Poroshenko, Filaret and Metropolitan Simeon in the USA: a coincidence?

28 September 2018 02:00
The US State Department supports The US State Department supports "Ukrainian autocephaly"

At the end of September, three largest figures arrived simultaneously in the US, who one way or another have to do with the creation of the Single Local Church.

On Monday, September 24, Petro Poroshenko arrived in the United States. The official goal of his visit was participation in the regular session of the UN General Assembly. Besides, "a number of bilateral meetings with world leaders, business circles and leaders of the Ukrainian community in the United States" were announced.

By the “pure coincidence”, two people visited the US at the same time, who are positioned as candidates for the position of the SLC head. This is Metropolitan Simeon (Shostatsky) of Vinnitsia and Bary and UOC KP chief Filaret.

Metropolitan Simeon went to the United States on September 20 at the invitation of the American clergy. Filaret has been in this country since September 14.

Each of the above-mentioned persons is somehow connected with the issue of the creation in Ukraine of an ecclesiastic structure called the "Single Local Church". Two of them are engaged with this project publicly. Petro Poroshenko made a hgh-profile statement on April 20, 2018 that he managed to persuade Patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. Since then, the President has been making such statements regularly and, in fact, itemized the issue of the Single Church as the first point of his election program.

Filaret as a head of the UOC KP, the largest schismatic organization, undoubtedly claims to lead the “SLC” structure. And only His Eminence Simeon, Metropolitan of the UOC of Vinnitsa and Bary, is keeping his profile low so far in this matter.

Nevertheless, a lot point to the fact that Petro Poroshenko sees precisely this bishop as a head of the SLC. The President and the hierarch are linked by long and warm relations. Petro Poroshenko has serious production facilities in Vinnitsa and he often meets with the Metropolitan. In addition, the fact that His Eminence Simeon belongs to the canonical Church significantly simplifies the task of creating an SLC structure for both Poroshenko and Phanar. After all, it is no secret that the "SLC" project will almost completely consist of dissenters and the possibility to put the canonical hierarch at the head of this structure can impart a certain flair of legality in the eyes of the World Orthodoxy.

Petro Poroshenko and Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa and Bary are linked by long and warm relations

Vladyka Simeon has been in the USA for the first time in his life, therefore his joint stay with the President in this country can hardly be occasional, given such an important moment for Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Obviously, this state of affairs is also quite clearly understood by anathematized Filaret Denisenko, who in the post of the leader of the Local Church sees for himself an opportunity to enter the Church again, even "from the back door". Therefore, knowing about the forthcoming trip of the "competitor", Filaret and his entourage arrived in the United States in advance, on September 14, and has been extremely active since then.

In September 18, he met with former US Vice President Joseph Biden. In spite of the fact that Biden openly positions himself as an active propagandist of the LGBT, he awards him with a church order of Prince Vladimir the Great of the II degree.

A little later, Filaret had a meeting with the US Senator from Ohio Robert Portman. Despite the fact that Portman openly positions himself as a lobbyist of gay marriages, Denisenko awards him with exactly the same order – Prince Vladimir of the II degree.

On September 19, Filaret organized a meeting in one of the "think tanks" of the American establishment – the Atlantic Counsil. Mr. Denisenko's speech there was more like a presentation format for a job applicant to employers than a church leader's speech. Filaret pronounced exclusively political slogans and in such a pitch, which the Americans could most like. The following words from his speech became key ones:

"... we are grateful to the United States of America for supporting the Ecumenical Patriarch, his intention to give us a Tomos on autocephaly ... We hope that the United States of America will help us bring our ecclesiastic issue to the end."

All the words and actions of Filaret telegraphed an obvious signal to the US administration: "Choose me!"

The developments around the "Ukrainian autocephaly" shows that absolutely all the participants of this process, including the Patriarchate of Constantinople, obsequiously look beyond the ocean. And it was there that decisions were made and are made about whether the SLC project is to be or not to be, in which format and under whose direction. All this is done completely openly, without any scruples or secrets.

We will recall only the latest public statements on this project.

In April, there were reports of the US pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. At the beginning of August 2018, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States said that the USA support the creation of the Local Church in Ukraine. On August 29, 2018 US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich met with the head of the UOC KP Filaret, where the same issue was discussed. On September 11 at the meeting with Petro Poroshenko, the US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback announced the support by the United States of autocephaly in Ukraine. On September 18, during the meeting with Filaret, former US Vice President Joe Biden announced support for autocephaly in Ukraine. Finally, on September 25, the US State Department stated that the US supports the proponents of autocephaly in Ukraine and considers Patriarch Bartholomew a voice of tolerance.

Petro Poroshenko and US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback

At the same time, the rhetoric of the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities towards the Americans, even in the issue of the creation of the Church, looks more like the accounts of subordinates before their line managers. Even in the case of the President. At the meeting with Brownback mentioned above, Petro Poroshenko, according to the information of his press service, "informed the representative of the State Department of what steps are being taken to create autocephaly in Ukraine. The Head of State also thanked the American side for the active support of Ukraine in this process."

Ukrainians have already put up with the fact that financial, economic and political issues have long been unresolved in Ukraine. But is it possible to reconcile with the fact that the destiny of the Church is also determined by experts from across the ocean, for whom both Ukraine and its Church mean just a little?

Now there is an obvious expansion against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. For his disagreement with the autocephalous project, the scandalously known Mirotvorets (Peacemaker) site added His Beatitude Onufry to the database together with most of the UOC episcopate, demanding their expulsion from the country.

The state, headed by the President, is doing its best to create a "tamed" church structure. Well, can one blame it for this? Hardly. Each power pursues its own projects under their supervision. But where is the real Christ Church? Where is the will of the episcopate and the will of the Orthodox people, which are necessary for any change in the status of Orthodoxy, and even more so – the creation of a new Church?! For the time being, we see only the desire of the President to reign over the second term, the desire of the schismatic "bishops" to bypass the church canons to obtain a legal status, as well as the hubbub in the media about how Ukrainians "vitally need" the Single Local Church. Meanwhile the applicants for the vacancy of its head are having casting overseas.

After all, it does not matter who of these applicants is a winner now: Metropolitan Simeon of the UOC, anathematized Denisenko or someone else. The Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ. It is not of this world and should not serve the interests of this world, even its most influential figures. The sooner we realize this, the fewer calamities await us.

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