At this moment, live, even as I type these amazing words, the RT portal is running a livestream video showing Russian President Vladimir Putin standing side by side, near the Kremlin, with Patriarch Kirill. Kirill is the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, encompassing the modern territory of Russia, Belorussia and the Ukraine. Which means that everybody who is a Believer, must obey him, even Ukrainians! Today is the big 1030-year anniversary of Russia’s Christening and rejection of pagan ways. Russian press notes that this is the first time this holiday has been celebrated under the open sky at the Kremlin. Not to mention under the supervision of the Commander-in-Chief! One almost expected stunt pilots from the Russian Air Force to be performing barrel-rolls overhead. A rather blatant display of the strong connection between the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church, in case anybody still engages in the ancient sport of Kremlinology.
Many commenters to the piece show typical Russian cynicism:
“Religion is a lie and brainwashing…” (Anton Troyan).
“The Christening actually happened in Kiev, before anybody had heard of Moscow…” (alexandru savin)
“The statue of Saint Volodimir the Baptizer declared in an interview to our correspondent that this evening he will start to shed oily tears. Of palm oil.” (Chuchka Kucheryavy)
“Kirilka is dispensing opium to the people.” (Eshkin Kot)
Nonetheless, despite one’s disapproval of Religion (and all forms of Magical Thinking) in principle, one is forced to accept, realistically, that the Russian Orthodox Church is very much a branch of the current Russian government. And also a major player in foreign policy too, as we shall see in the following discussion about Russian-Ukrainian relations, and the issue of Autocephaly.
And here I must admit that one of the main reasons I even decided to write this post, is because I wanted to use the word “Autocephaly” as many times as possible in the course of a single post. It’s one of those words I just like, because I think it’s cool. Well, I think all Greek words sound cool! The Greek root “auto” (αὐτός), thought to have evolved from a Proto-Indo-European adverb *h₂ew (“back again”) plus the pronoun “ton” [so the whole thing, sort of, “back again to that one”, i.e., “self”) means, of course “self”. And the Greek word for “head” was κεφαλή (“kefale”), from the Proto-Indo-European *ghebhel-, same word as modern Russian “golova” (“head”). But anyhow, back again to the current definition. Quoting from wiki here:
“Autocephaly from Greek: αὐτοκεφαλία, meaning “property of being self-headed” is the status of a hierarchical Christian Church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop (used especially in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Independent Catholic churches).”
Catholics could possibly relate to this concept if it should come to pass that a Catholic nation somewhere decides that it will not accept the Italian Pope’s authority any more. Oh wait! that already happened in English history: The whole reason that the Church of England came into being is because Henry VIII didn’t like the Pope telling him what to do. Good King Henry understood perfectly well that religious Autocephaly was the key to national sovereignty. Especially in the arena of foreign policy. The current Ukrainian government, not unlike Henry VIII, chafes at having its main Church, as owners of the souls of the majority of the population, part of a hierarchical ideological structure whose pyramid apexes in Moscow. I mean, how can Ukrainians ever be free of Russia, if they still have to accept the decrees of that old loon, Kirill?
Autocephaly Of the Ukrainian Church?
Which brings me to the piece that I really wanted to comment on, which is this one, posted this morning, by reporter Alexei Nechaev. Despite the snotty headline (“Poroshenko’s prayers for Autocephaly went unanswered”), this is a serious piece, with lots of information about the current state of the Russian and Ukrainian churches. Backstory is that Ukrainian President Poroshenko, in his madcap attempt to break free of Russia and become a colony of Europe, has been playing around with the idea of Autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Now Good King Henry, on breaking from the Pope, had appointed himself as Head of the Church of England! Talk about Autocephaly in action! Poroshenko, although having quite a sizable head himself, probably equal to Henry’s if measured with calipers, has not gone this far. Instead of appointing himself, he would like to appoint an actual priest to be the Head of the Ukrainian Church. Problem is, he can’t do so without approval of the highest authorities of the Galactic Empire. And this is where he gets stuck.
[to be continued]