The Patriarchate of Constantinople is not going to give autocephaly to Ukraine, but plans to make it an exarchate, according to political scientist Rostislav Ishchenko who broadcast made these projections on the “Vesti FM” radio station.
“Constantinople wants to drag Ukrainian parishes from the Russian Orthodox Church, but does not want to give them to Filaret. Bartholomew did not hire him to carry chestnuts out of the fire,” Ishchenko said.
He also predicts that the head of the so-called Kyiv Patriarchate, Filaret, may soon die.
“He is a strong old man, but he can die prematurely. He does not want to go to the metropolitans, and another patriarch is not needed there for Constantinople. These guys, given their links with the Vatican and the CIA, the methods have long been tested. Not one church hierarch, including Roman popes, died suddenly for natural reasons, ” the expert recalled.
There is presently a four-way religious conflict in Ukraine. First, there is the Greek Catholic Church, which is in full communion with the Vatican, but uses the Byzantine, that is essentially Orthodox, rite. This is often confusing in and of itself, but this ‘faith’ is by and large that of the Galicians who were Catholicized under the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth but retained their Orthodox, Byzantine Rite. Then there are two contending so-called Orthodox Churches of Ukraine which are contending with the one that is recognized. The one that is recognized by Constantinople and Moscow, and by world Orthodoxy is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate led my Metropolitan Onufry.
But at a meeting with leaders of parliamentary factions April 17, Petro Poroshenko announced that he and the hierarchs of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church decided to officially address Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I with a request to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and called for the parliament to support the appeal.
On April 19, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution on supporting the president’s appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch. On April 22, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted the appeal for further consideration. Patriarch Bartholomew I on July 27 released an address, noting that the ultimate objective of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian local Orthodox Church. On September 2, emeetings (Synaxis) were held of the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Thron Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, to consider the question whether the Church of Constantinople is authorized, without the consent of other churches, to grant autonomy, or autocephaly, to a church that has requested it. Following the meetings, the answer was positive: “Yes, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is authorized to grant autocephaly without any consent [from other churches].”
What is unclear is, which Ukrainian Orthodox Church will then take the lead here? Onufry has been clear that since Constantinople and Moscow, and the Orthodox Christian community worldwide, have hitherto only recognized the UOC Moscow Patriarchate, then which ‘other’ church can be recognized? Just because Bartholomew in Constantinople has said that ‘a’ Ukrainian Orthodox Church can be recognized as autocephalous, meaning they would have their own Patriarch, doesn’t change that the other two pretender churches have no standing as of yet. Among the two pretenders, there is the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church – ‘Kiev Patriarchate’, led by the pretender, Filaret. He was excommunicated in 1997 by the Moscow Patriarchate, meaning that his grouping is schismatic. Finally, there is the so-called Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church (self-declared, however), led by self-described ‘Metropolitan’ Macarius. Both pretender churches were founded in the early 90’s and were a result of the U.S and Vatican geopolitical moves following the collapse of the USSR.
Therefore, Ishechenko’s projection makes sense. It appears that Constantinople’s move is really to see Onufry, or his later successor, ‘accept’ this decision, and then the other two pretender churches would be collapsed into the Constantinople recognized, Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate, formerly Moscow Patriarchate – not to be confused with Filaret’s schismatic group – Ukrainian orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate – which Poroshenko may quite wrongly believe will be the central focus of the autocephaly.