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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, April 22, 2012, 9:00 AM ET


    Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
    By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

    Ukrainians do not need someone elses permission to have their own Church. Ive said it. Ive written it. And now Im repeating it for the umpteenth time. Metropolitan Yurij of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada is aiding and abetting the Moscow Patriarchate. His inhospitable attitude toward the visit of Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate is misguided. Independent of the lack of Christian hospitality, it gives the Moscow Patriarchate legitimacy and greater leverage to interject itself in the social, political, and religious life of Ukraine.

    In a letter released April 19, 2012, the Metropolitan advised his parishes that His All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Istanbul, Turkey informed him that Patriarch Filaret cannot at this time be welcomed nor have banquets organized in his honour in the parishes, or their properties, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. He further wrote that no clergyman or member of the consistory Board can be in the vicinity of Patriarch Filaret as any picture or report may portray this presence as representing or offering support of the U.O.C.C.

    The titular leader of world Orthodoxy has refused to extend canonical recognition to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate, under the thumb of Patriarch Kirill of Russia, is accorded canonical recognition. The UOCCs position implies that it must defer to the Moscow Patriarchate on matters of Orthodoxy in Ukraine since it is the only canonically recognized Orthodox Church.

    Here are several things to consider:

    • The Moscow Patriarchate continues to press the Ukrainian government to give it Church properties at the expense of the Autocephalous, Greek Catholic, and Kyiv Patriarchate Churches.
    • The Moscow Patriarchate has consistently sided with Vladimir Putin and against protesters seeking democratic reform. It strongly advised reformers on several occasions not to participate in rallies.
    • Patriarch Kirill (Vladimir Gundyaev) allegedly has made a fortune in tobacco, alcohol, and oil sales. Its also been reported he owns a villa in Switzerland. And the world already knows he likes expensive watches.
    • In January 2012, a top US intelligence officer, James Clapper, warned of Ukraines move away from democracy toward authoritarian rule. This will mean much closer ties to Moscow. The Moscow Patriarchate is playing an important role in influencing social and foreign policy in Russia.
    • A high official in the Moscow Patriarchate said that the military class has always been in the center of political life and on top of the social pyramid in Christian countries. He has called for a strong military so that Russia can settle matters on our territory or in the vicinity of our borders.
    • The Moscow Patriarchate has been supportive of Russias policies in Syria where innocent citizens wanting free elections have been butchered by the Moscow-backed regime.
    • Liudmyla Fylypovych, a religion and philosophy professor at the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, observed, The center of gravity is constantly shifting between the Ecumenical Patriarch and his supporters on one side, and the Moscow Patriarch and the churches that support him, on the other. In this situation Ukrainian church was simply used to strengthen one wing and weaken the other. I do not think Ukrainian church can be an argument or a toy used in any geopolitical confrontations. It is completely self-sufficient and possesses good, ancient traditions of its own. In short, Moscow and Istanbul should stop using Ukrainian spirituality as a political football.

    Patriarch Kirill of Russia as did his predecessor, Patriarch Alexy II, made it clear to the Ecumenical Patriarch that no canonical recognition can be given to the Autocephalous or Kyiv Patriarchate churches. Only Ukrainian churches under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church can be accorded canonical status.

    Canonical status is about politics. Its about power. It has nothing to do with God, faith, or loving more and judging less to make a better world. The Ecumenical Patriarch is afraid of losing Russias support. Hence, he will never extend canonical recognition to a Ukrainian based church out of fear that it will offend Moscow. Its not very Christian, but then again Church politics often isnt.

    A nation defines its soul in part by its writers, thinkers, artists, and its spirituality. In order for Ukraines national reawakening to continue then it must have a Ukrainian based church that can be a protector of Ukrainian culture.

    The treatment of Patriarch Filaret is crude, inhospitable, contributes to the detriment of Ukraine, ignores the political reality that no canonical status will ever be extended to a Ukrainian based church, and most important it begs the question does God really care about who gets the coveted political label of canonical? Is Christianity so deeply rooted in something this insignificant?

    I have strongly, but respectfully disagreed both with Patriarch Filaret and Metropolitan Myfodii for seeking canonical recognition. They are given lip service and nothing more by Istanbul. They and their representatives repeatedly have been sent away empty handed. This is an opportunity for Patriarch Filaret to openly address the silliness of canonical recognition. Let me repeat Ukrainians do not need, have never needed the permission of Moscow or Istanbul to have their own church. Please stop asking. Ukrainians are not spiritual serfs. Ukrainians answer to God and conscience, not petty church power politics.

    Paul Peter Jesep is a New York lawyer and Bishop in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. He is the appointed U.S. Spokesperson and Government Liaison for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii. The views expressed here are personal and in no way reflect the official position of his church. He may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter(at)

    * * * * *


  • Apr 22 12 - Op-ed: Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
  • Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
  • Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
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  • Dec 30 11 - Ukrainian World – Praise for Major Archbishop Shevchuk
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  • Aug 10 11 - Russian Truth
  • Apr 14 11 - President Yanukovych's Chance to Show Leadership
  • Mar 14 11 - An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
  • Aug 27 10 - Independent Ukraine 2010
  • Jan 31 10 - Remembering Ukraine's Jews
  • Jan 15 10 - Orange Forever!
  • Aug 27 09 - UAOC Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
  • Jan 14 08 - UAOC Bishop Condemns United Fatherland and Union of Orthodox Citizens
  • Oct 25 07 - Bishop calls for Annual Holocaust Memorial Day
  • May 28 07 - Priests try to end anti-Semitism
  • Feb 12 07 - Statement on Anti-Semitism
  • Feb 5 07 - Kyiv Patriarchate Appoints U.S. Director of Public Affairs
  • Nov 23 05 - Archbishop Husar's Orange Revolution of Faith
  • Sep 12 05 - Yushchenko showed leadership
  • Sep 7 05 - Metropolitan Mefodiy of Kyiv to visit America
  • Sep 2 05 - UAOC issues strong condemnation of anti-semitism
  • Apr 28 05 - Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
  • Apr 1 05 - Diaspora rebirth begins in dialogue
  • Mar 11 05 - The Politics of Orthodoxy
  • Feb 11 05 - The Diaspora's Future
  • Jan 21 05 - Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Greek Prelate
  • Dec 22 04 - Has the Diaspora failed? Can more be done?
  • Dec 22 04 - Russia will not leave Ukraine alone
  • Dec 14 04 - God, Faith and the Orange Revolution
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  • Nov 22 04 - Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
  • Oct 11 04 - Catholic Patriarchate in Kyiv
  • Sep 29 04 - Kuchma and the American presidential election
  • Aug 13 04 - Op-ed: Foreign churches cannot dictate a unilateral non-Ukrainian spirituality in Ukraine (Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Spirituality)
  • Jul 26 04 - Op-ed: Viktor Yushchenko and Ukraine's future (Ukraine needs a patriot as its next leader)
  • Mar 18 04 - Ukrainian influence in the 2004 American presidential election

    Email: VladykaPaulPeter(at)

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