Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS | 17.11.2018 |

Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (unsuccessfully) attempt to divert most of it into his own pocket?

Last month the worldwide Orthodox Christian communion was plunged into crisis by the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople to recognize as legitimate schismatic pseudo-bishops anathematized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In so doing not only has Patriarch Bartholomew besmirched the global witness of Orthodoxy’s two-millennia old Apostolic faith, he has set the stage for religious strife in Ukraine and fratricidal violence – which has already begun.

Starting in July, when few were paying attention, this analyst warned about the impending dispute and how it facilitated the anti-Christian moral agenda of certain marginal “Orthodox” voices like “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” Fordham University’s “Orthodox Christian Studies Center,” and The Wheel. These “self-professed teachers presume to challenge the moral teachings of the faith” (in the words of Fr. John Parker) and “prowl around, wolves in sheep’s clothing, forming and shaping false ideas about the reality of our life in Christ.” Unsurprisingly such groups have embraced Constantinople’s neopapal self-aggrandizement and support for the Ukrainian schismatics.

No one – and certainly not this analyst – would accuse Patriarch Bartholomew, most Ukrainian politicians, or even the Ukrainian schismatics of sympathizing with advocacy of such anti-Orthodox values. And yet these advocates know they cannot advance their goals if the conciliar and traditional structure of Orthodoxy remains intact. Thus they welcome efforts by Constantinople to centralize power while throwing the Church into discord, especially the Russian Church, which is vilified in some Western circles precisely because it is a global beacon of traditional Christian moral witness.

This aspect points to another reason for Western governments to support Ukrainian autocephaly as a spiritual offensive against Russia and Orthodoxy. The post-Maidan leadership harp on the “European choice” the people of Ukraine supposedly made in 2014, but they soft-pedal the accompanying moral baggage the West demands, symbolized by “gay” marches organized over Christian objections in Orthodox cities like AthensBelgradeBucharestKievOdessaPodgoricaSofia, and Tbilisi. Even under the Trump administration, the US is in lockstep with our European Union friends in pressuring countries liberated from communism to adopt such nihilistic “democratic, European values.”

Perhaps even more important to its initiators, the row over Ukraine aims to break what they see as the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, of which the Orthodox Church is the spiritual heart and soul. As explained by Valeria Z. Nollan, professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College:

‘The real goal of the quest for autocephaly [i.e., complete self-governing status independent of the Moscow Patriarchate] of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a de facto coup: a political coup already took place in 2014, poisoning the relations between western Ukraine and Russia, and thus another type of coup – a religious one – similarly seeks to undermine the canonical relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow.’

In furthering these twin objectives (morally, the degrading of Orthodox Christianity; politically, undermining the Russian state as Orthodoxy’s powerful traditional protector) it is increasingly clear that the United States government – and specifically the Department of State – has become a hands-on fomenter of conflict. After a short period of appropriately declaring that “any decision on autocephaly is an internal [Orthodox] church matter,” the Department within days reversed its position and issued a formal statement (in the name of Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, but clearly drafted by the European bureau) that skirted a direct call for autocephaly but gave the unmistakable impression of such backing. This is exactly how it was reported in the media, for example, “US backs Ukrainian Church bid for autocephaly.” Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in personally with his own endorsement as did the US Reichskommissar for UkraineKurt Volker.

The Threat…

There soon became reason to believe that the State Department’s involvement was not limited to exhortations. As reported by this analyst in October, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July of this year State Department officials (possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally) warned the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from estimated $37 million raised from believers for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York. 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.

[Further details on the St. Nicholas scandal are available here, but in summary: Only one place of worship of any faith was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attack in New York and only one building not part of the World Trade Center complex was completely destroyed. That was St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small urban parish church established at the end of World War I and dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is very popular with Greeks as the patron of sailors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, and following a lengthy legal battle with the Port Authority, which opposed rebuilding the church, in 2011 the Greek Archdiocese launched an extensive campaign to raise funds for a brilliant innovative design by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on traditional Byzantine forms. Wealthy donors and those of modest means alike enthusiastically contributed millions to the effort. Then – poof! In December 2017, suddenly all construction was halted for lack of funds and remains stalled to this day. Resumption would require having an estimated $2 million on hand. Despite the Archdiocese’s calling in a major accounting firm to conduct an audit, there’s been no clear answer to what happened to the money. Both the US Attorney and New York state authorities are investigating.]

This is where things get back to Ukraine. If the State Department wanted to find the right button to push to spur Patriarch Bartholomew to move on the question of autocephaly, the Greek Archdiocese in the US is it. Let’s keep in mind that in his home country, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew has virtually no local flock – only a few hundred mostly elderly Greeks left huddled in Istanbul’s Phanar district. (Sometimes the Patriarchate is referred to simply as “the Phanar,” much as “the Vatican” is shorthand for the Roman Catholic papacy.) Whatever funds the Patriarchate derives from other sources (the Greek government, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches), the Phanar’s financial lifeline is the ethnic Greek community (including this analyst) in what is still quaintly called the “Diaspora” in places like America, Australia, and New Zealand. And of these, the biggest cash cow is the Greek-Americans.

That’s why, when Patriarch Bartholomew issued a call in 2016 for what was billed as an Orthodox “Eighth Ecumenical Council” (the first one since the year 787!), the funds largely came from America, to the tune of up to $8 million according to the same confidential source as will be noted below. Intended by some as a modernizing Orthodox “Vatican II,” the event was doomed to failure by a boycott organized by Moscow over what the latter saw as Patriarch Bartholomew’s adopting papal or even imperial prerogatives – now sadly coming to bear in Ukraine.

…and the Payoff

On top of the foregoing, it now appears that 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. It very recently came to the attention of this analyst, via an unsolicited, confidential source in the Greek Archdiocese in New York, that a payment of $25 million in US government money was made to Constantinople to encourage Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on Ukraine.

The source for this confidential report was unaware of earlier media reports that the same figure – $25 million – was paid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Phanar as an incentive for Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on creating an independent Ukrainian church. Moreover, Poroshenko evidently tried to shortchange the payment:

‘Peter [Petro] Poroshenko — the president of Ukraine — was obligated to return $15 million US dollars to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which he had appropriated for himself.

‘As reported by Izvestia, this occurred after the story about Bartholomew’s bribe and a “vanishing” large sum designated for the creation of a Unified Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine surfaced in the mass media.

‘As reported, on the eve of Poroshenko’s visit in Istanbul, a few wealthy people of Ukraine “chipped in” in order to hasten the process of creating a Unified Local Orthodox Church. About $25 million was collected. They were supposed to go to the award ceremony for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the issuing of a tomos of autocephaly. [A tomos is a small book containing a formal announcement.] However, in the words of people close to the backer, during the visit on April 9, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.

‘As a result, having learned of the deal, Bartholomew cancelled the participation of the delegation of the Phanar – the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia on July 27 in Kiev.

‘”Such a decision from Bartholomew’s side was nothing other than a strong ultimatum to Poroshenko to return the stolen money. Of course, in order to not lose his face in light of the stark revelations of the creation of the tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Peter Alexeevich [Poroshenko] had to just return those $15 million for the needs of Constantinople,” a trusted source explained to reporters.

‘For preliminary information, only after receiving the remaining sum, did Bartholomew finally give his consent to sending a delegation of the Phanar to Kiev … ‘

Now, it’s possible that the two identical figures of $25 million refer to two different pots of money (a cool $50 million!) but that seems unlikely. It’s more probable the reports refer to the same sum as viewed from the sending side (the State Department, the Greek Archdiocese) and the delivery side (Poroshenko, Constantinople).

Lending credibility to the confidential information from New York and pointing to the probability that it refers to the same payment that Poroshenko reportedly sought to raid for himself are the following observations:

  • When Poroshenko generously offered Patriarch Bartholomew $10 million, the latter was aware that the full amount was $25 million and demanded the $15 million Poroshenko had held back. How did the Patriarch know that, unless he was informed via New York of the full sum?
  • If the earlier-reported $25 million was really collected from “a few wealthy people of Ukraine” who “chipped in,” given the cutthroat nature of disputes among Ukrainian oligarchs would Poroshenko (an oligarch in his own right) have risked trying to shortchange the payment? Why has not even one such Ukrainian donor been identified?
  • Without going into all the details, the Phanar and the Greek Archdiocese have a long relationship with US administrations of both parties going back at least to the Truman administration, encompassing some decidedly unattractive episodes. In such a history, a mere bribe for a geopolitical shot against Moscow would hardly be a first instance or the worst.

As one of this analyst’s Greek-American connections puts it: “It’s easy to comprehend the Patriarchate bowing to the pressure of State Dept. blackmail… not overly savory, but understandable. However, it’s another thing altogether if Kiev truly “purchased” their autocephalous status from an all too willing Patriarchate … which would relegate the Patriarch to ‘salesman’ status and leave the faithful wondering what else might be offered to the highest bidder the next time it became convenient to hold a Patriarchal ‘fire sale’ at the Phanar?!”

To add insult to injury, you’d think Constantinople at least could pay back some of the $7-8 million wasted on the Crete 2016 debacle to restart the St. Nicholas project in New York. Evidently the Phanar has better things to spend it on, like the demonstrative environmentalism of “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Of course maybe there’s no need to worry, as the Ukraine “sale” was consistent with Constantinople’s papal ambitions, an uncanonical claim to “universal” status, and misuse of incarnational language and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush.

Finally, it seems that, for the time being at least, Constantinople doesn’t intend to create an independent Ukrainian church but rather an autonomous church under its own authority. It’s unclear whether or not Poroshenko or the State Department, in such event, would believe they had gotten their money’s worth. Perhaps they would. After all, the issue here is less what is appropriate for Ukraine than what strikes at Russia and injures the worldwide Christian witness of the Orthodox Church. To that end, it doesn’t matter whether the new illegal body is Constantinopolitan or Kievan, just so long as it isn’t a “Moskal church” linked to Russia.

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Authority of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate (MP)

Moscow’s Role in Ukraine Orthodox Church Ended

Global Research, November 09, 2018
Consortiumnews 7 November 2018

The Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, an authority completely outside Ukraine, on Oct. 11 stripped away the canonical authority of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—Moscow Patriarchate (MP), sparking a crisis with Russia.

The 1030-year old church is headed by Patriarch Kirill in Russia and the Russian church responded by severing ties to the Istanbul patriarch. Tensions have now been raised even further in the crisis between Ukraine and Russia that erupted after the U.S.-backed 2014 coup in Kiev that overthrew an elected president who tilted towards Moscow.

In Washington, the events were reported in The Washington Post as part of Ukraine’s struggle to “withdraw from Moscow’s control.” In Europe, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini made the sober warning in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard that the religious interference in Ukraine could provoke a war.

Bartholomew’s action is seen as a first step to giving full autonomy, known as “autocephaly” in the Orthodox faith, to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate (KP), a heretical split-off that was created only in 1992 just after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s independence.

The KP church is headed by a self-styled leader named Mikhail Denisenko, who goes by the name Patriach Filaret. He is a defrocked former bishop in the Moscow Patriarchate of Ukraine.

The MP’s lineage goes back to the tenth century Christian conversion of all the people of Kievan Rus, the proto-state that was precursor to the nations of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Its authority in Ukraine was established in 1686 by the same Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Bartholomew reversed his seat’s own 332-year-old decision. While the Ecumenical Patriarch is known as “the first among equals,” among Orthodoxy’s 14 autocephalic churches, he has no authority to rule over them. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy has no single church authority that can impose decisions over all the others.

The 14 churches are supposed to be independent of governments. But in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the anti-Russian president installed after the coup, and other government forces, are using the ruling to further erode Russian influence.

Members of the Moscow church in Ukraine have already been the targets of violent assaults by thugstrying to disrupt worship services, and such conflict is being fueled by politicians’ rhetoric.

In October, when Constantinople lifted Denisenko’s ex-communication, Poroshenko called the decision “a victory of good over evil, light over darkness.” He also said that recognition of the renegade Ukraine church would mean severing all links to Orthodox Russia and its “Moscow demons,” reported gazeta.ru.

Bartholomew’s decision didn’t come out of thin air, and the geopolitical implications are clear: breaking Russia’s ties to the Ukrainian people. This was demanded by Poroshenko, and supported by Denisenko, whose church has never been recognized by the 14 other churches.

On Oct. 31, Denisenko made his view clear in a statement to RFE/RL. “We will be striving to have a single Orthodox Church in Ukraine and to make sure that the Russian [Orthodox] Church is not hiding under the Ukrainian name while, in essence, it is Russian,” he said.

Moscow Responds

“Constantinople’s decision is aimed at destroying unity,” Kirill explained, as reported in Russian language media.

“We can’t accept it. That is why our Holy Synod took the decision to stop eucharistic communication with the Constantinople Patriarchate.” He added that the attack against the Orthodox in Ukraine “was having not only a political, but also a mystical dimension.”

He called for faithfulness to the canonical church, the Moscow Patriarchate, and says he’s “ready to go anywhere and talk to anyone” to prevent the schism among the Orthodox inside Ukraine and remove barriers separating the faithful in the two countries.

The break in eucharistic communication means that the priests of the two patriarchates won’t be able to hold church services together.

While Western media have played the break as an aggressive act by Moscow, the reality is more complex. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest congregation among the approximately 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Kirill went to Istanbul to meet the Ecumenical Patriarch in August to try to avert any actions that would harm the unity.

Metropolitan Hilarion, chief spokesman on questions of schism and unity for the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, explained, “For a church with more than 1000 years of history and ancient monasteries of some 500 to 900 years of age, the perspective of merging with some unrecognized entities, formed 20 years ago, is unacceptable.”

On October 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the action against the Ukrainian church in remarks to the World Congress of Russian Compatriots, an organization uniting people of Russian origin from all over the world.

“Politicking in such a sensitive sphere as religion has always led to grave consequences, first and foremost for the people who got involved in this politicking,” he said. He also referenced a “war” on Russian historical monuments by some forces in Ukraine.

Washington’s Hand

In the past year, discussions were held by U.S. officials with Poroshenko and Denisenko. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell met with Denisenko in September. Then on Oct. 17, a press release in the name of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for religion in Ukraine to be “without outside interference.”

That statement came four days after Bartholomew recognized the breakaway Ukrainian church.

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dmitry Babich is a multilingual Russian journalist and political commentator. Born in 1970 in Moscow, graduated from Moscow State University (department of journalism) in 1992. Dmitri worked for Russian newspapers, such as Komsomolskaya Pravda and The Moscow News (as the head of the foreign department). Dmitri covered the Chechen war as a television reporter for TV6 channel from 1995 to 1997. Since 2003 he has worked for RIA Novosti, RT, and Russia Profile. Dmitry is a frequent guest on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Sky News and Press TV. 

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

The Non-Existent Sea of Azov Crisis

Via The Saker

The Non-Existent Sea of Azov Crisis

November 02, 2018

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard

cross posted with http://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-the-non-existent-sea-of-azov-crisis/
source: https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20181101/1021618870.html

After the resolution of the European parliament that, contrary to international law and common sense, condemned the actions of Russia in the Sea of Azov, Ukraine cheered up and achieved the bringing of the question concerning elections in the DPR/LPR to the consideration of the UN Security Council.

Russia couldn’t block the introduction of this issue into the agenda both for moral and long-term political reasons.

The fact is that Moscow in 2015 also tried to obtain, and actually did obtain, the approval of the Minsk Agreements via the decision of the UN Security Council. This allowed to put Ukraine on the hook of international legitimacy. Kiev, which desired to jump away from the topic, couldn’t state any more that it doesn’t consider itself to be bound to any agreement with “terrorist-separatists” and that it isn’t obligated to them at all. The decision of the Security Council also enshrined that Russia isn’t a party to the conflict. Kiev after this shouted a lot, caused a fuss, sabotaged the implementation of all without exception points of the Minsk Agreements, but didn’t at all dare to officially withdraw from them.

But every coin has two sides, it is possible to find something bad in any good situation, and in any bad situation – something good. The same thing applies here: cementing its position via the decision of the Security Council, Russia couldn’t, without suffering serious reputation losses, deny the Security Council its right to consider the implementation of the decisions approved by its resolution.

Of course, the Security Council couldn’t adopt an anti-Russian or anti-Donbass resolution in connection with the existence of Russia’s veto. But the 5 member countries of the Security Council (France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Great Britain) made a statement of non-recognition of the elections being prepared in Donbass and urged Russia to cancel them. The statement was supported by Germany, Italy, and Belgium. It is strange that there was no America among the declarants. However, this allows to present the statement as the collective position of the European Union, while Washington receives the opportunity to later express itself in support of its allies, but in the meantime to make one more attempt to carry out behind-closed-doors bargaining with Moscow.

Both parties are formally right. Ukraine and its Euro-American intercessors specify that elections in Donbass, according to the Minsk Agreements, have to take place under Ukrainian laws, but Minsk will be violated if they take place now. The People’s Republics, whose position Russia supports, state that this may of course be true, but Ukraine long ago had to adopt a whole complex of acts and carry out other measures, including disengaging troops and ceasing shelling before the turn of the People’s Republics to observe the Ukrainian electoral laws comes.

Judging by separate passages of the speech of the Russian envoy in the UN Security Council, Moscow suggests to consider these elections as the simple legitimation of the heads of the republics, who, unlike their predecessors, weren’t elected by anybody. The West is proposed to look at these elections as the solution to a purely technical problem. Moscow has a trump card on its side  – the fact that the head of the DPR Zakharchenko was killed and charges of organising murder were brought to official Kiev structures.

Europe, however, didn’t want to accept the arguments of Russia, which is demonstrated by the statement of 8 EU states. This, of course, can be the usual diplomatic demarche without consequences — occupying an advantageous position for bargaining in the great global game. But there can also be more serious undertakings that as a result will lead to the realisation of Kiev’s dream of disavowing Minsk, but for reasons that are not at all joyful for Ukraine.

We remember that Germany and France weren’t at all afflicted when Russia froze meetings in the Normandy Format until Ukraine took a more constructive position. They sighed freely, because Kiev bothered them worse than a bitter radish, and sat down in the first row of the parterre to see how Volker will get out of the situation. But they remain guarantors of the Minsk Agreements. It is clear to all that Minsk will never be fulfilled. Kiev doesn’t hide from the West that it is afraid of a domino effect if Donbass is given special status. But Paris and Berlin can’t just say “we changed our mind, Minsk doesn’t work any more”. It is for this same reason that Russia can’t deny the UN Security Council its right to periodically consider the question of implementing the Minsk Agreements. France and Germany themselves insisted on these agreements, they participated in their development, they declared that this is their big victory. The political losses that both countries and their leaders will incur if they change their position will be too great.

France and Germany need to have a pretext to free themselves from the obligation of solving the Ukrainian crisis. If it is impossible to withdraw from the agreements at their own will, and if it is impossible to allow it to be disrupted by a Kiev supported by the West, then it is necessary to shift the blame onto Russia and the People’s Republics.

The West perfectly understands that the refusal under obvious pressure to hold elections in the People’s Republics will cause essential damage to Russia’s international authority. That’s why it acts maximally publicly, up to the level of collective statements following the results of the UN Security Council meeting, closing for Moscow the option of changing its mind and once again “postponing” elections. After the elections have taken place, the West can refuse to recognise Pushilin and Pasechnik as negotiators in connection with the non-recognition of the elections that they were elected in. Also the powers of other delegates signed by them during negotiations can also not be recognised. This is enough to bury the Minsk process under an absolutely plausible excuse.

But if indeed the West does this, then it won’t be done to start a new round of negotiations and reach compromises that are more acceptable for Kiev. If there was the desire to save Ukraine, then it would be enough for Germany to stop the construction of “Nord Stream-2” and not prevent Poland from paralysing the work of “Nord Stream-1”. The geopolitical situation surrounding Kiev would immediately significantly change, and the chances – albeit tiny – of lasting at least 5 years while Russia searches for new markets and delivery routes for its gas would sharply grow for the regime. But Germany initially didn’t plan to opt for such sacrifices, which indeed granted us [Russians – ed] the right to affirm that the destiny of Ukraine, in principle, has been decided, therefore it is better for the Kiev regime to immediately die because long agony only increases the torture.

The West in general, and Europe in particular, needs to jump away from the toxic topic, because it is already clear that Russia will soon raise the question of who will pay for the restoration of Ukraine, like how it already raised such a question concerning Syria. By the time that such a question will be asked by Moscow, it is necessary not to have any formal connections with the Ukrainian crisis. The destruction of the Minsk and Normandy Formats — formally not due to their own fault — allows France and Germany to distance themselves from the problem, while at the same time keeping their finger on the pulse. After all, Poland, Hungary, and Romania won’t be able to avoid border problems connected with their minorities in the West of Ukraine. This means that the EU will anyway be involved in a settlement. But Germany and France will be free from obligations and will be able to dictate to their younger partners in the EU the conditions of support for their position, threatening to leave them alone with their problem in the event of obstinacy.

The Azov crisis should be considered from the same point of view. The West didn’t notice this problem during a year, and then suddenly the European Parliament started to care about it, while even Ukraine recognises that although the economic losses from Russia’s actions in the Sea of Azov and big, Moscow acts in full accordance with international standards – no violations of protocols by Russian customs groups were documented.

There is nothing extraordinary about Russia’s actions. The US examined the vessels going to Cuba not only in the days of the Caribbean Crisis. Israel examined the vessels going to Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, which even caused a diplomatic incident and the cooling of earlier excellent relations with Turkey. It is possible to give a plethora of examples: a warship’s right to examine a trade vessel in the high sea is the ABC of international law.

Nevertheless, the European Parliament started talking about a possible aggravation in the Sea of Azov and began to threaten with sanctions.

Who will aggravate? Russia has no need to do this, Ukraine can’t, and there isn’t anyone else there. Sofa “experts” already started talking about the entrance of the “NATO fleet” in the Sea of Azov. Those who are cleverer speak about its entrance in the Black Sea, understanding that a warship can only pass in the Sea of Azov with the permission of Russia, and a breakthrough – moreover, by a whole “NATO fleet” – equals war. In addition, large ships anyway can’t breakthrough there, but small cutter boats and dinghies can be brought to the Sea of Azov by Ukraine via land routes without any NATO. But this won’t change anything since Russia can sink everything that floats on this sea. This water area is completely exposed to barrelled artillery fire from the coast, not to mention missile systems. If someone wants to launch a war against Russia, then they will find a more convenient place than the Sea of Azov.

NATO ships, for the purpose of flying the flag, entered, enter, and will continue to enter the Black Sea. The Sea Breeze exercises are staged there annually, but, having an unsinkable “aircraft carrier” named Crimea, Moscow reliably dominates in its water area so much so that a hypothetical attack of Russia using the forces of a really large squadron or shock aircraft carrier grouping is possible no closer than from the region of the Aegean Sea. In the Black Sea a fleet hostile to Russia becomes too vulnerable. Because of Crimea it has nowhere to manoeuvre, and it can’t quickly leave in case of danger – a large grouping of ships can’t overcome the Turkish straits overnight.

So all of this is a fairy tale in favour of idle chatter. The non-existent Azov crisis is invented, on the one hand, for the purpose of mobilising Russophobic voters in the EU for the European Parliament elections in May, 2019, and on the other hand — this noise masks the real actions of the West, and allows it to drift away from Ukraine, imitating its comprehensive support.

Otherwise it is difficult to explain why the West didn’t see the danger of the situation being aggravated during a whole year (when it really existed), but saw it precisely now when the problem was solved. The fishermen of “Nord” were exchanged for the Ukrainian poachers lassoed by Russia. It is only left to exchange captains, then vessels, and then the crisis will fizzle out. Especially if Kiev doesn’t forget to return “Mekhanik Pogodin” after “Nord”.

By the way, apparently Kiev started to suspect that something was amiss, because the comments of Ukrainian officials concerning the Azov crisis were wonderfully weighted, especially against the background of the West’s hysterics. The Kiev regime doesn’t even want to denounce the agreement on the status of the Sea of Azov, contrary to its habit of disrupting all agreements with Russia. However, the regime is now concentrated on destroying the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and creating a pocket “local church”. It is too busy for the Sea of Azov.

Joint Statement of the Serbian and Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchates

Joint Statement of the Serbian and Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchates

source

October 22, 2018

Irenic& Official visit of His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X to the Serbian Orthodox Church
From October 11to 19, 2018

BELGRADE – 19th of October 2018 – This historical visit, the first since Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch THEODOSIOS VI (Abou-Rjaili) visited Belgrade, was made in the context of the difficult and painful circumstances that are facing the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East. This visit also coincides with the crisis that is currently facing the world-wide Orthodox Church, where developments are evolving rapidly and in a disturbing manner, and could lead to the occurrence of permanent detrimental impacts on the bonds of communion, peace and unity between brothers.

1. The visit was an important fraternal occasion for the brothers to meet, and for the Serbian and Antiochian Churches to embrace themselves. It provided a chance to discuss various issues which are common to their Churches’ testimony and witness in today’s world in crisis. It was an occasion also to have a fraternal consultation between both Churches about general Orthodox Church matters and the means to avoid deepening the rift between the brothers, and about the requirements needed to consolidate consultation processes, and the consensus between the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.

2. The discussions between the two Churches were driven by a high degree of the spirit of brotherhood, love, peace and transparency, and were thus based on true ecclesiastical principles which are distinct from unilateralism and approaches driven by certain interests. This spirit of brotherhood generated consensus and harmony between the two Churches in their discussions. The two delegations reviewed the many similarities in each Church’s respective historical experience (Serbian and Antiochian), given that each of them could be considered as a “witnessing” or “martyrial” Church. This experience helps both Churches, despite difficulties and suffering, to witness to the Truth and to Christ in her original historical jurisdiction and in the world. The discussions covered the common relations between the two Churches and the means to develop and consolidate them. The importance of active and ongoing cooperation and relations between the two churches was emphasized. Such ongoing active relations will include various theological, academic and cultural aspects, etc. The two Churches confirmed that the irenic visit that His Beatitude, Patriarch IRENEE, will make to the Antiochian Patriarchate, will take place in the near future.

3. The two delegations reviewed the continuing efforts deployed by the Serbian Church at all levels, to preserve her historical, spiritual and national heritage, especially in the Kosovo Metochion, which is considered the historical homeland of the Serbian Church. Both delegations confirmed the importance of supporting this effort, in line with the principles of human rights, peaceful coexistence between civilizations and religions, and compliance with international laws and order, given the importance of the Serbian heritage for the history and existential conscience of the Serbian Church, her present and future.

4. The Antiochian and Serbian delegations reviewed the difficult and painful situation that the Antiochian Orthodox Church is facing in Syria, Lebanon, and all the other states and societies of the Middle East. These people are suffering from killing, terrorism, destruction, forced displacement of population, emigration, and the various forms of political and societal instability that have affected their dignity and freedom, and the dignity of their day-to-day living. The two delegations reaffirm the fact that the Antiochian Christian presence in the East is an original one which goes back 2000 years, and that the Christians living there are not, and do not consider themselves as being minorities in this region, but one of the indigenous components of its many states and societies. They are also an integral part of the historical societal tissue of this region and of the Antiochian space and they continue to stay and are strongly attached to their land and to their testimony in this

5. The two Churches strongly underlined the importance of supporting the Church of Antioch in all that could help this Apostolic Church to continue ahead in her salvivic witness and testimony in the Middle East. This includes encouraging the people remain in their homeland and to partner in building the “State of Citizenship” which makes them equal in rights and obligations with all the other citizens. Both Churches consider that the only possible solution to put a peaceful end to all the tragedies of the countries of this region, is to remain in the dialogue and the acceptance of the other and its differences, and in adopting open dialogue and peaceful coexistence between all the components. This is accomplished primarily by ensuring the equality of rights and obligations between all citizens. More than ever, promoting peace and respecting religious diversity, are two important factors to spread peace all over the Middle East.

6. Both Churches regret the continuing and deepest silence related to the kidnapping of the two Aleppo bishops, Metropolitan PAUL Yazigi and Metropolitan JOHN Ibrahim. After more than five years, the world appears to have forgotten this important humanitarian case. Both Churches make an appeal to all local, regional and international institutions and organizations to urgently resume follow-up of this matter, to reveal the fate of the two bishops, and to make every effort to release them and bring them back to their respective dioceses.

7. Both the Serbian and Antiochian Churches regret that the dispute between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, resulting from the decision of the latter to elect and ordain an Archbishop for Qatar which is in the historical canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, has not yet been resolved. The two Churches express regret also that the impact on the whole of Orthodoxy because of this conflict have not been considered in a timely fashion by all the other Orthodox Churches. This is despite the terms of the agreement achieved through the discussions of the two Churches in June, 2013 in the presence and mediation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek foreign ministry. These terms have been documented by the mentioned ministry and in the correspondence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, admitting thus the existence of the agreement and of its terms.

8. The Serbian and Antiochian Churches express their great concern about the dangers of estrangement, division and separation that threaten the Local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches in our present day. We believe these are a result of unilateral decisions which are impacting the basis of consensus and of fraternal relations between these Churches. Such unilateral decisions are hurting both their unifying bonds and the influence of the Orthodox Church’s testimony in today’s world. The two Churches consider that the current historical momentum is very difficult and sensitive. This momentum requires more than ever before, a lot of wisdom, patience and spiritual vigilance to preserve both the peace of the Orthodox Church and her unity, as well as prevent her from falling, consciously or unconsciously, into the pitfalls of political axes and the political ambitions of nations. Doing so will hurt and weaken the Orthodox testimony and witness in today’s world.

Consequently, the two Churches declare the following:

А. The unity of the Orthodox Christian world and its peace have been placed by Jesus Christ in our hands. Therefore, the two Churches confirm that the strengthening of the unity of the Orthodox Church is a matter of great importance. This is true because the Church is exposed to various dangers and challenges that have originated in today’s world, with its contradictions and divisions, and its various societal and existential impacts on the human person.

B. It is not possible to translate the unity of faith, in a tangible reality and in an efficient testimony that influences human persons in today’s world, which is torn by existential and societal tensions, if the Orthodox Church does not reveal to the world her Church’s unity. This unity is expressed in her words and by her actions. This unity is expressed through conciliarity (synodality, sobornost), work processes, consultation and decision-making processes based on the traditional canonical order of Orthodox Church and consensus between the Orthodox Churches, whatever their size. The Orthodox Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and is not a federation or a confederation of churches that are separate and independent from each other, acting and reacting based on self-interests, and which appear to the world as a group of Churches in conflict, in dispute, and in estrangement between each other.

C. In the context of the Orthodox Church’s universal presence all over the world, the Orthodox witness requires today, more than ever, additional openness, discussions, exchanges of expertise and the deployment of traditional canonical conciliarity between all the Orthodox Churches to unify their testimony in the modern world. This is why the two Churches confirm that it is in the best-interest of the Orthodox Church to embark upon a self-critical review of all the unilateral processes and decisions. This will lead to the preservation of the bonds of unity and communion in brotherhood, love and peace between all the Orthodox Churches, being members of one body (the Body of the Christ). We also require a serious, efficient and processual reactivation of the spirit of unity, consultation, conciliarity and the application of the principle of consensus in approaching and deciding on the common matters between Orthodox Churches. These especially include the decisions related to the granting of autocephaly, based on the principles of Orthodox ecclesiology and canonical order.

D. Orthodox conciliarity is the only efficient way to avoid further deterioration between the Orthodox Churches leading to even deeper estrangement, division and separation. These very things threaten the unity of the whole Orthodox body. Only sound conciliarity, which is based in the first place on the unity of the Eucharistic Chalice, can and should be the basis and the foundation for all we do.

The dangerous situation in the Orthodox world, resulting from the situation in Ukraine, cannot continue without ultimately establishing a lasting division between all the members of the Orthodox Church. That is detrimental to the peace bond in the Orthodox pleroma and to its testimony in today’s world.

Therefore, and given the urgent need to avoid further escalation in the current crisis, the Serbian and Antiochian Patriarchs appeal to their brother, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to restore the fraternal dialogue with the Orthodox Church of Russia in order to, with the fraternal assistance and participation of all the other primates of the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, resolve the conflict between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow and to restore back the bond of peace in the Orthodox Church,

THE PATRIARCHATE OF SERBIA THE PATRIARCHATE OF ANTIOCH
PATRIARCH IRINEY PATRIARCH JOHN X

 

The Empire splits the Orthodox world – possible consequences

 

The Saker

October 19, 2018

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In previous articles about this topic I have tried to set the context and explain why most Orthodox Churches are still used as pawns in purely political machinations and how the most commentators who discuss these issues today are using words and concepts in a totally twisted, secular and non-Christian way (which is about as absurd as discussing medicine while using a vague, misunderstood and generally non-medical terminology). I have also written articles trying to explain how the concept of “Church” is completely misunderstood nowadays and how many Orthodox Churches today have lost their original Patristic mindset. Finally, I have tried to show the ancient spiritual roots of modern russophobia and how the AngloZionist Empire might try to save the Ukronazi regime in Kiev by triggering a religious crisis in the Ukraine. It is my hope that these articles will provide a useful context to evaluate and discuss the current crisis between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate.

My intention today is to look at the unfolding crisis from a more “modern” point of view and try to evaluate only what the political and social consequences of the latest developments might be in the short and mid term. I will begin by a short summary.

The current context: a summary

The Patriarchate of Constantinople has taken the official decision to:

  1. Declare that the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to unilaterally grant autocephaly (full independence) to any other Church with no consultations with any the other Orthodox Churches.
  2. Cancel the decision by the Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysios IV in 1686 transferring the Kiev Metropolia (religious jurisdiction overseen by a Metropolite) to the Moscow Patriarchate (a decision which no Patriarch of Constantinople contested for three centuries!)
  3. Lift the anathema pronounced against the “Patriarch” Filaret Denisenko by the Moscow Patriarchate (in spite of the fact that the only authority which can lift an anathema is the one which pronounced it in the first place)
  4. Recognize as legitimate the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate” which it previously had declared as illegitimate and schismatic.
  5. Grant actual grand full autocephaly to a future (and yet to be defined) “united Ukrainian Orthodox Church”

Most people naturally focus on this last element, but this might be a mistake, because while illegally granting autocephaly to a mix of nationalist pseudo-Churches is most definitely a bad decision, to act like some kind of “Orthodox Pope” and claim rights which only belong to the entire Church is truly a historical mistake. Not only that, but this mistake now forces every Orthodox Christian to either accept this as a fait accompli and submit to the megalomania of the wannabe Ortho-Pope of the Phanar, or to reject such unilateral and totally illegal action or to enter into open opposition. And this is not the first time such a situation has happened in the history of the Church. I will use an historical parallel to make this point.

The historical context:

The Church of Rome and the rest of the Christian world were already on a collision course for several centuries before the famous date of 1054 when Rome broke away from the Christian world. Whereas for centuries Rome had been the most steadfast bastion of resistance against innovations and heresies, the influence of the Franks in the Church of Rome eventually resulted (after numerous zig-zags on this topic) in a truly disastrous decision to add a single world (filioque – “and the son” in Latin) to the Symbol of Faith (the Credo in Latin). What made that decision even worse was the fact that the Pope of Rome also declared that he had the right to impose that addition upon all the other Christian Churches, with no conciliar discussion or approval. It is often said that the issue of the filioque is “obscure” and largely irrelevant, but that is just a reflection of the theological illiteracy of those making such statements as, in reality, the addition of the filioque completely overthrows the most crucial and important Trinitarian and Christological dogmas of Christianity. But what *is* true is that the attempt to unilaterally impose this heresy on the rest of the Christian world was at least as offensive and, really, as sacrilegious as the filioque itself because it undermined the very nature of the Church. Indeed, the Symbol of Faith defines the Church as “catholic” (Εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν”) meaning not only “universal” but also “whole” or “all-inclusive”. In ecclesiological terms this “universality” is manifested in two crucial ways:

First, all Churches are equal, there is no Pope, no “historical see” granting any primacy just as all the Apostles of Christ and all Orthodox bishops are also equals; the Head of the Church is Christ Himself, and the Church is His Theadric Body filled with the Holy Spirit. Oh I know, to say that the Holy Spirit fills the Church is considered absolutely ridiculous in our 21st century post-Christian world, but check out these words from the Book of Acts: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us” (Acts 15:28) which clearly show that the members of the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem clearly believed and proclaimed that their decisions were guided by the Holy Spirit. Anyone still believing that will immediately see why the Church needs no “vicar of Christ” or any “earthly representative” to act in Christ’s name during His absence. In fact, Christ Himself clearly told us “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28:20). If a Church needs a “vicar” – then Christ and the Holy Spirit are clearly not present in that Church. QED.

Second, crucial decisions, decisions which affect the entire Church, are only taken by a Council of the entire Church, not unilaterally by any one man or any one Church. These are really the basics of what could be called “traditional Christian ecclesiology 101” and the blatant violation of this key ecclesiological dogma by the Papacy in 1054 was as much a cause for the historical schism between East and West (really, between Rome and the rest of Christian world) as was the innovation of the filioque itself.

I hasten to add that while the Popes were the first ones to claim for themselves an authority only given to the full Church, they were not the only ones (by the way, this is a very good working definition of the term “Papacy”: the attribution to one man of all the characteristics belonging solely to the entire Church). In the early 20th century the Orthodox Churches of Constantinople, Albania, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, and Romania got together and, under the direct influence of powerful Masonic lodges, decided to adopt the Gregorian Papal Calendar (named after the 16th century Pope Gregory XIII). The year was 1923, when the entire Russian Orthodox Church was being literally crucified on the modern Golgotha of the Bolshevik regime, but that did not prevent these Churches from calling their meeting “pan Orthodox”. Neither did the fact that the Russian, Serbian, Georgian, Jerusalem Church and the Holy Mountain (aka “Mount Athos”) rejected this innovation stop them. As for the Papal Calendar itself, the innovators “piously” re-branded it as “improved Julian” and other such euphemism to conceal the real intention behind this.

Finally, even the fact that this decision also triggered a wave of divisions inside their own Churches was not cause for them to reconsider or, even less so, to repent. Professor C. Troitsky was absolutely correct when he wrote that “there is no doubt that future historians of the Orthodox Church will be forced to admit that the Congress of 1923 was the saddest event of Church life in the 20th century” (for more on this tragedy see herehere and here). Here again, one man, Ecumenical Patriarch Meletius IV (Metaxakis) tried to “play Pope” and his actions resulted in a massive upheaval which ripped through the entire Orthodox world.

More recently, the Patriarch of Constantinople tried, once again, to convene what he would want to be an Orthodox “Ecumenical Council” under his personal authority when in 2016 (yet another) “pan Orthodox” council was convened on the island of Crete which was attended by the Churches of Alexandria , Jerusalem , Serbia , Romania , Cyprus , Greece, Poland , Albania and of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Antioch refused to attend (the US OCA – was not invited). Most observers agreed that the Moscow Patriarchate played a key role in undermining what was clearly to be a “robber” council which would have introduced major (and fully non-Orthodox) innovations. The Patriarch of Constantinople never forgave the Russians for torpedoing his planned “ecumenical” council.

Some might have noticed that a majority of local Churches did attend both the 1923 and the 2016 wannabe “pan Orthodox” councils. Such an observation might be very important in a Latin or Protestant context, but in the Orthodox context is is absolutely meaningless for the following reasons:

The theological context:

In the history of the Church there have been many “robber” councils (meaning illegitimate, false, councils) which were attended by a majority of bishops of the time, and even a majority of the Churches; in this article I mentioned the life of Saint Maximos the Confessor (which you can read in full here) as a perfect example of how one single person (not even a priest!) can defend true Christianity against what could appear at the time as the overwhelming number of bishops representing the entire Church. But, as always, these false bishops were eventually denounced and the Truth of Orthodoxy prevailed.

Likewise, at the False Union of Florence, when all the Greek delegates signed the union with the Latin heretics, and only one bishop refused to to do (Saint Mark of Ephesus), the Latin Pope declared in despair “and so we have accomplished nothing!”. He was absolutely correct – that union was rejected by the “Body” of the Church and the names of those apostates who signed it will remain in infamy forever. I could multiply the examples, but what is crucial here is to understand that majorities, large numbers or, even more so, the support of secular authorities are absolutely meaningless in Christian theology and in the history of the Church and that, with time, all the lapsed bishops who attended robber councils are always eventually denounced and the Orthodox truth always proclaimed once again. It is especially important to keep this in mind during times of persecution or of brutal interference by secular authorities because even when they *appear* to have won, their victory is always short-lived.

I would add that the Russian Orthodox Church is not just “one of the many” local Orthodox Churches. Not only is the Russian Orthodox Church by far the biggest Orthodox Church out there, but Moscow used to be the so-called “Third Rome”, something which gives the Moscow Patriarchate a lot of prestige and, therefore, influence. In secular terms of prestige and “street cred” the fact that the Russians did not participate in the 1923 and 2016 congresses is much bigger a blow to its organizers than if, say, the Romanians had boycotted it. This might not be important to God or for truly pious Christians, but I assure you that this is absolutely crucial for the wannabe “Eastern Pope” of the Phanar…

Who is really behind this latest attack on the Church?

So let’s begin by stating the obvious: for all his lofty titles (“His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch“ no less!), the Patriarch of Constantinople (well, of the Phanar, really), is nothing but a puppet in the hands of the AngloZionist Empire. An ambitious and vain puppet for sure, but a puppet nonetheless. To imagine that the Uber-loser Poroshenko would convince him to pick a major fight with the Moscow Patriarchate is absolutely laughable and totally ridiculous. Some point out that the Patriarch of Constantinople is a Turkish civil servant. While technically true, this does not suggest that Erdogan is behind this move either: right now Erdogan badly needs Russia on so many levels that he gains nothing and risks losing a lot by alienating Moscow. No, the real initiator of this entire operation is the AngloZionist Empire and, of course, the Papacy (which has always tried to create an “Orthodoxerein Ukraine” from the “The Eastern Crusade” and “Northern Crusades” of Popes Innocent III and Gregory IX to the Nazi Ukraine of Bandera – see here for details).

Why would the Empire push for such a move? Here we can find a mix of petty and larger geostrategic reasons. First, the petty ones: they range from the usual impotent knee-jerk reflex to do something, anything, to hurt Russia to pleasing of the Ukronazi emigrés in the USA and Canada. The geostrategic ones range from trying to save the highly unpopular Ukronazi regime in Kiev to breaking up the Orthodox world thereby weakening Russian soft-power and influence. This type of “logic” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Orthodox world today. Here is why:

The typical level of religious education of Orthodox Christians is probably well represented by the famous Bell Curve: some are truly completely ignorant, most know a little, and a few know a lot. As long as things were reasonably peaceful, all these Orthodox Christians could go about their daily lives and not worry too much about the big picture. This is also true of many Orthodox Churches and bishops. Most folks like beautiful rites (singing, golden cupolas, beautiful architecture and historical places) mixed in with a little good old superstition (place a candle before a business meeting or playing the lottery) – such is human nature and, alas, most Orthodox Christians are no different, even if their calling is to be “not of this world”. But now this apparently peaceful picture has been severely disrupted by the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople whose actions are in such blatant and severe violation of all the basic canons and traditions of the Church that they literally force each Orthodox Christian, especially bishops, to break their silence and take a position: am I with Moscow or with Constantinople?

Oh sure, initially many (most?) Orthodox Christians, including many bishops, will either try to look away or limit themselves to vapid expressions of “regret” mixed in with calls for “unity”. A good example of that kind of wishy washy lukewarm language can already be found here. But this kind of Pilate-like washing of hands (“ain’t my business” in modern parlance) is unsustainable, and here is why: in Orthodox ecclesiology you cannot build “broken Eucharistic triangles”. If A is not in communion with B, then C cannot be in communion with A and B at the same time. It’s really an “either or” binary choice. At least in theory (in reality, such “broken triangles” have existed, most recently between the former ROCA/ROCOR, the Serbian Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, but they are unsustainable, as events of the 2000-2007 years confirmed for the ROCA/ROCOR). Still, no doubt that some (many?) will try to remain in communion with both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Constantinople Patriarchate, but this will become harder and harder with every passing month. In some specific cases, such a decision will be truly dramatic, I think of the monasteries on the Holy Mountain in particular.

[Sidebar: on a more cynical level, I would note that the Patriarch of Constantinople has now opened a real Pandora’s box which now every separatist movement in an Orthodox country will be able to use to demand its own “autocephaly” which will threaten the unity of most Orthodox Churches out there. If all it takes to become “autocephalous” is to trigger some kind of nationalist uprising, then just imagine how many “Churches” will demand the same autocephaly as the Ukronazis are today! The fact that ethno-phyetism is a condemned heresy will clearly stop none of them. After all, if it is good enough for the “Ecumenical” Patriarch, it sure is good enough for any and all pseudo-Orthodox nationalists!]

What the AngloZionist Empire has done is to force each Orthodox Christian and each Orthodox Church to chose between siding with Moscow or Constantinople. This choice will have obvious spiritual consequences, which the Empire couldn’t give a damn about, but it will also profound political and social consequences which, I believe, the Empire entirely missed.

The Moscow Patriarchate vs the Patriarchate of Constantinople – a sociological and political analysis

Let me be clear here that I am not going to compare and contrast the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and the Patriarchate of Constantinople (PC) from a spiritual, theological or even ecclesiological point of view here. Instead, I will compare and contrast them from a purely sociological and political point of view. The differences here are truly profound.

Moscow Patriarchate Patriarchate of Constantinople
Actual size Very big Small
Financial means Very big Small
Dependence on the support of the Empire and its various entities Limited Total
Relations with the Vatican Limited, mostly due to very strongly anti-Papist sentiments in the people Mutual support and de-facto alliance
Majority member’s outlook Conservative Modernist
Majority member’s level of support Strong Lukewarm
Majority member’s concern with Church rules/cannons/traditions Medium and selective Low
Internal dissent Practically eliminated (ROCA) Strong (Holy Mountain, Old Calendarists)

From the above table you can immediately see that the sole comparative ‘advantage’ of the PC is that is has the full support of the AngloZionist Empire and the Vatican. On all the other measures of power, the MP vastly “out-guns” the PC.

Now, inside the Ukronazi occupied Ukraine, that support of the Empire and the Vatican (via their Uniats) does indeed give a huge advantage to the PC and its Ukronazi pseudo-Orthodox “Churches”. And while Poroshenko has promised that no violence will be used against the MP parishes in the Ukraine, we all remember that he was the one who promised to stop the war against the Donbass, so why even pay attention to what he has to say.

US diplomats and analysts might be ignorant enough to believe Poroshenko’s promises, but if that is the case then they are failing to realize that Poroshensko has very little control over the hardcore Nazi mobs like the one we saw last Sunday in Kiev. The reality is very different: Poroshenko’s relationship to the hardcore Nazis in the Ukraine is roughly similar to the one the House of Saud has with the various al-Qaeda affiliates in Saudi Arabia: they try to both appease and control them, but they end up failing every time. The political agenda in the Ukraine is set by bona fideNazis, just as it is set in the KSA by the various al-Qaeda types. Poroshenko and MBS are just impotent dwarfs trying to ride on the shoulders of much more powerful devils.

Sadly, and as always, the ones most at risk right now are the simple faithful who will resist any attempts by the Ukronazi death-squads to seize their churches and expel their priests. I don’t expect a civil war to ensue, not in the usual sense of the world, but I do expect a lot of atrocities similar to what took place during the 2014 Odessa massacre when the Ukronazis burned people alive (and shot those trying to escape). Once these massacres begin, it will be very, very hard for the Empire to whitewash them or blame it all on “Russian interference”. But most crucially, as the (admittedly controversial) Christian writer Tertullian noticed as far back as the 2nd century “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. You can be sure that the massacre of innocent Christians in the Ukraine will result in a strengthening of the Orthodox awareness, not only inside the Ukraine, but also in the rest of the world, especially among those who are currently “on the fence” so to speak, between the kind of conservative Orthodoxy proclaimed by the MP and the kind of lukewarm wishy washy “decaf” pseudo-Orthodoxy embodied by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After all, it is one thing to change the Church Calendar or give hugs and kisses to Popes and quite another to bless Nazi death-squads to persecute Orthodox Christians.

To summarize I would say that by his actions, the Patriarch of Constantinople is now forcing the entire Orthodox world to make a choice between two very different kind of “Orthodoxies”. As for the Empire, it is committing a major mistake by creating a situation which will further polarize strongly, an already volatile political situation in the Ukraine.

There is, at least potentially, one more possible consequence from these developments which is almost never discussed: its impact inside the Moscow Patriarchate.

Possible impact of these developments inside the Moscow Patriarchate

Without going into details, I will just say that the Moscow Patriarchate is a very diverse entity in which rather different “currents” coexist. In Russian politics I often speak of Atlantic Integrationists and Eurasian Sovereignists. There is something vaguely similar inside the MP, but I would use different terms. One camp is what I would call the “pro-Western Ecumenists” and the other camp the “anti-Western Conservatives”. Ever since Putin came to power the pro-Western Ecumenists have been losing their influence, mostly due to the fact that the majority of the regular rank and file members of the MP are firmly behind the anti-Western Conservative movement (bishops, priests, theologians). The rabid hatred and fear of everything Russian by the West combined with the total support for anything anti-Russian (including Takfiris and Nazis) has had it’s impact here too, and very few people in Russia want the civilizational model of Conchita Wurst, John McCain or Pope Francis to influence the future of Russia. The word “ecumenism” has, like the word “democracy”, become a four letter word in Russia with a meaning roughly similar to “sellout” or “prostitution”. What is interesting is that many bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate who, in the past, were torn between the conservative pressure from their own flock and their own “ecumenical” and “democratic” inclinations (best embodied by the Patriarch of Constantinople) have now made a choice for the conservative model (beginning by Patriarch Kirill himself who, in the past, used to be quite favorable to the so-called “ecumenical dialog of love” with the Latins).

Now that the MP and the PC have broken the ties which previously united them, they are both free to pursue their natural inclinations, so to speak. The PC can become some kind of “Eastern Rite Papacy” and bask in an unhindered love fest with the Empire and the Vatican while the MP will now have almost no incentive whatsoever to pay attention to future offers of rapprochement by the Empire or the Vatican (these two always work hand in hand). For Russia, this is a very good development.

Make no mistake, what the Empire did in the Ukraine constitutes yet another profoundly evil and tragic blow against the long-suffering people of the Ukraine. In its ugliness and tragic consequences, it is quite comparable to the occupation of these lands by the Papacy via its Polish and Lithuanian agents. But God has the ability to turn even the worst horror into something which, in the end, will strengthen His Church.

Russia in general, and the Moscow Patriarchate specifically, are very much in a transition phase on many levels and we cannot overestimate the impact which the West’s hostility on all fronts, including spiritual ones, will have on the future consciousness of the Russian and Orthodox people. The 1990s were years of total confusion and ignorance, not only for Russia by the way, but the first decade of the new millennium has turned out to be a most painful, but also most needed, eye-opener for those who had naively trusted the notion that the West’s enemy was only Communism, not Russia as a civilizational model.

In their infinite ignorance and stupidity, the leaders of the Empire have always acted only in the immediate short term and they never bothered to think about the mid to long term effects of their actions. This is as true for Russia as it is for Iraq or the Balkans. When things eventually, and inevitably, go very wrong, they will be sincerely baffled and wonder how and why it all went wrong. In the end, as always, they will blame the “other guy”.

There is no doubt in my mind that the latest maneuver of the AngloZionist Empire in the Ukraine will yield some kind of feel-good and short term “victory” (“peremoga” in Ukrainian) which will be followed by a humiliating defeat (“zrada” in Ukrainian) which will have profound consequences for many decades to come and which will deeply reshape the current Orthodox world. In theory, these kinds of operations are supposed to implement the ancient principle of “divide and rule”, but in the modern world what they really do is to further unite the Russian people against the Empire and, God willing, will unite the Orthodox people against pseudo-Orthodox bishops.

Conclusion:

In this analysis I have had to describe a lot of, shall we say, “less than inspiring” realities about the Orthodox Church and I don’t want to give the impression that the Church of Christ is as clueless and impotent as all those denominations, which, over the centuries have fallen away from the Church. Yes, our times are difficult and tragic, but the Church has not lost her “salt”. So what I want to do in lieu of a personal conclusion is to quote one of the most enlightened and distinguished theologians of our time, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, who in his book “The Mind of the Orthodox Church” (which I consider one of the best books available in English about the Orthodox Church and a “must read” for anybody interested in Orthodox ecclesiology) wrote the following words:

Saint Maximos the Confessor says that, while Christians are divided into categories according to age and race, nationalities, languages, places and ways of life, studies and characteristics, and are “distinct from one another and vastly different, all being born into the Church and reborn and recreated through it in the Spirit” nevertheless “it bestows equally on all the gift of one divine form and designation, to be Christ’s and to bear His Name. And Saint Basil the Great, referring to the unity of the Church says characteristically: “The Church of Christ is one, even tough He is called upon from different places”. These passages, and especially the life of the Church, do away with every nationalistic tendency. It is not, of course, nations and homelands that are abolished, but nationalism, which is a heresy and a great danger to the Church of Christ.

Metropolitan Hierotheos is absolutely correct. Nationalism, which itself is a pure product of West European secularism, is one of the most dangerous threats facing the Church today. During the 20th century it has already cost the lives of millions of pious and faithful Christians (having said that, this in no way implies that the kind of suicidal multiculturalism advocated by the degenerate leaders of the AngloZionist Empire today is any better!). And this is hardly a “Ukrainian” problem (the Moscow Patriarchate is also deeply infected by the deadly virus of nationalism). Nationalism and ethno-phyletism are hardly worse than such heresies as Iconoclasm or Monophysitism/Monothelitism were in the past and those were eventually defeated. Like all heresies, nationalism will never prevail against the “Church of the living God” which is the “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) and while many may lapse, others never will.

In the meantime, the next couple of months will be absolutely crucial. Right now it appears to me that the majority of the Orthodox Churches will first try to remain neutral but will have to eventually side with the Moscow Patriarchate and against the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew. Ironically, the situation inside the USA will most likely be particularly chaotic as the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA have divided loyalties and are often split along conservative vs modernizing lines. The other place to keep a close eye on will be the monasteries on the Holy Mountain were I expect a major crisis and confrontation to erupt.

With the crisis in the Ukraine the heresy of nationalism has reached a new level of infamy and there will most certainly be a very strong reaction to it. The Empire clearly has no idea what kind of dynamic it has now set in motion.

The Saker

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