November 4, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7746

'Nezavisimaya Gazeta': The Moscow Patriarchate Strives For Complete Single-Mindedness; The Russian Church Is Demonstrating A Categorical Refusal To Compromise

November 4, 2018
Israel, Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7746

The Russian media outlet Nezavisimaya Gazeta criticized the Moscow Patriarchate for its self-defeating inability to compromise over the Ukrainian question. On October 15, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church declared it was impossible to continue being in Eucharistic communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate. This was the Moscow Patriarchate's response to an earlier decision, taken on October 11, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant canonical status to the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and recognizing them to be part of the Constantinople church.[1]This effectively granted the Ukranian church autonomy from the Moscow Patriarchate.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta chides the Moscow Patriarchate for its complete single-mindedness, instead of using its critics to open a dialogue with opponents of its policy, the church brands them as agents of Constantinople. Nezavisimaya Gazeta stressed that the Russian Church is ready to fight for its "canonical territory" to the last and to root out "the fifth column" from its ranks. "The more it does so, the more it loses," Nezavisimaya Gazeta concluded.

Recently, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia reiterated opposition to the Constantinople Patriarchate's decision and predicted that the plans of politicians to establish an autocephalous church in Ukraine are doomed to fail: "Those who want to make various peoples forget their spiritual kinship by force and sever millennium-old spiritual ties will achieve only the opposite effect. Politicians who incite hatred, enmity, and splits will have to recognize their historical defeat… persecutors of the church passed into historical oblivion, and all of the attempts to eradicate the Christian identity failed."[2]

Below are excerpts from Nezavisimaya Gazeta's article:[3]

Description: рпц, константинопольский патриархат, конфликт, украинский вопрос, автокефалия, филарет


The Russian Church Is Ready To Defend Its 'Canonical Territory' To The Last And To Root Out 'The Fifth Column' From Its Ranks

"Since the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church completely broke off relations with the Constantinople (Ecumenical) Patriarchate because of the Ukrainian question, the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have managed to drive several more nails into the coffin of Orthodox unity. Patriarch Kirill, during the Church-wide Conference of Social Workers on October 19, entrusted priests with the task of 'explaining' the Synod's decision until 'all the people' become aware of its correctness. 'Identifying with schismatics, he became a schismatic himself', said the Russian Orthodox Church's head about the Constantinople Patriarch. Virtually echoing his boss, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, said: 'By recognizing the schismatics, the Constantinople Patriarch himself joined the schism. This is the way church canons work. Accordingly, the Constantinople Patriarch is now a schismatic for us'.


"A day later, the Synod of the Kiev Patriarchate took place, which showed that the old unyielding 'schismatic' Filaret (Denysenko) is capable of making steep political turns in order to get closer to the goal he set himself many years ago. As we know, the Constantinople Patriarchate granted Filaret's appeal about lifting the Russian Orthodox Church imposed anathema, made it clear clarified that it does not acknowledge him to be the Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus'-Ukraine. So, on 20th October, Filaret's Synod decreed that their leader should be titled 'the Metropolitan of Kiev' in communications with other churches, as he was before the schism of 1991. The Synod also added to Filaret's regalia the title of the 'holy archimandrite of the Kiev Pechersk and Pochayiv Lavras'.


"Now, Filaret has increased his chances to get the main holy sites of Orthodox Ukraine. Introduced as a Metropolitan, he will be able to participate in the founding congress of the future United Ukrainian Church. His opponents built their hopes on the old man's intransigence. But Filaret proved to be more flexible than his Moscow counterparts.


"Now, with the benefit of hindsight, one can take a different view of the Kiev Patriarch's attempts to patch up relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. In December 2017, Filaret wrote a letter to the Moscow Patriarch offering to restore the Eucharistic communion. The Moscow Patriarchate immediately called this letter 'a schismatic's repentance', after which Filaret took offence and focused on communication with the Ukrainian authorities. As we know, a few months later Petro Poroshenko asked the Constantinople Patriarch to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.


"Great processes are reflected in small things In the very midst of the dramatic rift with Constantinople, the Russian Orthodox Church banned a Minsk priest from service for photographing the Patriarch's limousine. Now a group of church intelligentsia is criticizing Patriarch Kirill's actions – and the church press is accusing it of 'working for Constantinople', as if they were enemy infiltrators. The Moscow Patriarchate strives for complete single-mindedness, instead of using these critics for a dialogue with the opponents.


"The Church abroad confirms the Russian Orthodox Church's rift with Constantinople, and in the meantime, the European Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as Constantinople itself, refuses to break off relations with Moscow. Even Russia's most loyal friends, the Serbian and the Antioch Patriarchates, are chiding Constantinople but are not declaring war on it like Moscow.


"The Russian Orthodox Church likes to emphasize its unity with the Russian society, and this affinity is confirmed in such features as inflexibility and cruelty. That aside, the church's mission is to soften tempers and raise good Samaritans. And, if it is necessary to keep the peace – even to turn the other cheek. Instead, the Russian Church is ready to defend its 'canonical territory' to the last and to root out 'the fifth column' from its ranks. The more it does so, the more it loses."





[2], November 1, 2018.

[3], October 21, 2018.

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