Old-new “Phanarisms”: 5 examples of falsehood

10 December 2021 22:12
The issue of primacy is very important for Phanar. Photo: UOJ The issue of primacy is very important for Phanar. Photo: UOJ

Patriarch Bartholomew told Ukrainian journalists about his primacy, Filaret's "wrong" anathema and other “gaffes”. We sort them out and analyze.

On the day of St. Nicholas in the new style, Patriarch Bartholomew spoke with Ukrainian journalists. We analyze the old-new blunders of the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its assistant, who joined the conversation. The quotes are given according to the Suspilne publication.

About the Tomos for Ukraine and the "Constitution" of Philip Orlik

Patriarch Bartholomew tried to present the matter in such a way that Ukrainians for many centuries tried allegedly to get rid of their church dependence on Moscow, turned to Constantinople for this end, and now, finally, the wise “Mother Church” responded to these centuries-old aspirations of Ukrainians and granted the Tomos to Ukraine.

Patriarch Bartholomew: "The issue of Ukraine's autocephaly did not arise two or three years ago – during the past centuries, Ukrainians made great efforts to have their own Church, to have self-determination."

To prove his words, the head of Phanar cited a quote from the so-called Constitution of Philip Orlik of 1710: “After the liberation of the Motherland from the yoke of Moscow, the hetman must receive primordial priestly authority in the capital of the Apostolic Constantinople so that he would resume through it the relations and filial obedience to the Apostolic Constantinople Throne, from which the power was blessed with strength thanks to the preaching of the holy evangelic faith."

First, let us ask ourselves a question: how does Patriarch Bartholomew know this document so well? Didn't the Ukrainian negotiators put this information into his mouth since the time of P. Poroshenko? If so, they essentially framed "his divine holiness", since the "Constitution" contains a lot of things that Patriarch Bartholomew will not at all be pleased with.

Second, the document quoted by Patriarch Bartholomew is not at all a real constitution. Even on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, it is titled as "Treaties and regulations of the rights and freedoms of the military between His Grace Lord Philip Orlik, the newly elected hetman of the Zaporizhzhya Army, and between the generals, colonels and the Zaporizhzhya Army with full agreement on both sides." Both in name and in content, it concerns only the relationship between the hetman and the Cossack foreman.

Third, in the text of the document, the people who inhabited Ukraine at that time are never called Ukrainians, but exclusively “the Little Russian people” (Malorossy – Trans.).

Fourth, the text contains an obligation to subordinate the Church in Ukraine to Constantinople, but there is not the slightest hint of the desire of this Church to obtain autocephaly.

Fifth, literally a few lines above the text of the "Constitution" quoted by Patriarch Bartholomew, it is directly indicated that the transfer of Ukraine to the rule of Moscow had one and only goal – the preservation of Orthodoxy. We quote from the “Constitution” of Philip Orlik: “It is no secret that the glorious memory of Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky with the Zaporozhye Army rebelled and began a just war against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for the rights and liberties of the military, but above all for the holy Orthodox faith, which was forced into union with the Roman Church by the Polish government. After the eradication of heterodoxy from our homeland with the Troops of the Zaporozhye and Little Russian people, he voluntarily succumbed and came under the protection of the Moscow state for the sole purpose – only for the sake of the pure Orthodox faith.” (Who does not believe it – see a quote from the text on the website of the Verkhovna Rada).

If Ukrainian officials had given Patriarch Bartholomew to read the entire text of this paragraph, and not just its ending, then the head of Phanar would simply be horrified that this text crushes not only all his "tomos" arguments, but even denounces his current ecumenism. After all, Philip Orlik, who, by the way, was baptized in Orthodoxy, then became Catholic in the Jesuit collegium, then became Orthodox again, and at the end of his life converted to Islam, and who did not at all sympathize with the Muscovite Empire, explicitly declares that the transition of Ukraine to the rule of Moscow, firstly, was voluntary, and secondly, aimed to save Orthodoxy from the union with Catholicism. Moreover, Ph. Orlik testifies that this union was imposed in Ukraine by force by the Polish authorities. This breaks down the entire Phanar's argument on granting the Tomos to Ukrainian schismatics.

Philip Orlik explicitly declares that the transfer of Ukraine to the rule of Moscow, firstly, was voluntary, and secondly, aimed to save Orthodoxy from union with Catholicism.

On the schism in Universal Orthodoxy

Patriarch Bartholomew declares that there is no schism in Orthodoxy, but immediately asserts the opposite: “Our Russian brothers say that a split has occurred. There is no split. Yet if there is one, then they (the Russians – Ed.) caused it, breaking off communion with the four Churches. No one else broke off communion and created a split in the bosom of Orthodoxy."

First, there is actually a split, since the ROC and the UOC have decided to end Eucharistic communion with the Local Churches that have recognized the OCU.

Secondly, the blame for this split entirely lies with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, since it was the one to enter into communion with the Ukrainian schismatics.

Thirdly, the communion with Phanar was severed not only by the “Russian brothers, but also by the UOC – these are more than a hundred bishops, about 13 thousand clergy, about 5 thousand monastics and tens of millions of laity. These are not “Russian brothers”, but the people of Ukraine, or at least a huge part of it. It was they who resented the actions of Phanar in Ukraine. And the decision of the UOC hierarchy to break off communion is a statement of the fact that Phanar sided with the schism by having recognized the Ukrainian schismatics.

A quote from the Resolution of the Council of Bishops of the UOC on November 13, 2018: “The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church considers that the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of October 11, 2018 regarding the Ukrainian church issue are invalid and have no canonical force. In particular, the decision to establish the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the territory of Ukraine is the result of a speculative interpretation of church history. Moreover, the decision to lift the anathema and other church prohibitions from the leaders of the schism and recognize the validity of the pseudo-chirotonies performed by them during their stay in the schism is a consequence of the distorted interpretation of the Orthodox canons. The history of the Orthodox Church does not know the cases of overcoming the schism through its mere legalization. Having taken such anti-canonical decisions, recognizing the schismatics in their existing ranks, the Patriarchate of Constantinople itself embarked on the path of schism, according to church canons. In this regard, the Eucharistic communion of the UOC with the Constantinople Patriarchate is currently impossible and ceased."

However, almost immediately after denying the schism in Orthodoxy, Patriarch Bartholomew claims that there is still a schism. But he claims it only to blame the ROC for this split, which is allegedly guilty of disrupting the Cretan Council in 2016.

A quote from Patriarch Bartholomew: “This schism was started by Russia in 2016, when the Moscow Church, and under its influence three other Churches, did not arrive at the Holy and Great Council in Crete. We all prepared this Council together. Until January 2016 in Geneva, when we had the last meeting of Orthodox Primates, all Churches – including Russia – were preparing this Council. But at the last moment, the Russians and three more Churches did not come."

This is definitely not true. It was not the ROC that put pressure on the Local Churches not to go to the Council, but on the contrary, the refusal of the Antiochian, Georgian, Bulgarian and Serbian (which later arrived at the Council) Churches to participate in the Council that compelled the ROC to opt out. The ROC's excuse was simple and logical: if it is not possible to ensure the presence of all Local Churches, then the Council automatically loses its pan-Orthodox status, and therefore its decisions will not have pan-Orthodox authority. In this case, it is advisable to postpone the Council, as Moscow Patriarch Kirill wrote about to Constantinople. But Phanar refused to postpone the Council. In fact, the Russian Orthodox Church was going to attend the Council, the composition of the delegation had already been determined, tickets bought and hotel rooms booked.

However, the argumentation of the ROC is somewhat disputable. Much more correct is the stance of the Georgian Church (as well as individual hierarchs from some other Local Churches), which refused to go to the Council of Crete, explaining this not by procedural issues, but by a fundamental disagreement with the fact that the texts of the final documents of the Cretan Council proposed by Constantinople contain dogmatic, canonical and terminological errors.

Well, and most importantly, no schism in Orthodoxy followed after the Council in Crete.

About the dream of Russians

A quote from Patriarch Bartholomew: “The dream of our Russian brothers is to be the rulers of Orthodoxy. This will never happen, because the Canons of the Orthodox Church and the actions of the Church over the centuries have given primacy to Constantinople. Constantinople will always be the first Church in the system of Orthodox Churches, while the sister Russian Church will be the fifth."

The first thing that surprises is confidence of the head of Phanar about the dreams of the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. He is firmly convinced that the “Russian brothers” dream, say, not of a flight to Mars, but of supremacy in Orthodoxy. However, it will be appropriate in this connection to recall folk wisdom, in particular, the proverb "What the heart thinks, the tongue speaks."

One gets the impression that the issue of primacy for Patriarch Bartholomew is the same as “One Ring to Rule Them All” for one of Tolkien's heroes – “My Precious!”

If you follow the discourse of the head of Phanar, you get the impression that the issue of primacy for Patriarch Bartholomew is the same as “One Ring to Rule Them All” for one of Tolkien's heroes – “My Precious!” This comparison is all the more pertinent because Tolkien's Gollum, who owned the ring and had a morbid addiction to it, suspected everyone of wanting to own it. In this connection, it is expedient to dwell on the following:

Firstly, all disputes about primacy were resolved by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, Who told his apostles about these disputes: “When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all’” (Mark 9: 33-35).

Secondly, the dispute of the apostles about primacy is a dispute between people who have not yet been enlightened by the Holy Spirit about earthly interests. After the descent of the Holy Spirit on them on the day of Pentecost, such disputes became, in principle, impossible. They did not exist, according to the history of the early Church. Therefore, a return to such disputes is a return to a fallen state, to an old man, who, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, is “wasting away” (2 Cor. 4:16).

Thirdly, Patriarch Bartholomew cannot provide any evidence of his accusations against the ROC of its usurpation of primacy. According to the head of Phanar, such evidence is pinned on two facts: non-participation of the ROC in the Cretan Council in 2016 and resistance to the creation of the OCU. However, elementary common sense suggests that this does not in any way prove the ROC's primacy ambition.

Fourthly, the constant statements of Patriarch Bartholomew that, according to the canons, he has primacy and will not give it to anyone, just say that the canons do not grant him this primacy. Otherwise, he would simply be silent. For example, the Pope does not rant about his primacy in Catholicism, because the canons of this religious organization unambiguously assign this primacy to him.

About anathema to Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletich

In case someone has forgotten: Filaret Denisenko is the former (he himself claims otherwise) head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, and Makariy Maletich is the former head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, who had their ctructures merged to give birth to the OCU.

A quote from Patriarch Bartholomew: “There was a split in Ukraine due to the fact that Moscow banned and anathematized Filaret and Makariy, and it all started from there. When Ukraine demanded autocephaly after gaining independence as a state, Moscow not only did not give it – it had no right to give it, the Ukrainians had to go to Constantinople – they turned to Moscow, and they were not granted autocephaly in the early 90s.”

What is wrong here?

  1. If Filaret was a bishop, who was banned from the priesthood and anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church, then with Maletich there is a completely different story. He left the ROC for schism in 1989 as a priest. He has never been a bishop and he is not simply because he was "consecrated" in the UAOC in 1996 by people without episcopal dignity. Consequently, the “forgiveness” of Maletich by Patriarch Bartholomew as an anathematized bishop is absurd. Maletich is just a former priest who is banned from the priesthood.
  2. Patriarch Bartholomew for some reason "forgot" that since 1997 he fully recognized the anathema imposed on Filaret by the Russian Church, as evidenced by his letter to Patriarch Alexy No. 282 dated 04.15.1997: "Regarding the anathema of Filaret (Mikhail Denisenko) and Gleb Yakunin, as well as regarding the ban from the priesthood and relegation to the category of laymen of Valentin (Rusantsov), Adrian (Starina) and Iosaf (Shibaev). Having received a notification about the mentioned decision, we informed the hierarchy of our Ecumenical throne about it and asked them henceforth not to have any ecclesiastical communion with the mentioned persons.”

In a conversation with Ukrainian journalists, the head of Phanar said that he sent letters to Makariy and Filaret, explaining that "the reasons for which they were anathematized did not relate to faith or dogma but were disciplinary." But if Filaret's anathema was “wrong”, why did Patriarch Bartholomew ask his bishops not to have any communion with the anathematized Filaret from 1997 to 2018? This remained a mystery, as well as why these "metropolitans received forgiveness."

If Filaret's anathema was “wrong”, why did Patriarch Bartholomew ask his bishops not to have any communion with the anathematized Filaret from 1997 to 2018?

A quote from Patriarch Bartholomew: “Both Filaret and his associates were punished, and from here a large wound appeared on the body of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The Ukrainians punished by Moscow turned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which since the time of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, i.e. since the fifth century, has had the right to accept appeals. The patriarchy used this right, studied the problem of our Ukrainian brothers, forgave them, and then gave what the Ukrainians had asked for, viz. autocephaly."

Referring to the IV Ecumenical Council, the head of Phanar obviously had Canon 9 in mind, which, in particular, says: “If any Clergyman has a dispute with another, let him not leave his own Bishop and resort to secular courts, but let him first submit his case to his own Bishop, or let it be tried by referees chosen by both parties and approved by the Bishop. Let anyone who acts contrary hereto be liable to Canonical penalties. If, on the other hand, a Clergyman has a dispute with his own Bishop, or with some other Bishop, let it be tried by the Synod of the province. But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him." The Phanariots interpret this Rule in the sense that, in general, all disputes in all Local Churches are to be resolved in Constantinople as the last resort. However, it is not. The Patriarchs of Constantinople had the right to decide in the last instance only those disputes that arose within the Local Church of Constantinople, rather than in other Local Churches.

To be convinced of this, you need to read Canon 28 of the same IV Ecumenical Council, which defines an exhaustive list of areas subject to the Constantinople throne: “And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid (…).” Moreover, it is impossible to imagine that the clergy, for example, of the Roman Church, would turn in the first millennium to Constantinople, not to Rome, for the resolution of their disputes.

About visit to Ukraine

In August 2021, Patriarch Bartholomew paid a visit to Kyiv, was received by top officials of the state and took part in the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's Independence. He assessed his visit as very successful. The fact that this is far from the case can be read in the article "The outcome of Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit".

A quote from Patriarch Bartholomew: “Wherever I appeared, I was thanked for the Tomos of Autocephaly ... I also liked that I saw the desire of the Ukrainian state to cooperate with the Orthodox Autocephalous Church in Ukraine. The fact that I read that a lot of communities are joining the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine confirms once again that Ukrainians want to have their own Orthodox Church.”

Firstly, why did Patriarch Bartholomew, if as he claims,“was thanked everywhere for the Tomos of Autocephaly,” ignored the many thousands of UOC believers near the Verkhovna Rada, who were waiting for him to tell him directly about their attitude to this Tomos? The head of Phanar disgracefully entered the building from the back door and quickly left after meeting with the Spokesman of the Verkhovna Rada.

Secondly, “the desire of the Ukrainian state to cooperate with the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is nothing more than a violation by the Ukrainian authorities of the constitutional principle of separation of church from state, as well as a vivid example of discrimination against the UOC.

Thirdly, the mention of the head of tPhanar about the “transitions” of communities to the OCU is simply shocking, since most of them are blatant forceful seizures. For example, the "Right Sector" radicals openly stated that they had assisted in more than 50 such "transitions to the OCU". In general, the facts of the seizures of the UOC temples are so numerous and clearly documented that they have already been recognized at the level of the UN, OSCE and other human rights organizations.

And fourthly, tens of millions of Ukrainians do not want to recognize the OCU and remain loyal to the UOC. Does the head of Phanar “give a damn” to their opinion and their religious rights? After all, it was precisely this phrase that he used commenting on the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church does not make a liturgical mention of his name at the patriarchal service. “I'll respond to this – I couldn’t care less! Yes!" declared "his divine holiness".

Sad conclusions

The entire narrative of Patriarch Bartholomew testifies to one thing – he continues to persist in his unwillingness to admit the obvious, namely:

  • The Patriarch of Constantinople is not the head of the Universal Church and does not have any exclusive powers in comparison with other primates;
  • The OCU was created illegally, in violation of the canons of the Church;
  • The OCU project turned out to be unsuccessful: it is rejected by millions of Ukrainian believers; it is not recognized by the majority of Local Churches; it is accompanied by constant scandals related to the unworthy behavior of OCU “hierarchs”;
  • Phanar's actions in Ukraine did not heal the split, but, on the contrary, deepened it and virtually nullified the prospects for its healing;
  • Patriarch Bartholomew brought enmity, hatred, violence and violation of the rights of believers to Ukraine.

Therefore, the pressing issue for the entire Church is the exposure of Patriarch Bartholomew's errors and notably the heresy of "Constantinople papism" at the pan-Orthodox level and the assessment of Phanar actions from the point of view of Orthodox canons.

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