The other day, the news came out that the first monk from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra had moved to Russia. As reported by Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) of the ROC, the cleric really close to the Kremlin offices, the monk settled in the famous Russian Pskov-Pechersk monastery, and immediately embraced his new brothers and parishioners.
However, who exactly moved to Moscow, and for what reason, remains unknown. Tikhon did not mention either his name or rank. And no one who reported the news actually published a photo of the cleric in question. The UOC (in unity with the MP) has not yet commented on the reports.
In this article, we will consider the not-too-obvious aspects and possible consequences of such monastic resettlement.
First of all, it should be noted that in theory, nothing is wrong with any cleric, including a monk, moving to any other place to continue his service. However, this case is different. And we will explain why.
Each such move, according to church rules, takes place according to a certain procedure. It is quite simple and involves a letter of leave that shall be granted by the bishop who dismisses a priest. And this very letter is also used when the transferred cleric is enrolled in his new diocese. Without such letter, another bishop simply cannot accept the incoming priest.
This circumstance, as well as the actual full-scale invasion, adds some spice to the said move by the monk. It would be curious to know whether this monk received a letter of leave at all… It should be noted that it was the manager of the UOC (MP)’s Kyiv diocese who was supposed to sing such letter. Incidentally, this is Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovsky), who is also the leader of this church community.
In addition, after the so-called Council in Feofania, where ties with the Russian Orthodox Church were allegedly severed, besides the letter of leave, it would seem that the approval of the Synod of the UOC (MP) should also be granted because the monk moved not just to another diocese, but to another Local Church.
However, let’s leave church bureaucracy to canonists and let’s focus on the fact that the move of this low-profile monk could not take place without the blessing of the head of the UOC (in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate), Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovsky). In this regard, a logical question arises, how at times of war can one give a blessing to their ward to serve in the aggressor country, even more so to join a church organization that blesses the slaying of Ukrainians? Such a blessing would go beyond any ethical standards, to say the least.
After all, at a time when the entire civilized world is severing ties with the aggressor, a church organization that refers to itself as “Ukrainian” and “independent from Moscow” sends its monk there without any remorse! And this is done while Russian missiles bomb Ukrainian cities, including the temples run by this very Ukrainian Orthodox Church (in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate). This is simply absurd, and only once again proves that there was no break between UOC (MP) and the ROC!
Could this monk move to Moscow without the Onufriy’s blessing? Life experience shows that he could. After all, church history saw many such cases. Very often it happens so that the move takes place without the knowledge of the reigning bishop, or against his will. However, the majority of such cases end with the imposition of punishment, namely such a disobedient priest is banned from priesthood.
Legally, and considering all the prominance and circumstances of the move, such a monk should have been punished. However, there is no information to this end. Had any of the monks joined the OCU, the reaction would have been swift, and the ban would have been imposed without delay. There is not even a word of mouth, not even a single statement claiming that the story is a hoax.
However, could this report be fake? It could be, but considering the fact that it was voiced by Tikhon (Shevkunov), who is considered to be Putin’s trusted clergyman and the likely successor to the sitting Moscow patriarch, it is seen as unlikely. Why would the ROC create such fake news? After all, it is their structure in Ukraine that is primarily affected by their circulation. Therefore, most likely, the report is reliable, and in the future, an interview of the church separatist himself, in which he will talk about the persecution of Church, about the Nazis and everything of that kind, will be aired by Russian propaganda media.
In this way, the Russian Church will once again serve before the Kremlin and put forward before the entire world Orthodoxy yet another claim of the so-called “persecutions.” All this will be used to support Russian aggression, a kind of appeal for the protection of the Orthodox. Well, of course, it will once again give grounds to blame the Ukrainian authorities and OCU for everything.
However, the UOC (in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate) will suffer the most from this. After all, as we have already pointed out above, this will testify to their dependence on the Moscow Patriarchate.
Is the move harmful for Ukrainian society and Ukraine itself? Not at all! After all, our Homeland thereby got rid of one more enemy accomplice in church ranks. He has been collaborating with Russia deliberately, and most likely out of ardent love for “Mother Russia”. Does Ukraine need such priests? The answer is obvious. Therefore, there is no reason to grieve over the loss. It is only necessary to advise all his fellow clerics to do the same. And then the Ukrainian shrine will finally be cleansed of pro-Moscow monks.