Welcome back once again, as I continue to plug through this analysis by Professor Vladimir Burega of the Kiev Theological Academy. Where we left off, Burega was about to deal with the very thorny issue of the Church-State relationship. Which, in the Ukrainian case, is sort of a joke anyhow, since this new Church was founded, for all intents and purposes, by President Poroshenko! Which is why I like to compare him with Henry VIII!
On the other hand, remember how Jesus said that people should not look at the beam in somebody else’s eye? Meaning that the Russian government should not cast stones either, as they have a bit-too-cozy relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. Still, it’s not quite the same thing. Putin may be a little too chummy with Patriarch Kirill, but at least they don’t go golfing together along with Turkish Nazis. Long story…
Anyhow, let us continue with the translation…
Church And State
In all the Tomi of the 19th century the special role of the State in the creation of the new Autocephalic Church, was emphasized. The Constantinople Patriarch always accentuated the fact, that the desire to announce an Autocephaly stems, not just from the Church hierarchs, but also from the leaders of the corresponding government. For example, in the Tomos granting Autocephaly to the Serbian Church (1879), it is explicitly stated, that the request for granting of an independent church status was sent to Constantinople first of all, by Serbian Prince Milan Obrenović; and secondly, by the Belgrade Metropolitan Mikhail. Similarly, in the Tomos granting Autocephaly to the Greek Orthodox Church, in 1850, they didn’t even mention the Church hierarchs making any request of Constantinople. It was merely stated that the Greek people and clergy desire to have their own independent Church. The Constantinople Patriarch “learned about this issue from the epistle of honorable ministers of the God-protected nation of Greece”. In other words, it was the request of the Greek government itself, which laid the basis for the granting of Autocephaly.
There was one other characteristic detail in the 19th-century Tomi. The proclamation of new Autocephalic Churches is always motivated by the creation of new independent governments. The appearance of the Helladic (Greek), Serbian, and Romanian churches followed soon after international recognition of the independence of Greece, Serbia, and Romania, respectively.
The Tomos texts of the 20th century, as a rule, do not emphasize the role of the government to such a degree. In the Tomi for the Polish, Bulgarian and Czecho-Slovak churches, nothing is even said about the government. In the Albanian Tomos, the government is mentioned, but not as the initiator of the creation of the new church. It was only stated here, that the (Albanian) government gave guarantees to the Constantinople Patriarch, that members of the Albanian Orthodox Church will have “full independence and freedom to prosper”. It is completely obvious, that the Tomi of the 20th century reflected a new situation in Church-State relations. Governments now declaim their secular nature and non-interference in church affairs.
In this respect, the Ukrainian Tomos clearly is a throwback to the 19th century. Here, the creation of an Autocephalic Church is motivated, primarily, by the existence, already for almost 3 decades, of an independent Ukrainian state. It is especially emphasized, that during the course of all this time, the rulers of Ukraine appealed, on many occasions, to the Throne in Constantinople, with requests to grant them Autocephaly. It is especially mentioned in the Tomos, that it is granted, not just to the Kiev Metropolitan, but also the President of the Ukraine. One could say that this Tomos was composed from the perspective of a “symphony” between the secular and clerical powers; which, in our 21st century, appears as an obvious anachronism.
[to be continued]