Ecumenical Patriarch faces a hard choice over Ukraine


Government and Politics ( Boiko Hristov) – 3/5/18

His All-Holiness Bartholomew is rightly believed to be the guardian of the Orthodox Christian unity who puts efforts to restore a canonical administrative order in European and American Orthodox Christian Diasporas by establishing bishopric Conferences under the presidency of Ecumenical Patriarchate’s hierarchs. Patriarch Bartholomew has also stepped in to save the Orthodox Church of Czech Land and Slovakia from chaos and corruption after the controversial resignation of the Archbishop Christophoros of Prague in 2013.Patriarch Bartholomew who is the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian World is known to be a progressive figure in Europe. He is committed to core European democratic and humanistic values of democracy and humanity, speaking of the common responsibility of the mankind for Environment, defending human dignity in various aspects such as security, social and political rights, freedom of belief and equality.

This is one of examples of his democratic and humane policy in solving different issues. That is why Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is respected so much in the Orthodox Christian World.

To Whom does the Ecumenical Patriarch wants to bestow autocephaly ?

However, the recent visits to Fanar by President Poroshenko and Rostislav Pavlenko threw His All-Holiness into a dilemma.

On April 20, 2018 the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Rostislav Pavlenko handed appeals of Ukrainian civil and ecclesiastical authorities to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. In these petitions President Poroshenko, Parliament and two out of three Ukrainian Orthodox Christian churches requested the bestowal of church independence (autocephaly) to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate reviewed these documents at its regular session on April 31 – May 1, but no decision has been announced yet.

Constantinople coming to Ukraine: Is the game worth the candle?

Ukrainian politicians force Patriarch Bartholomew to act decisevely over the 20-years-long division in the Ukrainian Orthodoxy. They want him to ecclesiastically legitimate the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Kyivan Patriarchate so that their clergy would be able to form another independent church in Ukraine.

It is a matter of fact that granting autocephaly to Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will strengthen its own position. Probably, it also would have a positive effect on Ankara’s attitude towards Fanar and will help the Ecumenical Patriarch to obtain more freedom in foreign affairs.

There is also hype in Ukrainian social media over the suitcase that was placed at the Patriarch Bartholomew’s feet during the Mr. Pavlenko’s visit. In such a corrupt country as Ukraine, people understand what it means – this is a “fee” for the autocephaly, just as it was in the Middle Ages. The Ecumenical Patriarch is known for his commitment to highest democratic standards in administration, and it is disturbing that such allegations appear.

Being blinded by the pre-election agenda, administration of the Ukrainian President takes no notice of some obstacles on the way to autocephaly. First, Ecumenical Patriarchate will have to gather support of the other 13 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Taking into account Moscow’s stance on the Ukrainian issue, this won’t be easy. Secondly, in order to really get a One Local Church in Ukraine, Fanar will have to somehow integrate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate in the Ukrainian Government’s ecclesiastical project.

As a responsible hierarch His All-Holiness shall not ignore all this considerations. Not to mention that if all these allegations of bribery turn true, it will ruin his reputation as an honest, transparent and progressive-minded spiritual leader in a moment.

Please note that the opinions expressed in the above article are solely the author’s and it do not represent those of Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE or OCP New Service.