The Russian Orthodox Church issued a final warning to Patriarch Bartholomew about the heresy of recognizing Ukrainian schismatics
Last Friday, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia issued a final warning to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew about the heresy of recognizing Ukrainian schismatics. If Patriarch Bartholomew, in violation of the Holy Canons, decides to grant autocephaly to the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by self-appointed Patriarch Filaret, the Russian Orthodox Church will cease to recognize Patriarch Bartholomew. For starters, the Holy Synod decided to suspend the commemoration of Patriarch Bartholomew.
The bone of contention is the status of a religious organization that reminds me of a totalitarian sect with a nationalistic flair. An "offshore oligarch", president, and sponsor of the bloody coup in Ukraine, Pyotr Poroshenko, whose rating, by the way, isn't even close to 10%, seeks to bolster his self-esteem by creating his own church. In order to do so, he decided to bribe Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and have him commit a heresy "for peanuts", as they say in Kiev. Last July, the Ukrainian media reported that Poroshenko had Ukrainian businessmen raise $25 million in cash in "financial aid" to Bartholomew. This was supposed to help speed up the process of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatics.
“About $25 million was collected. The money was supposed to go to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople as a "thank you" for issuing a Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. However, according to his close associates, during a meeting on April 9th, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.”
So, out of the $25 million raised, Poroshenko kept $15 million as a reward for his own efforts. Nothing personal, it's just business.
The meeting took place in April. Somehow Bartholomew found out about the "short delivery" and refused to attend the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, held in July.
The source in Constantinople clarified Bartholomew's decision: “Bartholomew simply presented Poroshenko with an ultimatum, demanding that he return the stolen money. Of course, trying to save face after making bold statements about the Tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Pyotr Poroshenko returned $15 million to Constantinople.”
The extra $15 million dollars resolved the dispute. Bartholomew ended up sending a delegation to the celebration in Kiev. Now, he's about to issue a Tomos, a formal document recognizing the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate.
Clearly, Poroshenko is sponsoring another bloody coup in Ukraine, but, this time, a religious one.
Before drawing any conclusions, we should understand where Ukraine currently stands. Filaret the schismatic announced the creation of his non-recognized church following Ukraine's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. However, he ran into an issue: the sect had no churches of its own. It was decided to take them by force. Backed by the government and nationalists, the sect got the ball rolling. The thing is, legally speaking, churches in Ukraine do not belong to the Church, but are the property of religious communities. For instance, if you beat up and banish the priest, which was often the case, and then threaten the laity, it's yours to take. According to Ukraine's official statistics, since 1992, over 3,000 churches have made the switch from the recognized canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to Filaret's schismatic structure.
But despite these changes, the balance in 2015 was as follows: The Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) had 12,241 churches while the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) ran 4,783 churches, which is just over a third of the number of UOC-MP churches. Keep in mind that 3,000 of UOC-KP churches were taken by force. As for monasteries, the UOC-MP had 207 of them while the UOC-KP was in control of 62 monasteries.
However, the schismatic monasteries are almost empty. There're only 221 monks living in their 62 monasteries whereas 4,783 monks live in the 207 monasteries of the canonical Church. It is what it is. However, since Poroshenko is buying the Ukrainian Church, it appears to be highly likely that Ukrainian temples and monasteries will become new venues of bloodshed. Indeed, some churches may get transferred to new owners without violence, but, in other places, there will be new martyrs.
We have great concern for the historic Orthodox Christian monastery, Kiev Pechersk Lavra. In its caves, the relics of over a hundred saints are preserved in glass coffins, one of them being a Russian knight-errant, Ilya Muromets.