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After the referendum, the Ukrainian Church-Kyiv Patriarchate fears ban in Crimea

by Nina Achmatova
3/17/2014
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/After-the-referendum,-the-Ukrainian-Church-Kyiv-Patriarchate-fears-ban-in-Crimea-30577.html

As Patriarch Filaret is praying for Ukraine's "liberation from the occupiers," Moscow Orthodox fear expulsion from the Ukraine. Whilst recognising Ukraine's right to self-determination, the Moscow Patriarchate remains under Putin's influence. Crimea's invasion resembles Nazi Germany's Anschluss of Austria.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - As expected, yesterday's referendum in the Crimea confirmed the majority's desire to join the Russian Federation. Although the annexation requires Moscow's formal approval, Crimea's "return" to Russia and Ukraine's domestic crisis are raising concerns among the leaders of the Orthodox Church.

In yesterday's liturgical service, Patriarch Filaret, the 84-year-old head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (pictured), called on the faithful to pray for the region's "liberation from the occupiers," reference to the Russian forces that have been in control of the Crimea for weeks and which many fear might take over the country's eastern regions.

Before the Mass, the patriarch warned of the possible ban of the Kyiv Patriarchate Church in Crimea. "We have information," Filaret said at a press conference, "that after the so-called referendum and the declaration of the Crimea as Russian territory, the Orthodox Eparchy of the Moscow Patriarchate will be placed under the direct control of the Patriarch of Moscow".

In Ukraine, Orthodox Christians are divided between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (not recognised by other churches and opposed by Moscow), the Ukrainian Orthodox-Moscow Patriarchate (the only one that is recognised and with the largest following) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

If the Ukrainian Church-Moscow Patriarchate is absorbed directly by the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, "We expect the Ukrainian Church-Kyiv Patriarchate to be completely banned in the Crimea," said Filaret. The latter has 30 parishes on the peninsula.

As he spoke about the difficult situation faced by many of his followers, the religious leader said that some Ukrainian Orthodox have even been abducted or illegally detained only for expressing their opposition to secession.

Speaking to AsiaNews, sources close to the Moscow Patriarchate share Filaret's fears, but also warn of the danger that the Orthodox Church linked to Moscow Patriarchate could disappear in Kyiv and western Ukraine and that a rift might develop within the Russian Orthodox Church itself.

By contrast, Patriarch Kirill acknowledged that Ukraine has the right to self-determination, but also called for prayers "that brothers of one faith and one blood never bring destruction to one another" and that the former Soviet republic (Ukraine) never separate spiritually from Russia.

In the Russia Federation, Orthodoxy has become central to state policies after decades of persecution under the Soviet regime, but the escalation of tension with Ukraine has brought to the fire certain problems within the Church itself, like its failure to condemn totalitarianism.

For the Washington Post, protests in Independence (Maidan) were "a galvanizing religious awakening," and "apart from being a political and social phenomenon, [. . .] it was also an ecumenical phenomenon". All of Ukraine's churches, including the Catholic Church, were united in defending people and condemning violence.

According to Andrei Zubov, a leading expert in Church-State relations who teaches at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), if war comes, the division between the Churches of Moscow and Kyiv will be inevitable.

Zubov, who almost lost his job in early March for an article in which he compared Putin's moves in the Crimea to Nazi Germany Anschluss (annexation) of Austria in 1938, said, "Putin has started an uncontrollable process".

If relations between Russia and Ukraine continue to deteriorate, he added, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is likely to recognise eventually a Ukrainian Church, and a united Ukrainian Church could redraw the map of Orthodoxy.

With a population of 44.3 million people, 80 per cent of whom are Christian Orthodox, Ukraine is the second largest Orthodox nation in the world after Russia.

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Слава Ісусу Христу!
Слава навіки!


Господи, помилуй!

I fear!
I pray !

Unworthy
Garaj

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The same issue was taken up indirectly in Time Magazine, with coverage of Bishop Kliment's concerns:

http://time.com/26204/a-turbulent-priest-awaits-the-conquest-of-crimea/

The article includes an appalling - albeit unsurprising - appraisal of the Kyivan Patriarchate by a Russian Orthodox priest:

“There is no schism,” says Vitaly Liskevich, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Crimea. “The people you’re talking about are self-proclaimed priests. In reality there is only one Orthodox Church, and that is the only one that will exist.”

Interesting ecclesiology.

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I suspect that some Russian and Serbian Orthodox nationalist bishops will shelter their extremists for the foreseeable future (As I think about it, Ukrainian ones will be there also.)...there is a nasty, ignorant and hateful strain of triumphalism in some cultures. The Serbs have been blessed with wise patriarchs like the late Pat. Pavle and his successor and have been able to steer the vast majority away from extremism, although it still has supporters. I do not know about the Russian patriarch if he can do the same. I'm not really familiar with the Ukrainians (all factions), but they've been saying the right message for the most part.

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Paul A. Koroluk has posted on the Kyivan Patriarchate facebook site: "Archbishop Klyment reports that Kyiv Patriarchate parishes have been visited by representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate and told that Moscow will take over their buildings as soon as the Ukrainian military leaves."

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And now it begins!
Господи, помилуй



Garaj frown

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Originally Posted by Slavophile


“There is no schism,” says Vitaly Liskevich, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Crimea. “The people you’re talking about are self-proclaimed priests. In reality there is only one Orthodox Church, and that is the only one that will exist.”

Interesting ecclesiology.


First, let me state that I am against any government using force in matters of religion.

Having said that, why is this "interesting"? While I try and take a nuanced view of Orthodoxy in Ukraine (with an eye towards healing), I really don't see where there is any problem with this priest's ecclesiology. I would not expect a priest of the UOC-MP to say that the UOC-KP is a legitimate church any more than I would expect a Roman Catholic priest to recognize the legitimacy of the SSPX, or a priest of the UGCC to recognize Fr. Vasyl Kovpak's "Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat."

Fr. David

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Fr David,

Your anaolgy with the so-called 'Priestly Society of St Josaphat' and the SSPX does not work, because in both instances the bodies in question make claims that separate themselves (quite radically) from the Churches from which they spring. The Kyivan Patriarchate does no such thing. Its genesis, as we know, rests in the legitimate aspirations of the Ukrainian nation, and the way those took root in the Church. As such, it also attracts the adherence of a (slight) majority of Ukrainian Orthodox believers in Ukraine.

I think a much more accurate analogy would be the origins of the American Episcopal Church, which saw Samuel Seabury look to Scottish Episcopal bishops for ordination instead of Canterbury in the wake of the American Revolution. Canterbury may not have liked it, but there was no doubt that PECUSA would be the legitimate Anglican voice in America.

In other words, the Moscow priest in question is, somewhat unsurprisingly, failing to deal with the real ecclesiological questions in favour of Russian interests. And ultimately, his description of the KP priests as 'self-proclaimed', essentially denies their priesthood... which is patently absurd.

Fr James

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But, Fr. James, you realize of course, that by virtue of the currently accepted dyptychs of the various Orthodox Churches represented at the recent Synaxis, that we must presently view, regardless of the politics, the UOC-KP and UOAC as schismatic bodies.

What I find of interest though is that in the past, during the height of the cold war, when ROCOR held that the Russian Orthodox Church(Moscow) was lacking in grace (a position held to the present day by the Greek Old Calendarists which presently includes all fourteen of the aforesaid national Orthodox Churches) we Orthodox rightly took and continue to take, great offense.

On the other hand, for decades "world" Orthodoxy viewed the UOC-USA as a schismatic body and we did not intercommune or worship together (officially). But - they were RECEIVED into canonical Orthodoxy in the 1990's by our Ecumenical Patriarch (as were the founders of my own jurisdiction, the ACROD in 1938 - from Greek Catholicism, not schismatic Orthodoxy) without baptism, confirmation or the reordination of priests and Bishops. That would seem to be the better analogy.

I think the prevailing view at present, whether or not Moscow accepts it or not, is that the KP are schismatics,and neither apostates nor self ordained poseurs.

I fear that if push comes to shove, a far deeper and broader schism awaits Orthodoxy should the EP grant autocephalic recognition to a church of Ukraine. Let us pray it does not come down to that as American Orthodoxy would then be fractured and marginalized beyond repair in my lifetime.


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Ukrainian Catholics Experiencing ‘Total Persecution’ in Crimea

Priests in Crimea have been accused of being 'Vatican agents' and of serving in the 'SS Army' by supporters of unity with Russia.

by SONYA BILOCERKOWYCZ AND SOFIA KOCHMAR
CNA/EWTN NEWS
03/19/2014

[Linked Image]
Father Mykola Kvych, naval chaplain in Sevastopol, blesses Easter baskets in 2013. – UGCC Information Department


KIEV, Ukraine — As the Russian president signed a bill to annex Crimea Tuesday, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the peninsula has been experiencing what a Church official calls “total persecution.”

“At this moment all Ukrainian Greek Catholic life in Crimea is paralyzed,” Father Volodymyr Zhdan, chancellor of the Stryi eparchy in western Ukraine, told CNA March 18.

From 2006 to 2010, Father Zhdan served as chancellor of the Odessa-Krym Exarchate, which encompassed both the mainland port city of Odessa and the Crimean Peninsula.

Since late February, the peninsula has seen the emergence of pro-Russian troops, who have taken control of its airports, parliament and telecommunication centers.

Referring to the kidnapping of three Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests in Crimea by pro-Russian forces over the weekend, Father Zhdan stressed that one such case could be called a mistake, but that “multiple kidnappings are not an accident.”

On March 15, Father Mykola Kvych, a naval chaplain stationed in Sevastopol, was detained immediately after celebrating a “parastas,” a memorial prayer service for the dead. The following day, Father Bohdan Kosteskiy of Yevpatoria and Father Ihor Gabryliv of Yalta were also reported missing.

Later that night, all three were said to be alive and safe, with Father Kvych confirming that he had escaped to the mainland of Ukraine with the help of parishioners.

Father Kvych told the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s information department that he was held and questioned for eight hours by representatives of the Crimean self-defense force and Russian intelligence officers.

According to Father Kvych, they accused him of “provocations” and of supplying the Ukrainian navy with weapons. Father Kvych maintained that he helped organize the delivery of food to a blockaded naval base and that he gave two bulletproof vests to journalists.

Upon seeing a Ukrainian flag at his home and portraits of Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera — Ukrainian nationalists who fought against both the Nazis and the Soviets in the 1940s and 50s — inside, Father Kvych’s captors accused him of being in the “SS Army,” a reference to Nazi Germany.

Followers of Bandera are colloquially called “Banderites,” a label that has been heavily circulated by Russian authorities and media in recent months and whose reported presence in Ukraine, many analysts say, has been used to justify Russian intervention in the country.

Father Kvych has been charged with “extremism,” which in the Russian Federation can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Father Kvych does not know how the trial will be conducted, since the national status of Crimea is in dispute.

A referendum was held in the territory March 16 regarding union with Russia. Crimean authorities claim that 97% of voters favor seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, and on March 18, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty declaring the territory absorbed by Russia.

Western nations and the government in Kiev have condemned both the referendum and the annexation.



Other Problems

In addition to the arrests in Crimea, several other problems at Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches throughout the country have been reported in recent days.

According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, an important 130-foot electrical cable was stolen from a small chapel in the Kherson region north of Crimea over the weekend. On March 15, a parish in Kolomyya was vandalized, and another in Dora was burned to the ground, reportedly from arson. Both damaged parishes are in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, which borders Romania in the west of Ukraine.

In Crimea, clergy have received threatening phone calls and messages. At the home of one apprehended priest, a note was left that read this should be “a lesson to all Vatican agents.”

“This is not new,” Bishop Vasyl Ivasyuk, who served as exarch of Odesa-Krym from 2003 to 2014, told CNA.

“During Soviet times, we were always accused of being ‘agents’ of the Vatican,” Bishop Ivasyuk continued. “Of course not all people in Crimea think we are spies, but there is a very active pro-Russian group there that does.”

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was heavily persecuted during the Soviet era; it was considered illegal and operated completely underground until 1989.

“The Church emerged from the underground 25 years ago, having been the largest illegal church in the world for 45 years prior,” Bishop Boris Gudziak, eparch of Paris, explained to CNA last month.

“The UGCC was the biggest social body of opposition to the Soviet ideology and totalitarian system. It was completely illegal, but in the catacombs, it was spiritually free because it was not collaborating.”



Complicated Relationship

Bishop Ivasyuk confirmed that such freedom is important in Crimea, where the relationship between the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the local government has always been complicated.

“Many Crimeans respect the UGCC for not taking part in elections, for staying out of politics,” he said. “Our priests do not run for political office, and this has granted them a kind of moral authority.”

Of the five priests normally serving Ukrainian Greek Catholics in the peninsula, two reportedly remain.

When asked their motivation for staying, Bishop Ivasyuk explained that they want to be with the people as long as possible.

“Life is the most important thing, so we shouldn’t go looking for the mouth of the lion … but we’ll stay with the people wherever they are.”

On March 18, the Department of Religious and Ethnic Affairs in Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture issued a statement condemning the persecution of clergy in Crimea.

“Recently, in the autonomous republic of Crimea, cases of persecution of the clerics of various denominations have been documented. There has been an unprecedented violation of rights in the field of freedom of conscience and religion,” the statement read.

“We demand there be a stop to the practice of terror and for rights and liberties to be respected.”

With the signing of the Russia-Crimea treaty, it is unclear what will happen to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the region. It is estimated there are roughly 5,000 Ukrainian Greek Catholics on the peninsula.

Father Zhdan said: "What we saw this weekend was a disturbing signal of a future political direction."


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-new...tal-persecution-in-crimea/#ixzz2wQtOzxg4

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Originally Posted by Slavophile
I think a much more accurate analogy would be the origins of the American Episcopal Church, which saw Samuel Seabury look to Scottish Episcopal bishops for ordination instead of Canterbury in the wake of the American Revolution. Canterbury may not have liked it, but there was no doubt that PECUSA would be the legitimate Anglican voice in America.


Valid ordination in the Orthodox Church I don't think is a matter of finding some friendly bishops who will lay hands on you though. So that analogy breaks down IMO. If the priest in questions opinion is patently absurd, I would be interested to know how. What is the backing in Orthodox tradition for validity of orders passed through schismatic bodies? I am sure this is overlooked through "ekonomia", but I don't think that overrules whatever the actual accepted opinion is.

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Originally Posted by AMM
Originally Posted by Slavophile
I think a much more accurate analogy would be the origins of the American Episcopal Church, which saw Samuel Seabury look to Scottish Episcopal bishops for ordination instead of Canterbury in the wake of the American Revolution. Canterbury may not have liked it, but there was no doubt that PECUSA would be the legitimate Anglican voice in America.


Valid ordination in the Orthodox Church I don't think is a matter of finding some friendly bishops who will lay hands on you though. So that analogy breaks down IMO. If the priest in questions opinion is patently absurd, I would be interested to know how. What is the backing in Orthodox tradition for validity of orders passed through schismatic bodies? I am sure this is overlooked through "ekonomia", but I don't think that overrules whatever the actual accepted opinion is.


Here is the official,complete, succinct Orthodox position on such matters: "It depends."

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Originally Posted by DMD
Here is the official,complete, succinct Orthodox position on such matters: "It depends."


The little I know of history seems to indicate things fluctuate over time, and that how threatened someone feels tends to dictate how they interpret things like canonical standings, validity of orders, etc. of other apostolic churches.

I also remember reading an essay by Fr. Georges Florovsky that in theory the Orthodox Church as a "strict" definition of the limits of the church, but in practice it is a different story. Meaning I think as you say "it depends" is the norm.

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