Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Orthodox presence in Ukraine

Some may see in the recent untethering of the (might one say formerly?) UOC-MP from Moscow as an I-told-you-so where the OCU (EP-affiliated body) simply did what was bound to happen before the rest of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine was willing to do it. Others might see this as a tragedy that is going to drive Ukraine into ever further murky confusion. Still others find confirmation that Orthodoxy is always just a challenging predicament away from fracturing and refracturing along national or ethnic divides.

What is most arresting for me is that we now have a huge Orthodox body unmoored from its patriarchate, signaling an independence on its own, and slotted alongside another body claiming all of the same things. Can one untether oneself in this way, float alone with an uncertain recognition with the rest of Orthodoxy, and hope for any canonical resolution all while a war is going on?

Readers will know that I purchased no pompoms at the tomos of the OCU's signing. Nor did I find much solace in a Muscovite-linked Ukrainian Church given what I saw as an unavoidable political reality that would lead to something like this. Something had to be done and there was little chance that such a something was going to be a clean, canonical action that would be immediately recognized by the primates of the Churches. 

If we went back three years and told people this was going to be the state of things, few would believe it. If we sent someone into the future three years from now and they returned with news of what things looked like there, I think we would be equally skeptical of the veracity of such reports. We are left to pray and leave polemics to another time. Men, women, and children are dying from warfare and starvation. Clergy are being abused and rebuked unjustly. Churches are being "stolen," shelled, burned, and abandoned. May all this madness find a quick end!


  1. The problem is a lack of courage on the part of the UOC. They need to either remain autonomous without muddying the waters or appeal to the MP for autocephaly. What was done instead satisfies no one and alienates everyone. Time to man up.

    1. Best case scenario is that the UOC uses it's new independence to start meaningful dialogue with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and finally overcome the schism. Worst case scenario is that the UOC only becomes further isolated like another pre-union ROCOR.

    2. Joseph, the 'Orthodox Church of Ukraine' is no church. If they want to enter into the bosom of Holy Orthodoxy, they need to repent sincerely, and then be ordained and consecrated as proper clergy would. Charlatans will always be charlatans. You can't get around this.

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