’s not applied consistently. Whatever Moscow says about “ancient Rus”, its actual practice shows that it really is trying to claim its old Soviet boundaries, which are not the same. Furthermore, it’s inconsistent to claim that the political boundaries of ancient Rus are relevant, but the current boundaries of modern countries are not. Political boundaries are either relevant or not. You can’t have it both ways.

    Similarly, in Estonia, the Moscow patriarchate made power-grabbing claims to continued authority that have had the effect of splitting the church and weakening its witness in a country where Christianity of any kind is already weaker than almost anywhere else in Europe. The differences have been papered over by Moscow accepting jurisdiction over only ethnic Russian parishes in Estonia, but, although this prevents complete schism, it also represents a concession to naked and unabashed phyletism. Pro-Moscow apologists love to accuse Ukrainian nationalists and the current supporters of Ukrainian autocephaly of phyletism (and, as an aside, this accusation is 100% accurate), but they would do well to take the beam out of their own eye before worrying about the specks in the eyes of others.

    In this context, it’s completely understandable why the Ecumenical Patriarch felt compelled to intervene. Moscow’s pride and intransigence created a complete mess, and the Ecumenical Patriarch has a particular calling to have a level of concern for the church everywhere. Furthermore, the church in Ukraine specifically has long historical ties with Constantinople, that have never been renounced. However, I think it’s fair to say that the EP acted without sufficient consideration of all the factors. The church in Ukraine should be autocephalous, and the fact that it isn’t has been both a scandal in itself and the cause of numerous other problems. However, it’s possible to do the right thing in the wrong way. The so-called “Kiev patriarchate” and “Ukrainian autocephalous church” were and are openly phyletistic bodies, highly objectionable from the theological, ecclesiological and ethical points of view. To accept these people back into communion with no real repentance, and without the blessing or consent of the faithful Orthodox hierarchs, was always going to lead to bad results. And now we’re seeing already that the dogs are returning to their vomit. I’m not optimistic that this situation will improve any time soon.

    With all that said, it’s nothing new for there to be scandals at the higher levels of church jurisdiction. At those levels, hierarchs are extremely exposed to temptations to lust for power, forget their true allegiances (ie. to the church rather than any given state) and become generically worldly. Some hierarchs are equal to the challenge, some aren’t, and some go back and forth. St. John Chrysostom said that the streets of hell are paved with the skulls of bishops, and that was 1700 years ago, so these kinds of scandals are nothing new. But that doesn’t change the fact that on Sunday I can head down to my local parish where we pray the Lord’s prayer five times to ensure that everyone can say it in their own language, and where Russians and Ukrainians can share lunch after the liturgy without arguing about Ukrainian church politics. And I think my experience on Sundays is more reflective of the day-to-day experience of the great majority of Orthodox Christians than are the childish political squabbles that get so much coverage in the news.

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    1. Ryan Ward,

      Your broad comments above concerning the ROC-MP aren’t accurate. Consider its stance on the churches in Crimea, rebel held Donbass, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as noted earlier at this thread by yours truly.

      As for Kiev regime controlled Ukraine and putting Russia itself aside, a good number in the former show a preference for the UOC-MP, despite all kinds of pressure against it.

      On another point you raise, the US based ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) became loosely affiliated with the ROC-MP after the Soviet Union’s demise. Many ROCOR congregants have non-Russian roots – Armenian, Georgian, Ukrainian, Belarusian….

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    2. Ryan!.. Goodness gracious… I thought you were a good Catholic boi, a true servant of his Holiness the Pope, but here you are – providing a torrential stream of arguments for the restoration of the Byzantine Empire! 😉

      The Orthodox ideal has always been of one single church in one single empire. There was a universal Emperor of the universal Empire, there was a universal Church, there was an imperial City, and the Emperor ruled as God’s vice-gerent on earth, with the imperial court in that imperial city a reflection – however pale and imperfect – of God’s heavenly court. The Seven (by Orthodox count) Ecumenical Councils, for example, assume that the Emperor convokes the council and promulgates its canons.

      Reality may have failed to match the ideal after the 7th century – and certainly after the coronation of Charlemagne – but that ideal was the one fixed constant in the Byzantine, and therefore the Orthodox, mindset until May 1453.

      Just a few comments, if I may?

      “With this background, the question becomes what the basis for metropolitans and patriarchs is. The answer is that these things are human institutions that were brought about to ensure good church governance… In the ancient church, this led to a sort of “primacy of honour” for the bishops of major cities.”

      You make it all sound sooooo trivial, and soooo “man-made”, Ryan. And yet – the institution of the patriarchy goes hand in hand with the “capital T” Tradition beginning since the dawn of Christianity (give or take several centuries). Btw, Ryan, do you remember was the FIRST to be graced with the honorific the “pope”?

      “This is the deepest source of the current crisis in the church. An autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine would have been much better placed to push for peace and reconciliation after Maidan.”

      One – the ROC in the Ukraine (MP) enjoys the widest possible autonomy short of proclamation of autocephaly. This, btw, allows it to tap into the coffers of the ROC MP – a very important little thingy, given that the Ukraine now, thanks to the Glorious Revolution of the Dignity, surpassed Moldova in poverty in Europe.

      Two – in case of turbo charged nationalist discourse NO real Orthodox Church “would have been much better placed to push for peace and reconciliation”. For one – because svidomopitheci are (still) braying for blood.

      Another thing to consider, yet which no one here in this comment section dared to voice. Have anyone of you thought that now the Smart Alec from the Fener/Fatih (let’s call him… “Bart”) is having some sort of buyers remorse, because your typical Opanas and Pronya Prokopovna from Zhmerinka/Berdichev/Zhidachiv have no грошi to spare to pay for his upkeep? Meaning, that impressively sounding “independent OCU” (under Constantinople’s jurisdiction – aka your typical Ukrainian нiзалэжность) is more of a money pit, instead of a plethora of money giving parishes.

      “Whatever Moscow says about “ancient Rus”, its actual practice shows that it really is trying to claim its old Soviet boundaries, which are not the same.”

      Ryan, pay attention to the hands, to see “presto”:

      A) The Moscow based patriarchate directly descended from the original Church established in the Ancient Rus.
      B) Said Church was “of all Rus” variety.
      C) Russian Empire’s borders were a tad bit bigger than the USSR’s – and no one is going to accuse the former of not being the proper repository of the Church of All Rus, no?

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  8. “Consider its stance on the churches in Crimea, rebel held Donbass, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as noted earlier at this thread by yours truly.”

    The examples of Donbas and Crimea are irrelevant, since Moscow recognizes them as belonging under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian church, which is itself not autocephalous. As for the Georgian territories, Georgia (and its associated regions) has always been a special case within Russia. It would be very difficult for Moscow to claim any kind of jurisdiction over Georgian territories, since the Georgian church has a far longer independent history than Moscow does. Georgia is the exception that proves the rule. In any case, it only reinforces my point that, for all the rhetoric about “ancient Rus”, what Moscow is trying to do is assert its old Soviet borders, since the exception to the general pattern that’s accepted is precisely the one that was also an exception in Soviet times.

    “As for Kiev regime controlled Ukraine and putting Russia itself aside, a good number in the former show a preference for the UOC-MP, despite all kinds of pressure against it.”

    True, but not really relevant to my point. The autonomous UOC is in an irregular position (following the precedents of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Albania, as well as multiple older precedents, it should be autocephalous), but it’s undoubtedly a true Orthodox church. That’s more than can be said for any of the “autocephalous” Ukrainian churches, all of which are nests of unrepentant schismatics and phyletists. The fact that most of the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine won’t sacrifice their Orthodoxy for autocephaly certainly does not mean that they wouldn’t prefer to have both Orthodoxy and autocephaly. The people of Ukraine collectively made it clear (all the way back in 1992) that that’s what they wanted.

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    1. “Irrelevant” as you see fit, as opposed to the actual debunking of the suggestion that the ROC-MP seeks to control OC properties that were once part of Rus and for that matter the former Russian Empire and former USSR.

      Meantime, the UOC-MP is arguably more independent than the newly established OCU – the latter owing “legitimacy” to a suspect Bartholomew in Istanbul, whose recognition of such isn’t supported by just about all (if not all) established OC churches.

      The politicized anti-Russian manner of the OCU ( expressed by two commenters at this thread) is within reason not accepted by many OC congregants in the former Ukrainian SSR. This aspect furthers the existence of the UOC-MP.

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  9. “A) The Moscow based patriarchate directly descended from the original Church established in the Ancient Rus.
    B) Said Church was “of all Rus” variety.
    C) Russian Empire’s borders were a tad bit bigger than the USSR’s – and no one is going to accuse the former of not being the proper repository of the Church of All Rus, no?”

    The Moscow Patriarchate is (obviously) the “descendent” of the Russian church back to its origins in the 10th century. That doesn’t mean that it necessarily encompasses all the territories that ever belonged to “Rus”. The Ecumenical Patriarchate once encompassed what is now Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia. That doesn’t make the current autocephaly of these territories inappropriate. Jurisdiction exists to ensure good church order, and changes with changing circumstances. It’s not supposed to be a form of prideful territory-marking, much less one based on no reality that’s existed for decades or centuries. The proper territory of the Moscow patriarchate is still “all Rus”, Rus now being Russia, along with territories (eg. Japan, China, Thailand) whose Orthodox churches are historically associated with Moscow, and are not yet ready to administer themselves in complete independence.

    As for the issue I raised of Moscow pushing for its Soviet boundaries rather than, as its rhetoric would suggest, its boundaries under the Russian empire, the clearest demonstration of this is Moscow’s easy acceptance of the autocephaly of Poland, along with its acceptance of the Finnish church’s association with Constantinople. Neither of these stances fit at all with the rhetoric of “ancient Rus” (both territories’ Orthodox churches were under Moscow in imperial times), but both fit perfectly with a church trying to assert and maintain its Soviet-era borders.

    “The Orthodox ideal has always been of one single church in one single empire. There was a universal Emperor of the universal Empire, there was a universal Church, there was an imperial City, and the Emperor ruled as God’s vice-gerent on earth, with the imperial court in that imperial city a reflection – however pale and imperfect – of God’s heavenly court. The Seven (by Orthodox count) Ecumenical Councils, for example, assume that the Emperor convokes the council and promulgates its canons…but that ideal was the one fixed constant in the Byzantine, and therefore the Orthodox, mindset until May 1453.”

    This is to confuse Byzantine imperial ideology with the Orthodox tradition as such. The two are not coterminous. The Orthodox/undivided (in earlier eras) church was always bigger than the empire, and Christians outside of the empire had no sense that we can see of being in any way dependent on or subordinate to the imperial church. Of course, as a practical matter, the Councils occurred in the empire with the involvement of the Emperors (given that the vast majority of Christians lived inside the empire), but the local churches in other territories reserved the right to judge for themselves as to the merits of Council decisions, and their representatives participated in the councils as equals with the bishops of the empire. The Georgians, Armenians and Syriacs of the Persian empire recognized no subordination to the Roman empire, and no special position of the Roman Emperor. This was the case just as much in the earlier period, when the Armenians and Syriacs were still Orthodox, as it would be later when they no longer were. The same would be true later, eg. in medieval Serbia, which while fully Orthodox, recognized no dependence on Byzantium or its emperor. In the West, meanwhile (and this before the Schism, meaning that the precedent is relevant to Orthodox tradition), the newly founded churches never recognized any dependence on the Roman empire. Christians of the Frankish kingdom, Gaul, Spain, etc. recognized a certain seniority of the Roman pope (who himself was not in the Empire by that point), but none at all for the Roman empire. This wasn’t only a matter of practice. The Western churches never recognized any imperial seniority even in theory.

    In any case, whatever the role of the Byzantine empire in the church, that role ended in 1453. Despite scattered references to ideas of “third Rome” in Russia (which actually aren’t even that common), ideas of “Christian empire” have played virtually no role in Orthodox faith or practice since then. The key post-Byzantine councils (eg. Jerusalem and Jassy in the 17th century, and Constantinople in the 19th), were conducted without any involvement of the Russian state. The Roman/Byzantine empire is dead and gone, and has no successor, but the Church endures. The empire was a key element of a period of the Church’s history. The Church existed before there was any Christian empire, and endures no that there is none any longer. The Church is one thing, and the empire another, however closely they may have associated for about 1000 years or so.

    “And yet – the institution of the patriarchy goes hand in hand with the “capital T” Tradition beginning since the dawn of Christianity (give or take several centuries). Btw, Ryan, do you remember was the FIRST to be graced with the honorific the “pope”?”

    The honorific precedence of the Patriarchates is indeed hallowed by history, but has relatively little to do with the empire. Jerusalem was never a particularly important Roman city, and Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria maintained their patriarchal status long after they found themselves outside the empire. Furthermore, recognition as a “Patriarchate” means very little in terms of jurisdiction. Jerusalem, for example, has always had an area of jurisdiction that’s positively tiny, despite its elevated status and respect in the Church.

    As for who was first referred to as a “pope”, I suspect we don’t know the answer to that question. The first documented use of that term was for a Patriarch of Alexandria, but I doubt that it was the first use of the term tout court.

    “One – the ROC in the Ukraine (MP) enjoys the widest possible autonomy short of proclamation of autocephaly. This, btw, allows it to tap into the coffers of the ROC MP – a very important little thingy, given that the Ukraine now, thanks to the Glorious Revolution of the Dignity, surpassed Moldova in poverty in Europe.”

    There’s nothing preventing one autocephalous church from supporting another financially, so any financial issues in Ukraine aren’t necessarily a barrier to autocephaly. In any case, if there are practical barriers, there could be a “roadmap” to autocephaly. The aspect of Moscow’s behaviour that raises concern is that it has shown no intention of ever recognizing Ukraine’s autocephaly, whatever the circumstances. Wide autonomy is good (it certainly beats the alternative), but it doesn’t justify the permanent refusal of autocephaly, which should be the eventual “destination” of every church that is, for the moment, merely autonomous. We’ve made progress recently with Czechoslovakia, Poland and Albania. The next steps are Ukraine, Finland, Japan and (hopefully) the countries of North America.

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    1. First of all, let me congratulate Ryan Ward for finally managing to accommodate his personal ideological needs with his societal being. Instead of downshift move to Poland (or other “conservative paradise”), he, it seems, can satisfy his conservative views from within “proper West” heartland of Canada, while sounding fashionably and mainstream anti-Russia.

      Second, it means that I also have to congratulate you with… beatific… transformation from the scattershot anti-Soviet conspiratorial caterpillar who you were just a few years ago to the eye-catching Totenkopfschwärmer.

      Finally, it’s nice to see that beneath this patina of your proselyte zeal, you remain the same person. You still have dedication to waste your time writing unreadable chockfull of pet peeves walls of texts – in the middle of the Summer to boot! That you are still engaged in factual cherrypicking (I’m more engaged in various berries picking on my dacha) and moving of the goalposts the sec your point becomes vulnerable.

      Your point, similar to many Constantinople loyalists, could be summed up as the following: “Moscow Patriarchate are meanies and Putin’s lapdogs!”. In order to fight for this you can utilize all sorts of logical fallacies. You write:

      “The Ecumenical Patriarchate once encompassed what is now Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia. That doesn’t make the current autocephaly of these territories inappropriate”

      E.g., you deliberately conflate Russian and Georgian national Orthodox churches with those, which sprang in 19th, at the background of the Ottoman’s Empire collapse and the rise of nationalism in the Balkans, as if the two were similar. You also conveniently fail to mention (and, therefore, condemn) how Fener Patriarchy resisted this often for decades on end – i.e. there was rare if ever a case of it parting with a modicum of authority. Or even how Bartholomew SOMEHOW lifted an anathema placed not by him, said that defrocking does not count, as if he fancies himself a pope-like figure. But that’s a-okay according to your, Ryan.

      You also remain scattershot and not consciese with time periods when it suits you. Like here:

      “In the West, meanwhile (and this before the Schism, meaning that the precedent is relevant to Orthodox tradition), the newly founded churches never recognized any dependence on the Roman empire. Christians of the Frankish kingdom, Gaul, Spain, etc. recognized a certain seniority of the Roman pope (who himself was not in the Empire by that point)”

      which totally ignores the times of the “Byzantine Papacy”. And so one and so forth, several such examples per your paragraph – too much spinning on your part.

      Also, seemingly ignored by anyone with this talk of recognitions, splitters etc, that “sacred tomos” (which Poroshenko presented as yet another peremoga an based part of his electoral campaign on the so-called “tomos tour”) does not grant autocephaly to the “independent Ukrainian national church”.

      The hypocritical calls for “peace” and “neutral autocephalous Church of the Ukraine”, which Western based/born-again net active Orthodox converts promulgate here and there also ignore, that the majority of the OUC (MP) clergy and parishioners simply does not want to severe ties with Moscow. You can’t prescribe all of this to the maligned “Kirillite propaganda” and “Russian troll-farms” now, can you?

      P.S. In past, when you professed to be a good Catholic boi, Ryan, you expressed your approval to Franco’s Spain. Given your conversion, does it mean that now your ideal is early 1940s Bulgaria or “Black Colonels” Greece?

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