The so-called Office of the Moscow Patriarchate for the Affairs of Dioceses in Near Abroad will organize the life of the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the territories where the pseudo-referenda on “joining” the Russian Federation were held.
The Deputy Head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church Ihor Yakymchuk, spoke of this with the Russian propaganda news agency “RIA Novosti“.
“By the decision of the Holy Synod of March 24, 2022, the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for the affairs of dioceses in the countries of the Near Abroad was established under the leadership of Metropolitan Pavel. Its scope of competence also includes dioceses on the territory of Ukraine,” said a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to the journals of its meeting published by the website of the Moscow Patriarchate, made the decision after hearing the message of the Moscow Patriarch Cyril about the necessity of this step.
Pseudo-referenda on “accession” to Russia were held from September 23 to 27 in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia regions.
What does the establishment of ROC parishes in temporarily occupied territories mean?
By establishing parishes in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church fully supports the imperial plans of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin to take over Ukraine. It is ready to provide comprehensive support for pseudo-referendua and destroy Ukrainian identity by establishing the Russian church in the temporarily occupied territories. Before that, the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate was there, which also did not greatly contribute to the formation of a pro-Ukrainian, statist position among local residents.
In addition, the Russian Orthodox Church, following in the Kremlin footsteps, is engaged in the ecclesiastical occupation of the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church announced the seizure of several thousand parishes in the dioceses of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhia. The Moscow Patriarchate destroys its own offspring and narrows the existence of the UOC MP wherever Russian soldiers step in. It is a gross violation of the canons when a bishop interferes in the affairs of another bishop without his knowledge and arbitrarily establishes his authority there.
In this case, Moscow Patriarch Cyril of Moscow arbitrarily, without asking Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovsky), appoints his own bishops, or subordinates bishops and thousands of parishes to himself. That’s despite the fact that these bishops, parishes and priests were supervised by the Synod and Council of the UOC-MP.
Note that none of the occupied regions of Ukraine is 100% captured by the Ruscists. How will the Russian Orthodox Church divide the diocese with the UOC-MP? Will bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church have power in the unoccupied territories, even if only formally?
Will Onufriy remain silent or will he react?
Will Onufriy somehow react to this anti-canonical act of raiding on the part of the Moscow Patriarchate? Or will it be silent again together with the entire leadership of the UOC-MP, as was the case with the occupation of the Crimean dioceses? Rather, the latter option. The UOC-MP will simply ignore Gundyaev’s activities in the temporarily occupied territories and focus on the “persecution” and “raider captures” on the part of the OCU and the Ukrainian authorities.
Even now, among the UOC-MP circles, hate for the OCU is greater than that for the Moscow Patriarchate, which blesses soldiers to kill them (the believers of the UOC-MP) and Ukrainian defenders, seize territories, destroy UOC-MP churches, and fulfill Putin’s imperial ambitions. And all because of the reluctance of the UOC-MP to conduct a dialogue about unification or Eucharistic communion in order to stop the transition of parishes, or as the UOC-MP says, “seizure.”
Instead, the crimes of the Moscow Patriarchate and its capture of the UOC-MP parishes Onufriy’s Church, which is allegedly “Ukrainian”, will explain by the desire to “survive” in the conditions of war. The same explanation is used there regarding the collaborationism of priests and bishops of the UOC-MP, who agree to be directly managed from Moscow. Similar arguments were used by the UOC-MP to explain to believers why the Crimean bishops and priests came under the direct control of the Russian Orthodox Church.
If Onufriy is not indifferent to the fate of Ukraine and Ukrainian believers, if he wants to save his face amid the attacks on the part of Moscow Patriarch Cyril, he must immediately react decisively to such actions by the latter. At a minimum, Onufriy should call out the opening of ROC parishes in the temporarily occupied areas of Ukraine as a violation of the canons (rules of the Church), at the most, he should convene a Synod of the UOC-MP on the issue, where they will reveal in detail why the Moscow Patriarchate ceased to be a Church organization to became a Kremlin servant.
Further steps of the UOC MP
It is clear from everything that in the conditions of a full-scale war, the Russian Orthodox Church will not and does not want to preserve the integrity and unity of the UOC-MP. For the Russian Orthodox Church, the so-called “Ukrainian Church” of the Moscow Patriarchate has become a consumable, a tool in the hands of Kremlin handlers to prepare the population for pseudo-referenda and Russian invasion. In the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church is liquidating the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Russian Orthodox Church as it is not needed anymore. After all, the occupation authorities do not need any mention of the “Ukrainian” in a church name, let alone the Moscow Patriarchate.
Seeing such crimes by Putin and Patriarch Cyril, Onufriy could start a dialogue with the OCU and break the Eucharistic union with the Moscow Patriarchate, which is engaged in raiding the parishes of the UOC-MP. This could mark a step towards the settlement of inter-confessional enmity in Ukraine. However, this dialogue should be facilitated by the Ukrainian authorities, which are interested in consolidating Ukrainians and reducing the tension (split) among them in the context of the war with Russia. It is no secret that the UOC-MP itself, even in unoccupied territories, can split into pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian parts, which the priests of this Church openly talk about.
Source: Spiritual Front of Ukraine