So, this all started this past weekend, when U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo went on a blitzkrieg tour of ancient Christian holy sites, and used whatever charm he possesses to convince them to recognize the Ukrainian Schismatic Church (USC). Which, as we recall, broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate a few months back.
In Moscow, a seething Sergei Lavrov accused the U.S. of fomenting schisms in the Orthodox World. Pompeo himself, despite his Italian ethnic background (which would make us assume he’s Catholic), actually belongs to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, so actually has no skin in the Orthodox game, technically. According to his wiki:
In 2014, Pompeo told a church group that Christians needed to “know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world”. In 2015 in a talk at a church, Pompeo said that “politics is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture.”
Currently Pompeo himself is in a state of rapture. He had a very successful week: Split the Orthodox world AND overthrow the President of Bolivia! And that was all done before mid-week, even. Thus proving to his boss, President Trump, that he is a productive worker and worth keeping on in his job.
But back to Lavrov, who maybe just envies his American counterpart for having such a great week: According to Lavrov, Pompeo is a sneaky snake who exerted pressure on Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, goes by the name of Hieronymus. After Pompeo’s visit, Hieronymus quickly sent a “peaceful epistle” to Epiphany I, who is the so-called “Patriarch” [air quotes] of the Ukrainian Schismatic Church. Lavrov: “Pompeo didn’t even bother to disguise what he was up to.” And why would he? Pompeo is a blustering man who glories in his own glory. After his recent failure to overthrow the government of Venezuela, he has redeemed himself to the American Deep State, thricefold. As noted above, all in the course of one week! If Jesus calls Pompeo into the sky tomorrow, he will fly away a happy man. Hopefully with a double-powered jetpack to support his girth.
Lavrov added bitterly that “Epiphany even publicly admitted that the creation of this schismatic structure would not have been possible without the support of the United States.” Well, duh!
Lavrov went on to clarify, that what happened in the religious sphere, stays in the religious sphere, and will not impact upon the diplomatic and friendly relations between Russia and Greece. Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church itself has done something it probably should have done centuries ago: Cut off all “Eucharistic Communion” relations with the head of the Helladic Church. I think that means that, if Hieronymus should ever travel to Russia and go inside a church, then he will not be offered a chalice of wine. And maybe they won’t even allow him to light a candle, unless he brings his own.
What Happens When Greeks Split Into Two Factions?
That’s not a riddle, it’s an actual question. In fact, quite a juicy catfight broke out within the Helladic church, according to this piece by reporter Anton Antonov. The two pugilists in question being (1) Pyrenean Metropolitan Serafim, who remains loyal to Russia; and (2) another Metropolitan goes by the name of Jeremy, who sold out to NATO.
Serafim heads the Synodal Commission on Heresies and Sects; he’s sort of the Orthodox equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. But, whereas nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition, many people expect Serafim.
Metropolitan Jeremy, on the other hand, has his own radio show. On which he declared to his listeners that “Those who call the Ukrainian Orthodox Church schismatics, are liars, because Constantinople recognized ’em.”
Pyrenean Serafim begged to disagree, and ordered Jeremy to cease and desist his radio broadcasts. “You are violating the Holy Canons,” Serafim groused. Serafim, by the way, has his own radio station too, on the channel 91.2 FM. “The Tomos for Autocephaly, in case you didn’t know,” Serafim continued, “was illegal and non-canonical. (Constantinople) Patriarch Bartholomew himself admitted Russia’s jurisdiction over the Ukrainian Church.” Serafim went on to threaten hellfire and brimstone to those who betray Russia: “A Holy War in God’s cause is preferable to a false peace which separates us from God,” he declared, militaristically. Forgetting for a moment that Byzantium is no country for old men.
Once again, NATO Bishop Jeremy begged to disagree, pointing out that the Ukrainian Tomos is a done deal, and has been recognized by the majority of the Greek Orthodox hierarchy. Jeremy added a little zinger at the end of his Rebuttal Epistle: “I too wish to be a fighter for the Orthodox Faith. But I would never want to be the kind of fighter that you are.” Oh snap!
[to be continued]