Faithful allies of the Kremlin – Serbian clerics – joined the UOC in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate in spreading their narratives.
Bishop Irinej of Bach (Serbian Orthodox Church) stated that the Ukrainian authorities are allegedly persecuting the UOC (MP).
Irinej gave relevant remarks to a local newspaper, the press service of the Serbian Orthodox Church wrote.
In general, the whole interview looks as if it was given by a typical Russian propaganda pundit, not by a church hierarch who should defend the truth rather than the Kremlin’s political agenda.
“The Patriarchate of Constantinople has always known that the post-Maidan Ukrainian government,” Irinej convinces, “is built as the most radical anti-Russian structure, which is directly in the service of NATO and the political ‘West,’ not only interested in transforming schismatic groups into a kind of statehood of the Church, but and shows maximum activity in the persecution of the true canonical Church (intimidation of the clergy, seizure of churches and violent ‘re-registration’ of parishes, terror against believers…)”.
Bishop Irinej does not mention the fact that the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine back in 2014, occupying Crimea, and continues to commit even more crimes from February 2022. Instead, Irinej sees Phanar (due to the autocephaly of the OCU) and the “West” as main enemies.
Irinej even believes that it was not Russia that attacked Ukraine, but Russia is at war with the “collective West”. Here are his words: “No one, least of all the High Priests of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, needed special insight to understand that the anti-Church and anti-Russian persecutions in the conditions of the war between Russia and the collective West on the territory of the unfortunate Ukraine would become much tougher than they were before the start of the collision”.
Irinej further stated that the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is the shrine of “the entire Russian Orthodox world” which was “invaded by the SBU”.
Irinej, who supports the Moscow Patriarch and the “persecutor” of the UOC (MP), also supports the ban on the supply of weapons to Ukrainian soldiers who are defending their own land from the Russian invaders. He says: “In no case can we participate in the propaganda of those forces who speak in favor of peace, but “advance” it by sending more and more weapons to Ukraine and thereby work to ensure that the war lasts as long as possible…”. Probably in Irinej’s imagination, “just peace” is when the Russian occupiers kill Ukrainians, and the latter have no right to receive weapons from the allies and therefore lose, as a result of which “peace” comes.
Irinej also admitted that he has known Patriarch Bartholomew well for years and directly “called on him at all costs to avoid interfering in the vital canonical sphere of the Russian Church.” That is, he, the hierarch of the Serbian Church, calls the UOC (MP) the Russian Church, and considers Ukraine to be the territory of the Russian Church. This is chauvinism from a Serb in Russia’s interests.
Interestingly, the Serbs also received autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, just like the OCU, but for some reason they do not criticize their brainchild, they do not say that it led to splits or other troubles in the past. And only the Ukrainian people, which are several times larger in number than the Serbian people, according to the Serbian hierarchs, should not have an autocephalous Church.
In general, Irinej’s interview is a good anti-advertisement for the UOC (MP) and another wake-up call to the Ukrainian authorities to more carefully study the movements and statements of the Serbian clergy regarding the church situation in Ukraine. This will allow for better understanding what the UOC (MP) is, and how its presence in Ukraine helps Russians. In the case of Irinej, this is crude pro-Russian propaganda that barely resembles church rhetoric. Maybe a few years ago, some naive people could have been led by this, but now it sounds somewhat even ridiculous. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation (Russian intelligence) is building churches in Serbia, for which the hierarchs of the Serbian Church repeatedly thanked Putin and even carried his portraits on “crusades”.
By OCU deacon Ivan Petrushchak