One of the main stories in the Russian world this past week, has been the issue of Ukrainian Autocephaly. And there have been shocking new developments, as you shall learn, if you were not in the loop before. Bottom line: It is looking like the Autocephaly is actually going to happen. Coming as a one-two punch after the assassination of Alexander Zakharchenko, this is a further blow for Russia and the pro-Russian forces in the Ukraine.
Please recall that I began to “cover” this story back in July, with this 4-part series. Religion is not my usual beat, I actually know nothing nor care nothing about the “spiritual” life of humans (like Doubting Thomas I only care about things that can be measured by scientific instruments) — but I am having to learn very quickly about invisible things, since this has become such an important component of the geo-political chess game being waged against Russia. Please refer to my earlier series if you need to know the cool Greek etymologies for many of these terms, such as “Autocephaly” (=”being the head of oneself”) and Tomos (=”split off”), etc.
Here is a quick review of the cast of characters:
- Mikhail Antonovich Denisenko, aka Patriarch Filaret of Kiev. Filaret is anti-Russian and is allied with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Their goal is to get Ukraine into EU and NATO, and away from Russia, hence, on the religious front, to split the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate and make of it, it’s own thing. That’s what “tomos” is all about. Last July Filaret declared that, once the tomos was complete, then Ukraine would be able to win the war in the Donbass. (People in the Donbass retort: “Not so fast, Papa Misha.”)
- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (aka Istanbul aka Stamboul). Bartholomew has revealed himself as pro-NATO and anti-Russian in this dispute. Russians in the know figure that he has been pressured by the U.S. and Turkey to give his thumbs up to the tomos. As if this is any of Turkey’s business, since they’re all Muslims now anyhow. One of Bart’s goals is to get his hands on the most valuable piece of religious real estate in Ukraine, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery, and hand it over to Filaret’s goons. Pro-Russian forces say they will fight for the Lavra, to make sure it stays with the “legitimate” branch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
- Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and of All Rus’ (всея Руси), which includes the Ukraine – duh! In other words, pre-tomos, all of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is belong to him; hence, said tomos will be a huge blow to his Ecclesiastical Empire. Which is why this big guy will duke it out to the end, and please don’t count him out until the final bell.
And those are just the religious guys! I haven’t even mentioned Poroshenko, Trump, and Erdoğan, who are the puppet masters behind the scenes of this Punch and Judy show. But after that whirlwind review, it is time to get to the latest news, so I have this piece by reporter Petr Akopov; and I also have this piece from a week ago, by Alexei Nechaev, which provides valuable historical background to this massive catfight. Thrillingly enough, the Nechaev piece is entitled “The Ecumenical Patriarch Has Been Accused of Heresy!” Namely, his detractors accuse Brother Bart of usurping all the religious power which, in the Western world, goes to the Pope. Which is not the way things are supposed to work in the Wonderful World of Byzantium.
But we shall work our way backwards to that and start with the more recent news and all the headlines….
[to be continued]