The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine believes that the Kyiv Metropolis belongs to them, and therefore the Ecumenical Patriarch had to ask permission from the Moscow Patriarchate to grant the tomos of autocephaly and pay a visit to Kyiv.
That’s according to the rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, Bishop Sylvester (Stoychev) of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, who spoke in an interview with the pro-Russian First Independent TV, controlled by Vladimir Putin’s crony Viktor Medvedchuk.
“According to the logic of inter-church relations and intra-church relations, set up according to the rules of the councils, a bishop must obtain permission of another bishop in order to do something or visit the diocese of another bishop. This is part of canonical rules. […] Of course, Patriarch Bartholomew is aware of all these details. Apparently, there are rules, but there are people who defy the rules. After all, the main thing is to confirm oneself as someone with the highest rights, superpowers, the highest privileges, etc.,” the hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate said indignantly, according to Raskolam.net, an outlet supporting the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.
Sylvester suggested that “Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to the territory of Ukraine, unfortunately, will be yet another tool to worsen the already difficult religious situation in our country.”
Here are the two lies voiced by the rector of the Moscow Patriarchate’s higher educational facility.
The Ecumenical Patriarch never interfered in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church ass the territory of Modern Ukraine is one of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Kyiv Metropolis. The Kyiv Metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was founded during the period of Kyivan Rus and only in 2018 did the Ecumenical Patriarch grant his Metropolis a tomos of autocephaly (i.e. independence). He also allowed the hierarchs of the ROCinU, who from the perspective of Orthodox canons operate in the territories of modern Ukraine illegally, to join the Unification Council and the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Ukraine. Most ignored the invitation, and thus all those who did not attend the Unification Council lost their former titles, which they used to have only because of the indulgence expressed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In 1686, the ROC was only granted the right to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv, who was to remain subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarch and to mention him as the Primate. However, the ROC eventually sneered at these demands and ultimately ceased to fulfill them following the Bolshevik coup. Therefore, the Ecumenical Patriarchate never interfered in another’s church or canonical territory, and it is sad to once again see such ignorance by Sylvester (Stoychev), who claims the opposite.
Another lie concerns the “worsening of the situation” over the expected arrival of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Ukraine. According to the latest opinion polls (June 2021), only 14.6% of ROCinU believers oppose the visit, while 50% would be happy to see him in Ukraine. So what kind of worsening is he talking about anyway? Does he think all would listen to some radicals from the ROCinU not willing to accept anyone?
It should be recalled that earlier, the rector of the ROCinU academy called out the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as illegitimate because Constantinople “had fallen and lost its political power.” At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Church received patriarchal status at a time when Constantinople did not exist as capital of the Orthodox Empire. Constantinople did fall in 1453, under pressure from the Ottoman Empire. Thus, if we take into account Sylvester’s opinion, the elevation to patriarchal dignity and normalization of the situation with the ROC (which had been in the split for 141 years) is also void because it was done by rules that allegedly lost legitimacy, as per Sylvester’s logic, after the fall of Constantinople.
But this isn’t the case. Although the ROC and ROCinU owe their very existence to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the case of the granting of the tomos to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, they decided to criticize the Ecumenical Patriarch as if he had not acted according to the same canons by which he acted and treated them in the past.
If not for the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarch, no one knows how the story of the ROC and its split from the Ecumenical Patriarchate would have ended, and if the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II Tranos are considered invalid, the ROC itself has a dubious canonical status. This is like cutting a branch you sit on.
This was confirmed by the Ecumenical Patriarch in this year’s interview.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew noted that in the “Ukraine issue, the Orthodox Church of Constantinople has done the same as in other cases of granting autocephaly.
“We followed the tradition of Orthodoxy established by centuries of church practice. I remember that Constantinople had already granted autocephaly to nine other local Churches before the Ukraine case. Today, of course, some selfishly deny this obvious fact. But those who question the rights and responsibilities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are, in fact, questioning their very existence and identity, the very structure of Orthodoxy,” the Holy Bishop said, alluding to the Russian Orthodox Church.