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The Patriarch did the right thing with Ukraine

By on October 16, 2018
Demetrios Rhompotis

Demetrios Rhompotis

The Ecumenical Patriarch did the right thing by finally conceding autocephalous status to the two schismatic Orthodox Churches in the Ukraine which had left the Church of Moscow after the country became independent. The Mother Church acted within her rights and responsibilities because the situation in the war-torn Ukraine had gone beyond the pale. Four (!) Orthodox Churches are competing for jurisdiction and the faithful. Add to the mixture the Uniates (Orthodox who accept the pope as their head) and you have a gluten- free dough which in no way could rise!

History also favors the patriarchal decision because the Metropolis of Kiev was directly under Constantinople and it was temporarily transferred to Moscow somewhere in the 17th century.

Moscow had all the time two patriarchs, Alexi and now Kirill, after the independence of the Ukraine, to find a solution through dialogue and cooperation. Instead, it declared the churches that seceded from Moscow schismatic and things were left to become worse. Now Kirill calls for a council of Orthodox prelates to deal with the situation. Kind of late. First, Kirill and his sidekicks, the patriarch of Bulgaria and I believe of Serbia, boycotted last year’s Panorthodox Synod in Crete. Then, he interrupted communion with Constantinople after the latter’s decision to grant autochephaly to the Ukraine about a month ago. What kind of dialogue can you sustain with such a bully?

As if the church canons and politics weren’t complicated enough, the Ukrainian issue has also political parameters that could prove to be explosive. Russia has seized part of the country and pro-Russian militias have sway over big chunks of Ukrainian territory where Russian-speaking populations live. For Russia to lose Ukraine first territorially and now ecclesiastically is too hard to swallow. That’s why Constantinople for so many years wasn’t eager to deal with the problem, either.

Putin must be furious and his first victim could be Kirill himself who is solely responsible in dealing with the issue in such a disastrous, for Moscow, way. And while none care much about Kirill, an oligarch who eagerly submitted his church to state and business interests, turning millions of Russians to Evangelical and Protestant denominations as a result, but amassing billions in dollars in return, Putin’s wrath could be harmful to more. Thanks to his close relations with Turkey’s autocrat Erdogan, he might exert mortal pressure on the Ecumenical Patriarchate–as if its problems with the Turkish authorities weren’t enough. Kirill might even take things on another level, by openly challenging Constantinople’s primacy and elevating the dispute to a full schism by bringing along keen for money and power hierarchs from other Orthodox churches. Time will tell, but the Ecumenical Patriarchate cannot waste a minute before taking preemptive measures.

Whatever the risks, Constantinople acted properly. Let us hope that this concession of autocephaly to the Ukraine will also lead to a concession of independence for our church in America and elsewhere. This way the Ecumenical Patriarchate will show consistency in applying the canons and extending the same maternal care and affection to our church as well.

1) I congratulate Maria Menounos on her wedding! She’s a wonderful person and deserves the very best! I’ve met Maria some years ago, but luckily for her I was married…

2) Political discourse in this country has turned into …intercourse and not of the consensual kind!

3) It’s raining cats and dogs but it’s not pet friendly!!!

4) If you have a big heart, you MUST see a cardiologist!

About Demetrios Rhompotis

Demetrios Rhompotis is Publishing Committee Chairman at NEO Magazine. E-mail: dondemetrio@neomagazine.com. Phone: (718) 554-0308