What's Going On Within the Orthodox Church?
  • What's Going On Within the Russian - Ukrainian et al Orthodox Churches? What's with this "excommunication" stuff? Any enlightenment would be helpful. Thanks!
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  • I read somewhere in the last month or so about the Ukrainian Church becoming independent of the Russian patriarchate, and that Patriarch Kiril of Moscow was, to say the very least, quite upset about it and was tossing excommunications about. The current climate in that part of the world being what it is, one can but sympathise with the Unkrainians. The independence of the Ukrainian Church from its historical subjection to the Russian Church had the blessing of the senior patriarch of all Orthodox (in Athens?, Constantinople?).

    Perhaps CharlesW can shed some light on this.
  • Thanks MJO! I thought that was the situation. Bartholemew I (whom I like), is in Constantinople. I feel for the man because he is in a lamentable situation. I too sympathize with the Ukrainian church. What little I know of Kiril, I seem to like but have heard some disturbing rumor of late how he is a puppet of Putin. I pray that is not so.
  • Kiril is no different from his predecessors.
    The Russian Church from czarist times has been an arm of the state.
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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    The head of the ROC Dept for External Relations gave an interview recently. Metropolitan Hilarion is a very clever and learned theologian, but seems to be difficult to work with. I don't know whether there is a word for it, but I suspect he thinks of Moscow as 'The Third Rome', and wants it to have supremacy above both Constantinople and Rome.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    They do think of Moscow as the Third Rome and act accordingly. They state that Bartholomew no longer has much of a church and has few followers. The Ukrainians, who have suffered much from Russian domination, want to be free of the Russian church. They see it as an arm of the government, which it has been since Peter the Great. It has been said that the darker elements in the ROC have taken over the church and in reality, Putin is in charge. It's all about territory and not losing it, not about religion.

    Here are some bodies that exist in Ukraine.

    Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate.
    Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
    Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
    Old Believers.
    Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
    Catholic Church (Latin-Rite)
    Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.
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  • Charles -
    Do you know (even roughly)?
    What percentage of Ukrainians are Roman Catholic?
  • Well, I think Bartholomew has many many admirers worldwide and much political influence in a very quiet prudent way. I also think he is truly a very devout man and sincere; not arrogant or egocentric - very humble!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    Ukraine is majority Orthodox. As you may have guessed, the push for separation from Russia is coming from all Orthodox except those under the Moscow Patriarchate.

    I am unable to verify any of this, but here is what I consider a guess as to numbers. Catholics for the most part belong to the non-Latin Rite churches.

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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    The survey was conducted by GfK Ukraine on behalf of the
    Center for Insights in Survey Research from June 9 to July 7, 2017
    Orthodox (Kyiv Patriarchate)44%
    Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate)18%
    Greek Catholic6%
    I believe in God, but do not belong to any religion22%
    Difficult to answer3%

    I think, without proof, that the Autocephalous numbers (7% ?) have been bundled in with Kyif. My understanding is that both Metropolitan Filaret's Kyif group and the Autocephalous group have been received into communion by the Ecumenical Patriarch. I read that the Autocephalous group have no Patriarch currently, because they are hoping for reunion with Filaret.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    It is really difficult to get accurate numbers. Record keeping is poor and there are so many divisions, I think some don't even know how many their group has. Take Ukrainian numbers with a bit of salt.
  • Well, I think Bartholomew has many many admirers worldwide and much political influence in a very quiet prudent way. I also think he is truly a very devout man and sincere; not arrogant or egocentric - very humble!

    My own feeling is that his all holiness is quite modernist and easily controlled by the US/NATO partisan western governments, not someone I could trust. Some think this the case with the Russian Patriarch too, but his more authentic spiritual moral beliefs alone discourage that view from being taken serious. Ye shall know them by their fruits!


    Moreover, there is reason to believe the US State Department’s involvement was not just hortatory. As reported by this analyst in October 2018, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based part of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July 2018 State Department officials, possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally, warned the scandal-ridden and broke Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but under authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from an estimated $37 million raised from believers for the (now stalled) construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York (to replace the original St. Nicholas church destroyed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center). The State Department warning also reportedly noted that federal prosecutors have documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was suggested that Secretary Pompeo would “close his eyes” to this theft in exchange for movement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in favor of Ukrainian autocephaly, which helped set Patriarch Bartholomew on his current course. Moreover, the State Department’s direct hand in this sordid business may not have consisted solely of wielding the “stick” of legal threat: there’s reason to believe there was a “carrot” too. There are numerous unproven reports of a $25 million payoff to Constantinople from Poroshenko (although allegedly Poroshenko initially attempted to hold back $15 million for himself). Attributions of the original source of that money differ. Some claim it came from organized crime bosses in Dnipro. This analyst was told by an unsolicited, confidential informant in the Greek Archdiocese in New York that the funds came from the State Department.

    never know the truth about any such payment. But whatever the details, one still has to ask why the US is so keenly committed to creating an autocephalous Church in Ukraine. Aside from the obvious impropriety of the United States’ taking sides in a question of the Orthodox Church’s internal governance, why is the State Department so committed to promoting a transparently political power grab by Poroshenko, the Ukrainian schismatics, and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople?

    Given the various lobbies with a lot of influence in Washington, including those of foreign states and ethnic communities, it is natural to look in that direction to identify relevant actors and driving forces on the American side with respect to formulation of policy toward Ukraine. Among those that might come to mind are the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States (just under a million people), the Greek-American community (variously estimated at between one and three million, depending on self-identification), and so forth. There is precedent for such influences on US policy in Eastern Europe. One is reminded of the role the Croatian and Albanian diaspora communities played in the breakup of Yugoslavia. It should be noted that the Yugoslav conflicts took place as the post-Cold War drive for US global hegemony was only beginning to take form, and Bosnia and Kosovo were catalytic in its development.

    It is true that some Ukrainian-Americans (heavily weighted by those with western Ukraine origins) have long taken part in activities of various “Captive Nations” and “ethnic heritage” groups operating after World War II, notably the CIA front “American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism” and the “Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations” (originally spun off by the United Kingdom’s MI6 from the earlier “British League for European Freedom”). Mainly though not exclusively oriented toward the Republican Party they operated under the banner of anti-communism but really (to an extent many non-“ethnic” Americans may not fully have understood) were vehicles for their various ethnic agendas. These agendas related less to communism than dissatisfaction with the territorial arrangements that existed after 1945, giving these groups the character of World War II losers’ associations. Russophobia (and with respect to the Balkans, Serbophobia) was a common point of agreement.

    It should also be noted that while American Greeks were not notable in these activities the US government has valued the utility of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate since at least the 1940s. Today, while his flock within Turkey dwindles to almost nil (in effect, it is what in English parliamentary context was known as a “rotten borough”), Patriarch Bartholomew has sought to expand his profile as a “player” on the world stage, exemplified by his demonstrative environmentalism as “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Moreover, his actions in Ukraine are an expansion of Constantinople’s longstanding quasi-papal ambitions built on uncanonical claims to “universal” status as a kind of “Eastern Pope,” misuse of doctrinally troubling incarnational language, and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush. Given strong support for Ukrainian Orthodox autocephaly from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which now sees a new opportunity for it to be elevated to a patriarchate within Roman Catholicism, Ukraine also advances Constantinople’s warm ecumenical embrace aimed at reunion with the Roman Papacy, with a Ukrainian church in communion with both Rome and Constantinople as a possible catalyst. In short, whatever the carrots and sticks involved, the State Department was pushing on an open door at the Phanar.

    However, as described below, by 2005 the ideological and methodological aspects of the US policymaking establishment’s aspirations for global hegemony were already fully formed. A key part of this was turning Ukraine into a forward salient against Russia, as attested to in the "Orange Revolution" of 2004-5 and the 2008 NATO Bucharest declaration regarding Ukraine's (and Georgia's) destiny as part of NATO. Today, attacking the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is another logical—and well-targeted—element of that aggressive aim. While some elements in the Greek and (especially) Ukrainian communities no doubt had a hand in it, they don't have the influence to set the agenda and should be regarded more as implementing a program thought up by others. I would compare the US apparat in this regard to that of the Soviet Union: the imperatives are ideological and bureaucratic; while ethnic lobbies (comparable in their day to pro-Soviet Third World “national liberation movements”) are useful, they are the tools of policy, not its masters.

    Wikileaks Confirms US Influence on the Patriarchate of Constantinople
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,175
    For a variety of opinions on the Constantinople-Moscow conflict: