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Split by a Missile

Split by a Missile © Getty Images
How Moscow and Patriarch Kirill Push the UOC-MP to Split

After the shelling of the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa, the fundamentals of the UOC-MP cracked. Whether it’s a coincidence or not, the missile hit the UOC-MP Cathedral shortly after Patriarch Kirill of Moscow verbally fired at the subsidiary Ukrainian structure: in his report at the Bishops’ Meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the Patriarch of Moscow recalled that the UOC-MP is part of the ROC and must abide by all the rules associated with this status. The patriarch makes the final “kind” warning for those in the UOC-MP who are trying to “play along with the Ukrainian authorities”: you won’t foot in both camps; you will have to choose either loyalty to Moscow or a split.

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A Russian missile that destroyed the holy of holies of the Cathedral in Odesa has put a spectacular end to the ultimatum of Patriarch Kirill.


Little Russians [artificial imperialist name Russians would use for Ukrainians] must suffer

The target for the strike was chosen exceptionally accurately: the Transfiguration Cathedral of Odesa is the chair of Metropolitan Agafangel of Odesa, one of the builders and the most faithful adherents of the “Russian World” in Ukraine. The Metropolitan, however, has rarely appeared in public lately. He is old and, they say, the direct aggression of Russia against Ukraine has severely weakened him. He suffered a blow to the cathedral very painfully. Therefore, the spokesperson on behalf of the Odesa Metropolis was its vicar, Archbishop Viktor of Artsyz. His statement aroused mixed feelings: on the one hand, it was quite harsh and almost for the first time in the face of Moscow it was said about the ecclesiastical independence of the UOC-MP. On the other hand, both in Ukraine and in Moscow they know that this “independence” is pure slyness.

This can be confirmed by the appeal of Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv, striking in its pointlessness and inappropriate metaphor. Vladyka (a title and address of bishop) once again did not dare to name the perpetrators of the event: “the enemy shelling” in his letter seems to be a natural disaster. And therefore, the main message of the letter – to humble oneself and pray – looks almost logical. Except a missile fired straight at the altar is not a natural disaster. Therefore, the appeal of Metropolitan Onufriy caused predictable criticism from the Ukrainian side and the same predictable paroxysm of delight from Moscow and some Ukrainian media.

From the Russian side, a wave of accusations of “betrayal” against the UOC-MP arose. It was the UOC-MP who so to say treacherously took advantage of the “convenient political opportunity” to cause a schism with the Moscow Patriarch. And after the shelling of the cathedral – perceived as another “convenient political opportunity” – finally revealed its true schismatic essence.

If you believe in conspiracies, you might think that the shooting of the cathedral was a planned action to “uncover” the split of the UOC-MP. “A convenient political opportunity,” to express it the way Moscow church propagandists do.

Conspiracy suspicions are strengthened by the fact that the propagandists, apparently, were super pumped and were waiting for the moment when the “Ukrainian brothers” howled in pain – to jump out like the devil out of a snuffbox and yell: “Split”!

It is also interesting that this happened immediately after the Bishops’ Meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church, at which, in fact, only two noteworthy events took place. The first is a report with devastating criticism of the "new ecclesiology" of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The second is a report by Patriarch Kirill himself, where he accused his Ukrainian congregation of cowardice, shamelessness, and “sliding into schism.” The reason is that part of the UOC-MP refuses to greet the patriarch as “lord and father” against the backdrop of a full-scale war in which Patriarch Kirill himself took the side of the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

But still, precise shelling of the altar of the cathedral of the most pro-Russian metropolitan is already too much.


Forced to split

That would be “too much”. Still, it seems that Patriarch Kirill believed that he could not hold Ukraine. Everything the patriarch is doing now, from speeches at meetings to blessing missiles destroying Ukrainian churches, is both revenge on Ukrainians and an excuse to accuse them of their own sins.

Patriarch Kirill is pushing the UOC-MP to break with all his might. And the UOC-MP is stubborn and does not want to do what they literally shout into its ears. The Patriarch of Moscow absolutely needs the UOC-MP to “betray” him. Or that it be “destroyed by the Ukronazi authorities.” In general, for the UOC-MP to suffer greatly, painfully for the whole world to hear. The Patriarch has to show everyone that the ROC is a martyr church. That it suffers heavy losses from both external and internal enemies: Anglo-Saxons, Ukronazis, Uniates and crypto-schismatics.

Only in this way will it be able to justify the canonical lawlessness that the Moscow Patriarchate perpetrated in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, where he actually stole about a dozen dioceses from the UOC-MP. In one of the caustic and cynical comments of ROC officials, there is a very simple explanation to the Ukrainian “cowards” why the patriarch was literally forced to do this. Because the Ukrainian congregation, as the patriarch said, are “cowards”: the Kyiv Metropolis of the UOC-MP “failed to protect” its believers. “It succumbed to blackmail” by the “Nazi authorities” – it stopped greeting Patriarch Kirill, i.e., as the Patriarch said at the meeting: “It slipped into a schism.”

You will not surprise anyone with the vileness and cynicism of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, therefore we state without surprise: in the Moscow Patriarchate, the annexation of the canonical territory of the UOC-MP is called “salvation”.

What to do if it is no longer possible to justify your crime – both canonical and human – except by blaming the victim for it? Victim-blaming is the favorite game of Russians.

But here’s what is interesting: at the Bishops’ Assembly, in spite of everything, the UOC-MP was never charged with the schism: it is not yet in a split, it is only “sliding down” to it. The Patriarch’s speech was the final warning” – a yellow card for the UOC-MP. In a game in which the Patriarch of Moscow reserves the role of the chief arbiter.

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Constantinople is not a mother

The Ecumenical Patriarch received the second yellow card at this meeting. It looked like a report by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) on the “new ecclesiology” of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. If we collect all the accusations against Patriarch Bartholomew, which were presented in the report, then they will cause, according to commentators-theologians, a full-fledged accusation of heresy. But the word “heresy” is neither written in the document, nor stated in the meeting’s decision. Just as there is no final accusation of a schism against the UOC-MP.

Patriarch Bartholomew’s “claim” for the role of the supreme court of appeal in world Orthodoxy is especially noted in the report: Patriarch Bartholomew allegedly “appropriated” the right to cancel decisions made in other Orthodox churches. First of all, decisions on defrocking and other sanctions against clergy. So, Patriarch Bartholomew restored to the dignity of the leaders of the Ukrainian autocephalous churches, anathematized in the Russian Orthodox Church. And lately, he has canceled the bans imposed on the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church, who refused to support the aggressive policy of the Kremlin and the “special military operation”, by his own power.

Moscow is well aware that if they announce that the UOC-MP are schismatics and do not have grace, the Ecumenical Patriarch will not delay in restoring the Ukrainian hierarchs to their status and rights. And they announce in advance that they do not recognize this decision. So, everyone in the UOC-MP is still ready to believe in the sole right of the Patriarch of Moscow to dispose of divine grace, have no choice but to remain in unity with him. And, of course, to suffer for their faith and loyalty from “Ukronazis”.

But in the Moscow Patriarchate, it seems, they do not appreciate their ability to retain at least a little noticeable part of the UOC-MP. They are trying not to prevent this loss, but to explain why the Moscow Patriarchy itself and its head are not to blame for the collapse of the Russian Orthodox Church. They are trying to convince themselves and their followers that they lost Ukraine not as a result of political suicide, but as a result of an insidious game and direct aggression of the “criminal forces of the West”, to which the Ecumenical Patriarch joined.

Two yellow cards prepared by the Bishops’ Assembly – for the UOC-MP and the Ecumenical Patriarch – according to the rules of the game, will turn into red if these two players decide to unite. I.e., in the event that the Ecumenical Patriarch accepts the “schismatics” from the UOC-MP under his patronage. Then Patriarch Bartholomew will be accused of heresy. And world Orthodoxy will receive that very “second great schism” – a schism equal in depth and power to the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches – with which the Moscow Patriarchate has been scaring the world since 2018.

The readiness to destroy the world in the event that the victory of Russia turns out to be impossible has its own ecclesiastical expression. It’s just that the world will survive the schism into which Patriarch Kirill is ready to drag his church, much easier than Patriarch Kirill himself and the Russian Orthodox Church entrusted to him will.

Bye-bye, empire

The Patriarch of Moscow is trying to convince the Orthodox world that the Ecumenical Patriarch has no right to interfere with other local churches to deal with their opponents - up to and including anathemas. But how ready is the Orthodox world to accept the right of the Moscow Patriarch to hand out “red cards” to other local churches and their primates?

This is an uncomfortable question for the Moscow Patriarch. Still, what remains for him but to follow the agenda outlined in the Kremlin? And the Kremlin demands from him, a former brilliant church diplomat, a Westerner in love with Alpine landscapes, to close himself in a “besieged fortress” and exchange a brilliant imperial policy for a miserable “national project” within the framework of the Moscow Horde.

For the Horde, all this is very natural – burning grains, destroying churches, stealing children. Everything in this story finally falls into place. It becomes easier to choose your role in it accordingly. Including for those who prayed for the so-called Holy Rus for so long.

Read this article in russian and Ukrainian.

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