Keeping up ties with Moscow? The processes begun within the UOC-MP

30 January, 12:49 PM
Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Photo:Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Reuters)

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Photo:Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Reuters)

We now see that very difficult processes are taking place inside the UOC

The unity that Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan once ensured — when the east and west, north and south of our country were tied to this church — has practically now been destroyed. For within this church, there is an absolutely obvious split today between its leadership (the episcopate) and the ordinary laity with their parish priests. In addition, there are misunderstandings within the leadership itself, that is, in the synod. There are obviously Russian hawks there, but there are also people who are more prone (due to their origin and upbringing) to pro-Ukrainian views.

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The UOC has not yet developed a unified strategy on what the church should be like in the future. That is, it is not yet sure what its status should be, as this status is now undefined. It's not settled. Practically. The UOC-MP has swapped places with the former UOC-KP, which was non-canonical. Now the UOC-MP has taken this place, as it is non-canonical, because it is not recognized by any church and, as they say, has gone on an independent voyage, as independent and standalone in management and structure.

Today, there are several main movements in the UOC.

One movement is completely right-wing: to keep ties with Moscow, and to under no circumstance leave what they consider to be their "mother church". They are deeply convinced that their mother is Moscow. There aren't many of these people left. They are mainly represented in the episcopate and in the leadership of the UOC. And it is clear why: be-cause all these people are products of Moscow upbringing and Moscow education. Where did they get their education? In Moscow, clearly/ Who ordained them? Clearly the metropolitan priests and the metropolitan hierarchy.

There is another part - a radical left movement: these people are for separating from Moscow. In fact, this formula, which they are very happy about, is that they are independent and standalone in management and instructure, and that they are allegedly “more independent than the autocephalous OCU, because we cultivate peace and we can create parishes abroad.” Do you understand? This is how they thought. But these people are in an imaginary reality, because they do not want to understand: in the West they are perceived (if they are perceived) only as part of the ROC. Most of the churches that they are now renting abroad in order to take care of our Ukrainian refugees and provide them with various services are, in fact, churches of the Russian Orthodox Church, though there are also Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The particular group missing from these is the UGCC. That is, it is clear that in principle there cannot belove and mutual understanding between the UOC-MP and the UGCC. We remember that in 1946 it was this church that took and absorbed the Greek Catholics.

There is one more group: a contingent who thinks: ‘listen, we do not need Rome or Constantinople or Moscow. Let's be on our own.’ And they have begun to register such independent Orthodox communities. But you understand that by doing so, they will simply fall into the state which the Kyiv Patriarchate was in for 30 years. People who go to this church still have certain doubts of whether they will be saved. This does not matter to secular people, but for a believer this principle of canonicity is very important. A bunch of other scenarios of some kind are probably being developed in order to save this church. Just imagine, my aunt is 92 years old. She went to an Orthodox Church for 70 years. First, the Ukrainian Exarchate, and then the UOC-MP. How can she refuse that church, the community in which she invested all her money, time, faith, and love? It is clear that this is the church that baptized and married her, and it will be the one which buries her.

Our notion that the church can be banned with a stroke of the pen is quite naive. Where do we put these 8,600 parishes that the ministry registered today? Not the 12,500 from the 2020 statistics, but this fresh data. Where are we going to put these priests living on Ukrainian territory? It took 30 years to work with them, or at least the last 8 years, when there is a war, since 2014. And the state and society, by and large, let it all go by them-selves. No one looked in, nobody bothered to check what sermons the priests read, or what literature they used.

And I'll tell you: I go to the local church of St. Volodymyr, and they have almost all Russian-language literature on their shelves. Just one booklet in Ukrainian! On the dangers of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the heresy of Patriarch Filaret, so that we can read in our native language how bad it is, and how that church is wrong. That was the policy. Because of this Russian-language literature, the “Russian world” was sold to us. That is why we need to work with believers, because they are not only feeling the influence of the church. Where are the educational institutions? Where, for example, is the Ukrainian Language Society? And where did school teach children the true history of the church, the religious and spiritual history of our country, and not write off everything according to the patterns of Moscow textbooks?

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The nature of human consciousness is very conservative. For some, even the war and the loss of relatives did not put their brains in their place. To this day, they continue to go to the temples of this church and remember Patriarch Kirill. This is a very lengthy process. But we are not accounting for how the past 30 years these people have been told what the ROC needed them to be told. Now try to replace those narratives that are already embedded in our brains with new ideas. What do you think, that now everyone will run to the OCU because it is a canonical church?! They have been told for 30 years that the people of this church were “schismatics,” that they were “self-consecrated,” that there was no lineage in the transmission of the apostolic tradition, and so on. They don't want to learn history. They trust their priests, and the priests continue in the same spirit. A vivid example: the Viceroy of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Pavel Lebedhimself, who, at his last pre-Christmas sermon, said “I, in order to give the temple to those schismatics and self-prelates, ‘these Satanists’...”

Tell me, how long does it take to clean our consciousness in order to smoke out such completely unfounded (from our point of view, but completely justified from theirs) accusations?

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