For anyone Orthodox, I'm curious: How do you/ the greater Orthodox churches to the best of your knowledge perceive Patriarch Kirill's recent comments on Ukraine? Does fascist messaging from the top undermine the credibility of the ROC in the eyes of EO? I guess maybe a more general question about what happens when a patriarchate is compromised (like the puppet patriarchs of the USSR). Is the patriarch still valid?
I've been slowly drifting from Roman Catholicism to EO, but the Greek/Russian infighting and ROC vitriol for Ukraine have me concerned, to say the least.
As someone who looked very seriously into Orthodoxy at one point, the Russian Orthodox church's entanglement with the Russian state always gave me serious pause. This is a portion of Patriarch Kirill's homily on Feb 27:
Today we also need unity - the unity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. We are aware of the difficult circumstances encountered today by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. I especially prayed today for His Beatitude the Primate and certainly for the whole episcopate and all the faithful people of Ukraine; and I call you to lift up these prayers too. God forbid that the present political situation in fraternal Ukraine so close to us should be aimed at making the evil forces that have always strived against the unity of Rus’ and the Russian Church, gain the upper hand. God forbid that a terrible line stained with the blood of our brothers should be drawn between Russia and Ukraine. We should pray for the restoration of peace, for the restoration of good fraternal relations between our peoples. A guarantee of this fellowship is our united Orthodox Church represented in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Onuphry. We prayed for them today as well. We prayed that the Lord may give them strength and wisdom to repulse the attacks of the evil one while serving their people in faith and truth promoting peace by all possible ways.
May the Lord preserve our Church in unity. May the Lord protect from fratricidal battle the peoples comprising the one space of the Russian Orthodox Church. It must not be allowed to give the dark and hostile external forces an occasion to laugh at us; we should do everything to preserve peace between our peoples while protecting our common historical Motherland against every outside action that can destroy this unity.
Today we lift up a special prayer for His Beatitude Onuphry, for our Church and for our devout faithful. May the Lord preserve the Russian land. When I say “Russian”, I use the ancient expression from “A Tale of Bygone Years” - “Wherefrom has the Russian land come”, the land which now includes Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and other tribes and peoples. That the Lord may protect the Russian land against external enemies, against internal disorders, that the unity of our Church may strengthen and that by God’s mercy all the temptations, diabolical attacks, provocations may retreat and that our devout people in Ukraine may enjoy peace and tranquillity - these are our prayers today. And I ask you all to mention His Beatitude Onuphry in year prayers in church and at home, to mention our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and to pray for peace.
There are many things in this that are disturbing, especially the statement that Ukraine, Belarus, and other places are Russian lands, and the implication that the resistance of Ukraine is one of the "evil forces" fighting against the "unity of Rus'".
While I have never doubted the holiness and faith of many of the Russian Orthodox believers, as evidenced by these priests, institutionally speaking it's difficult for me to see where the Russian state ends and the church begins.
“Who desire to be at war and fight against Holy Russia”?
Fr. Deacon Lance,
Get the feeling of being in the Twilight Zone. His Holiness must believe the State propaganda media. Or, he's fully invested in Putin's dream of restoring ancient Rus, which the Ukrainians do not share.
There are allegations that Patriarch Kirill was a member of the KGB, as well as his predecessor Patriarch Alexy II, so involvement in state propaganda would be expected:
(note that there are much less charitable and more polemical sources of info on this than these two, but I tried to find the most reliable ones)
I don't know whether this is true or not, but I find these allegations to be very plausible, and more so each day. We know that the Soviet government thoroughly infiltrated the Russian Orthodox church, and tried to use it as a government propaganda arm. The statements about the war on Ukraine by the Patriarch fit with that sort of a mission.
I'd tend to agree with Deacon Lance and given that Joseph has indeed referenced valid sources, I'd recommend restoring the post to the thread. As to PMs, he's been here almost 4 months, I'll message John to give him privileges.
I would also add the time for worrying about Russian feelings is over for me. Putin has Archbishop Sviatoslav on a hit list and Patriarch Kyrill sanctions it through his encouragement for this unjust war and silence of the atrocities. Enough Ostpolitik.
Hello, I am a new member , a Ukrainian Catholic from central PA. Of course, the above posts are of great interest to me.
It is my observation that both Putin and Patriarch Kirill are living in some fantasy of a glorious past that they think must be revived. A past, symbolized by the double headed eagle- the bicephalous emblem of " Holy Rus" which united temporal and spiritual power. ( That power, directly inherited from the fallen Byzantine Empire.) Their desire for geographical " unity" is their constructive way of saying " empire". Putin wants to ba a Tsar........and Kirill sees himself as the spiritual half of the eagle's two heads...........But why? Because their power, temporal and spiritual, is threatened by the West and its notions of free- thinking, its emphasis on human rights and equality. Plus, they see the world becoming increasingly global and they live in a nationalistic past. Their attitudes are not unlike Muslim theocrats in the Middle East.
The immediate outcome of all of this is anybody's guess. However, History ( and eventually Russia herself) will condemn Putin as an archaic monster. Kirill and the ROC need to drastically reposition themselves to avoid the same. I say this with much respect for Russian, and all, Orthodox Christians. It is just that....... in my opinion, The Moscow hierarchy is making grave mistakes.
Thank you for providing the link above. This puts things into an even clearer perspective. The double headed eagle is siamese. If Putin and Kirill succeed, not only will Ukraine lose self- determination, the Ukrainian Catholic Church will return to the catacombs. You can bet that a new " pseudo synod of Lviv/ 1946, " will happen........this time including the newly autocephalous UO. Very disturbing.
This thread has mentioned Patriarch Kiril's involvement, but I am curious if forum members have heard anything about Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. I have read a few of his works and was hoping to read more. I really can't find a lot of information about Alfeyev's involvement in Putin's fratricide, at least online in English. Perhaps you all will have more information.
Hutsul, I grew up in Osceola Mills. I assumed you attend St. Mary's in Ramey. I have visited there a few times in the past, a nice gem in Central PA.
The few statements that I read coming from Hilarion (and ROCOR / New York.) are prayerful, yet politically cautious. I don't envy ROCOR's dilema here. They are between a rock and a hard place. I too would like to hear more about their stance.
Devin1890,.....Yup, I attend St. Mary's in Ramey! Thank you for the compliment on our church. Osceola, likewise, has a marvelous little Orthodox Church in addition to a Latin Rite parish.
The large wall icons in the nave of St. Mary's were painted ( written) by me. Feel free to PM me sometime.
Devin1890 was referring I think to Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, director of the MP's External Relations department, not Met. Hilarion Kapral of ROCOR (ROCOR is indeed in a hard place. IIRC they admonished the faithful, as of a few weeks ago, to focus on Lent and not the news, which IMO is generally right and probably the right decision in their position).
I've heard nothing re: Met. Hilarion Alfeyev, which is entirely not surprising because a) he's a member of the MP's permanent synod and b) he's basically the MP's top diplomat. I would be shocked (and might argue it would be improper) for him to speak outside/at variance with the synod. (I might further argue the episcopate - or even being in the chancery - inherently requires one to be a "politcian", in the oft-derided colloquial sense, maybe since apostolic times [ucpress.edu] ).
FWIW, IMO Putin's justification for the war is built on falsehoods, and has clearly pushed Ukraine away from him, in a way that Moscow will have to spend decades to rebuild even should it desire to do so. (I don't really think Putin cares; I'd guess he thinks military seizure and the FSB repression are sufficient). I have no opinion on what Patriarch Kyrill or anyone else in the Synod should say or do, especially since it's Lent. I would note the Arsenite Schism [orthodoxwiki.org] .
Theophan, Then they are complicit in this aggression. All along, my hope was that the Russian Orthodox hierarchy would convince Putin to cease his ambitions with Christian reasoning. Obviously, the opposite is true. They are showing their real allegiance. This business of telling the faithful in Russia ( and elsewhere) to pay attention to Lent and not the news, is particularly offensive to me. (Do not the people of Ukraine deserve a peaceful/ holy Lent?) When a religious institution uses its power and influence in this way, it is hameful. And, it is a shame that will visit coming generations in Russia, and eat at the credibility of organized religion elsewhere. I am sorry to state things so emphatically, but each passing day brings worse news, adding sadness upon sadness. May God answer the prayers and relieve this madness.
(I had Hutsuls in my family and Blessed Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky wrote letters to be read from the pulpit that were translated into the Hutsul dialect - they are in his Collected Works).
Yes, a life-long acquaintance of mine who became an OCA priest told me precisely this - "Alex, pay attention to Lent and not the 'news.'"
I couldn't imagine a more . . . anti-Christian statement than this. I forwarded an email exchange I had with a relative whose place of work was bombed by the Russian air force that morning. I told him "This is my Lent and this is my 'news.'"
But my mention of Pope Francis is what caused a negative reaction from him and he, although he is younger, took it upon himself to chide me and tell me that if I could not say anything "positive" then I should just stay silent . . .
I don't care if he thinks he is a candidate for the Moscow patriarchy . . . he can go jump in the Volga. 28 Eparchies formerly UOC-MP have ceased commemorating their former patriarch and many have begun commemorating the EP. The Georgian Orthodox Church is now on the brink of recognizing the OCU - even though they have been warned by the MP to not even think about it. World Orthodoxy is in crisis mode now and who knows how the map of ecclesial geopolitics will be redrawn in future . . .
I had to take the time to comment about your OCA priest friend's remark about Lent and the news. I do this with all due respect to his priesthood and to his right to his opinion. My humble opinion follows:
Lent is about learning to say "no" to one's self, temptations, and other large and small things. But as St. Seraphim of Sarov notes, " the aim of the Christian life is not prayers, vigils, fasts (and other spiritual exercises)." The aim of the Christian life is "the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God." These exercises are simply the means to arriving at that end.
That being said, the discipline of Lent is also learning to stop being passive. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Fire, a Spirit of Courage, a Spirit of counter Culture. The discipline of Lent is one that calls us to reform ourselves, yes, but also to become a voice for the powerless, the oppressed, the prisoners, those enslaved, those unjustly deprived of their God-given dignity. It's a time to come out of our complacency and comfort, becoming strong witnesses to objective truth which is Christ; witnesses to objective right and wrong.
To make Lent all about oneself and building up one's own spiritual life and ignoring what goes on in the world around us is to make our "salt" flat and worthless--"to be trodden underfoot." It is to make the exercises of Lent into ends rather than means.
We are called to be the presence of Christ wherever we go because of our Baptism. We are His Eyes to seek out, His Ears to listen, His Voice to encourage, to pray and to advocate, His Hands to work; His Arms to embrace, and His Legs to carry us wherever He needs His Presence to be. (BTW, this is the advice I gave to a young cousin whom I am mentoring. He belongs to a liberal Lutheran congregation that has caused him to question his Christian commitment. I told him that the clergy are not the only witnesses to the Faith; we are all called to be. Thus, he needs to witness to the truth he has been taught, even when his pastor seems to be off the mark.) We get into places where clergy never can or will. That's why so many people have asked me to perform their loved ones' funeral services and I was allowed to preach at Communion Services in the absence of my pastor years ago. People say "it's about the way you live your life." I humbly offer this, aware of the great responsibility this puts on my shoulders.
We are called this Lent to push back against the Russian Orthodox Church and her supporting/defending the carnage in Ukraine. That is part of what we are called to do--positive fasting, fasting from being afraid and fasting from failing to speak out against monstrous actions done with the blessing of morally corrupt clergy. These people, Catholic and Orthodox together, are our brothers and sisters in the Faith. If we do not speak for them, who will?
I keep thinking of the Old Testament passage where the Lord asks, "Who will go for us"? If I don't speak up because I fear being ostracized by people or shunned, what good am I? Besides, if I don't step up, who will?
That being said, there were times in my life when I could lose a job by being too outspoken. Fortunately, I am now not in need of a job and no one can take my income. I find being a "geezer" fun. I can be dismissed as people dismissed the Fools for Christ, but I no longer care. I speak for Christ and call evil, evil when it is so. It's liberating.
OTOH, one can speak up in other ways. If one, for example, asks sincere and simple questions about a matter, one can have the same effect but not be offensive in making one's point.
I have been using "A Spiritual Psalter," compiled by Bishop Theophan the Recluse, based on the writings of St Ephraim the Syrian each evening as an examination of conscience and challenge. It is arranged into 150 short exhortations and prayers parallel to the Psalms.
One of the challenges to praise the Lord seems to me to be a challenge also to do what we can do while we have time to do it. For example, "Let us sing praise unto Him until we repose in the sleep of death . . . which will stop our lips and lay silence upon us." Like the angels said to the Apostles at the Ascension: "Why do you gaze up to Heaven, He will return in the same way," implying that they (and we) need to get busy doing what He commanded us to do with our talents.
"While we yet have strength, let us work for the Lord in rightness of heart . . ." We're responsible to use the freedom that He has given us to do the right thing when it is comfortable and when it is not.
" . . . enlighten the eyes of my mind that I may understand my place in Your eternal design!"
In all this, we must also pray for those who we think are on the wrong path, especially the clergy. We are all prone to be wrong; we are all in need of mercy; we are all in need of the grace to repent before we meet the Lord face-to-face for our one-on-one judgment. I have friends who dwell on the past sins of others but fail to give them the benefit of the fact that they may have repented and changed their lives--we do not see the innermost person, the Lord alone sees that.
You see me (Pontius Pilate) in yourselves as you enter those same places of worship, surrounded by comfort and luxury while all around you the cries of the poor, the sick, the helpless, the unwanted, the forgotten, the oppressed, go unheeded. You also say, "We are innocent of their blood." You explain: "We are religious people, active and busy in religious affairs. We have no time to waste on those kinds of problems. We must not offend the powers that be. We must not disturb or disrupt, or do anything which will cause scandal."
I have done a meditation in my parish church on the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday each year for the past 29 years. As I was reviewing it this morning, I immediately thought of this thread. The above section is from the "Pontius Pilate" speaker. Pilate is lashing out at those who call him a coward for condemning Christ, though He was innocent, because he was afraid of the crowd and them starting a riot. He is speaking to the crowd who are crying for Our Lord's crucifixion.
Notice the "religious people" who are "active and busy in religious affairs" who are doing all the ritual things we think of as being what our Faith is all about. "We have no time to waste on . . ." "the poor, the sick, the helpless, the unwanted, the forgotten, the oppressed." "We must not offend the powers that be." I ask myself each year if this is me. Have I slipped in living out the Faith boldly?
I have been wrestling with these thoughts--I guess subconsciously--when it comes to applying St. Seraphim's admonition of what constitutes the Christian life for many years. For me, then, my orthopraxy in religious matters must point me, urge me, propel me to put my orthopraxy into my life in all its phases. So I need to fast from apathy, from being timid, and from being blind to the suffering of others in the world. So when I reacted to Alex's priest friend, I was not judging him, but putting forward my growth in faith and where I believe I need to be.
This is the best discussion of the invasion of Ukraine I have seen:
We have got to get rid of this fantasy of having an imperial church, intertwined with the state, that tries to gain the admiration of the world and win favor through political moves. Jesus promised none of those things. Just the opposite. He promised Christians persecution and martyrdom, and that "in this world you will have trouble".
We ought to be nervous whenever the church is not having trouble in this world--when it is in political power, and the machinery of the state and the rulers of this world are finding it nice to have a chaplain to their service of Mammon.
Nobody has a monopoly on this problem. The Russian Orthodox Church's heavy intertwining with the state and role in serving state propaganda is one example, but they aren't alone. The Catholic Church's reluctance to provide a clear, unified, consistent statement against unapologetic pro-abortion politicians receiving the Eucharist, and the seemingly endless sacrifice of anyone with a backbone to serve "ecumenism" and "Vatican diplomacy" is another. Those Protestant denominations who turn their churches into temples that worship diversity more than Christ are doing the same.
I worry about how badly I have fallen into this too. How many times I have been hesitant to proclaim the Gospel where it has been needed. How many times I have treated the faith like a private journey, that's good for me, but one that I would not "impose" on others through evangelization. How many times I have not been bold due to fears of being disliked by the world, and then excused it by saying "Yes, but I preach the Gospel, and use words when necessary".
Words are always necessary though, and I have failed miserably here.
Don't beat yourself up. Our faith walk is a process and a struggle. God blesses the struggle. It is He who gives us the grace for success when it is according to His Holy Will. We all fall; it is in the getting up and continuing to ask Christ for His help that brings us close to Him.