Russian Orthodox Church’s theologian Andrei Kuraev is convinced that the Moscow Patriarchate could offer autocephaly to its Ukraine-based branch and that the move would eventually play into Moscow’s hands.
“Moscow could resolve the Ukrainian problem on its own. Back in 2000’s I said Moscow must be ahead of Constantinople in granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. The Moscow version of the Tomos for Ukraine could retain the right to appeal to the Moscow patriarch, contain a list of Moscow stauropegia in the canonical territory of the UOC [Ukrainian Orthodox Church], and so on. In this case, Moscow’s interests could have been taken into account,” Kuraev said in an interview with Glavkom.
“Accordingly, this Church [ROC in Ukraine] could have become Moscow’s ally in discussions between primates. A clear bloc of Slavic churches could have been shaped, as opposed to the bloc of Greek churches,” he said.
Kuraev noted that Patriarch Kirill was aware that his authority in church policy or in Ukraine in general gave him no decisive advantage. And yet, he went for sparking conflict.
The ROC archdeacon explained why Patriarch Kirill failed to hinder the process of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine receiving the Tomos of autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarch.
“There are many reasons here. For example, Patriarch Bartholomew’s age gives him resolution: before his departure to Eternity, he seeks to tackle issues that have remained unresolved for centuries. This is the Ecumenical Council, the Ukraine issue, second marriage for priests [the decision by the Patriarchate of Constantinople to allow priests to get married the second time]. In addition, it was at the time when the Tomos issue was being decided that the Kremlin had a month-long period of friendship with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. Moscow needed Turkey as an ally for their war in Syria. Therefore, the Russian Foreign Ministry refrained from putting pressure on its Turkish counterparts on a lower-profile church issue,” Kuraev explained.
Earlier, Kuraev accused priests with the ROC in Ukraine of inciting believers to extremism.
It should be recalled that in January 2019, the OCU received from the Ecumenical Patriarchate a tomos of autocephaly. As we reported earlier, the ROC is plotting to grant sham autocephaly to its branch in Ukraine, despite it being non-canonical from the church law perspective. Honorary Patriarch Filaret, pursuing own interests, also seeks to have Moscow grant such autocephaly.