The Kyiv Metropolis has always belonged to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while its “handover” was allegedly the result of a distorted translation, falsification of the content of what was already Greek church charters, and the effective loss of original, authentic papers. That’s according to Oles Kulchynsky, a lecturer with the Department of Ukrainian Studies at Istanbul University, who spoke with the Ukrinform news agency.
In November last year, Ukrinform reports, a sensational find struck the world as the original piece of the Brest-Lithuania Peace Treaty was discovered in one of Turkey’s ancient Ottoman archives. This became possible due to a new archive-sharing deal signed between the two countries in February 2020. Ukrainian historians and diplomats are convinced that plenty of important documents now stored in the Ottoman repositories are yet to see light.
Oles Kulchynsky is shortly set to released his research work entitled “Ottomans and the Church: The Unknown War in Ukraine” dwelling on the issue of annexation of the Kyiv Metropolis by the Moscow Patriarchate. The scholar says it took him five years to complete the research.
“Ottoman documents have been discovered, related to the Moscow tsar envoy’s visit to the sultan. These documents primarily complement the Greek patriarchal charters, without which they can’t be fully understood. Besides, the findings clearly contradict the established versions claiming it was the issue of the Kyiv Metropolis that was on top agenda of the Moscow tsar envoy’s visit to the Ottomans,” said the researcher.
Oles Kulchynsky underlines that the church issue, as per the latest findings, was under the control not only of the patriarch but also of the Ottoman sultan and the Divan (the Imperial Council), and that any discussions on handing over the Kyiv Metropolis to the Moscow Patriarchate would be off the table without the sanction of the latter two.
“Finally, the recently opened Russian archives also support this suggestion. Thus, for three hundred years the Kyiv Metropolis was subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate beyond canonical law. From the church’s perspective, such structures as the UOC-MP [Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate] or the ROC [Russian Orthodox Church] have never existed in Ukraine. The Kyiv Metropolis has always belonged to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so the handover is allegedly the result of a distorted translation and falsification of the content of what already was Greek church charters, as well as the loss of the original authentic documents,” says Kulchynsky.
The scholar has also named documents that prove it.
“The first is the protocols of the Ottoman Divan itself, that is, the government’s office records regarding the visit of the Moscow envoy. The second is the records of the chronicler, the sultan’s armor-bearer, who was present at the meeting with the envoy. The third is an excerpt from an Italian chronicle about the same event. The fourth package is several dozen Ottoman documents on the finances of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The fifth is the letters of the Ottoman Grand Vizier to the Moscow tsars and Prince Golitsyn, head of the Ambassadorial Office. The issue of the Metropolis was not only that of the Ecumenical Patriarch – it also depended on the will of the sultan, the supreme vizier, and the Divan. And they simply never expressed their will to hand over the Metropolis,” Oles Kulchynskyi emphasizes.
He also notes that the gradual occupation of the Ukrainian Metropolis and the distortion of the content of patriarchal charters took place during the Ottoman-Russian war. Amid war, any connection between the Kyiv clergy and the patriarch in the capital of the adversary power was ruled out. The war lasted almost 15 years, and many things have changed throughout that time in many areas, including church relations.
“We have secured confirmation that for decades, after the alleged handover, the Kyiv Metropolis was still subordinated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In particular, the orders of the then Russian tsars on the appointment of metropolitans clearly state: ‘Do not return to the Ecumenical Throne’, i.e. the connection of the Kyiv Metropolis with the Ecumenical Patriarchate was highlighted. There are also documents where the Metropolitan of Kyiv is addressed from the Belarusian territories as Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This is proved by the external attributes – the miter of the Kyiv Metropolitan. It was granted to him by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the miter of Kyiv Metropolitan Gideon, in particular, is known for its inscription: “…And all of Russia.” Finally, the Patriarch of Jerusalem later named the Metropolitan of Kyiv in his letters as “Exarch”, apparently of the Ecumenical Patriarch. So Petro Orlyk stressed the need to restore the ecclesiastical authority of Constantinople in Ukraine. And this is just a part of the evidence of further official affiliation of Kyiv to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, rather than to the Moscow Patriarchate,” the researcher emphasizes.
“This is an incredible historical mystification, which has not yet been fully looked into in Ukraine, even in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, not to mention the UOC-MP. After all, in essence, we not talking about the Metropolis, we’re talking about Church sacraments: communion, baptism, confession, and so on. If the ROC has been manipulating them for all these years, then too astonishing questions arise. In particular, regarding the anathemas to Russian tsars and patriarchs involved in the occupation of the Kyiv Metropolis. Otherwise, why has it been done with impunity? The tomos of autocephaly was actually granted to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Ecumenical Patriarch – as to his Metropolis,” the scholar concludes.