Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Moscow Patriarch Kirill Now Risks Losing Not Just His Influence but His Job, Greek Orthodox Writer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 23 – Ten years after becoming Moscow patriarch, Kirill by actions that threaten to isolate the Russian church from all others risks not only losing his influence at home and abroad but even his job, according to Andreas D. Loudaros, the editor of the Greek Orthodoxia portal. 

            According to the journalist who specializes on developments in the Orthodox world, Kirill today is “only one step from the greatest possible loss, that is, being stripped of his position as patriarch,” the result both of his response to Constantinople’s moves on Ukraine and earlier mistakes as well (москва-хочет-изменения-de-facto-против-себя/).

                Kirill, who has “a deep knowledge of all church traditions as well as present-day realities,” might have been expected to avoid such a fate; but “instead of this, we over the last several years have observed how he has made one mistake after another and hasn’t learned from bitter experience or at least does not understand” where things are headed, Loudaros argues.

            Kirill’s problem and that of the church he heads is that neither understands that other Orthodox churches do not see the world the way they do, something that is clear if one looks at history but that for some reason the Moscow Patriarch doesn’t want to draw the obvious lessons, the journalist says.

            Moscow has extended the tomos of autocephaly itself to other churches in Eastern Europe and the US only to discover that the chief Orthodox churches have not followed its lead – and have only moved when the Universal Patriarch has been willing to confirm such Russian grants with his own recognition of the self-standing nature of this or that church.

            That history should have taught Moscow a lesson, that the grant of autocephaly is not by itself the key to universal recognition and that trying to insist that it is isolates Moscow and strengthens Constantinople rather than the other way around. Kirill as a diplomat of longstanding should have understood that.

            “Over the course of many decades,” Loudaros continues, Moscow has wanted the Orthodox world to be what it assumes it to be rather than what it is. As a result, it has “definite problems in finding solid arguments” for its positions and is rendering itself ridiculous in the eyes of its own flock and those of others.

            For example, Kirill refused to go the synod organized by Constantinople because his spokesman said he could not possibly attend a meeting in a church that did not have a cross on its cupola.  And now Moscow says that Constantinople “does not have the right to decide for other Orthodox churches because it is located in a Muslim country.”

            The absurdity of that position is obvious if one considers that there are other Orthodox churches including Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem which are located not in Christian countries but in others. How can Moscow expect to lead the Orthodox world if it is so ignorant or uncaring about reality?

            If you are obsessed about your own self-importance, the commentator continues, “then you must be concerned that your arguments have a corresponding weight.” At least, they have to have some relationship to logic and the facts. 

            It is already quite clear that Ukrainian autocephaly “not only is not weakening the position and authority of the Universal Patriarch but on the contrary is strengthening its ecumenical character,” while Moscow and Kirill are suffering real losses that may only grow if it continues its current course.

            “Of course,” Loudaros says, “it is difficult to predict the development of events to the end.” But one thing is clear: Only one player can now block autocephaly for Ukraine, and that is the Ukrainian church itself if it does not act with the seriousness that the current situation requires. Moscow can’t do so on its own and should recognize that reality.

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