by Fr. Bohdan Hladio
The historical path of the Church in Ukraine is controverted and complex: both Moscow and Constantinople claim Ukraine as their canonical territory. As a result, one of the largest Orthodox Churches in the world has experienced schism for over twenty-five years.
In April 2018 the Government of Ukraine officially requested a Tomos of Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This news brought joy to some, and caused anxiety for others.
In response, the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) (UOC-MP) published an “Appeal to the Faithful of the UOC” on May 25 2018 (English translation). Sadly, this document contributes little towards the normalization of the ecclesial scene in Ukraine.
The Appeal refers to a “schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy,” implicitly recognizing that the Orthodox Church in Ukraine extends beyond the borders of the canonically recognized Moscow Patriarchate jurisdiction, which is useful. Other statements, however, portray the struggle for Church unity somewhat disingenuously. Continue Reading…
by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Last week, news circulated that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is expected to issue a Tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. This news appeared on the heels of a meeting that took place between Patriarch Bartholomew, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his delegation after Pascha on April 9, 2018. The discussions between the presidential delegation and President Poroshenko were reportedly lengthy, and Poroshenko formally requested the issuing of a Tomos that would be presented publicly on the occasion of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’ in late July. The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament, voted to voice its support for the appeal for the Tomos, and the synods of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) issued letters voicing their support for the Tomos. The press office of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) claims that the actions of the President and parliament violate Ukrainian law, since offices of the state are interfering in Church affairs, and the UOC-MP is also arguing that all of the Orthodox Churches must agree to autocephaly, and that autocephaly is no longer only a prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The mechanism for granting autocephaly is a canonical issue that was on the agenda of the Holy and Great Council in Crete of 2016, but which was not taken up by the Churches that participated in the Council. Furthermore, there is no clarity on the recipients of the Tomos: to whom will the Ecumenical Patriarch grant the Tomos, where would the inaugural Liturgy celebrating the Tomos be celebrated, which bishops would concelebrate with the Ecumenical Patriarch, and whose names and sees would be entered into the diptychs of global Orthodoxy?
In the remainder of this essay, I will reflect on what is at stake for the major players in Ukraine and for the rest of global Orthodoxy. Continue Reading…
by Evagelos Sotiropoulos
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew occupies a unique position in Christendom and shepherds his flock from an almost Muslim-only country: Turkey.
Headquartered in Constantinople, present-day Istanbul, the Ecumenical Patriarchate experienced prominence during the millennial-long Byzantine Empire, but persecution following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and emergence of Ottoman rule, eloquently captured in Sir Steven Runciman’s classic The Great Church in Captivity.
Today, Bartholomew’s role is purely religious and like his predecessors he is primus inter pares (first among equals) in the hierarchy of global Orthodoxy, which is administratively comprised of 14 self-governing churches who share the same faith.
The Church of Russia is fifth in order of precedence, following Constantinople, and the other ancient Patriarchates: Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Its long-standing desire to be first, however, is well-known and unconcealed. Continue Reading…
by Perry T. Hamalis | ελληνικά | ру́сский
For decades, the citizens of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) have suffered the pain and gnawing awareness of division. They have been separated from their families and their homeland by the political reality of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the physical reality of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which bisects the peninsula near the 38th parallel and is packed with soldiers on both sides. Former President Bill Clinton once described the DMZ as, “the scariest place on earth.”
While the “Miracle on the Han River” typically refers to South Korea’s rapid economic growth from the ruins of war in 1953 to successfully hosting the 1988 Olympics and becoming a G20 member in 2010—despite the peninsula’s ongoing division—the “miracle” has, appropriately, been manifested within Korea’s Orthodox community as well. After the North’s army abducted Korea’s only Orthodox priest at the time, Fr. Alexi Kim, at the start of the Korean War in 1950, and after the St. Nicholas Church building was destroyed by the 1951 bombing of Seoul, the small flock of Orthodox faithful was at risk of annihilation. However, by the grace of God and through the help of Greek chaplains and soldiers serving in the Korean War, St. Nicholas was rebuilt, a new Korean priest (Fr. Boris Moon) was selected by the faithful and ordained (being transported secretly to the nearest bishop—in Japan—and back!), and the flame of Orthodox Christianity endured. In 1955, 55 years after the first Orthodox arrived in Korea from Russia (1900), 38 years after all spiritual support from the Russian Orthodox Church had ceased with the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and subsequent Soviet regime, and 2 years after the Korea War’s ceasefire, the ecclesiastically orphaned but resilient Orthodox faithful of Korea wrote a letter to the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate asking to come under the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s spiritual care and jurisdiction. Their request was granted, and the development and growth of the Church in Korea began to accelerate.