How did we get from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) being the new and improved Fifth Patriarchate, in loving communion with her four Patriarchal brethren in 1589, to a war amongst Equals? How did Constantinople come to see it’s Daughter as its rival? I think the answer is pretty clear here. There is no such thing as equality in Orthodoxy. Not today, at least. The corollary is, obviously, that there is a supremacy principle at work here today. And the only question is, which Patriarch will exercise this power?
I am not going to defend either of the real contenders, neither Moscow nor Constantinople. After all, they (and the other twelve) have all paid lip service to the concepts of autocephaly and autonomy from their very beginnings. Every last one of them. That was the whole point of going from little-o to Big-O. We’re each our own man, right? And guess what (fallen) men do? They fight.
Who wants to fight when they can sleep? That’s the other thing guys do. If you’re supposedly so Godly, all you Patriarchs, and you happen to wake up for some reason, shouldn’t you be fighting the Sultan? Together, perhaps? That would require two things. Co-operation first. Then leadership. Guess what’s missing here in this Hesychastic dream state called Orthodoxy.
After all, Orthodoxy is supposedly the last (and only) bastion of true Christianity. Yes, Francis is making this transition so easily believed and accepted by all those in the West too. At least, those who have awoken from their slumbers. Let’s get down to it, and see how this war amongst ‘Equals’ is being waged. And who might win.
It will sound familiar, because it’s the way things always go in nationalistic churches. From the time of the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the four Patriarchates had been in bondage to the Sultan. He controlled their lives down to the smallest detail. They couldn’t spit without permission. They couldn’t make a single move without the Sultan’s prior approval. No Patriarch could travel abroad. These four Patriarchs were literal prisoners within their own cathedrals. Most oppressive of all, their spiritual flocks were equally oppressed. As they are still today. What’s left of them, that is.
You’re a Patriarch, a Grand Prince of the Only True (Eastern, of course) Church. The only part of True Holy Rome that remained faithful to the patrimony of the Apostles, especially Andrew the First-called. Forget his brother Peter, for his supposed successors fell away from the faith. But we Easterners have kept the faith, right? We have correctly divined that the true meaning of Universality is actually the same as Nationality. As in, Go East, young man! And in return for our faithfulness, God Almighty has blessed us with Islamic rule.
Those four pauper Princes of the Church have a little problem. Two actually. The first is they have very few spiritual followers left to support them. The Sultan has seen to that. Their most important problem, from their princely point of view, is that the Sultan still allows them to keep their princely titles and palaces. But there is no one left to financially support them! How will they pay the utilities? How will they pay for their silks?
A cruel reality. Princely paupers. What’s a man to do? How about send a secret courier to our brothers in Moscow. They have money! Let us beg alms from them! So they did. And did, and did, and did. Indeed, from 1453 till the execution of the last of the ruling Romanovs in 1917, this was the yearly pilgrimage of Orthodoxy. To the shrine of Saint Rubles. In Moscow. And the Tsar always gave them what they needed. Always. I see this as proof of their actual Christianity. Even Christians are sinners, even the Tsars.
What was the sin of the Tsars? They finally succumbed to the envy of position. It’s easy to understand the thinking of the Tsars. After all, here were these foreign ecclesial princes, begging from him year after year, and he always gave in. Why did he, the magnanimous Tsar, need to beg the Patriarch of Constantinople to consecrate his local Russian Metropolitans? I can almost read his thoughts: ‘What makes those four Oriental Patriarchs so special that I need to beg this favor from them? As a matter of fact, if I, the Tsar of All the Russias, am actually funding the survival of these four enslaved Patriarchies, for nearly 150 years, why is not my Metropolitan as good as a Patriarch?’
Eventually it occurred to Tsar Feodor, the last of the Rurikids, the last son of Ivan the Terrible, to meekly ask if these Patriarchs might be willing to elevate the Metropolitan of Moscow to the ranks of the Patriarchy. To replace fallen and apostate Rome. Their reply?
‘Why, sure! Hell yes! Why not, Komrade! Why, we’d all been talking about that idea just the other day. Why shouldn’t your Metropolitan be just like one of us!? Sure! Consider it done. By the way, could you see your way clear to maybe upping your almsgiving, Brother Tsar? We’d sure appreciate it. The Sultan’s a bitch to live with, ya know?’
‘So let it be written, so let it be done’, as Pharaoh used to say. A hundred years later, in 1689, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Dionysius IV, dotting the last ‘i’ and crossing the last ‘t’, issued the Tomos recognizing that the See of Kiev indeed owed it’s allegiance to Moscow, and not Constantinople.
A New Coin
Until today, that is. Something happened that is causing seismic consequences today. Visions of grandeur. The usual cause (apart from sluts) of all strife. Who is it that is now struck with this pride of place? None other than the current Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarchate that granted this original ecclesial favor has now changed its autocephalous mind. Evidently, the Patriarch of Constantinople no longer needs the alms of Moscow. Where is His Beatitude’s gratitude for the past? Maybe we’d know if we knew who’s giving him his alms today. Who might that be?
What is it that this Patriarch has done to upset the applecart of Orthodoxy today? Nothing much, except to renege on his predecessors’ word. And to start issuing edicts that intrude upon the canonical turf of the other thirteen Local Churches. And to start acting like he is primus sine pares. First without equals.
Here’s the aggression progression. The people of Little Russia (Ukraine) are currently being torn apart by their NATO-centric political leader, President Petro Poroshenko. He has proclaimed that, in spite of their common ethnic and religious heritage, Uke’s are indeed a different species from their fellow muzhiks in Great Russia. He says that they must fight for their freedom from their cultural overlords in Moscow by every means possible. And the most effective means of resistance any man can muster is the spiritual one.
Poroshenko is busy selling the Western version of civilization to his Ukrainian people. The NATO version of life and freedom. He is busy selling the Western religion of Democracy. Never mind that he usurped the previously democratically-elected leader, Viktor Yanukovych. Not that Yanukovych is a good guy. But he won, democratically. Think of Donald and the Resistance. How would you feel if his election was overturned by force? Now look at the Maidan riots. Are you really sure about who was paying those snipers? Really?
Poroshenko has figured out that his regime is shaky, and so he needs some solid underpinnings. What is more solid than religion? So Poroshenko has turned to the sleeping Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and roused him from his Satanic-Sultanic slumber.
What is it that Bartholomew is doing for Petro that has aroused the ire of fellow Orthodox Patriarchs and Metropolitans? Simply put, he has trespassed upon his neighbor’s turf. He has intruded upon their canonical ground. He has, effectively, invaded their Earth, the seat of their source of position. Their pride of place. For in Orthodoxy, nothing is more sacred than the Earth of their Local Churches. Bart has entered their territory and meddled in their affairs. And he has done all this in the name of ‘autocephaly’.
Why not? It sells really well here in the Neo-Cat-Prot West. Hell, it’s even catching on in Rome! El Diablo has opened his latest front in Ukraine.
That’s what Bart has done. Here’s why he did it. Bear with me, please. Bart’s Papist offense was that he ‘officially recognized’ inter-communion with the hierarchs of two schismatic groups of former members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). This Church, the UOC, is one of the fourteen ‘Local Churches’ that are (or were) in supposed communion with all the other thirteen Local Churches that comprise the supposedly united Eastern Orthodox Church. A communion recognized by all the other thirteen Local Churches. A communion that has been recognized by all of them, Constantinople included, for over 300 years.
Here is the problem for the NATO-loving revolutionaries in Kiev. The UOC is under the aegis of the Patriarch of Moscow. In other words, Bart has intruded upon the canonical turf of a fellow and supposedly co-equal Local Orthodox Church, and set their flock free to pursue ‘other personal interests’ as the HR flacks always say when someone gets it in the neck. Bart has entered the sheepfold of his brother, and scattered his flock, as Scripture would say.
Bart also enticed two other bishops (out of around 100) of the UOC to band with these two schismatic offshoots to form a new ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’ (OCU). And Bart has ‘granted’ autocephaly to this new group. Finally, Bart, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Orthodoxy, is urging that all of the other Local Churches of Orthodoxy recognize the common communion (i.e. citizenship) of the OCU with these same schismatics and renegades.
How can the other thirteen Local Churches recognize this new group (OCU), without then denying communion with the former group (UOC)? It’s very much like Taiwan and Red China. You can’t embrace both. You may get away with having two girlfriends at once. But not if they’re sisters. Sisters without brotherly love for each other.
You can imagine how well Bart’s antics were received by Patriarch Kyrill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Moscow. He’s the canonical head of Orthodoxy in ‘All The Russias’. Including Ukraine. Including the UOC. For the UOC is an autonomous subset of the ROC, and has been so for over 300 years. For that same 300-plus years, nobody in the UOC has been clamoring for autocephaly.
In fact, the document Bart released that contains his ‘grant’ is actually very restrictive. The Uke’s would have to ask his permission for everything. Which doesn’t sound much like autocephaly to me. Whereas now, the head of the UOC, Metropolitan Onuphrius, doesn’t have to ask Patriarch Kyrill’s permission for anything that Met. Onuphrius does within Ukraine. In fact, the Metropolitan has a permanent seat on the Holy Synod that governs the ROC. But the ROC has no seat on the Synod of the UOC. Sounds pretty sweet to me.
The undisputed Russian ecclesial jurisdiction over Kiev, for over 300 years, is gone in a flash, as Bart the Indian-giver decides to go back in time and undo the past. But just who was it, really, that got Bart to decide to invade the turf of his brother Patriarch? Did he dream this up on his own, or was someone else whispering something in his ear? Maybe whispering the combination to his new Swiss bank account? Who was it that convinced him to battle for another man’s Earth, supposedly in brotherly pursuit of concord in the Skies?
This isn’t the first time Bart has meddled in his neighbor’s business. He did it in Estonia about ten years ago. Guess whose chain that yanked? No, it wasn’t the Irish. Now Bart has ruled that the Russian exarchate (overseas dioceses) are to be put under the wings of other Local Churches. Again, who is he angering? Which bear is he poking? And how will the bear slash back?
I suppose you could say Bart’s simply behaving like a liberal, spreading his version of democracy. Kinda like George Bush did. Except, he’s not. (And neither was George). Because if he was, why won’t he grant autocephaly/autonomy to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) in America? After all, this is one group that actually is under Bart’s canonical ownership, so no one could ever complain about this from a jurisdictional standard. In fact, the GOA has clamored for exactly that same autocephaly for many years.
There’s evidently two groups with cash. One group is the GOA, and like Catholics world-wide who send money to the Pope in Rome each year (‘Peter’s pence’), the American Greeks provide the lion’s share of Bart’s budget. I suppose a grant of autonomy/autocephaly might interfere with that sometime down the road.
The other group with cash, though nobody can prove it, but the word on the street is, it’s the CIA. Which doesn’t normally leave fingerprints on the deposit slip. One thing we do know is that a whole lot of money evidently disappeared from the St. Nicholas Shrine foundation, in New York I think. supposedly, the CIA promised that there would be no FBI prosecutions of the guilty party for embezzlement if certain political favors were granted. Which, it looks like they were. And what do you know, suddenly those missing funds (or an equivalent set of greenbacks) re-appeared, staving off all those calls for an investigation. An investigation that would reach all the way to Constantinople.
What in the world could Bart have that the CIA wants? Think back, my friend. Read this excerpt from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia about what Harry Truman did back in the Cold War.
Such sentiments did not prevent Truman from proclaiming his intention to bring together under his auspices the world’s key religious and moral leaders from all the major faiths in a united front against Soviet Communism. Although it was an endeavor that failed to come to fruition, it achieved another propaganda coup against the Soviets in 1949 with the election of the Archbishop of North and South America to be the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. An American citizen had been elected as the primary patriarch, the primus inter pares (first among equals), in Orthodox Christianity. It was an achievement guaranteed to confirm Soviet suspicions that Truman’s interventions in the religious field were intended to encourage dissent within the Soviet bloc. Truman not only had Archbishop Athenagoras flown in his personal presidential plane to Istanbul to assume his new position but, for obvious symbolic reasons, had the plane fly over the Vatican. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy were each closely connected to the national identity, history, and sentiment of key countries in the Soviet bloc. Truman was letting Moscow know of his overt support for the heads of the two major religions in the Soviet sphere of influence.
Does this answer the larger question of whether our Boy Scouts ever meddle in other people’s affairs? Now ask yourself a simpler question. Has the Cold War really ever ended? Do certain groups have vested interests that never seem to die? And, what do you know, now there’s another Balkan nation joining NATO! Yes, Northern Macedonia. Another group of Slavs, ready to do the bidding of the West. Just like Poroshenko?
I could go on and on about the incredible number of actions, mostly unseen, that Bart and his gang have been up to for the past decade. Why doesn’t any of this ring a bell with most folks? Maybe it’s because our always vigilant MSM always makes sure we know everything but what is important.
While I’d love to, this is not the time or place to go into all of the other moves and machinations that Bartholomew has engaged in just these last six months, moves that have sent shock waves throughout all the other thirteen Local Churches within the Orthodox world and beyond. In the first place, the background needed to understand these moves (and their natural repercussions) would take another full post. Or two. Maybe they will come. But could you take it? My head hurts too! It’s all so, so…Byzantine.
Suffice it to say for now, the tectonic plates have shifted in the East. The two important results, to date, are that most of the Orthodox world is aligning behind the Patriarch of Moscow. Secondly, we are seeing the open denunciation throughout the Orthodox world of Bartholomew I as having aspirations to an Eastern Papalotry throne, as they call it. In service to a Western Empire. For the goal of an ultimate re-unification of the Church, East and West. But at a price so high that none of the Orthodox (outside Constantinople) can accept it. Can there be a true unity when coercion and trespass are involved?
What does this mean now, practically speaking? It means that there are now 12,300 potential parish flashpoints in Ukraine, as adherents of the ‘new and improved’ Local Church loyal to the local throne of Bart (and Poroshenko) try and pry these same parishes away from the grip of Kyrill and the Russian Orthodox Church. The process has already begun, and the reports of violence and intimidation are increasing. Not that you’ll see any of this in your local MSM. Are you surprised at that, Komrade? Better call Pravda.
You will see it eventually when Great Russia invades Little Russia (Ukraine), in full force. It will be sold by the MSM to gullible Western viewers as another Russian aggression. And another Neo-Con reason for a full-scale war against Russia. There is the end-game, my friend.
Vlad and Kyrill know this. They’re not idiots. Want to play chess against a Russian? Better have a Bobby Fischer handy. Because Vlad and Kyrill know that if they must invade and re-take rebellious Kiev and western Ukraine, it must occur before Donald is defeated or deposed. There is only one thing that keeps them from this today. That thing is the wild-card in the deck. The Uniates. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). The people who worship identically with the Orthodox, but are still loyal to Rome. The same people that were thrown under the bus by Stalin, beginning in 1944. The same people, still loyal to Rome, that were thrown under the bus by Pope Francis (points 24-27) in his Havana meeting with Patriarch Kyrill in 2016. The same people who are the only ones capable of bridging the abyss between East and West.
Why are they the wild-card in this Ukrainian fiasco? Because if they were to join forces with the schismatic (but now blessed-by-Bartholomew) Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), then the fix would be in. It would be clear to Great Russia that they could no longer wait this situation out. For it would mean that all the religious forces of Ukraine (outside of the original and canonical UOC) were arrayed against it. And that there would be a guerilla war waged by the West to pry every last Uke’s heart away from Moscow.
In that case, Komrades, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Let’s see how tough you NATO wimps really are. Are you really willing to fight in Ukraine? Who will walk your dogs while you’re gone? Oh yes, I forgot, your Islamic maid can do that, right? Well, come on then!
But if the UGCC were to join forces with the Orthodox Patriarchy of Moscow, then the religious forces within Ukraine would be split. And in return for this switch of allegiance by the UGCC, the forces in Moscow would have to accommodate this Catholic presence with some moderation of their Moscovian anti-Petrine past. Perhaps that might fit another long-term objective of Vlad (and Kyrill). That is, the neutering of Holy Rome. How embarrassing for Francis if one of his kids ran to the neighbor’s house seeking protection from an abusive Father? Da?
Why would I speculate that the Greek Catholics of Ukraine (UGCC) might seek shelter under the Omophorion of The Patriarchate of Moscow? Why would these people, the most betrayed upon all the earth, betrayed by both East and West, seek shelter under the Sky of Moscow? Yes, that is a logical question. But there is a logical answer. It may be the only place left where they can survive the apparent hostility (yes, hostility) of their own maximum leader. Francis, to be exact. While a Stalin can imprison and kill you, only a Pope can legally suppress you. And make you go away. How? By legally ‘selling you’ to the (schismatic) Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Wouldn’t that be so ecumenical!
Which Trojan Horse am I betting on here? Who will draw the wild card in the next round of this high-stakes poker game? Will the Greek Catholics head into the open but deceiving arms of the West? Or will they head East, into the bear hug of Moscow? They have to do one or the other, before Francis pulls their ecclesial life-support. Here’s my bet. Or rather, my hope: that they turn to Kyrill and Vlad.
That would derail this coming Orient Express and buy us all some more time. Time needed to reflect upon the madness of our ways. All of us. Time for us all, Caesars and Popes alike, to draw back from the abyss. Time to repent of our ways. So, pray, my brothers in the faith (both East and West). Pray that the unexpected happens, that the unity of Christendom is restored in charity, and not in blood. So, let us pray for true unity in the Church, both East and West. How? By praying for the Uniates. And that they not be betrayed again.