“Work with Illusions”: how Constantinople interacts with schismatic Orthodox churches
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is trying to unite under his leadership all the schismatic movements in the world. Such an assumption was made by the head of the synodal department for the relationship of the Church with society and the media of the Moscow Patriarchate Vladimir Legoyda. Thus, he commented on reports that the non-canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine, recently created with the participation of Constantinople, held a memorial service for soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine along with schismatics from Belarus. Experts believe that the Patriarchate of Constantinople adheres to the ideology of so-called "Eastern Papism", in accordance with which all Orthodox churches should obey it. However, in conditions when the canonical structures refuse to recognize the legitimacy of these claims, he has to rely on schismatics, analysts emphasize.
The head of the synodal department for relations between the Church and society and the media of the Moscow Patriarchate, Vladimir Legoyda, suggested that the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew intends to consolidate schismatic movements around the world.
He stated this in connection with reports that representatives of the Chernigov diocese of the non-canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PCU), created in late 2018 with the active participation of ex-president Petro Poroshenko and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, served a funeral service for the dead soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine along with schismatics from Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Earlier, representatives of the PCU also held a joint service with the “Bishop” Boris Boyovich of the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church.
“It is curious if this prayer experiment was agreed with Phanar (Patriarch of Constantinople. - RT)?” What is this: the excess of a performer who too literally perceived the breadth of ecclesiological views of his Constantinople ruler or something more? For example, the intention of Patriarch Bartholomew to consolidate schismatic movements around the world under his omophorion, since with the consolidation of the unity of the local Orthodox Churches, he has nothing to say, to put it mildly, ”wrote Legoyda on the Telegram channel.
Recall that the PCU was formed by the merger of two schismatic organizations: the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate. To give greater legitimacy to this project, the Kiev authorities and Phanar - the Patriarchate of Constantinople - also wanted to attract the bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) to their side.
It was supposed that as a result a new unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church would be created, completely independent of Moscow, but the UOC MP immediately refused to participate in this endeavor and forbade its clergy and laity to attend the “unifying” cathedral in Kiev.
Moreover, already in June, the head of the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret (Denisenko) declared the results of the December Council invalid, since he did not bring the PCU genuine independence: according to him, she was subordinate to Constantinople. In this regard, Denisenko canceled the process of merging its structures with the PCU.
The conflict developed when the Ministry of Culture announced that the registration of the Filaret organization was canceled. Denisenko in response called on President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky to provide assistance and filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Culture.
The philosopher and publicist Arkady Mahler, in an interview with RT, agreed with the opinion of Legoyda and stated that the intentions of Constantinople were clear last fall, when "Patriarch Bartholomew launched a campaign to destroy the Moscow Patriarchate and create the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church."
“This is just a statement of fact, which is almost a year old. In September last year, Bartholomew actually launched a campaign to create an alternative Orthodoxy. Here, his main opponent is the Moscow Patriarchate, which has always been a champion of canonical church life. Fanar is interested in the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate actually disintegrates, and alternative small churches are formed on its territory, ”Mahler said.
The analyst explained this behavior of the Patriarchate of Constantinople by the fact that Fanar professes the ideology of the so-called "Eastern Papism", according to which all Orthodox churches should be subordinate to Constantinople. These ideas contradict the structure of the Orthodox world in which local churches are equal and independent: they do not have a single administrative center like the Vatican.
“This is a consequence of the ideology of Eastern Papism, which the Ecumenical Patriarchate professes throughout the twentieth century, but it was Bartholomew who began to consistently put it into practice. For people who understand church politics, there is nothing fundamentally new here, ”Mahler explained.
- "Unification Cathedral" in Kiev, December 2018
- RIA News
This point of view is shared by Roman Silantyev, member of the expert council for conducting state religious studies examination under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
“He makes it clear that he is the Orthodox Pope, and his decisions may go against the position of the local churches. In Ukraine, we see what this can lead to, ”he said in an interview with RT.
Moreover, in the campaign to create an alternative Orthodoxy, Constantinople relies on schismatic movements that traditionally adhere to nationalist and anti-Russian positions, says Arkady Mahler.
“Each country has its own schismatics who would like to go under the heading of Phanar in order to create their own version of the PCC. Of course, in Belarus, and in Macedonia, and Montenegro there will be Russophobian forces who will try to gather in such fake churches. These will be absolutely politicized, nationalist structures oriented against Russia. They will also be pro-American, because we know that America also played a role in this, ”said the expert.
Arkady Mahler also suggested that in a similar way, Constantinople will try to violate the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“The Patriarchate of Constantinople is as interested as possible in the autocephaly of the Belarusian Church, just as it is trying to decompose the Serbian Orthodox Church by giving autocephaly to Montenegro and Macedonia. Therefore, we can assume that in the coming decades, Constantinople will build its Orthodoxy with its non-canonical churches, ”Mahler said.
"Counts on a media campaign"
To date, none of the 15 local Orthodox churches has recognized the PCU, with the exception of Constantinople. Arkady Mahler believes that this situation will continue in the future, since the Orthodox world puts "the canonical order above any political contradictions."
“For the Orthodox world as a whole, dogmatic and canonical fidelity is more important than political conjuncture. Therefore, most Orthodox will remain in the canonical church. But a certain illusion will be created that a new “real” church has appeared under a certain Ecumenical Patriarchate. When an independent aphtocaphal church was established in Ukraine, no one understood how many members there were, which churches belong to it, ”the expert emphasized.
At the same time, he did not rule out that in the media sphere, dissenters will behave more actively, although numerically they will remain in the minority.
“Fanar is counting not so much on real territorial acquisitions as on a media campaign, work with illusions. In the end, this will lead to a global split into the conservative and liberal parts of the Orthodox world. The liberal part will be more marginal, but louder. What we are seeing in Ukraine now is that model that will be worked out everywhere, despite the fact that it is a failure, ”Mahler summed up.