Tuesday, November 23, 2021

    It’s Russian church, not UOC-MP, Moscow Patriarch admits

    Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) has acknowledged that there is in fact the Russian Orthodox Church operating in Ukraine rather than a “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” as the latter refers to itself.

    He made the statement while speaking on the air of Russia 24 TV, the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate reports.

    “For me, as a patriarch (of the ROC – ed.) <…> there is no division into nations and states, there is a flock of the Russian Orthodox Church,” said the head of the ROC.

    Despite such statements by Kirill, the representatives of the so-called UOC-MP (ROC in Ukraine) pursue their claims that they can and should be called “UOC”. Their front NGO Myriany went as far as hold rallies against amending the church’s name to fix in the title their real decision-making center, which is Russia, and collected signatures for the petition to the President’s Office appealing the corresponding regulation.

    Ignoring the will of the majority of Ukrainians to have their own Church independent of Russia, Kirill said it was great sorrow and grief for him to see “the division of the Orthodox people, to see the terrible cruelty.”

    Moreover, the Moscow Patriarch chose not to mention in his interview the Russian-Ukrainian war. He, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, believes that there is no and has not been a Russian military invasion of Ukraine, while the ROCinU allegedly promotes “peace and unity” in Ukraine.

    “I think that the leadership of Ukraine is not happy with what’s happening, but the flywheel of hatred, division, and confrontation has been launched,” Kirill added, probably referring to the creation in 2019 of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine following a Unification Council, which the ROCinU ignored.

    He especially emphasized the role of the head of the ROCinU, Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovsky), and assured that the ROC does not interfere in the fight with dissenters and is allegedly not involved in the split of Ukrainians into pro-Moscow and pro-Ukrainian camps.

    Onufriy “is of course, together with his Church, with his people, but no one can point a finger at him and say: here is the leader of another party, the church party, who is heading the fight against dissenters. This is not the case, and my words apply not only to the life and ministry of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy, but also to our entire Church. We do not take part in this struggle; our Church, our Orthodox people are not responsible for this nightmare – it is the responsibility of the politicians who allowed confrontation within their own people,” Kirill claimed.

    It should be noted that the words of Patriarch Kirill about the division being no fault of the ROC are not true. It was the ROC in Ukraine that supported pro-Russian citizens when the rest of society fought for an independent Ukraine and an autocephalous Church. The ROCinU went for a split in 1992, at the Kharkiv Cathedral, organized including with the participation of Russian intelligence agencies. Another turning point was the Unification Council, which the ROCinU ignored and chose not to attend, in order to prevent the unification of the Ukrainian people. Another fact of the destructive action of the ROCinU and its unwillingness to unite is that this Church was unwilling to discuss its problems and issues with the Ecumenical Patriarch at a high level, instead funding “anti-Bartholomew” rallies and claiming they did not welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch in Ukraine. It should be recalled that Patriarch Bartholomew visited the country at the invitation of the Ukrainian authorities and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

    Earlier, the ROCinU said it must not be called “Moscow patriarchate” because it would be an “anti-church” reference. Meanwhile, the Cabinet of Ministers saw no legal grounds for revoking the standardization of the “UOC” name to include the word “Russian.” In addition, a Ukraine-based religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko said the ROCinU was the same as the ROC, albeit under a different “brand.” Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine says the ROC in Ukraine is an illegal organization and must not be referred to as the UOC. The hieromonk who joined the OCU also called the UOC-MP a convention of ROC dioceses in Ukraine.