The other day, the Greek outlet VIMA ORTHODOXIAS published an article dedicated to the “unification” of the Ukrainian Honorary Patriarch Filaret and the Greek Old Feaster Auxentius. According to Oleksandr Yefremenko, a Ukraine-based religious expert, the fact that Auxentius’s diocese joined the ranks of Bishop Filaret’s supporters has no significant consequences whatsoever.
It should be recalled that Auxentius is a man of controversial background who represents the Greek Old Calendarists, not recognized by any Local Orthodox Church. The spokesman for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya), noted that even the same old-feaster schismatics as Auxentius had repeatedly renounced him. All this puts into question whether the man is part of any diocese at all.
In turn, Honorary Patriarch Filaret is a retired bishop, and therefore has no right to make such decisions and to govern any diocese (which he doesn’t have anyway). He is now supported by a small number of clerics (who stay with him for personal reasons or mercantile interests) and believers, mostly parishioners of the St Volodymyr Cathedral in Kyiv. Meanwhile, Filaret is well aware of who he is dealing with.
According to Bishop Yevstratiy, he once personally spoke of such unifications, noting that “if some three elders unite, they will not become richer.”
So this fact is just a bubble with no implications. It is beneficial only for the Moscow Patriarchate, which deliberately exaggerates the importance of this fact, trying to portray it as another reason for accusations against Constantinople and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
This is another failed attempt to undermine the hierarchy of the Church of Greece, which Moscow has been trying to split for several years. It should be recalled that the Greek Church was the first to recognize the OCU after the tomos of autocephaly was granted to the latter. This event dealt a painful blow to the reputation of the ROC and its branches in Ukraine. Therefore, probably, it became a priority for Moscow to pit with the Greek episcopate against each other. However, neither bribes nor blackmail could breach unity of the Greeks.
And now, by a rather strange coincidence, the Filaret-Auxentius tandem joined the game on Moscow’s side. All this is reminiscent of another Russian provocation, behind which stand the same mastermind and perpetrators. Now they have reached the Greek-speaking audiences. And this mentioned publication is another confirmation of that assumption.
The lion’s share of the piece is a translation of a similar article by the notorious SPZh outlet. This is obvious plagiarism, or an abbreviated version of the original text. You don’t even need to be fluent in Greek to see this – Google Translate will make it clear for you.
The publication even uses clichés that both SPZh and other pro-Russian propaganda outlets employ. In particular, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy, is referred to as “Serhiy Petrovych.”
Only a few sentences at the top and bottom of the Greek-language piece are unique. However, the conclusion has been penned in the spirit of Russian propaganda, too. The author’s assumption that Bishop Filaret is eager to open his exarchate in Greece looks surprising and rather ridiculous. The assumption is intended to provoke a wave of outrage among the Greek episcopate. After all, it is quite natural that no Church will tolerate the illegitimate presence of another Church in its canonical territory.
However, the message about the creation of the “Kyiv Patriarchate 2.0” in Greece is completely absurd. Neither Auxentius nor Filaret even have human potential to implement such ideas. The small number of their followers is another confirmation of that. It is unlikely that Filaret will be able to unite all the Old Feasters because in some places they cannot even find accord among themselves, to which the Auxentius case clearly testifies. And these things are well known to anyone aware of the real situation on the ground.
So the article is yet another fruit of Russian propaganda. With its help, Russian clergy are trying to hide their own mishaps and defeats.
However, such a careless or even negligent attitude to drafting the piece shows that Russian propaganda pundits are “wearing thin” of imagination or money of their sponsors (although the latter is unlikely). Therefore, besides the latest tantrum fits over own helplessness, these guys are also experiencing a creative stupor.