Ukrainian field of experiments

  • Vatican
  • 20.Aug ‘19
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Which associations does the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) has at the beginning of post-Maidan Ukraine? “Right Sector” and “Trident named after Stepan Bandera”. There four pre-autoclave confessions in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (the UOC-MP) the the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (the UOC-KP), the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (the UAOC) and the UGCC but the latter was the most politicized and actively involved in the socio-political movement. In 2014 the former Bishop Borys (Gudziak) stated that half of the activists of the Maidan are Greek Catholics. Of course, the figures were greatly overstated but the fact of the involvement of clergy and laity in the political life of Ukraine is obvious.

Earlier the UGCC was associated with such people as father Mykhailo Arsenych, who stated that „There can be no other conversation with the enemy but a bullets conversation… We want to make sure that tomorrow neither the Chinese, Negro, nor the Jew, nor the Moskal will come to take away my house! ”

However, over the past few years it has become obvious that flagrant nationalism and appeal to outcasts cannot go far. Then the primate of the UGCC, Archbishop Svyatoslav (Shevchuk), decided to rely on the education of the future intellectual elite of Ukraine. This way the serious promotion of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv began. Let’s be honest, thanks to foreign lecturers education there is at a very high level now. On April 9, the US investment agency “Overseas Private Investment Corporation” issued a loan of $ 6.4 million to Ukrainian Catholic University. A week later, on April 15, Pope Francis met with the president of the UCU, Archbishop Boris (Gudziak) and highly appreciated the work of his institution (including the involvement of American sponsors).  

Theoretically, the UCU should educate new theologians and humanitarians who will implement the ideas of the UGCC’s leadership in life. And what for ideas do they have!

Only the lazy one did not notice that in the  UGCC’s and OCU’s rhetoric there are clearly heard motives for uniting and creating the Ukrainian Church of the “fraternal Dnieper baptismal font”. Such church-alarmist resources as Union of Orthodox Journalists and speakers wrote about this as well as more respected publications. The community of experts still believes that the rhetoric about the unification of the UGCC and OCU was designed “for the pushovers.” (P. Poroshenko). However, in Galicia the UGCC from the, has already become an all-Ukrainian religion denomination with churches and dioceses in all regions of the country. At the same time, in order not stay in the background Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) needs to become a patriarch from a simple archbishop (as primates of the Chaldean, Armenian, Syrian and other East Catholic churches). In order to live it out , on May 11 in Philadelphia, Shevchuk stated the need to create a “Patriarchal Fund”, which should become the foundation for the creation of the Patriarchate of Greek Catholics in Ukraine. As Shevchuk has himself acknowledged: “We should build a patriarchy and extend a hand of friendship to the Orthodox brotherhoods for unity.” And on July 5-6, there will be a big meeting between Pope Francis and the delegation of the UGCC and at which, according to Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, “The Pope will prepare a big surprise for Ukrainian Greek Catholics”.

Many Ukrainians want a legitimate patriarch for themselves. Filaret a.k.a „Anathema“ Denisenko has become a toxic person, Epiphanius is unlikely to dress a cockle in the foreseeable future, so maybe Svyatoslav will become the Patriarch? Besides, the Religious-Information Service of Ukraine has already “assigned” this rank to him.

In a tender way paves Metropolitan Epiphanius the way for the potential consolidation with UGCC as well. On 13 May in his interview for the channel Esperto.TV he mentioned that he had discussed the possibility of consolidation of the churches with Shevchuk: “At the meeting with His Beatitude Svyatoslav, we talked about the further deepening of our cooperation. In this cooperation, we will come to a dialogue, and the dialogue itself will determine whether we can unite. Theoretically it is possible.”

Thus, Ukraine could become the notorious “field of experiments”, where it would be possible to run around all projects even the most ambitious, which could then be extended to other regions.

But the experimenters very often make mistakes: the striking example of one mistake is the failure with the general recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

The “nuclear electorate” of UGCC and the OCU are definitely ready to be united in the framework of a certain “single font church,” professors from the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly and the Kiev Orthodox Theological Academy are already working on a dogmatic and canonical justifications for this project.

Would it be implemented or not is still a big question. Many laity and clerks of the older generation are brought up in a paradigm in which a representative of any other dominations is a heretic, who had fallen away from the true Church. Also, the image of Epiphany as the “single uncontested leader” of the Orthodox in Ukraine are not fully understood. Filaret and Onufry, who has the same position on the issue of unification with the UGCC, clearly set off the young primate. So, as they say, time will tell.

And what do these acts tell us about Russian Orthodox Church?

Pretty much. First if all there are a lot of young clerks and theologians, who do not believe in stories of professor Osipov about Filioque and they share the feelings of sympathy towards the ecumenical movement.Time will pass and this group of people would grow.

Secondly the obvious question can be asked: what does a bishop Hilarion do? In recent years, he communicated with Catholic bishops and priests more often than with brothers from the Russian Orthodox Church. Excuses that the Vatican does not know what is happening in Ukraine, are created for children. However, bishop Hilarion, of course, is not a secret agent of the world ecumenical backstage, as they write about him on the “Holy Fire”. In fact, he  just loves long intellectual conversations in English in the old chateau, a concert in the hall of the 19th century, and an exquisite dinner in an elite European restaurant. Since this cannot be found in the modern ROC, Hilarion has to close his eyes to many things. It is a pity that he misses a lot of interesting things, for which he may subsequently pay a lot. Another foreign policy defeat wont be forgiven him.

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