“I charge thee, fling away ambition. By that sin fell the angels.”
― William Shakespeare, Henry VIII
So now, with all this scholarly, historical, etymological and entomological context under our belts, it is time to get to the nuts and bolts of Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s big Frankenstein head plan to split (the dreaded “tomos“) the Ukrainian Church away from Moscow’s benign oversight. With the adroit use of the property of Autocephaly, aka Self-Headedness. And in order to accomplish this, Poro needs the help of a man named Bartholomew. The so-called “Universal Patriarch” of the great city of Constantinople, aka Tsargrad, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Everybody who knows their Byzantine history, knows that Constantinople was the Second Rome. See, here is what happened: The First Rome (=Rome) fell (to Vandals). The Second Rome (=Constantinople) fell to Ottomans. The Third Rome (=Moscow) still stands, and shall stand forever. And never shall there be a Fourth Rome. Especially not in Kiev, and especially if Russia has any say in the matter.
As part of his pre-election campaign (because he intends to run for re-election as Prez), Poroshenko has been promising the Ukrainian faithful that their Church will be granted Autocephaly in very short order. And he chose to interpret some utterances of Bartholomew along those lines.
However, this interpretation was rejected by Protopope Nikolai Danilevich, who is in charge of external affairs and publicity of the Moscow Patriarchate, the sole canonical (legitimate) Orthodox Church operating on the territory of the Ukraine. The Protopope explained, on his Facebook page, that Bartholomew’s cryptic utterances could be given several interpretations and that, as far as he knew, the situation with the official Ukrainian Orthodox Church had not changed: “Having heard the text [of Bartholomew’s utterance], I can say that there is nothing unusual or extraordinary there, nothing that we have not heard before. The Universal Patriarch is hoping for the restoration of canonical unity of all Orthodox people in the Ukraine. We are praying that this blessed people shall once again be worthy of a single and unified church hierarchy, the restoration of canonical purity, the extirpation of schisms. Which is the same thing that we are always saying ourselves.” Danilevich added, somewhat cattily, that Poroshenko gives the impression of a man who is simply trying to save face.
Other experts interviewed by the reporter, point out that Poroshenko is the type of guy who always tries to pass off dreams as reality.
Although! …. These pundits also point out that the whole Autocephaly thing is a game being played by the American State Department. See, it would fit their evil schemes to split off the Ukrainian Church, so as to remove one more tie linking Ukraine to Russia. To this end, the Americans and NATO may well be putting pressure on Turkish President, Erdogan…
Sailing to Byzantium
“Erdogan!” I hear my perceptive readers ejaculate. “What does he have to do with this?”
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enameling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come. (Yeats)
To explain Erdogan’s role in this story, I need to resort to another cool Greek etymology. Russians often refer to the city of Constantinople as “Stambul“, which is also the source of the Turkish capital name “Istanbul”. As wiki notes, the name derives from the Greek phrase “στην Πόλη” [sten Pole], meaning “in the city” or “to the city”. In Byzantine times, the Greeks used to refer to Constantinople simply as “the city”, just like New Yorkers do in relation to New York. Medieval Russians, in turn, referred to this metropolis as Tsargrad (Caesar-ville).
But see, Stambul/Tsargrad has not been a Greek city, nor a Caesar city, ever since it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. And that’s why Turkish President Erdogan, as the inheritor of the Ottoman Empire, now has a say in what Stambul’s Universal Orthodox Patiarch says and does. Believe it or not, 90% of Religion is actually Politics, and please keep in mind that Turkey is a member of NATO!
[to be continued]