Tuesday, April 8, 2014

St. Elias Update -- as of April 8

FROM YOUR PASTOR:

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

So many of you have called, some not getting through because of the lines being busy -
so many e-mails as well - I haven't been able to keep up with them.
Please forgive my delay in responding - I intend to begin doing so again in the morning.
But the overwhelming sentiment I am getting is one of grief 
and this is of concern to me -
please don't cry, because if you do, so will I….

Our beautiful church building is gone -
all that is left is the memory of almost 19 years of worship, celebration and community.
This will have to do until we rebuild.
Tell your children, the church will be rebuilt -
They will light candles and kiss icons in it again -
and they will go around it again in procession
and run around it again with water balloons and super soakers.
Tell them, when they get married,
there will be a new building for them.

To put things in perspective, 
my middle sister, Orysia, called me this evening.
She told me that our youngest, Irene, called our oldest, Olga, saying hysterically:
"Have you heard about Roman?"
"He died?"
"No - his church burned down!"
"Thank God!"

Let us indeed thank God - we still have each other -
walls can be and will be rebuilt,
but loved ones are irreplaceable!
Let's all stay well - there is much for us to look forward to!

Counting my blessings,
Fr. Roman


BELOW, OUR ACTIVITIES UPDATE:


St. Elias Parish
Activities Update

Services this week:
Wednesday, Pre-Sanctified Liturgy - 5pm, Parish House
Thursday, NO SERVICES (Holy Unction-cancelled)
Friday, Pre-Sanctified Liturgy 5pm, location to be announced
Lazarus Saturday - Divine Liturgy 10am - location TBA
Saturday Vespers 6pm, location TBA
Sunday Divine Liturgy, St. Augustine School, 10 am
27 Drinkwater Road

GROUNDS WORK
(A work supervisor will be on the grounds every day. 
Ask at the parish house if you don't see anyone) 

Come dressed for the weather
Bring rakes, saws for trimming trees, pruning shears, shovels 

WHAT TO DO?
Rake up debris around cemetery and surrounding field
Clip pussy willows for Sunday
Rake disturbed black top from lawn to parking lot
Other work will be assigned on site.


PASKA SALE
Bring paskas and baking to parish house on
Friday, between 6:30 and 8pm.
SET UP AT PARISH HOUSE FROM 2 TO 4PM
AND 6:30 TO 8:30

Emergency Parish Council Meeting - Thursday 7pm

When visiting the parish house,
PLEASE PARK IN CHURCH LOT.

Emails and phone calls continue to pour in offering help and support and most
importantly, prayers!  For all, we are grateful! 

"THE BUILDING IS GONE, BUT THE CHURCH IS STILL HERE."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jesus Wept: or was He Merely Verklempt?

SOURCE:  Red River Orthodox
Red River Orthodox
Posted on April 7, 2014 by Adam DeVille


The church where my wife and I were crowned in marriage, St. Elias the Prophet in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, burned to the ground on Saturday morning. It was the only Boyko-style all-wood church in Canada, and one of only two of its kind in the world. It was consecrated in 1995, and was not only one of the most liturgically, architecturally, and iconographically beautiful temples in the world: it also housed one of the most wonderful communities in the world, large (but not overwhelming), diverse (in a good way), and healthy, without many of the pathologies I have seen in Eastern Christian parishes, both Catholic and Orthodox, in both Canada and the United States. The former head of the OCA in Canada, and one of her most distinguished priests (Archpriest Cyprian [Robert] Hutcheon) visited it some time ago and said it was a model for all Eastern Christians in North America, showing just what was possible. ROCOR people who once visited scoffed at the idea it was a horrid old “Uniate” place and insisted it must have been transplanted directly from Russia (or, perhaps, grudgingly, Ukraine) itself.

"Raising of Lazarus"  St Elias Church, Brampton, ON
I have to confess that this news shook my wife and me far more deeply than either of us expected. That somewhat sardonic word made popular by Saturday Night Live sketches, verklempt, has described us all weekend and we have not been to St. Elias in over a year! Being an academic, I cannot help but reflect on this reaction of ours, and in doing so noted that the Latin Church read the pericope of the raising of Lazarus this past Sunday (“Passion Sunday,” as the older Latin tradition used to call it), while the Byzantine Churches will do so this coming Saturday, before Palm Sunday. Perhaps the most consoling verse in Scripture is also the shortest and comes from this story: “Jesus wept.” He wept over the death of his friend Lazarus.

In the infamous Antiochian-Alexandrian divide over questions of Christology, I have long been firmly on the Alexandrian side. This is likely the result of my WASP upbringing in which icons of Christ the Pantocrator come naturally to my imagination, and in which displays of vigorous emotion were prohibited (as Florence King once noted, the only emotion a WASP is permitted to express is “mild irritation”). Jesus the king, impassable and unmovable, dignified in (indeed, because of) His immovable emotional equilibrium, is an image ready to hand. But Jesus the man with friends like us, Jesus the human being who went to stay the weekend with His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, seems almost artificial to me, and certainly a “degradation” compared to His exalted nature as second person of the Trinity. So verses such as “Jesus wept” are crucial correctives for me, showing that He who was, perhaps, prepared for a few days of sitting back, eating some good food and drinking some fine wine with His three friends, finally succumbed to what He was feeling and chucked all the pious knowledge He surely had about the resurrection to weep with His friends over their common and bewildering loss. What a relief this Jesus is to encounter.

In seeing the “death” of a building, I know, having buried two of my sisters long before their time, all of my grandparents, and many close friends, that we are not in the same category and not mourning the same type of loss. And I know that Scripture tells us that “we have here no lasting city” and that we seek an age and place that is “to come.” And yet, we grieve anyway, and in doing so do not reflect a loss of hope, or an unhealthy attachment to “earthly things.” We grieve a real loss, even as we await an unimaginable resurrection. This is precisely the challenge, it seems to me, of a genuinely orthodox Christianity that avoids the allurements of a disembodied Gnosticism just as much as a monophysite approach both to life and to Christ where divinity resolves all the struggles of humanity in a neat and tidy way. It is not easy being both of this world and called to transcend it. I don’t know any of us who get that tension exactly right. And yet, without it, Christianity makes no sense.

- See more at: http://holyresurrection.areavoices.com/2014/04/07/jesus-wept-or-was-he-merely-verklempt/#sthash.R0Eha9B6.dpuf

Kontakt TV: Fire destroys St. Elias The Prophet Church

Fire destroyed Ukrainian church in Brampton. The blaze broke out inside St. Elias The Prophet Ukranian Catholic Church on Heritage Road near Bovaird Drive in Brampton at around 6:50 a.m. on Saturday, April 5, 2014



See Also St. Elias rises from the flames: Amid tears and laughter, Ukrainian congregation vows to rebuild

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Patriarch Filaret on the Russian annexation of the Crimea


Address
of Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Philaret
on the Russian annexation of the Crimea
Dear brothers and sisters!
Dear compatriots!
The calling of the Church is to testify about the truth. Therefore it is necessary to give moral evaluation of the annexation, or I should say Anschluss of the Crimea carried out by the Russian Federation not long ago.
On March 18, 2014 Russia's leaders publicly committed three violations of the commandments of God: Do not kill; Do not Tell false witness against your neighbor; Do not wish your neighbor's house ... (and) anything that is thy neighbor (Exodus 20:15-17). The consequence of armed aggression of Russian government against Ukraine has become bloodshed – the murder of the Ukrainian activist by the separatists in Donetsk, killing of the Crimean Tatar and of the Ukrainian serviceman in the Crimea.
Provocateurs, instigated and supported from Russia, sow the confusion and call for separatism, incite civil conflict in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. In the Crimea, Ukrainian troops loyal to the oath, and their families are subjected to continuous pressure, are intimidated, including using weapons.
In the occupatied Crimea community activists disappear without a trace. Those who were occupants’ hostages and were released, witness about the cruel, inhuman treatment, constant humiliation, death threats, simulation of execution. The Russian leadership is personally responsible for all this.
In the speech on March 18 in the Kremlin, the Russian President Vladimir Putin used the tool of the devil – he mixed the truth with falsehood. I am sure that half-truth from the mouth of the Russian leader that the whole world heard is worse than outright lies – as hidden poison in food is more dangerous than obvious poison.
Considering the disintegration of the totalitarian USSR a "tragic event", he didn’t say that in Ukraine, including the Crimea and Sevastopol, most people on December 1, 1991 at a public referendum without any coercion supported the independence of Ukraine. He did not mention a single word about the obligation not only to respect but also to guarantee the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders of Ukraine, taken over by the Russian Federation according to Budapest Memorandum of 1994 and the Treaty of Friendship of 1997.
Occupying and annexing the Crimea, the Russian leadership in fact challenged the entire system of international law. Now, according to Russian authorities, any dispute in the "zone of interests" of the Kremlin can be solved by military force and other means of pressure - ignoring the very principles of law and justice, the interstate and international agreements, the opinion of the world community.
Mr Putin himself implicitly acknowledges this, pointing out that in the past Russia allegedly was forced, because of its economic and political weakness, to sign the relevant agreements and make commitments. Based on logics and seeing the action, now that the Kremlin felt strong, it can afford to reject all the obligations and act at its discretion.
Justifying the aggression against Ukraine, the Russian President appeals to the common historical past of our countries and peoples. But at various times under the Russian authorities, in addition to Ukraine, there was a number of countries – Belarus, the Baltic States, Poland, Finland, Moldova, the Caucasus and Central Asia countries. To all appearances, from the Russian leadership now we can expect not only the invasion to south-eastern Ukraine, but also to any of these countries. For, as in Ukraine there are ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people, the Kremlin is prepared to justify their seizure by the "protection of their interests".
Putin officially started using such definitions as "Russian world", "historical Russia", "Russians is a divided nation", "Ukrainians and we are one people". All this, along with nostalgia for past greatness of the state and the desire to revenge for the collapse of the Soviet Union, is a replica of the ideology and rhetoric of the fascist regimes of the twentieth century, particularly in Germany and Italy.
A good proof of this ideological connection is also anti-Ukrainian hysteria deployed in the Russian media. For months, pouring the Russian people with half-truths and outright lies about the events in Ukraine, while blocking access to any alternative point of view, the Russian authorities as before the authorities of the fascist states, deceived its own people that mostly welcomes and approves
its criminal acts.
History recalls that the Anschluss of Austria and the annexation of Sudetenland were also held under the slogans "unity of the people", "protection of national interests", "justice". There the "referendums" that gave necessary results for invaders also were conducted under the muzzles of weapons. But after the "peaceful" conquest began the bloodiest World War II, because the policy of appeasement does not always lead to peace and to a sense of impunity to aggression and desire to move on.
That is why I first of all address to the entire Ukrainian people: our country is treacherously attacked by the enemy, who occupied the part of Ukraine and seeks to destroy all our statehood and independence, and return us to the Kremlin imperial yoke. So, sacred duty of each of us is to help protect our common Ukrainian House from the attacker.
We must unite, because only in unity is the power of the people. Actions of the Ukrainian state can cause criticism, but remember: the occupation authorities will not allow any criticism.
Example of many nations suggests that solidarity and selfless struggle in defense of their home provided the victory over even much more numerous and stronger aggressor. After all, God is not in force – God is in the truth.
I express my solidarity with all those who fearlessly resist the aggressor. Much respect and honor to the brave Crimean Tatar people, which under occupation maintains loyalty to the unity of Ukraine. I am grateful for the courage to Archbishop Clement, clergy and faithful of the Crimean Diocese of Kyiv Patriarchate - our church will do everything possible in order to support them and protect their rights.
Once again I’ll repeat the words spoken many times on behalf of our Church in these days: the Ukrainian people does not have and should not have any hatred or hostility to the Russian people, even in the face of military aggression against our country. We want and I am sure – in the future will have friendly and equal relations between independent Ukraine and democratic Russia based on mutual respect to sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.
I appeal again to the international community: the time for declarations of deep concern expired long ago, it's time to act. So I welcome early signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU, giving Ukraine the prospect of EU membership - as a guarantee of peace not only in our country but also in the whole Europe.
Now not only the fate of Ukraine is decided, but also the fate of the world. Humanity stands at the crossroads: either to turn back to the era when relations between the nations are not based on the law and justice, but by force of arms and cost of millions of victims, or together to stop this cynical aggression and save the world from the worst.
Therefore, all international security institutions: the UN, OSCE, NATO and the guarantor countries for Budapest Memorandum must take all measures to stop the aggression of Russia against Ukraine. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God!
Dear brothers and sisters!
In these difficult days I would like to testify - Kyiv Patriarchate is with the Ukrainian people. We pray and ask God to protect our country and people from the invasion of strangers, we ask the Lord to strengthen Ukraine with invisible force in the struggle for justice, freedom and peace.
I call all the faithful to this prayer and firmly believe that the Ukrainian people will win in this fight.
May God bless our country, our brave armed forces and the entire Ukrainian people!
PHILARET,
Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine
March 19, 2014

Written by Прес-центр Київської ПатріархіїWednesday, 19 March 2014 15:26

Latvian TV Supports Ukraine March 9, 2014

This recording is a part of the live event aired on state owned Latvian Television channel LTV1 on the evening of March 9, 2014.
 
The event was a Latvian national choir competition sponsored by the European Union. What we can see here is the conclusion of the event where all five choirs present at the competition are performing Ukrainian National Anthem. Originally the European Union anthem "Ode to Joy" was to be performed but the conductor Ints Teterovskis invited the choirs to perform Ukrainian national anthem instead.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Please pray for Russian Military withdrawal from Ukraine


That the House of Representatives--
(1) condemns the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity by military forces of the Russian Federation;
(2) states that the military intervention by the Russian Federation--(A) is in breach of its obligations under the United Nations Charter;(B) is in violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, in which it pledged to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine and to refrain from the threat of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine; and (C) poses a threat to international peace and security;
(3) calls on the Russian Federation to remove all of its military forces from Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, other than at those operating in accordance with its 1997 agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet Stationing on the Territory of Ukraine, and to refrain from interference in all regions of Ukraine;
(4) declares that the Ukrainian people have the right to determine their own future free from outside interference;
(5) commends the Ukrainian Government for its continued restraint and avoidance of military provocations;
(6) calls on the Ukrainian Government to continue to protect the rights of all minority populations within Ukraine and make clear that it represents all Ukrainian citizens;
(7) calls on all Ukrainians to respect the legitimate government authorities in all parts of Ukraine, including in eastern and southern Ukraine;
(8) calls for the deployment of independent monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Crimea and other areas of Ukraine;
(9) calls upon the President and the leaders of the other democratic states to not attend the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia and to consider expelling Russia from the group, given its international aggression and internal repression that are inconsistent with democratic standards;
(10) calls on the Administration to work with our European allies and other countries to impose visa, financial, trade, and other sanctions on senior Russian Federation officials, majority state-owned banks and commercial organizations, and other state agencies, as appropriate;
(11) states that the United States should participate with its European allies and other countries in a joint effort to provide the Ukrainian government with financial, economic, and technical assistance, including asset recovery, to assist an economic recovery program that includes fundamental reforms;
(12) calls on the United States, its European allies, and other countries and international organizations to provide assistance to ensure that new elections scheduled for May 2014 are free, fair, and in full accordance with international standards;
(13) calls on the United States and its European allies and other countries to develop a long-term strategy to support economic development in Ukraine, including enhanced relationships with Western countries, organizations and institutions;
(14) supports efforts by Ukraine to achieve energy independence; and
(15) affirms the right of all countries in the region to exercise their sovereign rights within their internationally recognized borders free from outside intervention and to conduct their foreign policy in accordance with their determination of the best interests of their peoples.
 ____________
Statement of G-7 Leaders on Ukraine (Source:  http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/03/12/statement-g-7-leaders-ukraine)
Ottawa, Ontario
12 March 2014

We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, call on the Russian Federation to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law. We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine.
Any such referendum would have no legal effect. Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force. For all these reasons, we would not recognize the outcome.

Russian annexation of Crimea would be a clear violation of the United Nations Charter; Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act; its obligations to Ukraine under its 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership; the Russia-Ukraine 1997 basing agreement; and its commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states. Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively.

We call on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the conflict in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine immediately, withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons, begin direct discussions with the Government of Ukraine, and avail itself of international mediation and observation offers to address any legitimate concerns it may have. We, the leaders of the G-7, urge Russia to join us in working together through diplomatic processes to resolve the current crisis and support progress for a sovereign, independent, inclusive, and united Ukraine. We also remind the Russian Federation of our decision to suspend participation in any activities related to preparation of a G-8 Sochi meeting until it changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion
Ottawa, Ontario
12 March 2014
We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, call on the Russian Federation  to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law. We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine.
Any such referendum would have no legal effect. Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force. For all these reasons, we would not recognize the outcome.
Russian annexation of Crimea would be a clear violation of the United Nations Charter; Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act; its obligations to Ukraine under its 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership; the Russia-Ukraine 1997 basing agreement; and its commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states.  Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively.
We call on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the conflict in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine immediately, withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons, begin direct discussions with the Government of Ukraine, and avail itself of international mediation and observation offers to address any legitimate concerns it may have. We, the leaders of the G-7, urge Russia to join us in working together through diplomatic processes to resolve the current crisis and support progress for a sovereign, independent, inclusive, and united Ukraine. We also remind the Russian Federation of our decision to suspend participation in any activities related to preparation of a G-8 Sochi meeting  until it changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion
- See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/03/12/statement-g-7-leaders-ukraine#sthash.KSCoa6kS.sZY3BYVb.dpuf

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eastern Orthodox make strong showing at March for Life in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2014 (SOURCE:  LifeSiteNews.com) – March for Life President Jeanne Monahan addressed concerns that the annual pro-life walk was too heavily Catholic, reaching out to evangelical Protestants. But based on the participation of Eastern Orthodox Christians in this year's events, marchers may have been forgiven for believing the whole march breathed with the other lung.


Bp. Demetrios, left, with Bp. Melchisedek
Every major event, and several minor ones, featured distinguished clergy from the world's second largest Christian denomination.

Archpriest John Jillions, the chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), represented his church at the “National Memorial for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers,” an annual interdenominational prayer service held at Constitution Hall.

The most visible participation came as Orthodox clergy filled the stage at the March for Life, which began with an invocation given by Bishop Demetrios (Kantzavelos), the Greek Orthodox bishop of Chicago.

He prayed that the public witness would reach “civil authorities who have legislated against the rights of the unborn, jurists who have adjudicated against life, physicians who have not healed but have brought harm and death, parents who have made choices to end life in the womb – some callous and self-interested, others tragic and conflicted,” and “young persons raised in a culture that espouses a right for some to kill.”

Bishop Demetrios, who also participated in the 2014 Chicago March for Life, said that supporting the right to abortion is based in “profound ignorance.”
“Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do,” he said.
He was joined on stage by the ruling hierarchy of the OCA (Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop Melchisedek, Bishop Mark, Bishop Michael), as well as representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, and a representative of the U.S. Catholic bishops.

L-R: Bishop John (Abdallah), Bishop Mark (Maymon), Archbisho
L-R: Bishop John (Abdallah), Bishop Mark (Maymon), Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp), and Metropolitan Tikhon (Mollard)
 
Metropolitan Tikhon (Mollard), the leader of the OCA, offered the invocation at the annual Rose Dinner at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill the evening of the March. His words focused on the Epistles of St. Paul to St. Timothy, most poignantly the charge, “Let no man despise thy youth.”
Like the rest of the March, the Orthodox delegation heavily featured young people. The nation's major Orthodox seminaries – St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York, Holy Cross in Boston, St. Tikhon's in Pennsylvania, Holy Trinity in New York, and others – sent delegations.

Gabriel Monforte, a young seminarian at St. Tikhon's, was proud that Orthodox bishops “are standing by the official position of the Church that all life is sacred, and as future stewards of the church it's our duty to be here for them and for all those gathered here, as well.”

He said the Eastern embrace of human life grows out of its key doctrinal belief: that God is love.
“Everything has to be done in love, especially trying to convert the hearts of those who don't view life as being sacred, as we do.” He said they learn they must “show love to those who have unfortunately chosen, or been forced to choose, abortion.”

“It's not just about shouting and getting hyped up – although it is about making our voice heard – but it's also about demonstrating God's love to a cold world,” he said.

Bishop Demetrios said the presence of so many young people of all backgrounds gave him hope.
“It is inspiring to see that, after four decades and counting of legalized infanticide, the March for Life was joined by so many young women and men from all across our nation, and there are those who feel deeply that we must protect all human life, from the preborn to those on death row and everywhere in between as we prayed in our memorial vigil,” he said. “Though this battle will not be complete until we repeal certain laws and reverse court rulings, abolishing abortion on demand as well as capital punishment, we are advancing in our fight for hearts and minds. Virtuous hearts will always win the day.”


Of course, not all participants were young, or new to the event.

Dr. David C. Ford, Associate Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon's, said he has been coming with his students since 1988. “It's a highlight of the year to be here as a group and standing up for the sanctity, the dignity of all of human life,” he said.

Marching for him is “a public witness for our church's historic support for all of life, born and unborn, ever since Jesus Christ established His Church,” he said. “It's an honor; it's humbling to carry on that tradition, that legacy.”

He said the highlight for him was the Orthodox prayer service for the unborn. “It's beyond words how important that is,” he said.

Prominent Orthodox clergy and laity joined the annual event, as well. The chancellor of St. Vladimir's Seminary, Fr. Chad Hatfield, was present. He marched near Fr. John Kowalczyk, a leading voice on the issue and the author of two books on abortion: An Orthodox View of Abortion and Church Fathers and Abortion.

Shortly before the pro-life event, the Republican National Committee announced it would postpone its annual winter meeting so delegates could attend the March. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is Greek Orthodox.

Dr. Ford said he would encourage any Orthodox Christian – or anyone else – who has doubts about taking part to come to the March for Life. “It's a life-changing event,” he said. “It's so powerful.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Of Kyiv Patriarchate Terminates Negotiations With Ukrainian Orthodox Church Of Moscow Patriarchate On Unification Of Churches

SOURCE:  Ukrainian News Agency


Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate Filaret said that the Church of Kyiv Patriarchate has stopped negotiations on unification of churches with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church as the Russian Orthodox Church had banned Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church it controls from holding the said talks, he told the Focus publication.

Filaret also noted that that relations with the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church are good, however, no unification talks were being held.

He also noted that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate had good relations with Ukrainian authorities.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, Filaret noted he believes in unification of all churches into one local church.

In May 2012, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate called on the politicians not to interfere in the church unification process.

In 2009, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate set up work groups to prepare for bilateral negotiations.

Bp Borys Gudziak: Ukraine movement a ‘Maidan of dignity’

 (SOURCE:  Vatican Radio) The protests in an increasing number of public squares across Ukraine are more about a growing people’s movement than plain political expression, says a Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishop.

While the media is reporting that the ongoing protests are motivated by the Ukrainian government’s refusal to sign an agreement that would have steered Ukraine towards Europe, Bishop Borys Gudziak says the story “has a much broader context and a much deeper quality.”
 

The Maidan movement is a reaction against the general atmosphere of fear and intimidation in Ukraine and against wanton corruption in the country, he said. It is a movement of principle and dignity, with spiritual expression.

“The people are morally exhausted,” he told Vatican Radio. “So… what began as a Euro-Maidan movement…is really now a Maidan of dignity, a Maidan of citizens recognizing something that is rather transcendental and that is fundamentally spiritual— that every person is created in dignity in the image and likeness of God.”

Listen to the full interview with Bishop Borys Gudziak: RealAudioMP3

Bishop Gudziak heads the Ukrainian Greek Catholic eparchy of France, Belgium and Luxembourg. He also serves as president of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

“After 20-odd years of independence, Ukraine is maybe halfway on the pilgrimage from the land of captivity to the promised land,” he said, as many aspects of the former totalitarian regime are only slowly being pushed aside. “Dropping the cloak of slavery is not easy.”

Protest leaders include many from the Ukrainian middle class; about two-thirds of protesters have university degrees, he said.

The clergy from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the various Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant communities, as well as Jewish and Muslim clerics, have joined protesters seeking to minister to their spiritual needs.

“Basically, the churches have come to where the people have asked them to be,” said the bishop.

The religious presence in the main Independence Square in Kiev is obvious. Acting in accord, the churches hold ecumenical prayer on Sundays at noon. And throughout the night, when fear of violence is greatest, prayer is led from the main stage on the hour every hour, said the bishop. Religious services are held and “ecclesial tents” are set up in the square, where people can pray quietly before an icon, access the sacrament of confession and spiritual guidance.

“The Church, following the basic insight expressed by Pope Francis, is trying to make sure that the pastors have the smell of the sheep,” he stated.

In early January, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture sent a letter to the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, stating that the Church’s involvement in the protest could lead to a revocation of its legal status.

“That is a very serious threat expressed to a Church that for much of the 20th century, by the powers that be, was outlawed,” Bishop Gudziak said .

From 1945 to 1989, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was the biggest illegal Church in the world and the biggest body of resistance in the Soviet Union, he stated. It did not collaborate with the regime; as a result, by 1945, all of its bishops were imprisoned.

“Because of its free and dignified stance in the Soviet times, it emerged into the period of Ukrainian independence with unique moral authority,” he explained. Today, the Church exerts a very big influence on issues of freedom, dignity, justice, and equality before the law.

“The Church speaks about these principles because they are the principles of our Saviour,” Bishop Gudziak said.

He commented on how numerous protesters are being beaten and harassed and how many students of the Ukrainian Catholic University have been intimidated by calls from the police and the secret service.

“One must realize that in a country where so many people were killed, so many people were sent to Siberia, so many people were spied on, a call from the secret service to the students' personal cell phone is a very invasive action that creates great trepidation and insecurity,” he said.

“The fear in Ukraine is only skin deep,” he continued, “and you scratch the surface and it pops out. Because the system killed systematically, people are afraid of the system. This movement of the Maidan is actually a response to this fear.”

The bishop called for prayers for peace and for conversion in Ukraine. He also urged people to become informed about the “real-life story” that is developing there, to understand the importance of Ukraine in Europe’s geopolitics. He called for people to express their solidarity with the Ukrainian protesters by writing letters and appealing to political leaders.

“This experience of the 20th century, in which people of faith and other people of good will stood up to the greatest human challenge, the challenge of totalitarianism, this school of faith has much to offer to western Europe and to the broader international and ecclesial community,” he said.

“I think Ukraine and the Church in Ukraine has a great responsibility to share this story,” he concluded. “Today, this Church is growing and I am convinced that it has a vocation to help the universal Church in ways that are still unknown.”

Report and interview by Laura Ieraci



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Friday, January 24, 2014

Theophany of Our Lord in a Village Church

Maidan: "it’s punctuated by prayer, and in the night there is prayer at every hour"

(SOURCE:  Vatican Radio) Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko has said he will lead pro-EU protesters "on the attack" in Kiev unless the government calls a snap election. The ultimatum comes after a meeting between opposition leaders and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych failed to resolve the on-going stalemate.

The situation remains tense in the Ukrainian capital, where clashes first erupted in November after Mr Yanukovych backed out of signing a trade agreement with the European Union in favour of strengthening ties with Russia. At least two protesters were shot dead in clashes with police on Wednesday, with Ukraine’s Radio Liberty reporting the death, as yet unconfirmed, of a third activist late on Wednesday night.

To find out more about the situation on the ground, about what the church is doing and what the international community can do to help end the violence, we spoke to Bishop Borys Gudziak, of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saint Wladimir-Le-Grand de Paris.

Listen to this interview: RealAudioMP3

"Many of the Churches, including the Catholic Church – especially the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – have been present through their clergy with the people. The people are there for weeks, day and night; they have asked for priests to be present, to pray, to hear confessions. Services are held, priests are listeners, they’re counselors.

The role of the churches has been also to highlight four main principles, and this was declared in their joint declaration on December 10th. First of all, that the government and the President should listen to the people, and not ignore them; second of all, that there should be no violence, especially on the government’s side, but also on the side of the protesters; third, that the country should not be polarised, and no manipulation should be developed to divide the population and pit one group against another; and finally, the fourth point, that dialogue is the only method that can bring Ukraine out of this political crisis. It’s not an easy method, it’s arduous, but it’s better than all others, especially better than the violence we’ve been seeing in recent days.

Without dialogue, and probably without international moderation, the situation in Ukraine can get much worse. […] Having spent nine days in Kiev in mid-December, I was profoundly moved by the spirit, by the prayer in the central square in Kiev. Prayer was a regular phenomenon: the day begins with prayer – ecumenical prayer – it’s punctuated by prayer, and in the night there is prayer at every hour.”

To prevent the escalation of violence in Ukraine! Припинити ескалацію насильства в Україні!

SOURCE:  "Українська правда"
(Scroll down for ENGLISH)
 
Заява Українського центру Міжнародного ПЕН-клубу

Statement of the Ukrainian Centre of the International PEN


16 січня 2014 року українська влада перетнула червону лінію, яка відокремлює напів-авторитарні режими від справжніх диктатур. Низка законів, проштампована провладною більшістю з кричущим прорушенням усіх належних процедур, завдала несамовитого удару громадянським правам і політичним свободам громадян України, в тому числі свободі слова, інформації та зібрань; поставила фактично поза законом діяльність непідконтрольних владі громадських організацій, усунула залишки незалежної судової системи, криміналізувала будь-які спроби незалежного громадського нагляду за діяльністю державних органів і остаточно унеможливила вільну політичну конкуренцію в країні.

Антиконституційні закони цілком передбачувано активізували антиурядові протести, які тривають у країні з кінця листопада. Вперше в історії незалежної України до учасників протестів було вжито насильство, принаймні двоє протестувальників у Києві застрелені міліцією, дуже багато поранені.

Нашу особливу заклопотаність викликає жорстокість міліції супроти журналістів. Судячи з усього, міліція не лише ігнорує їхні посвідчення та означені куртки, а й свідомо цілиться в них, б'є, затримує, ламає камери та нищить відеоматеріали. Найбільш тривожним є викрадення людей у різних містах, які чинять співробітники спецслужб та кримінальні злочинці, що співпрацюють із владою. Використання незаконних парамілітарних груп – так званих "тітушок" – для переслідування громадянських активістів і влаштування різноманітних провокацій ставить українських владоможців у один ряд із найпотворнішими диктаторськими режимами сучасності.

Під каток переслідувань потрапили і письменники та творчі працівники. Так, за вигаданими звинуваченнями в "організації масових заворушень" ув'язнені активісти мирного Євромайдану Юхим Дишкант – молодий поет, Дмитро Москалець – музикант і організатор кінофестивалю, й Артур Ковальчук, що займається економічними дослідженнями. Обставини затримання та відкриття кримінальних справ свідчать про кричуще порушення процесуальних норм і демократичних свобод.

Упродовж двох місяців президент України та його уряд не виявили найменшої схильності до консультацій, переговорів і компромісу. Навпаки, вони вперто закручували гайки, чинили дедалі цинічніші беззаконня, поглиблювали конфронтацію й провокували насильство. Вони залишались глухими до всіх поміркованих голосів і мирних закликів. Вони, схоже, розуміють лише мову сили.

Ми вважаємо, що настав час для міжнародного співтовариства вдатися до такої мови. Ми закликаємо наших колег у всьому світі не лише висловити свою підтримку українським письменникам і журналістам, а й продемонструвати солідарність із українським народом. Ми закликаємо мобілізувати ваші демократичні суспільства й посилити тиск на ваші уряди, щоб ті зайняли жорсткішу позицію супроти режиму, який веде країну до подальшого насильства й кровопролиття. Ми закликаємо до впровадження негайних санкцій проти режиму, який порушує права людини, в тому числі найбільш фундаментальні – на життя та свободу. Людей, які зневажають демократичні цінності і всіляко оббріхують Захід у своїй пропаганді, які позбавляють українців гідного життя та європейського майбутнього, слід позбавити змоги насолоджуватися всіма благами західного світу, подорожувати по ньому без віз із так званими службовими паспортами і відмивати через західні банки вкрадені у власного населення гроші.

Допоможіть нам їх зупинити!

Мирослав Маринович, президент

22 січня 2014

On 16 January, Ukrainian authorities crossed the red line that separates semi-authoritarian regimes from genuine dictatorships. The cluster of laws rubber-stamped by parliament in a farcical hand-voting procedure encroaches heavily on the civic rights and political liberties of Ukrainian citizens, including freedom of speech, information, and assembly. The package outlaws the activity of non-government organizations, eliminates the remnants of an independent judiciary, criminalizes the independent monitoring of government bodies, and makes any free political competition in Ukraine virtually impossible.

These unconstitutional laws have predictably invigorated the anti-government protests that commenced at the end of November. For the first time in the history of independent Ukraine, the protests have turned violent, with two protesters in Kyiv shot dead by the police and many more wounded.

Our special concern is police brutality aimed at journalists. All the evidence shows that the police forces not only ignore journalists' badges and vests but deliberately target, detain and beat them, break their cameras and destroy video materials. Most worrisome of all is the abduction of people in different cities by undercover security officers or the pro-government mercenaries called "titushki". The use of such extra-legal paramilitary groups for the harassment of civic activists and staging all sorts of provocations places the Ukrainian rulers among the ugliest of today's dictatorial regimes.

During the past two months, the president of Ukraine and his government have shown no intentions of negotiating or compromising. On the contrary, they persistently tighten the screws, encourage lawlessness, and provoke more confrontation and violence. They remain deaf to all moderate voices and calls for peace. They seem to understand only the language of force.

We believe it is time for the international community to use such language too. We call our international colleagues not only to express their support for Ukrainian writers and journalists, and their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. We call on you to mobilize your democratic societies and increase pressure on your governments to take a tougher stance against a regime that is leading its country to further violence and bloodshed. We call for sanctions against a regime that is violating human rights, including the most fundamental ones: the right to life and the right to freedom. People who despise democracy and slander the West in their propaganda, who rob Ukrainians of a decent life and a European future should not enjoy the benefits of western resorts and visa-free trips on fake diplomatic passports, nor of access to western banks where they launder stolen money.

Please, help us to stop them.

Myroslav Marynovych, President

January 22, 2014

" Bloodlands" State-sanctioned murder on the streets of Kiev

SOURCE:  NationalReview.com

For I can see nothing but violence
and strife in the city.
Night and day they patrol
high on the city walls.
It is full of wickedness and evil . . . 
Its streets are never free from tyranny and deceit.
— Psalm 55


State-sanctioned homicide is no stranger to Ukraine: In the Holodomor, the Ukrainian terror famine of 1932–33, as many as 8 million Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death in a genocide planned and executed by the Soviet leadership in Moscow and enforced by Stalin’s satraps in Ukraine. In that sense, death-by-sniper-bullet is cleaner. But it is no less murder, and no less state-sanctioned murder, when the bullets are fired by internal security forces and police at the behest of the democratically elected (but certainly no longer “democratic”) government of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

As darkness fell in Kiev on January 22, the precise number of state-sanctioned murders committed by Yanukoych’s security forces in the past 24 hours remained contested. What is not in question is that, in a dramatic new escalation of violence in the two-month-old protests in Ukraine’s capital, snipers operating from the sixth floor of a building began firing today on EuroMaidan activists in Hrushevskoho Street. One of the deceased was shot four times.

The state also deployed more traditional methods of brutality this week. Yesterday, thugs kidnapped Ihor Lutsenko, a leading civil-society organizer, at the hospital where he had taken a wounded fellow activist, Yuriy Verbytsky. Lutsenko was released after a harrowing 15 hours and three death threats. Verbytsky was not so fortunate: Today, his badly beaten and broken corpse was found in the woods near Kiev. Verbytsky was almost certainly singled out for a savage death because he was from Lviv in western Ukraine, a cultural center of national identity during the Soviet period that has long been a thorn in the side of Yanukovych and his tilt-toward-Russia associates. And some speculate that Lutsenko, a man of great dignity who has been one of the most impressive of the civil-society leaders to have emerged over the past two months, was finally released by the kidnappers because some of his relatives work in the Yanukovych government.

The strikingly different fates of these two men — both kidnapped, both terrorized, but one beaten to death and the other released — may help clarify the character of the Yanukoych government. It is far more a criminal syndicate than a classic totalitarian regime. The tactics Yanukoych has employed as president — forging alliances with oligarchs (who have funded the president’s political party and also made him vastly wealthy personally); hiring gangs of brutes to cow potential opponents; assassinating opponents who didn’t get the message from the thugs or who refused to kowtow; aggregating power in the hands of a single party held together by greed, the lust for power, and the fear of retribution; the thoroughgoing corruption of the justice system and the courts; the eventual strangulation of parliament — were all previewed in the late 1990s and the early years of the new century when Yanukovych was governor of the Donetsk oblast in eastern Ukraine. There, Yanukovych honed his capacity to acquire, and then hold on to, a form of power that is cemented together by personal loyalties, financial cupidity, and fear rather than by any common ideology. Call it clan politics; call it Mafia politics; call it whatever you like, only don’t call it “democratic.” Yanukovych may have come to power through the formal mechanisms of democracy (although the legitimacy of recent elections in Ukraine is certainly open to doubt). But as EuroMaidan leaders such as former world heavyweight champion Vitaliy Klychko have long insisted, Yanukovych has destroyed constitutional governance in Ukraine, and Ukraine can no longer be considered a democracy.

The brazenness of this thugocracy remains on full display, and not only in the streets. On January 22, several hours after civic activists came under sniper fire, the ambassadors of the United States, Canada, and the European Union states were called to the ministry of Foreign Affairs for a “briefing” led by the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of justice. The head of the SBU, the former Ukrainian KGB, provided additional comments. The ambassadors were shown videos of “terrorists” attacking the security and police forces; there were no images of snipers attacking young men who were, at worst, throwing rocks and the occasional Molotov cocktail, nor were there pictures of those who had been bludgeoned to death by the security forces.

The foreign minister was a half-hour late for the “briefing,” and after he and his governmental colleagues had harangued the ambassadors for what was deemed a sufficient length of time, the foreign minister declared the meeting over. When the German ambassador protested loudly that he had questions to ask, he was brusquely informed that this was a briefing, not a round table. The minister of justice, cornered by a group of ambassadors, waved them off and departed with a sneer. All of this was recorded and later shared on social media and several of the Internet TV channels that have sprung up in Kiev in recent months. Several ambassadors’ complaints about a “diplomatic scandal” were aired on these same outlets, but to what end? Yanukovcyh’s ministers didn’t care; by their lights, they didn’t have to. They have the power. For them, that is the only reality that counts.

Twenty-one years ago, in a 1993 lecture at George Washington University, President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic spoke with his characteristic eloquence of the damage that Communism had done to the moral ecology of the nations it had long held in thrall. Soviet Communism was not “totalitarian,” Havel proposed, simply because it held all the levers of political and economic power. It was totalitarian because it “permeated every aspect of life and deformed everything it touched, including all the natural ways people had evolved of living together.” Individuals who had deeply internalized this structure of perverted human relationships, Havel then argued, were going to have a very difficult time building a “new system of living values.”

The truth of Havel’s claim is now fully on display in the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine.

Almost two decades before his GWU lecture, in his classic essay “The Power of the Powerless,” Havel also identified the challenge now squarely before the civic-reform movement in Ukraine, bloodied but, thus far, unbowed. As it considers its options, its brave leaders and people might reflect on why they, the powerless, have been deemed such a threat by Yanukovych and those who wield all the hard power in Ukraine these days. And they might reflect on why the civic opposition must continue to develop and deploy the weapons of soft power in the long struggle for authentic democracy in Ukraine that now seems inevitable. For, as Havel wrote in his essay:


Living within the truth has more than a mere existential dimension (returning humanity to its inherent nature) or a noetic dimension (revealing reality as it is), or a moral dimension (setting an example for others). It also has an unambiguous political dimension. If the main pillar of the system is living a lie, then it is not surprising that the fundamental threat to it is living the truth. This is why it must be suppressed more severely than anything else.

It would be helpful if Ukraine’s civic activists received effective support from Western governments. But none has been forthcoming. The United States announced that it was lifting the visas of certain Ukrainians who were, presumably, involved in the recent violence; but the State Department didn’t even identify who was being pin-pricked this way. Meanwhile, Soviet foreign minister Sergey Lavrov chastised his “European colleagues” for behaving so “unceremoniously in connection with Ukraine’s crisis” — in other words, he rebuked European diplomats for giving occasional support to the EuroMaidan demonstrators. Then, more ominously, Lavrov hinted at Russian intervention in the Ukrainian crisis: “Russia will do its utmost to . . . stabilize the situation. Ukraine is our neighbor, partner, friend, and brother.”

In light of the dead bodies on the streets of Kiev, which bring back bitter memories of the murdered and exiled civic activists of recent years in Russia, such language is nauseating. For among his numerous other crimes against the country he rules, Viktor Yanukoych has turned Ukraine into a kind of economic neo-colony of Russia’s, thanks to his various deals with Vladimir Putin. He has just as obviously imported into Ukraine, first in Donetsk and now nationally, the Putin method of governance. Lavrov knows this. Lavrov also knows that Yanukovych is a pawn in Putin’s strategic game of reconstituting the old “Soviet space,” de facto if not de jure. And yet he had the gall to speak of “brothers,” the day before the sniper shots rang out in Kiev.

One would like to imagine Secretary of State Kerry, in his current Geneva conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov, taking a page from the book of Joseph Welch during the Army-McCarthy hearings and asking his Russian counterpart, “Have you no decency, sir?” One would like to imagine that.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

Cardinal Dolan: "Supporting the Euro Maiden Movement in Ukraine"

SOURCE:  cardinaldolan.org

Along with many others in the New York community, I am following the somber situation in Ukraine with growing alarm.

Last August, I was honored to be part of the dedication of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s Resurrection Cathedral, in Kiev, and was in awe at the youth and vitality of a Church that had been starved, jackbooted, imprisoned, tortured, persecuted and martyred by Hitler, Stalin, and company. With thousands of others, I praised God for an apparent new springtime where Democracy, human rights, and religious freedom were in bloom in Ukraine.

Those high summer hopes have now turned as cold as this New York winter day. What began as inspirational, prayerful, peaceful, powerful protest, dubbed the Euro Maiden Movement, characterized by prayer and song led by Jewish, Orthodox, and Catholic clergy, has turned brutal and nasty, with government thugs relishing the chance to bludgeon and harass the hundreds of thousands of patriotic Ukrainians, and oppressive laws quickly passed to suppress freedoms.

Two men I deeply admire — the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kiev, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, and Bishop Borys Gudziak, one of the founders of the promising Catholic University of Ukraine — keep in touch. They’ve been leaders urging peace and restraint, while prophetic on behalf of human dignity, civil rights, and the place of religion in the reconstruction and renewal of Ukraine. They are near tears, and look in vain for allies in their noble cause.

We Catholics in the United States cannot let these brave Ukrainians, whose allegiance to their religious convictions has survived “dungeon, fire, and sword,” languish. They deserve our voices and our prayers.

Nor can we as American citizens fail them, as we call for our government to stand with them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Moscow's plan for Ukraine's church

SOURCE:  KyivPost

After forcing the reversal of Ukraine's political course and offering President Yanukovych a financial and economic bailout last year, Russia is apparently now planning to intervene directly in Ukraine’s church affairs.

The events surrounding the EuroMaidan over the last sixty days have shown just how important the church remains to Ukrainians. This concerns primarily the three main confessions that trace their roots to the Kyiv Metropolitanate created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople during the times of Prince Volodymyr the Great: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC KP), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), which remains in union with the Pope of Rome.


The leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Volodymyr
The Kremlin plans to suborn Ukraine politically, economically and culturally. Support for separatist movements, coupled with the December 2013 economic accords signed in Moscow, form part of the first two pillars of this strategy. As a serious instrument to advance Russian political interests in Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate is indispensable to the construction of the third pillar.

The leader of the UOC MP, Metropolitan Volodymyr, is in grave health; uncharacteristically he was absent from any Christmas-related celebrations this year, even in the hospital.

Metropolitan Volodymyr, an ethnic Ukrainian, has maintained a measure of balance of power within the UOC MP and allowed the church to retain relative independence from Moscow. His successor will determine whether this church continues on its Ukrainian path, or will fall into complete dependency on Russia, fulfilling the dreams of the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, and the Kremlin.

There are several potential candidates among the church's bishops to replace Metropolitan Volodymyr. Most often mentioned as a successor is Metropolitan Antoniy (Pakanych), but the candidacies of metropolitans Onufriy of Bukovyna, and Ilarion from Donetsk are also under discussion.

However, none of these hierarchs enjoy Moscow’s full trust. Therefore, since 2011 there is a plan to appoint the head of the UOC MP from Moscow, in particular, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev), a Russian citizen, the Russian Orthodox Church’s (ROC) chief diplomat and Patriarch Kirill’s closest adviser.

An appointment like this would be akin to President Vladimir Putin sending someone from his inner circle to run Ukraine's economy as prime minister.

To implement this strategy, Patriarch Kirill might come to the council that elects the new Metropolitan of Kyiv, where either he or his loyal bishops in Ukraine will propose to elect Hilarion (Alfeev). To ensure the desired result, the voting procedure will be made open and not by secret ballot.

This appears to be a plausible scenario, especially after we witnessed how, under Kremlin pressure, Ukraine's leadership changed its political orientation on the eve of signing a civilizational pact with the European Union.

Moreover, this scenario falls into the bigger picture of a long-standing conflict between the Moscow Patriarchate and Constantinople, which has traditionally been acknowledged as the first among the Orthodox Churches, as well as the arbiter of disputes and the protector of the canonical order.

Since the start of the Cold War, from the late 1940s, the Moscow Patriarch has through various means tried to force the Patriarch of Constantinople from his place of primacy, and to occupy this position himself. Moscow’s argument is based on power – the Russian Orthodox Church currently has more bishops and faithful than all of the other Orthodox Churches combined.

But there is a nuance – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Volodymyr represents about half of the structure of the Moscow Patriarchate. Thus, without its control over Ukraine, the Russian church loses its principal argument regarding Orthodox primacy and a major lever for implementing its neo-imperial ambitions.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople is not the mere representative of a Greek minority residing in Turkey, as the Russians claim. It is true that not much is left on Turkish soil of the once-mighty Patriarchate, the religious mirror image of the Byzantine Empire. But the Patriarch of Constantinople, also known as the Ecumenical Patriarch, by virtue of overwhelming universal moral authority and espousal of Christian values influences churches and people across the Orthodox tradition and around the world, something the Patriarch of Moscow has never been able to achieve.

Therefore, the conflict between Moscow and Constantinople is to a large extent a reflection of the conflict of values between Russia and the West. The latest step in this battle was the decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on December 25 to challenge the primacy of Constantinople as the first-throne in Orthodoxy. One of the Constantinople Patriarchate’s leading theologians, Metropolitan Elpidophoros, delivered the Patriarchate’s reply on Jan. 7 on the Church’s official website; he severely criticised not just the Moscow church’s document, but its entire policy of world hegemony, described as “wherever there is a Russian, there too the jurisdiction of the Russian Church extends.”

Russia’s imperial ambition poses an existential threat to the stability and unity of Ukraine: the appointment of Hilarion (Alfeev) (or another Russian hierarch) as Metropolitan of Kyiv will give the ROC total control over the UOC MP, and will become a serious instrument of Kremlin pressure over Ukrainian society and state authority, especially in the year before presidential elections.

Further, a Metropolitan from Russia under the control of Patriarch Kirill and the Kremlin will obviously also destroy those threads of compromise that have been recently weaved between the Moscow Patriarchate, the Kyiv Patriarchate and Greek Catholic churches in Ukraine.

In all of this there is also a colossal opportunity – if the UOC MP doesn’t just preserve its autonomy, but elects a Metropolitan capable of dialogue and continuing the line of Metropolitan Volodymyr in church reconciliation, it could open the path to overcome the current divisions in the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

And Ukrainian Orthodox unity, along with recognition of autocephaly from the Patriarch of Constantinople, will not just secure Ukraine’s independence, it will put an end to Moscow’s global ambition to primacy among Orthodox Churches.
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Daniel Bilak is a Kyiv-based international lawyer and an advisor to various ecclesiastical entities.