Today, the new US ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, who, together with Victoria Nuland organized the coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014 [1], is determined to set up an Independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

The Orthodox Church is organized into 7 patriarchies. Of these, the patriarch of Constantinople is “the first among equals”. The ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has practically no religious followers in Turkey but shepherds a flock consisting of the Greek diaspora all over the world. In contrast, the Patriarch at Moscow, Cyril I, has all orthodox Russians including Ukrainians, in his flock.

The separation of the Ukrainian orthodox from the Patriarchy of Moscow would represent a hard hit for Russian culture in the country.

From May 2018, Bartholomew I has refused to grant visas to the orthodox fathers of the Patriarch of Moscow desiring to go to Mount Athos.

On 31 July 2018, Bartholomew I signed a joint declaration with the leaders of religious minorities in Turkey assuring that this country is marvellous and that religion flourishes there even though in the past such was not always the case [2]. This text awakened the anger of believers of different religions that suffer intimidation and humiIiation on a daily basis at the hands of the Turkish administration.

On 31 August, Cyril and Bartholomew had a friendly meeting in Istanbul. But on 6 September, the Patriarch of Constantinople, appointed two special envoys tasked with establishing an independent church in Ukraine. The leaders of the canonical Church of Kiev refused to recognize them.

For his part, Filareto, the Ukrainian ecclesiastical leader of Kiev, a former KGB agent who was ex-communicated following the fall of the Soviet Union, creates a sect, the “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church” (non-canonical). He supported those responsible for the coup at Kiev and qualified the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as “Cain” and “Judas”. Nowadays, he is considered as the leader of the Independent Church that could be recognized by Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople.

On 14 September 2018, Filareto went to the United States. He was received in the Department of State with two special envoys of Bartholomew I, who had just met the President Petro Poroshenko, in Kiev.

He was also received by the former Vice President Joe Biden, with whom he has maintained close relations since 2014. Nowadays, Biden’s son, R. Hunter Biden, sits on the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, the leading Ukrainian company for gas exploration. Philareto has decorated Joe Biden with the Order of St Vladimir, just as he had done with Senator John Mc Cain.

A dispute going way back in time on the Orthodox Church of Macedonia is also in the process of being revived but in a different form: this time the Patriarch of Constantinople refuses to recognize it as long as it used the name of “Macedonia” (which Greece considers to be its exclusively).

Cyril met a Special Synod in Moscow. On 14 September, the Russian Orthodox Church decided to no longer “name” in the prayer, the Patriarch of Constantinople. That it to say, to no longer pray for him. It also decided “to suspend” all “concelebrations” with him, finally, and “to break” all working relations on the matters that they were working on together.

On 19 September, the Patriarch of Alexandria and all of Africa, Theodore II, called the two parties to reason. A schism is possible.

Anoosha Boralessa

[1What about apologizing to Ukraine, Mrs. Nuland?”, by Andrey Fomin, Oriental Review (Russia) , Voltaire Network, 7 February 2014.

[2Turkey Forces Turkish Jewish and Christian Churches to Sign Declaration”, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 17 August 2018.