“Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself.”
― William Shakespeare, Henry VIII
Where we left off yesterday, I promised to get into the nuts and bolts of Ukrainian Autocephaly, and how this is expected to work. (SPOILER ALERT: It isn’t expected to work.)
Recall that the Ukrainian government, which is fiercely anti-Russian, would love to break away from the Moscow Patriarchate, just as King Henry VIII broke away from the Pope in Rome. Henry was successful; but Ukrainian President Poroshenko is no Henry. Although he is quite chubby and has a big huge head; but it’s still not quite the same thing. Poroshenko had promised Ukrainian nationalists that they would have complete religious Autocephaly by July 28, 2018. Well [looking at the calendar], today is July 29, 2018, and the Ukrainian Autocephaly still has not come to pass. Another worthless promise from a conniving politician!
Poroshenko’s ally in his Autocephalic crusade, is this guy, Patriarch Filaret, of Kiev. Filaret’s real name is Mikhail Antonovich Denisenko, but when Russian peasants become priests, they get to adopt a cooler-sounding Greek name. In this case, from the Greek/Byzantine name Philaretos. According to the official etymology:
This name derives from the Ancient Greek name “Philáretos (Φιλάρετος)”, composed of two elements: “phílos (φίλος)” (beloved, dear, loving, friendly) plus “aretḗ (ἀρετή)” (goodness, excellence, manliness, prowess, rank, valour, virtue, character, reputation, glory, fame, dignity, distinction). In turn the name means “lover of virtue”. Philaretos Brachamios was a distinguished Byzantine general and warlord of Armenian heritage and for a time was a usurper against emperor Michael VII.
In similar fashion, Virtue-Loving Patriarch Filaret of Kiev fancies himself a usurper against Evil Emperor Vladimir Putin. Fil’s wiki page shows him to have a lively and interesting bio:
Filaret: The Life Of A Virtuous Christian
Born in 1930 in the Donetsk region of the Soviet Union, Misha studied at the Odessa Seminary of the Moscow Patriarchate. He was only around 20 or so when he was ordained, so he didn’t yet have that long white beard. Just like Ataman Kudeyar, Misha took monastic vows and was given the name Filaret. After that he taught at the Moscow Theological Academy. In 1956 he was promoted to hegumen of the monastery, roughly equivalent to European “abbot”. From the Greek ἡγουμένη, the word means “leader” from the participial verb hēgoûmai (“I go before”). From the Proto-Indo-European (PIE)verb *séh₂g-ti (“to go before”, “to precede”, then expanded meaning “to seek”), which, believe it or not, is cognate with English “seek”, German “saga”, Latin “sage” (“prophet”), and many others. (You have to always keep in mind that a PIE initial s- sound becomes an h- sound in Greek, because ancient Greeks were incapable of pronouncing the hissing s- at the beginning of a word.)
Anyhow, after becoming a ἡγουμένη, Filaret’s career took off. In 1958, he was promoted to Archimandrite, and I think I will skip that particular etymology, for now.
In 1960, Fil was posted to Kiev as head of the Ukrainian Exarchate, another interesting Greek etymology, which I will skip for now, because I need to get to the exciting gossip about Fil’s alleged activities as a KGB informer. Now a high-ranking Metropolitan (since 1968), Fil, at the behest of his Soviet masters, avidly persecuted the Ukrainian Uniate Church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Quoting wiki:
As late as October 1989 Filaret was still saying, “The Uniates will never be legalized in our country.”
Who are these Uniates? Well, that is a long story which I don’t have time for here. From what I have heard, I believe they are basically Catholics, and that their church was set up by Western Europeans attempting to wean Ukrainians off the Moscow religious teat. I could be wrong. But suffice it to say that these are just another merry band of Autocephalites who refuse to kneel before the power of Zod the Moscow Patriarchate. And suffice it to say that the Communist Party and Soviet State would have no truck with such appalling heretics! In fact, Filaret was said to be such a loyal sovok, that political/religious dissident Father Gleb Yakunin even accused him of being a KGB informer! Quoting wiki again: “Father Gleb stated that he had seen KGB files which listed Exarch Filaret’s codename as Antonov.” Gasp!
Once the Soviet Union dissolved, Agent Antonov was free to head the Autocephalous Ukrainian Church. With Ukrainian independence, and leaving his vatnik ways behind, Fil decided to become a Ukrainian nationalist. And ever since those days (1991), he has been striving, ever unsuccessfully, to achieve recognition of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, with himself in charge, as Primate. (From the Latin, meaning “monkey”).
Filaret And the Tomos
Fast forward from 1991 to yesterday’s Festivities. During the Christening celebrations, Filaret assured The Faithful of the Ukraine that final victory in the Donbass war would be achieved, once the tomos was complete. This is another one of those fancy Greek words which simply means “to cut”, and is the foundation of a million words that everybody knows, including “atom” (“a-tom”, “uncut”) and a whole bunch of medical terminology. In the religious context, a “tomos” is a split-off, or a split-away church. Which is the kind that Filaret wants to lead. Quoting from Filaret’s speech yesterday, which he delivered while dressed in bright lemon yellow robes:
“During today’s celebration, we see the delegation of the Universal Patriarch Bartholomew, who firmly intends to grant to the Ukrainian Church the tomos for Autocephaly. This means not only that Ukraine will have a one and only Orthodox Church. The second conclusion following from this pilgrimage (crusade) is this: Our victory in the East [Donbass] is assured. Because the Ukrainian people have already united. And once it is united, then the Northern Aggressor [guess who?] will not be able to defeat it. Thus, with this crusade we celebrate two victories at the same time: the creation on Ukrainian soil of a single regional Orthodox Church; and secondly, victory over our external enemy.”
So who is this Patriarch Bartholomew, and what does he have to do this all of this? For now, suffice it to say that he is the Big Cheese. But please be patient, we will learn more in the next installment of this saga. Or, as our Proto-Aryan ancestors might say: “*sh₂g-énti *h₁énos” (“I am getting to that…”) [sort of]
[to be continued]