Moscow Sees Four Places It Can Exploit to Block Realization of Autocephaly in Ukraine
October 31 – The Universal Patriarch has made clear that he will grant
autocephaly to Ukraine’s Orthodox church, but neither the Moscow Patriarch nor
the Russian state is prepared to accept that. Instead, both are considering
ways that they can prevent the realization of autocephaly even if they can’t
now stop Bartholemew from offering it.
Polyakova, a commentator for the Russian nationalist site Politikus, lists four
things which she believes constitute “barriers on the path to the tomos” and which
Moscow, religious and secular, can exploit to maintain Russia’s position in
Ukraine all the talk of the inevitability of autocephaly notwithstanding (politikus.ru/articles/113314-chetyre-barera-na-puti-k-tomosu.html).
first of these is the rumored corruption of the Universal Patriarchate, which
supposedly has received as much as 25 million US dollars from the Ukrainian authorities
for the tomos.That can be played up,
Polyakova suggests, to show that “Bartholemew is not simply a splitter and a
raider but corrupt as well.”
second is Bartholemew’s overweening pride. He believes, the Russian commentator
says, that he is not just first among equals of Orthodox patriarchs but an “Eastern
pope” with the right to give orders to others.That has already generated negative reactions among many of the others,
Polyakova says; it can generate more as the tomos process proceeds.
third, she continues, is the link between Bartholemew and the Gulen movement in
Turkey. That has been well-established, Polyakova says; and the Turkish
government is well aware of it. And the Turkish Orthodox Church is playingthis up. Consequently, Bartholemew may have
to move to Ukraine – and that will make his universal pretensions disappear.
fourth and perhaps most important, the Ukrainian church assembly which must
precede the tomos may not be able to unite. Indeed, “the impossibility of the
Kyiv splitters to agree among themselves has frequently cut the ground under
from any possibility of creating a Ukrainian church of its own.”
of these tactics may work, of course; but their enumeration is a reminder that
just because most Ukrainians and most others around the world assume that a
grant of autocephaly to Ukraine is a done deal, Moscow isn’t willing to accept
that and will continue to work to make sure that it doesn’t happen or collapses
be fore it can be fully realized.