Петру я послан в наказанье;
Я терн в листах его венца:
Он дал бы грады родовые
И жизни лучшие часы,
Чтоб снова как во дни былые
Держать Мазепу за усы.
“I was sent as punishment to Peter.
I am the thorn in the leaves of his crown.
He would give up native cities
And the best years of his year
For the chance, as in previous times,
To tug on Mazepa’s moustache.”
Continuing with the Reeeelly Big Story about the Big-Ass Schism!
Which reminds me, for non-Russian readers I need to introduce the Russian word “raskol” (Раскол), which means “split” or “schism”. Literature fans will recognize the name of Dostoevsky’s anti-hero Raskolnikov, from this root. (Dostoevsky was in the habit of giving his characters meaningful names which reflected their personalities. Sort of like Polly Trueheart or Dudley Do-Right, or in this case Dudley Do-Wrong.)
The etymology is rather straightforward: ras– is the Slavic prefix meaning “apart” as in “to fly apart”, and kol– is the Slavic root meaning “to split or cleave”. As in Beaver Cleaver, which, it goes without saying, is one and the same word: From Proto-Slavic *kolti descending from the (reconstructed) Proto-Indo-European root kelh₂-. Meaning “to cleave”, but don’t forget to pronounce that Aryan guttural KHHH on the end, as if you’re choking something out of your throat.
Connoisseurs of Russian history are more than familiar with the Raskolniki or “Old Believers”, who split from the official Russian Orthodox Church, due to some disagreements about reforming the rites. The heroine of the Raskolniki was a lady named Baroness Morozova who was carted off (in a hay wagon) to exile in Siberia for her refusal to put away her two-fingered “victory” sign. In the famous painting (now hanging at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow) by outstanding Russian painter, Vasily Surikov, the fiery rebel is shown giving her fingers to her oppressors of the Russian Deep-State Police-Security-Religious Complex.
But the Baroness ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait: the entire Orthodox World, the world of Byzantium, now stands on the threshold of a new split, compared to which Nikon and the Old Believers will look like pikers. How could such a thunderous event take place in our modern era?
Well, I have not even finished the Nechaev piece — I will get back to it — but first I have to bring in this rather cutting piece by the acid-tongued Dmitry Kiselyov. Kiselyov has his own news show on Russian TV, and I watch it as often as I can. (His English-language wiki page is quite negative about him, because he is pro-Putin, but I think he is actually quite good.)
Kiselyov’s piece on Patriarch Bartholomew has the sensationalist headline:
RASKOL: The Ukrainian churches may become a place of new bloodletting!
The big catfight here, according to Kiselyov, is the freestyle match between Kirill, Patriarch of ALL Rus (and that includes you, Ukraine, hint hint!), vs Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Throwing down the gauntlet, Kirill accuses Bart of heresy for his recognition of the Ukrainian Raskolniki led by the excommunicated Patriarch Filaret! And, to show just how serious this is, as of 4 or 5 days ago, the official Russian Orthodox Church Synod stopped mentioning Bartholomew in their ritual prayers. This is akin to ex-communication! And the plot thickens even more.
According to a rather waspish Kiselyov, the Heretical Patriarch Filaret of Kiev is nothing more than the charismatic leader of a totalitarian sect, that has nothing to do with true Orthodoxy. Filaret is nothing more than a catspaw in the hands of Ukraine’s “offshore oligarchic President” Poroshenko. Filaret is a co-sponsor of the bloody Maidan which destroyed the Ukraine but gives him the opportunity to acquire more money and power for himself.
It gets better. Kiselyov accuses Poroshenko of corrupting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. With what? With MONEY$$$ of course! The Ukrainian press (Komsomolskaya Pravda) reported that Poroshenko “collected from Ukrainian businesses” 25 million (American) dollars and promised this loot to Bartholomew if he would rule in favor of Filaret over Kirill:
“Around 25 million dollars was collected. This (money) was supposed to go towards rewarding [bribing] Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew, in return for granting tomos to the Autocephalic Ukrainian Church. However, according to sources close to the Guarantor [=Poroshenko], by the time of the meeting on April 9 Poroshenko gave him [Bart] only $10 million.”
Leaving the other $15 million in his own pockets. That was back in April. An angry Bartholomew protested and demanded that Poro cough up the rest of the dough. In Poroshenko’s defense: When his hands come in contact with money, he simply can’t help himself. It’s a form of untreatable kleptomania. But, according to an anonymous source close to the Constantinople crowd: Bart threatened Poro very sternly: If he didn’t fork over the 15 million clams, then Bart would refuse to come to Kiev to celebrate the big 1030-year anniversary gala of the Christening of Rus. In the end, Petr Alexeevich could not risk his propaganda shindig being compromised in this manner; so he had no choice except to (reluctantly) hand over the rest of the cash to Constantinople. Once the $15 million was nested safely in his own capacious pockets, Bart relented and arrived triumphantly in Kiev. And this is how the Ukrainian church, in the end, received its tomos from Brother Bart.
Which now leaves Filaret in charge (or thinking he is in charge) of the Autocephalic Ukrainian Church. So what is his next move? He will start grabbing more property away from the official Church of the Moscow Patriarchate!
And this land-grab has been going on since 1992, according to Kiselyov. Already over 3000 churches have passed from the canonical and universally-recognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church into the grubby hands of Filaret and his Raskolniki. As of 2015 the score stands something like this:
Official Church: 12,241 churches/cathedrals vs Splitters: 4,783. Of which 3,000 were seized violently, in pirate fashion.
Monasteries: 207 for the Official Church vs 62 for the Splitters. However, those 62 Splitter monasteries are practically empty,containing only 221 monks. As opposed to 4,783 monks for the Officials. [And I find it quite a curious coincidence, that there are exactly the same number of Official Monks as Splitter Churches!? Is that some sort of Divine Numerology in action here?]
Kiselyov ends his piece on a somber note, reporting that the major battle ground of this historic Raskol lies ahead: namely, the Kiev-Pechersky Lavra Monastery, i.e., the most valuable piece of real estate owned by the Moscow Patriarchate in Kiev. With Imaginary God’s help, May it not come to such bloodshed — but Filaret and his Raskolniki may try to seize the Lavra by force; in which case, the Officials can be expected to fight back. One can only shudder at the thought of 70- and 80-year old monks grappling and pulling each others beards. Just as Peter the Great once tugged on Mazepa’s moustache!
Meanwhile, within that sacred space, hidden deep within the catacombs of the Lavra, lie, stacked tightly on bunk beds, the mummies of over 100 Saints. Including the famed Russian warrior Ilya Muromets!
[to be continued]