In the past few weeks, the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church has suffered plenty of major defeats that have severely affected their ambitions and plans. These failures already have a direct reflection on ROC’s reputation and negotiating positions in the Orthodox world, in which the Russians are unreasonably claiming supremacy.
It should be reminded that a few weeks ago, the Danilov Monastery was forced to acknowledge that their anti-canonical stunt aimed at intercepting Orthodox primacy hadn’t worked out, or better say failed. As I predicted earlier, representatives of local Churches are reluctant to participate in the so-called Amman 2.0 gathering. That is why the Moscow Patriarchate postponed its Council of Bishops, announced earlier, whose potential results the ROC talking heads were wagging to threaten the Orthodox world.
In addition, the fact that a Russian diocese was set up in Armenia came as a bad omen in relations between the Moscow and Georgian Patriarchates. With such a move, Moscow has actually planted a time bomb in its ties with Tbilisi. Moreover, it’s Moscow that it will strike primarily as it may lead to the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Georgian Patriarchate, which will drive yet another nail in the coffin of both the Amman 2.0 and the entire “Russian world.”
Things are going not that well either with the opening of Russian parishes in the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. After all, despite all those loud statements by Russian church spokesmen about “hundreds or thousands” of Alexandrian clerics and believers who allegedly seek to find peace in the ROC bosom, no one in Alexandria shows any willingness to embrace the “Third Rome.” This was clearly confirmed by the recent Tanzania visit of Patriarch Theodore. It seems that the unfounded claims of the Russian hierarchs are only the fruit of their wild imagination.
No less important factor is contradictions within the ROC itself. As is known, the number of supporters of the Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev)’s rival, Pskov Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov), who has long been acting as patriarch, is growing steadily.
Discussions about his prospects of replacing Kirill gained such unprecedented momentum that Tikhon himself had to water them down a bit, refuting rumors.
Even more annoying to the ROC are some major misunderstandings with the Kremlin, of which anyone at least a little familiar with the subject has long been aware. Against the background of Tikhon’s rise and issues with the Kremlin, Patriarch Kirill is panicking, fearing that he could be sacked as further unfit for office. At the same time, he knows better than anyone what the options are in Russia for “resignation” of those in high offices who have failed to meet the expectations, lost handlers’ trust, and failed to fulfill the tasks assigned.
And all this is happening on the eve of Kirill’s anniversary…
Once a prominent hierarch and a brilliant church diplomat, he is now likely to celebrate his 75th birthday in front of a broken mirror of his long-crafted image, remaining in self-isolation in the so-called “Skete Site,” the Church of St. Prince Alexander Nevsky near Peredelkino in Odintsovo district, Moscow region. His few guests might be the Federal Protection Office operatives who diligently guard the Moscow patriarch and the said church premises.
Particularly painful for the ROC is the topic of Constantinople, and personally of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who has been in global limelight due to his successful efforts in the world arena over the past few months.
This situation doesn’t suit Moscow, which, so far, is trying to retain, as the Russians say, “a good face in a bad game.” That is why the Danilov Monastery instructed all its propaganda media assets to divert the attention of the faithful from their own failures by trying to compromise Constantinople.
In recent weeks, the vast majority of publications by ROC-affiliated outlets were about Constantinople. It seems that these platforms have no other issues to cover or perhaps they’re just doing what they’ve been paid for. In general, such an approach is reminiscent of the Kremlin’s general information policy towards Ukraine – almost every day, federal channels dedicate the lion’s share of their airtime to tarring Ukraine.
It is worth noting that the way ROC mouthpieces present information is also in line with that of the Kremlin’s top propagandists. All the victories of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Russian Orthodox media outlets try to diminish, his words – to distort, and his achievements – to level for their audiences.
For example, the pro-Russian Pravblog outlet claims that the recent celebration of the 30th anniversary of Patriarch Bartholomew’s enthronement in Constantinople has been ignored by Local Churches. According to the report, it was only representatives of the Romanian Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine who attended the celebration. However, this is not true, as eight Local Churches delegated their clerics to greet Patriarch Bartholomew, despite the complicated epidemiological situation across the world and certain issues with traveling between states.
At the same time, I’d like to remind you that on the 10th anniversary of Russian Patriarch Kirill’s enthronement in 2019, only three heads of local churches arrived in Moscow, not counting the head of the American Church, which in the last century received autocephaly from Moscow but has not been recognized either by Constantinople or the vast majority of Local Orthodox Churches. And this was at a time when no restrictions were imposed on international travel.
Also, it should be noted that on October 22 it was only the anniversary of the election of His All-Holiness that was marked, while the precise day of his enthronement was November 1, so further celebrations will soon be held in Greece and on Mount Athos.
The issue that’s so irritating to ROC propaganda cesspools is high pace of Bartholomew’s activity. After all, His All-Holiness within just a few months paid a visit to Ukraine, held a Council of Bishops, took part in an interfaith meeting in the Vatican, keeps holding services and regular meetings at his residence. All this, against the background of an almost two-year self-isolation of Kirill (Gundyaev), who was vaccinated by Russia’s Sputnik V, makes ROC PR experts bite their elbows and invent even more absurd stories, distort facts, and feed their audiences with sensationalist news, simply making them up.
Realizing that the ecumenical dialogue is ongoing and will remain in place regardless of Moscow’s stance, its minions portray any manifestation of communication with the Roman Catholic Church as a betrayal of Orthodoxy. And this is at a time when the head of the ROC himself announces intentions to meet with the Pope. What explicit hypocrisy, indeed!
Without exaggeration, the ROC is in excruciating pain over the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to the United States. So this trip has also been massively targeted by Russian propagandists. Judging by their coverage of this topic, it seems they follow his every step taken and every word spoken on American soil.
In his addresses, the Patriarch himself clearly and unequivocally debunks the myths spread by Russian church propaganda, thus causing even greater indignation in Moscow. In particular, he recently pointed to Moscow’s ingratitude to Constantinople for making them civilized Christians, as well as denied allegations of so-called papism. However, instead of gratitude, the Russian editors accuse the Greeks of being ungrateful to the Russians.
In general, all these posts are full of negativity, the will to multiply provocations, as well as to find in Patriarch’s words at least the slightest clue for yet another accusation of heresy or some other sin. All this is reminiscent of the Pharisees and scribes, who, out of envy, would constantly follow the Savior and try to seduce Him, or hold Him to some of His words in order to accuse Him and kill Him, so that no one would stand in their way in the future.
Modern-day Moscow Pharisees, blinded by envy and unhealthy ambitions, are following a similar path in order to implement their sinister plan, condemn the Ecumenical Patriarch, and seize supremacy in global Orthodoxy. However, plan is facing an inglorious fate. Just as their predecessors denied the realization of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, so are these guys refuse to accept the realities of today. Just as their predecessors, covering up their act with Law, demanded Jesus’s death under the same law, branding him a heretic, so do these guys, hiding behind the canons, demand the removal of the Ecumenical Patriarch under the same canon, accusing him of heresy.
In conclusion, it should be noted that this whole campaign of discrediting the Ecumenical Patriarch is nothing but a manifestation of Russian clergy’s hysteria from the realization of their own helplessness. From all the above, it becomes obvious that with every new day, Constantinople is strengthening its position, proving to be a true defender of Orthodoxy and therefore rallying all Local Churches around it. At the same time, the Moscow church, with its destructive moves, is falling into further canonical isolation.
Source: Religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko