Ukraine: Now What?

Well, it looks like Ukraine has a new president. Volodomyr Zelinskiy, a Jewish comedian and television personality has overwhelmingly won the election. It wasn’t even close: he didn’t just beat the incumbent, he slaughtered him, winning 74 percent of the vote.

Now, I’m under no illusions that he is going to succeed in implementing a reformist program. There are several reasons for this, one being that there are still several neo-nazi militias such as Svoboda and Pravy Sektor that range freely across that benighted country, imposing their will as they wish. Secondly, the levels of institutional corruption are deep; one has to go to Africa to find anything approaching such malevolent levels of malfeasance. Third, Ukraine has been hobbled by its heterogeneity and its geography.

Certainly, there are other reasons that will make Zelinskiy’s tenure difficult.

Still, there are signs of hope. First of all, the level of his landslide is truly historic. That means that despite the corruption, there was no way that Poroshenko could cobble together his coalition or jigger with the election machines to barely squeak by a 50.0001/% majority. That’s huge in and of itself. It means that Zelinskiy has enough breathing room to at least try to enact his reforms. Even if he just barely succeeds on certain issues, his popularity will not recede.  [Editor’s note:  I was wrong on this one:  By the time the war started, he was massively unpopular.]

Secondly, Zelinskiy is a Russian-speaker and four of the five largest cities of Ukraine are majority-Russian speaking. These facts give the lie to the idea that all Ukrainians are necessarily Russia-haters. Thirdly, Zelinskiy has signaled that he is willing to talk to Putin in order to end the rebellion in the East. That may be a bridge too far but Putin can always dangle a few juicy carrots if that’s what it takes to keep Ukraine as part of the Russian “Near Abroad”. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that the Ukro-nationalist program of Poroshenko has failed miserably.

Fourth, there’s a glimmer of hope on the ecclesiastical front, in that officials in the Rada have already stated before the election that any properties confiscated from the canonical Ukrainian Church will be returned to them. That may have been an electoral olive branch to undecided voters. If true, this means that the whole schismatic church thing was not nearly as popular as liberals in the West and its ecclesiastical stooges had us believing in the first place. So yes, if I had to guess, I’d the bloom is off of Mr. Dumenko’s and his schismatic sect’s rose.

The unknowns are these: is he a captive to the West? Will he demand Ukraine join the EU and/or NATO? Time will tell.

A final thought: Zelinskiy’s election, like Netanyahu’s stunning reelection in Israel and Orban’s, Balsonaro’s, Salvini, etc., signals that Trumpism is an unstoppable force. We are talking about amateurs who have defeated the establishments of their respective states. This means that the people of these countries have absolutely had it. And that even the powers-that-be could not stand in the way of change.

We live in interesting times.


  1. Greatly Saddened says

    May this hopefully be a new dawn for the people of the Ukraine. Only time will tell!

  2. Fr. George Washburn says

    Netanyahu an amateur? Hardly!

  3. Gail Sheppard says

    Article from The Globe Post:

    Ukrainian President’s Re-Election Bid: the Promise, the Church, and the Failure

    Having lagged in the polls throughout 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko staged a surprising recovery in December. With his approval ratings now reaching 16 percent, he is ranked second-best heading into the March 31 presidential elections. Yet, his re-election prospects still look very uncertain, at least partly due to a profound misreading of realities of Orthodox religion in Ukraine.

    Poroshenko’s strategy was to focus on the creation of a new Orthodox church in Ukraine. The new church was founded on December 15 and confirmed by the Patriarch of Constantinople the next month.

    To boost his elections bid, Poroshenko and the new church’s head immediately began a tour heralding the church, but the tour was suspended after just a few weeks. Previously ubiquitous billboards featuring Poroshenko and the official document confirming the new church’s credentials suddenly disappeared.

    The creation of the new church has failed to propel Poroshenko to the top of the race. He is lagging behind popular young comedian Volodymyr Zelensky who mocks Poroshenko’s concept of unifying Ukrainians around the new church.
    * * *

    National Orthodox Church in Ukraine

    Talks about the need for a national Orthodox church in Ukraine have been held since the early 1990s, but never came to eventuation. This was mainly because of opposition from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate, the largest Orthodox church in the country.

    By early 2018, and despite the ongoing conflict with Russia, only a third of the population supported the idea of Ukraine creating its own independent Orthodox church. It all changed in April that year when President Poroshenko began campaigning for the matter. This campaign, supported by most Ukrainian politicians, had a powerful propaganda effect and briefly convinced many Ukrainians of the need for a “united national church.”

    The supporters of the new national church cited data from the Kiev-based pollster Razumkov Center. It showed that only 13 percent of Ukrainians supported the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate. The Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate, which broke away from Moscow in the 1990s, was significantly more popular with 29 percent of respondents claiming to belong to it. Based on these figures, creating a new Orthodox Church independent from Moscow was bound to be popular with the Ukrainians and should easily become the largest Orthodox church in Ukraine.

    However, my field research in Ukraine over the last four years shows a rather different picture, explaining why Poroshenko’s tour failed to boost his ratings permanently.
    * * *

    Churchgoers in Ukraine

    My research in central and southern Ukraine shows that there are very few active churchgoers. In most of the country, church attendance reaches only about 1 percent in cities, and 2 percent in rural areas.

    In the Razumkov Center poll, 19.2 percent of respondents in central Ukraine said they visited a church on a previous Sunday in April 2018. However, in practice, no more than 0.5-0.7 percent attended a Sunday service in Kiev in June 2018. Most Orthodox churches in Ukraine don’t even have the capacity to accommodate more than 2 percent of the population simultaneously.

    Meanwhile, the regular churchgoers (attending services at least twice a month) are satisfied with the religious doctrine and practices of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate, including its relations with Russia, and are less motivated by Ukrainian political nationalism. On the whole, they don’t support Poroshenko’s initiative for a new church.

    It’s clear that, given the absence of demand from religious activists or society at large, the campaign to form an independent Ukrainian church was nothing more than part of Poroshenko’s election campaign, which relied on the key slogan “Army, Language, Faith.”

    As a result, the goal to unite Ukrainians by establishing a national church has not succeeded. Neither the majority of the actual Orthodox churchgoers nor its clergy wanted a new church. The concept was rushed through via non-democratic methods under pressure from a secular president.
    * * *

    No Support for New Church

    The new church emerged as a de facto union of two smaller, previously unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox churches. Its religious hierarchy hails from those two churches, with only 2 out of 83 bishops of Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate present at the founding council.

    There was no sense of “holiness,” piety or respectability attached to the new Church, something particularly important to active churchgoers. The refusal of other Orthodox churches to support the creation of a national church strengthened them in this conviction.

    This does not, of course, mean that there have been no voluntary defections to the new church. But this has only occurred on a very small scale. For example, in the whole of Kiev, only 3 out of 270 parishes switched into the new church despite the city’s generally patriotic population.

    As a result, the state and local authorities began an open confrontation with regular churchgoers and clergy. In rural areas, decisions on the transfer are often made at community meetings under the guidance of local authorities, rather than by the parishioners themselves. This is no longer a case of persuading parishioners, but of seizing church property from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate in favor of the newly established church.

    In many cases, priests and at least some of the parishioners refuse to change their allegiance. The result is that old parishes continue to exist while their church property is taken away from them, or their claims on their old churches are disputed.

    At the end of February, only about 3 percent of the total number of Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate parishes officially “went over” to the new church. It is no coincidence that the majority of parishes and priests that officially changed their allegiance have been in four regions where Poroshenko and his political party control local administrations. In the east, south, far west, and Kiev region uptake on the new church has been virtually non-existent.
    * * *

    State Church and Large-Scale Confrontation

    Ukraine in 2018-2019 acquired not so much an independent Ukrainian church, but an official state church. The authorities also introduced practices of religious nationalism into domestic politics, which contradicts pluralism and the preservation of human rights in the religious and ethnic sphere enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution.

    Instead of uniting the nation, Poroshenko’s policies in the religious sphere led to a large-scale confrontation. While the creation of a new state church might have briefly mobilized nationalist electorates in Poroshenko’s favor, the attempt was insufficient to sustain support from most Ukrainians.

    • Very useful info re Ukraine. I want to focus on a fact that church does not seem to want to face. That is the abysmal level of practice of faith.
      Now we can discuss reasons of history etc well known, but what are we to do? Here in Bulgaria average church attendance is 3-5% and I do not harbour delusions it jumps massively even at Pascha. I do not have actual figures so will not say. Serbia same and Greece not fantastic although higher. In 1980s in Athens was 20%. Now?? Only Romania seems to have maintained a large church going population.
      The dead and dying ancient patriarchates need to wake to the harsh reality that Orthodoxy in decline maybe. I do not know but I do not see a healthy thriving church. Was any of this discussed at the ‘Crete get together’?

  4. I definitely have high hopes for Zelinskiy, he seems like an honest down to earth sort of guy, who doesn’t care much at all about the tomos fiasco, and will hopefully start to actually enforce Ukraine’s constitution when it comes to church seizures and persecution of the UOC-MP. Interestingly enough though, he is of Jewish ethnicity, but he actually had his children baptized in the UOC-MP, I’n guessing because his wife is probably orthodox herself. But I digress. God bless Ukraine, and God bless president-elect Zelinskiy!

  5. Greatly Saddened says

    Thank you so much for posting the above article
    from The Globe Post. I found it quite interesting to say the least.

    I guess it can be said, Poroshenko only used the Church as a strictly political move for his benefit in order to be elected. How sad is that!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Pretty darn sad!

    • Gail,we all missing the point that if the churches are mostly empty what the hell meaning has the rest of it??

      • Gail Sheppard says

        It is all very disheartening. There is clearly something wrong. This is why our Hierarchs need to act. There is too much strife in the Church. People just don’t want to show up anymore.

  6. Let us pray that he stops the persecution of the UOC and permits the schismatics to self destruct into oblivion from whence they came. Then a pan Orthodox Council can be held to depose Bartholomew.

  7. Perhaps in this somewhat world wide move of “popularism” Orthodoxy will be included to the degree that we may return to the essence of Orthodoxy. Away with egoethnicity and egocentrism that so opposed to the Gospel.

  8. Johann Sebastian says

    Apologies if this has already been posted, but there’s a (clearly) anti-Russian site called that is publishing…fake (or at least wildly spun) news.

    Claims that the Polish Church is supporting the OCU, when in reality the document posted as “proof” of this clearly indicates that, while the Polish Church is in favor of the eventual granting of autocephaly, they maintain that it must be done in a canonical way and not haphazardly granted to a group of unrepentant schismatics.

    Article on StopFake:

    Google translation of Polish communique:

  9. Matthew Panchisin says

    It seems to me the way that the M.P. Bishops and Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine suffered(s) the actions of Constantinople was and is very much in accordance with the Orthodox Church witness that is consistent with her well and deeply rooted Patristic tradition.

    Here there are some others that think otherwise (seemly with little reluctance to express those sentiments) that often seem to be of a secular minded nature (revealed in their rhetoric) clearly it’s predetermined loosing battle and consistent that way.

    As such, there really isn’t much to be said other than the importance of expressing our opinions, a notion that I hope can keep at bay, somewhat anyway. Perhaps I can make some sort of an effort this week.

    “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”

  10. Joseph Lipper says

    A very interesting Facebook posting from yesterday by newly elected Vladimir Zelenskiy:

    “You should not talk to Ukraine and Ukrainians in the language of threats, military and economic pressure. This is not the best way to stop the fire and unlock the Minsk process. I stress once again that it is ready for negotiations. I hope that Russia will demonstrate readiness for de-escalation at it’s forthcoming Normandy meeting. A concrete confirmation of this readiness should be the mutual exchange of our citizens in the format ‘all on all’. No exceptions. On our part we are ready to discuss the new conditions for the coexistence of Ukraine and Russia. With the understanding that true normalization will only take place after a complete de-occupation. Both Donbass and Crimea. Ukraine does not give up!”

  11. Joseph Lipper says

    Putin Says Russia May Offer Fast Tracked Passports to All Ukrainians

    Why only Ukraine? I want a Russian passport too.

  12. Joseph in your facetious spirit, I also think you should get a Russian spirit. I suggest you fly to Moscow and request it in person. I suspect after that we will not have to read your insufferable and nauseating posts praising Black Bart, the Bishop of the four blocks of the Fener and nothing else. #NotMyPatriarch

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Joseph, please understand, that because many of us are truly scandalized by what Bartholomew did, it is hurtful for us to see you continually defend his actions. Bartholomew has literally torn our Church apart. For every “Michael,” there are thousands of people who feel exactly as he does.

      When you deflect blame to protect Bartholomew by trashing the MP, it angers us because the MP is the canonical Church. The canonical Church is far from perfect, but God doesn’t require perfection. His only requirement is that we remain faithful to the tenets of the Orthodox Church. Where the MP has succeeded, Bartholomew has failed miserably. Had he been successful in redefining the word “Church” in Crete, he would have ushered in the Pope right then and there! Mind you, we desperately want to heal the schism of 1054 but we want the RC to leave its errors behind and become Orthodox again. Bartholomew doesn’t care about their errors. Bartholomew doesn’t care about our Faith. The only thing he cares about is his legacy. He wants to be the one credited with healing the schism. Ironically, he created another schism in the process. At this point, he is in survival mode. He needs more of the money he probably got from the State Department through Poroshenko (after he took his cut, of course). They want to bring NATO into Ukraine. They were betting that Bartholomew could mobilize the nationalists around the Church. Had they really understood the Church they would have known it was a sucker’s bet. The nationalists have not rallied around this cancerous appendage and the State Department is now backing away. Without their protection, the sins of St. Nicholas will be brought to light, and people could go to jail. This will be a whole new scandal. The State Department has no more interest in Bartholomew because 1) his brother bishops don’t support him, (2) Poroshenko lost the election, (3) no one cares about the new “church” (there were only a handful of people at the enthronement) and (4) the Ukrainian government has embarrassed them by using this fiasco as an excuse to confiscate Russian property. The State Department doesn’t want this! Their party line is all about “religious freedom”! The United States can’t have a State Department that supports a bunch of hotheads seeking to rob a legitimate church of its property and beating up their clergy! Pompeo misplayed his hand. I hope he retires.

      Bartholomew’s dreams have gone up in smoke, Joseph. Because he is unapologetic about leaving the Church in shambles, it is really hard to have someone like you, day in and day out, defending him. You seem to care more about Bartholomew than you do about us . . . your Church.

      This is a long way of asking you to forgive Michael and the rest of your brothers and sisters in Christ who feel the same way as Michael does, but are not going to give you the courtesy of saying it to your face as he has done.

      Christ is risen!

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Gail, Christ Is Risen!

        I quite sincerely love Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kyrill and all my brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of the Russian Church. My opinion is only that the ROC belongs inside of Russia, not “Outside of Russia”. Is that such a condemnable idea?

        Having personally traveled to Moscow and gone through all the extremely tedious, lengthy, and expensive process of getting a visa, I would sincerely appreciate having a Russian passport next time I travel there. Of course I should be cautious about this, as Vladimir Zelenskiy points out, having a Russian passport might just grant me “the right to be arrested”.

        • “I quite sincerely love Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kyrill and all my brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of the Russian Church. ”

          Joseph, I do not believe you.

          “My opinion is only that the ROC belongs inside of Russia, not “Outside of Russia”

          Let me think. There is ROC in Azerbaijan – should it become autocephalous church or should it submit to EP?

          Should the Greek churches in northern Greece and Crete return to the Church of Greece? Should EP be limited to inside of Turkey?

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Martin, thank you for your response, Christ Is Risen!

            I’m not aware of any demands for the ROC in Azerbaijan to become autocephalous. Neither am I aware of any demands being made for it’s submission to the EP.

            Are the Greek churches in northern Greece and Crete demanding to be returned to the Church of Greece? I’m not aware of this. Perhaps there are good arguments for this.

            Should the EP be limited to inside of Turkey? Well, the EP just recently dissolved the Russian eparchy in Western Europe, and those people weren’t very happy about it either. They made a big stink about it too. They wanted to remain under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

        • Truly, He is risen!


          Gail wrote a long message to you centered on how Bartholomew scandalizes the Orthodox people.
          Now, instead of addressing Gail’s main points, you write that
          – ROC belongs inside Russia only,
          – getting Russian visa is tedious and expensive
          – getting Russian passports gives one the right to be arrested.

          This is unbelievable!
          Where is your wise, direct and precise reply to the important points Gail raised?
          Or are you playing deaf?
          Or are you simply joking?
          Really, Joseph, what is going on?
          Do you want to downgrade the seriousness of this forum because it hurts your hero, or what?

          “Yes,Yes and No,No”
          If we are Orthodox Christians here, we have to talk the real truth, and not avoid her with “clever” conversational tricks.

        • Dear Joseph,

          instead of talking about the cost of a Russian passport,
          I would kindly and humbly ask you to read the following sites
          and understand why your hero scandalizes the Saints of the Church.
          Hopefully, you will then appreciate this is no time or place for joking.

          Christ is Risen!

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Ioannis, Christ Is Risen! Thank you for your reply.

            It’s fine to be critical of ecumenism and ecumenist methods. That’s just being cautious.
            However, the fact remains that all of the Local Churches are engaged. All of the Local Churches have ecumenist relations with the Pope of Rome. The “Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church” is a work of all 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Even when Moscow officially dropped out of this as of last October, Metropolitan Hilarion then flew to Rome and personally visited Pope Francis to express his desire to continue relations with the Vatican. That actually scares me the most, because it’s an ecumenism separate and apart from the “Joint Commision” and the watchful eye of the other Local Churches.

            • Christ is Risen!

              Joseph, I have some more friends like you, dear brethren in Christ, devout Orthodox, but for some mysterious reason completely and utterly “brain-washed” by Bartholomew and his psychologically-selected phrases like “the mother church”, the improved title “Pan-agio-tatos”, ie two superlative degrees above God(!) etc.
              As you know, in the vespers, 8th Mode, we sing that Jerusalem (Sion) is the Mother of Churches!

              I am Greek, not Russian, but ABOVE ALL Orthodox, and I must admit that it is Bartholomew who behaves like the Pope. The Pope soldiers of 1204 raped the nuns on the Holy Altars and destroyed Constantinople, the Turks did the finish of the destruction in 1453, did you know that?
              But Bartholomew is flirting with the Pope as his best friend.

              You wrote, e.g.,
              ” All of the Local Churches have ecumenist relations with the Pope of Rome. ”

              You are a clever man, think about it:
              Kirill has real massive power, tens of millios of flock, and behind him a strong State, one of the big Powers. He has nothing to fear.
              Kirrill and his assistant do not need the Pope. Bartholomew does need the Pope and indeed many other religious leaders, politicians and certainly billionaires.

              As St.J.Chrysostom said, the more titles you hear, the less real power has that person.
              Please note: Bartholomew is called All-Most-Holy but St.J.Chrysostom was then called simply “Archbishop of Constantinople”!
              The behaviour of Bartholomew suggests he is desperately interested in being the First! He can not put it directly and he uses auxiliary phrases like “Mother Church”, “Guarantee of the Truth” etc.
              He tries to gain importance by supporting the Green movement etc following the politician Gore. Then donating the “Holy Quran” to the best known multinational drink company, thereby working against the Holy Trinity, Crucifiction, Resurrection and then claiming he is the guarantee! This is all to increase his world “leverage”, and indirectly his throne.
              Kirill, does not need to do all that. He has REAL through his real flock. Naturally he talks to the Pope and indeed to the Muftis and Rabbis and anybody, but not in Bartholomew’s submissive way.

              Come on Joseph, you are so intelligent, can’t you see what is really going on?

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                “and behind him a strong state.” Why does it so often come down to this in Orthodoxy?

                • Ioannis says

                  Dear Tim,
                  You are absolutely right!
                  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to further clarify what I meant.

                  In my reply to Joseph, I mainly tried to address the comparison between the two bishops, Bartholomew and Kirill.
                  My reply had to contain many things and I had to use shortcuts without detailed clarification.
                  To make discussion as easy as possible I kind of agreed for the moment with Joseph that maybe Kirill is worse than All-Most-Holy Bartholomew and is mainly interested in secular things like power glory etc. Then, even with such an assumption (I hope) I proved to Joseph that Kirill e.g. does not need the Pope to increase his secular power because he has more than enough, but Bartholomew does need support from many to stay in power because his real power is next to nought: Practically no direct flock and behind him a desperate muslim State going bankrupt.

                  Having said that, I might as well address your kinda general cry:
                  ” Why does it so often come down to this in Orthodoxy? ”

                  Sure, there two things, God’s and Caesar’s.
                  During the first centuries they threw Christians to the lions.
                  Then Constantine came, became Christian, developed a strong state which protected the people from pagan enemies and gave secular protection to the Christians. So there was “a strong state behind” the Church. I am sure you do not suggest they should go back to the lions.

                  • “During the first centuries they threw Christians to the lions.
                    Then Constantine came, became Christian, developed a strong state which protected the people from pagan enemies and gave secular protection to the Christians. So there was “a strong state behind” the Church. I am sure you do not suggest they should go back to the lions.”

                    Well said Ioannis!

                    Actually until about WW1 (before the wave of secularization), the governments in Christian countries did stay behind their churches. Some still do it formally like in case of English monarchs.

                    Until 1870, Catholics had even their own powerful Papal State, later Austrian Emperor was their protector, etc …

                    Unfortunately, now Christians do not have worldly powers to defend them, so they are being “thrown to the lions”, by beheading, burning, lynching, expulsions etc … or at least discriminated against. Few voices speak for them.

                    • Thanks Martin!
                      Years ago, I read is a fascinating book, probably published by Conciliar Press (or similar) about the history of old European Kings who were defenders of the Christian Faith.
                      Nowadays Heads of State are most often atheists, Syncretists even devout Muslims but not devout Christians. One of the exceptions seems to be Putin, that’s one of the reasons why most others hate him.
                      Anyway, it seems to me Kirill is physically very well protected by his State and Head.
                      Also bear in mind other practical details there, e.g. space launching is done from the Astropolis (or something like that) their astronauts can receive holy communion, the spaceship is blessed with the holy water office, the astronauts take with them the holy icons of Christ, His Mother, and St.Nicholas as for conventional (sea)ships. so it does look like a (real?) Christian state.
                      Now bring all this into context and you realize why I wrote
                      “behind him a strong state”.
                      But, again, I agree with you. The Orthodox do not really need a strong state behind them, or riches, or indeed good health (think of Saint Paul) etc. God grants all that when He wants, and makes our life easier because most of us are weak.

                      One thing is for sure: If Kirill needs anything he gets it from Putin.
                      Bartholomew wants to be the Leader and submits himself to those people I wrote above.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Tim, it comes down to “a strong state” because of the misbegotten idea of the synergy of Church and State which began in Byzantine times. Under that idea the Church, at best, becomes the official state pet. At worst it introduces a form of dualism into the thinking of the Church and often leads to corruption even simony. It leads to embarrassing moments such as Archbishop Demetrios praising a clearly perplexed Obama as equivalent to Alexander the Great.

                  • Michael, you are absolutely right.
                    If the Orthodox Church has synergy with the atheist state then it is like standing on two rowing boats!
                    I may be totally wrong, but, until proven otherwise, I think the current Moscow head of state is a Christian and thus the state is cooperating with the Kirill
                    but, again, I ay be wrong.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Joseph, what you have just admitted, albeit inadvertently, is that you have a bone to pick with the Russian Church! This is what drives you. You know it and now I know it. You don’t support Bartholomew, either! You just wanted him to succeed to put Russia in their place.

          You’ve got to get over this, my friend. Bartholomew needs to be stopped.

          • Joseph Lipper says


            It is neither Patriarch Bartholomew that needs to be stopped, nor Patriarch Kyrill that needs to be stopped. I would only like to see Patriarch Kyrill end the division and restore communion with Constantinople. This is not just my opinion, but it is also the opinion of many of the Local Churches.
            It is only Moscow that has broken communion.
            Nobody else has.

            The fact that ROCOR has missions, parishes and institutions in 43 countries around the world is a wonderful thing. Added to this are the various exarchates of the Russian Orthodox Church, I suppose that’s maybe another 10 countries, and again this is a wonderful thing. It’s not, however, an end of itself. Orthodoxy is not a papalist enterprise of global empire building. That’s why it’s so important that the Russian Orthodox Church restores communion with Constantinople. The focus needs to be on building up Christ’s Church, not on building up a “Third Rome”.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              You are mistaken, Joseph. The CP has put himself ABOVE his brother bishops. No one has ignored admonishment after admonishment to the degree he has. The fact that the CP put them in a position of having to make their statements public is beyond the pale.

              Russia will not restore communion until the CP repents, which he has shown no inclination of doing.

              Have you ever read the Chieti document? Because this is where he was going, but the CP, being the CP, even screwed this up (thankfully), much to the consternation of Rome.


              • Joseph Lipper says

                Gail, all of the Local Churches, with exception to the Bulgarian Patriarchate, were represented at Chieti. This was not just Patriarch Bartholomew’s project.

                Though perhaps the document is flawed, it is still an important document because it serves as a criticism of the modern Papacy. The Church was never understood as a monolithic structure under the Pope. I suspect that’s why so many Catholics have a problem with the Chieti document.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Because one is represented doesn’t mean one supports it.

                  I do agree the Chieti document is important but I doubt you and I would agree on why.

        • Joseph, what is your wise and truthful comment on the following:

          Whoever is with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew agrees with what he believes.
          Do you believe in what he believes?

          His All-Holiness:

          Believes and preaches: “all religions are pathways of salvation.” (the idea of the antichrist ecumenism) This is the biggest insult of all times against Christ. If other religions lead also to salvation, then God’s plan of the incarnation of the Son – His teachings, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection – were futile and in vain! Only a devil could support such things. And yet bishops and priests adore this man!
          Believes and preaches that the Quran (and the scriptures of other religions) is “equal to the holy scripture and as sacred” and that Muslims can go to heaven without believing in Christ.
          Believes and preaches that many commandments of God are temporary, thus clashing even with the Lord!
          Calls “blessed” and honors the synagogue of the Jews, where Christ and the Theotokos are insulted with such insults that it is unthinkable even to name them.
          Believes and preaches the basic principle of Freemasonry, that is: “Let each one worship the one God as they prefer…” “God takes pleasure in the peaceful coexistence of humans, especially of those who worship Him regardless of differences existing in faith among the three major monotheistic religions.”
          Seeks to repeal or amend a plurality of holy canons, something which for Orthodoxy is a characteristic of a heretic. He calls the canons “walls of shame.”
          Believes and preaches—contrary to dozens of Synods and hundreds of Saints—that the Roman “church” is canonical, the mysteries are valid and the Pope is a canonical bishop. In 1995 he co-signed with the Pope a “Common Statement of Faith.”
          In 2011 he even catechized students of the Pontifical University in favor of the Pope: The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received a visiting group of students of the Pontifical Institute of Sant Apollinare. Referring to the students told them: “Follow the Pope. Pope Benedict XVI is a great theologian who does good in all the churches. Follow him with love and compassion.”
          Prayed with Protestants who distort the teachings of Jesus, insult the Theotokos, despise the holy Mysteries of the Church, and being iconoclasts, they are under the anathema of the 7th Ecumenical Council.
          He accepts the baptism of Protestants (Lutherans).
          Recognizes the ordinations of the Anglicans.
          In November of 1993 he lifted the anathemas between the Orthodox Church and the heresy of the Monophysites. Each side recognized the other as Orthodox. He calls the condemnations and anathemas of the Fourth Ecumenical Council against the Monophysites (which were reiterated by the subsequent Councils) “misunderstandings of the past that have been surpassed” since “there is no theology that divides us”!
          He accepted the sacraments of papists and the UNIA…. [1991 at Balamand, Lebanon]
          He accepted the joint declaration with the Protestants, [at the Congress of the WCC in 2006 in Porto Alegre] that there is not merely One Church, but that the 348 churches—members of the WCC—are genuine churches. One of them is the Orthodox Church! The various heretical teachings of the Protestants are considered as different ways to express the same faith and as a variety of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus admitting that in the end there are no heresies!! “These churches are asked to keep pace even when they disagree.”
          By believing in all of the above he denies four articles of the Creed.

          He is a denier of the Saints and the Fathers.

          He said: “Our forefathers who bequeathed to us the breakage (schism) were unlucky victims of the evil serpent and they already lie in the hands of righteous God. We ask God’s mercy on them, but as we stand before him we must rectify their errors”!!!

          He is an open enemy of the Saints. But he who blasphemes the Saints is Antichrist.

          If we want to follow our Saints, we must ask the condemnation and deposition of Patriarch Bartholomew and all Ecumenist bishops who prey on the flock of our Christ, if they don’t repent.

          Nickolas Zotos, Orthodox Truth

          More info from source:

          • Joseph Lipper says


            Thankfully it’s neither my position nor my responsibility to judge bishops. I’ll leave that to the other bishops who have the position and responsibility to do so. Please let me know when that happens.

            I just want to make the point that none of the criticisms you have listed are actual reasons why Moscow has broken communion with Constantinople. Those are all just extraneous criticisms, and none of the Local Churches are threatening to break communion with Constantinople for any of those reasons.

            • Ioannis says

              Ok, Joseph.
              Unlike your customary brief, collective, and generic reply, I shall reply to your individual comments:

              “…it’s neither my position nor my responsibility to judge bishops”
              Why then if it is about Kirill then you do judge him?

              “none of the criticisms you have listed are actual reasons why Moscow has broken communion with Constantinople.”
              But exactly these critisisms should guide you and me, that Bartholomew does not do what he promised to do at his ordination, and the people cried “Worthy!”.Something must be done!

              “Those are all just extraneous criticisms, and none of the Local Churches are threatening to break communion with Constantinople for any of those reasons.”
              Many individual people are already breaking communion with Bartholomew.
              These criticisms are from devout members, inside the Church! The ultimate practical power lies with the people, not the Bishop. This was clearly stated from the previous CP who told the Pope: “If I sign a union with you, and the people do no want this, they we shall achieve nothing!”
              This, by the way, answers your thesis “who am I to say…”. The laity has a say, they consist MOST OF THE SOULS in the Church, each soul has the same value. If you see that your beloved Bartholomew does something contrary to the Gospel, contrary to his ordination promises, then you DO have the responsibility to tell him: for two reasons:
              1) If you really love him, to save his soul from the punishment he will receive, according to Chrysostom.
              2) You will help others in the Church.

              • Ioannis says

                Please correct my sentence to read:

                But exactly these criticisms should guide you and me, that Bartholomew does not do what he promised to do at his ordination, and the people APPROVED THE ORDINATION BY CRYING “Worthy!”.Something must be done!

              • Gail Sheppard says

                To add to what you so eloquently stated, Ioannis, no one person can decide what is best for the Church.

                The Church is a living, breathing, organic body. It moves. “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us. . .”

                It’s not, nor was it ever, a one-man show.

                • Ioannis says

                  St.J.Chrysostom on the Epistles to the Corinthians.
                  Homily XVIII, Importance of laity 1.

                  [3.] Certain it is at least that the prayer of the churches loosed Peter from his chains, opened the mouth of Paul; their voice in no slight degree equips those that arrive unto spiritual rule. Therefore indeed it is that both he who is going to ordain calleth at that time for their prayers also, and that they add their votes and assent by acclamations which the
                  initiated know: for it is not lawful before the uninitiated to unbare all things. But there are occasions in which there is no difference at all between the priest and those under him; for instance, when we are to partake of the awful mysteries; for we are all alike counted worthy of the same things.
                  ………Importance of laity 2
                  For when they ordained the seven, (Acts vi. 2, 3.) they first communicated with the people; and when Peter ordained Matthias, with all that were then present, both men and women. (Acts i. 15, &c.) For here is no pride of rulers nor slavishness in the ruled; but a spiritual rule, in this particular usurping most, in taking on itself the greater share of the labor and of the care which is on your behalf, not in seeking
                  larger honors. For so ought the Church to dwell as one house; as one body so to be all disposed; just as therefore there is both one Baptism, and one table, and one fountain, and one creation, and one Father. Why then are we divided, when so great things unite us; why are we torn asunder? For we are compelled again to bewail the same things, which I have lamented often. The state in which we are calls for lamentation; so widely are we severed from each other, when we ought to image the conjunction of one body. For in this way will he that is greater, be able to gain even from him that is less. For if Moses learnt from his father-in-law somewhat expedient which himself had not perceived, (Exod. xviii. 14, &c.) much more in the Church may this happen.
                  …… Importance of laity 3
                  Let us then not overlook those who give us behoveful counsel, even
                  though they be of the meaner sort, nor insist that those counsels prevail which we have ourselves introduced; but whatever shall appear to be best, let that be approved by all. For many of duller sight have perceived things sooner than those of acute vision, by means of
                  diligence and attention. And say not, “why dost thou call me to council, if thou hearkenest not to what I say?” These accusations are not a counsellor’s, but a despot’s. For the counsellor hath only power to speak his own opinion; but if something else appear more profitable,
                  and yet he will carry his own opinion into effect, he is no longer a counsellor but a despot, as I said. Let us not, then, act in this manner; but having freed our souls from all arrogancy and pride, let us consider, not how our counsels only may stand, but how that opinion which
                  is best may prevail, even though it may not have been brought forward by us. For no light gain will be ours, even though we should not have discovered what behoveth, if ourselves accepted what has been pointed out by others; and abundant is the reward we shall receive from God, and so too shall we best attain to glory. For as he is wise that speaketh that which is behoveful, so shall we that have accepted it, ourselves also reap the praise of prudence and of candor. Thus if both houses and states, thus too if the Church be ordered, she will receive a larger increase;

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  Except for the Moscow Patriarchate, all the other bishops recognize Patriarch Bartholomew. Thus, the only “one-man show” in that equation is Patriarch Kyrill and the bishops underneath him.

                  There hasn’t been a statement yet to the effect of “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us” from the other Local Churches to break communion with Patriarch Bartholomew. Please let me know when that happens.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Well, Joseph, as long as we’re talking about “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us. . .” it’s worth noting that ALL the bishops, INCLUDING Batholomew, recognize the MP.

                    In addition, the MP represents a third of the Church in comparison to the meager representation found within the CP.

                    I would say the MP is more “us” than the CP at this point.

                  • Monk James Silver says

                    Joseph Lipper (May 1, 2019 at 2:36 pm) says

                    Except for the Moscow Patriarchate, all the other bishops recognize Patriarch Bartholomew. SNIP


                    Patriarch Kirill recognizes Patriarch Bartholomew correctly and properly — he just disagrees with him and his canonically illegal attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

                    As a result, the Church of Russia has broken communion with the Church of Constantinople, which was the only legitimate canonical option available to them as the aggrieved party, given Constantinople’s intransigence and attempts to justify their actions by citing false history.

                    This is not the first time that Constantinople has fallen into schism, and it may be prayerfully hoped that they will once again see the error of their ways and return to full communion with all of the Orthodox.

            • Ioannis says

              I would like to expand on your words
              ” it’s neither my position … to judge bishops.”

              But first, I’ll tell you a secret
              My hero is also the bishop of Constantinople, like yours !
              but we have a subtle difference, mine is the simple Archbishop of Constantinople St.John Chrysostom (not yet called Ecumenical Patriarch or two superlatives above God).
              We use his divine Liturgy and not the one written by Bartholomew!
              His Homilies are read in all languages by all Christians for 1600 years.
              I am sure you know his Homilies in English c/o Philip Schaff , 1889.
              You can download them for free. I can give you the link if you want.

              So going back to your comment, I won’t try to answer it myself, I’ll quote from Chrysostom. See the next the adjacent post.

      • Greatly Saddened says

        Gail, as always, so eloquently stated.

      • Gail Christ Is risen. Yes agree with you totally. I want to slip in here my experience of Pascha in Bulgaria,etc through the eyes of one of our guests just gone back to uk today .
        I had daughter etc but also someone from UK who i had helped in my professional capacity who had and has numerous personal problems due to up bringing etc but who has deep belief and a heart of gold. He has started to attend BAPTIST church so quite interesting his view.
        In short he understanding of the Holy Week services and Pascha in a quite profound way, as if he had read every book.
        We were moved and surprised and to his immediately understanding of Icons ( “I have my little son on my phone he said. Same”. When i see him there I am closser. ” Then added ‘a statue won’t do it. ‘)
        Now for those on here who get annoyed at my insisting on traditional worship. Unprompted, he said whst he most loved was the space in the churches with few chairs and just stasidia around sides. ‘gives a freedom ‘ he said. He then also commented about the acapella singing if which he said the chanting even better than choir. When i asked why? , he said, ‘well it’s more beautiful and natural but ITS PRAYER.!! Now anybody irritated should address themselves to Nathan not me. We were truly amazed that someone from a background ( orphanage, prison etc., drugs, and Baptist church, should sense so much and be moved by so much. When we asked what Baptist church would say, he said, ‘ They would say all that stuff gets in the way, but no does not cos it’s a path to God’ .
        When i told him there are Orthodox with rigid rows of pews and western style organ and choir, he said, ‘the stupid……….. …….. .. . FOOLS. Don’t deserve the Church do they.!! Why would they do that.? I rest my case as they say.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Nikos, truly He is Risen! Loved this story! Thanks for sharing.

          • Thank you Gail. Also interesting to see how mostly people embarrassed him with love, especially my elderly retired bulgarian teacher. They got on immediately! He is six ft plus, mixed race etc. There were a few of ‘the Church is only for us respectful people. GO AWAY look !!” ‘ but they were few and who I would have guessed.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Michael, Christ Is Risen!

  13. Truly He is Risen.
    Gail, I couldn’t agree more!

  14. Joseph Lipper says

    Putin Aide Says New Ukraine Leader Could Populate War-Torn Region With Jews

    “Kremlin officials and Russian state-funded media have characterized Ukraine’s pro-Western leadership that swept into power in 2014 as ‘Nazis’ bent on oppressing Russian speakers.

    “‘I don’t rule out, for example, the possibility of a mass movement into southeast Ukrainian land ‘cleansed’ of the Russian population by the inhabitants of the Promised Land tired of permanent war in the Middle East,’ [Sergei] Glazyev wrote.”

    • That has actually been talked about in Israeli circles (albeit quietly: no reason to give the Palestinians any hope) for quite awhile now.