Whose Behind the Ukrainian Schism?

Journalist George Michalopoulos. Photo: a screenshot of the film “Samosviaty” (“The Self-Consecrated”)

A few months ago, a Russian journalist asked if he could bring a crew to our home in Tulsa to interview George for a documentary.   The following was the result.  Unfortunately, it’s not in English.

Mrs. M

The American journalist George Michalopulos called the US-based Order of the Archons of the Patriarchate of Constantinople the main ideologist of the Ukrainian schism.

George Michalopulos, an American journalist of Greek origin, said in the film “Samosviaty” (“The Self-Consecrated”), dedicated to the church schism in Ukraine, that behind the schism in Ukraine is the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, which is also called the Archons of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was the Order of the Archons in 2018 that was the first to declare that Patriarch Bartholomew should remember the need to grant the Tomos of Ukrainian autocephaly.

“The Archons are lobbying the interests of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the US government,” Michalopulos says. “Bartholomew has stepped up the activities of the Knights of St. Andrew the Apostle or Archons, many of whom have extensive political connections in the United States, right up to the US State Department.”

The journalist sarcastically comments on the activities of the Archons, claiming that it has nothing to do with what Christian organizations usually do: “They do not contain free hospitals, free canteens, there are no shelters, nothing for orphans, there are no programmes to help ordinary people. It all comes down to supporting the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

“This year (2019 – Ed.) the Archons decided to give the order to Epiphany Dumenko, they tried to present him as a person who suffered for the Church as if he were Gandhi. But this is some kind of bad joke. Especially when you consider that it was his schismatic sect that did everything for the collapse of the canonical Church in Ukraine,” Michalopulos commented on this event.

According to the journalist, the informal leader of the order is Protopresbyter Alex Karloutsos, whose son Mike Karloutsos heads the protocol of the US State Department. Members of the order call him among themselves “Father Alex”, he has huge connections in the US establishment, exerting a tremendous influence on decision-making in Ukraine, being the main architect of the schism policy in Ukraine.

“Father Alex has extensive connections, he is an intelligent, talented, resourceful person, he is friends with both Democrats and Republicans, the White House elite. He is the eyes and ears of Patriarch Bartholomew in the United States, Catholics have a word for this – a papal nuncio. He has good connections, great influence and authority in the Greek dioceses, more than any other bishop,” continued Michalopulos.

As a reminder, on October 19, 2019, the Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Prize was awarded to the head of the OCU, Epiphany Dumenko. The website of the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called says that “Metropolitan Epiphanius was an active supporter of freedom of religion and a key defender of the ecclesiastical and canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”



  1. Question from a non Orthodox. The Ukrainians are a people, distinct from the Russians, with their own language, that was almost extint during Soviet time, and traditions. The Ukrainian state is a recent creation but the Ukrainian people is not. Why do they shouldnt have their own national Church like most Orthodox countries have their own ones? Why should they be dependent on a Russian religious leader?

    • WELL SAID!

    • By far the largest Church in the Ukraine is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
      headed by Metropolitan Onuphry. Though it is ‘under’ the Patriarchate of Moscow,
      it both governs itself (electing its own leader) and does not pay tithes to Moscow.
      Though it is Autonomus, not Autocephalus, it has greater freedom from Moscow
      than the autocephalus [?] Orthodox Church of Ukraine has from Constantinople.

      Question from an Orthodox: Why shouldnt the Orthodox people of Ukraine be
      allowed to worship undisturbed in the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church?
      Why should they depend upon self-consecrated and schismatic religious leaders?

      • Schismatic for some people, a Church of its own for others. At the end of the day it all comes down to be submited to Russia and that is something that obviously a lot of Ukrainians, religious or not, do not want. It looks more like a power struggle than a religious effort, to try to submit another country through the means of religion. If the people of Russian background want to remain faithful to their mother Church it’s OK, if Ukrainians want to have their own, just like most Orthodox countries, it shouldnt be a problem, but it clearly affects the interest, religious and political, of another country.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Joseph, why should the “people of Russian background” [who live in Ukraine] “remain faithful to their mother Church”?

          How is that going to solve anything?

          (As far as I’m concerned, to ask that question is to answer it: it’s not meant to “solve” anything. Instead, it’s meant to increase chaos. That’s how the State Dept works.)

          • I was saying that Russians and Ukrainians are two different people, there are a lot of Russians in the East of Ukraine and Crimea, that is now part of Russia, and it’s not a surprise that they want to be part of the Russian church. On the other hand, in Central and specially western Ukraine, it is overwhelmingly ethnic Ukrainians, the people who live there, and as an independent people with an independent state it doesn’t sound unreasonable to have a Church of their own, like most Orthodox countries have. Again, is normal to think that a non Ukrainian church controling the Christians there would have an influence from a foreign government, that is Russia.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Joseph the same thing could’ve been said about northerners & southerners in the run-up to the American Civil War. Or about the Oregonians who burned the flag & buildings as opposed to Texans who did not. Why should those of us in the red states be forced to share a nation with people who have different values?

              Having said that, the ethnogenesis of the Ukrainian people was instigated a long time ago by thr Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for their own interests. To make it stick, they went out of their way to create a uniate church, without bothering control the people they ruled that they now served the Pope.

              That’s hardly fair.

              Then of course this while sorry project was amped up by Lenin, a man who had no Russian blood in him and who was a demonic figure by all accounts.

        • Ukranians are Russians , they were trained by the west and Catholics to be Ukrainians . Like Croatians and Serbs were the same but the choice of the faith created two separate nations – the same by blood, genes and language. But you Joseph is almost right , creation of “ new” Ukranian nation is very successful and is based on hate towards anything Russian within this nation which is like hate towards your own history and origin .

          • Madame, Ukrainians are not Russians just like Swedes and Norwegians are not the same despite having the same genes and almost the same language. You cannot say a people does not exist just for political reasons, because this is pure politics, otherwise you shouldnt be worry as Ukrainians are Orthodox but not Russian Orthodox. Hate towards the history and identity of a people is what Soviet Russia had towards Ukraine. Is very akward to say to another people what they are and what they are not.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Joseph, if a people “have the same genes” then they are by definition the same people.

              • Austrians and Germans have the same genes and they are two different people. Norwegians, Danes and Swedes have the same genes and are different people. Czechs and Slovaks have the same genes and are also two different people. And all of them share almost the same language, in the case of Austria and Germany, the same.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Joseph, what you are saying literally makes no sense. How can the “same” people be “different”? That’s an oxymoron.

                  Are you not aware how the Austrians joyously joined the Third Reich when it declared Anschluss? Is this an example of two people being “different” yet the “same”?

                  • Sir, you are the one that is saying that two people having similar genetic background are the same, not me. I say that they are different and and gave examples. The Austrians joined Germany, “joyously”, really? I think even by watching The Sound of Music you would be aware of what an insane statement that is. I believe that in the only town where Nazi thugs were not counting the votes the result was 99% against the union. It’s not the votes who count, it’s the people who count the votes.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      OK, we now know where everybody stands on the matter and there is nothing to be gained by discussing it further, as no one is going to change their mind. Great discussion but this will the the final comment on the matter.

                    • Man, even Wikipedia – no friend of the right – says that the Austrians were very enthusiastic. It was called the ‘flower war’ for a reason.

                • I’m sympathetic to Joseph’s position that Ukrainians are different from Russians, but not his conclusions, i.e. that the Ukrainian Church needs to be completely separate from the Patriarchate of Moscow.

                  An ethnos/nation is founded on shared culture, blood, language, and faith, as well as the shared historical experiences that fuse these things together into a unified whole. While Russians and Ukrainians generally share all of these things (stand fast the Uniates), the experiences of the two peoples – one a Tsardom and later an empire, the other an occupied people under Papists and Muslims at various times – has led to two distinct peoples who have followed two different historical trajectories.

                  Nonetheless, difference doesn’t justify hatred and that fact is that modern Ukrainian nationalism is based generally on hatred of Russia rather than the wonderful and rugged borderland culture of the Cossacks, the anti-Uniate Orthodox Brotherhoods, and agrarian traditionalism that the region was famous for. The west has been no friend to Ukraine, while Russia is a brother.

                  Ukraine and Russia, though, are much closer than most of the other nations mentioned by Joseph. The Scandinavian kingdoms have been separate entities for the best part of a millennium, excepting periods of union here and there. The Czechs and the Slovaks are quite different in language, faith, culture, and history. Even the Germans groups, despite their linguistic similarities, have very different historical paths, such as the differences between Prussian and Austrian faith and culture.

                  So, to George, I think the Anschluss does provide an example of people being different, yet the same, in a similar way that the Serbs, for example, might have been fervent advocates for a Pan-Slavic union with Russia at various points in the past, or even Texas joining the Union.

                • Austrians are Germans, who were effectively expelled
                  from Germany after losing the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.

            • Johann Sebastian says

              Well, Joseph, my Rusyn ancestors regarded being called “Ukrainian” a gross insult and a challenge to a fight. Their sentiments were not unjustified and knowing their history, I share them fully.

              So yes, Я Русин был, єсмь, и буду, but for the sake of those who have trouble or are disinclined to know more about our history, Russian will do just fine.

          • anonimus per Scorilo says

            You have to be consistent: If, you declare that Ukrainians are Russians (despite speaking two languages that are not easily mutually understandable), then you also have to accept that Moldavians are Romanians (they speak the same language).

            But when it comes to the Republic of Moldova, the Moscow Patriarchate insists very loudly that it is part of its own “canonical territory,” and insists that all its Romanian-speaking inhabitants should belong to the Russian Orthodox Church.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I don’t disagree with you at all.

              • While I don’t disagree in principal either, here are the facts on the ground:

                From 1373 to 1401 Moldavia was a self-ruled church until Ottoman conquest.

                From 1401-1812 the territory was part of different eparchies of the Patriarchate of Constantinople which in turn was responsible to the Ottoman Sultanate. From 1791 to 1812 the territory was part of the Moldovo-Wallachian Exarchate of Constantinople.

                From 1812 to 1918 the territory constituted the Chisinau Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its first Metropolitan was Gavriil (Banulescu-Bodoni). Its last metropolitan was Anastasios, the future first-hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

                From 1918 to 1940 the territory constituted part of the Metropolitanate of Bessarabia during the existence of Greater Romania.

                From 1940 to 1992 the territory constituted the Metropolis of Chisinau and Moldova of the Church of Russia.

                In October 1992 the Metropolis of Chisinau and Moldova was granted autonomy by the Church of Russia.

                In October 1992 the Church of Russia granted autonomy to the Metropolis of Chisinau and Moldova which holds the vast majority of the Orthodox population, parishes, monasteries, and churches in Moldova. This Metropolis is usually now known as the Moldovan Orthodox Church.

                The Moldovan Orthodox Church has 1,080 parishes. The Metropolis of Bessarabia, has about 84 parishes within the nation of Moldova.

                Seems like Moldavians don’t necessarily consider themselves Romanian, despite the language connection, and are quite happy being part of the Russian Church. It should be mentioned that the vast majority of the Moldavians diaspora attends parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church. In fact, the MP bishop in Italy is Moldovan.

            • Johann Sebastian says

              I agree. Likewise, the Ukrainians should themselves be consistent: if Ukrainians aren’t Russians, then neither Rusyns nor Belarusians are Ukrainians–which Ukrainians often relish in attempting to claim.

              Saying that all are Russians isn’t far-fetched by any means. Is India carved up into multiple dozens of countries representing its various ethnolinguistic groups? Is China divided in such a way?

              Are Venetians Italian? Are Catalans Spaniards?

              • The differences between the people of Rus are important as is their commonality: we are a brotherhood that makes up one civilization. Short term political organization cannot be allowed to tear that apart.

          • Matthew Panchisin says

            Dear Olga,

            There are some here that don’t understand “nasha” they can’t, hence we hear the bable. Olga, I agree, they just have a perspective that is to be imposed upon us, it’s really absurd and can’t work.

        • Joseph, the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine
          wish to be part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
          So, if there is a national Orthodox Church in Ukraine,
          it is that which is headed by Metropolitan Onuphry,
          not that which is headed by the uncanonical Dumenko.
          Not only is the UOC canonical, but it operates in Left Bank Ukraine,
          in Right Bank Ukraine, in the Donbass and in the Crimea.
          Truly, it is the only national (not Nationalist) Church in Ukraine.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I guess for the same reason that the EP doesn’t want the American people to have their own church.

    • Joseph, your question is an important one. It would seem logical that each nation should have their own national church. And I can see that those outside the Church may have difficulty understanding why a national orthodox church for every nation is neither feasible nor desirable.
      If you are truly interested in a sincere answer to your question, some research on the history of the Orthodox Church and especially the Slavic churches is required. These issues cannot be fully addressed in a few blog posts.
      Perhaps my brothers and sisters on this sight can offer up some good resources to help answer you question.

    • anonimus per Scorilo says

      It all boils down to the concept of Canonical Territory, and whether this concept has anything to do with Orthodox Ecclesiology.

      The Moscow Patriarchate considers Ukraine as part of its Canonical Territory, and therefore considers the granting of Ukrainian autocephaly by Constantinople as an “invasion of canonical territory.”

      However, the “canonical territory” claims of the Moscow Patriarchate have nothing to do with history, or ethnicity, or language. For example the Republic of Moldavia/Moldova is considered as part of the “Russian Orthodox Church Canonical Territory” despite most of its faithful being Romanian speakers.

      History is also irrelevant for these claims, when Northern Bukovina was annexed by the Soviet Union (following the arrangement of Ribbentrop and Molotov of blessed memory :-)) , it all of a sudden became a part of the Canonical Territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, despite the fact that it had never ever in its history belonged to Russia and despite the fact that it was recognized as part of the Romanian Orthodox Church in its 1924 Autocephaly Tomos.

      So there are only three logical possibilities here:

      1. either one accepts the notion of Canonical Territory as relevant, and in this case the Moscow Patriarchate is currently invading the canonical territory of sister Orthodox Churches. And therefore it is not in any moral position to complain about the invasion of its own canonical territory.

      2. or one considers the notion of notion of Canonical Territory as irrelevant. But then one should accept that any majority Orthodox Church in an independent country (the list includes Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Macedonia, Montenegro) should be autocephalous. And if any of these countries ever gets conquered again by their bigger neighbors this autocephaly should cease (this is what happened to the autocephaly of the Church of Georgia/Gruzia when the Russian Empire conquered it)

      3. or one uses the notion of Canonical Territory when convenient, and disregards it when inconvenient, in the spirit of the Pirate Code: “Take what you can, give nothing back”

      • “…one should accept that any majority Orthodox Church
        in an independent country…should be autocephalous”

        …or autonomous if it wishes to preserve its historical links;
        which is precisely the case of the Ukranian Orthodox Church.

      • anonimus per Scorilo,

        It looks to me you are inventing comcepts out if thin air, and then knocking your own version of events apart. This is known as the ‘straw man’ fallacy.

        It is simply irresponsible of you to ignore the 1000 year historical ties of all of Kievan Rus and the history of the Northern Slavs in this manner.

        You absolutely must consider the numerous times the captive patriarchate in Istanbul begged Moscow to assume the mantle of Protector of Holy Orthodoxy after the Muslim capture of the city, which it accepted only grudgingly after far too many years.

        I believe your understanding of this area of Orthodox history is quite thin.

        • anonimus per Scorilo says

          It is also simply irresponsible to ignore the 1800 years of historical ties of the Romanians living in Romania with the Romanians living in the half of Moldova that was occupied by the Soviet Union after the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty.

          Yet Moscow does not give a toss, and insists that the Romanians living in the Republic of Moldova should not be part of the Church of Romania. While in Ukraine it uses much weaker historical and linguistic links to argue the that the Ukrainians should be under Moscow.

          But I guess some local churches are more equal than others.

          • anonimus per Scorilo,

            Again, you seem to be inventing things out of thin air. from Wkipedia, Bessarabia:

            “From the 3rd century until the 11th century, the region was invaded numerous times in turn by different tribes: Goths, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Magyars, Pechenegs, Cumans and Mongols. The territory of Bessarabia was encompassed in dozens of ephemeral kingdoms which were disbanded when another wave of migrants arrived. Those centuries were characterized by a terrible state of insecurity and mass movement of these tribes. The period was later known as the “Dark Ages” of Europe, or Age of migrations.”

            The area was then occupied variously between 561 by Avars and Bulgars (a Turkoman people from central Russia), who called the area Bulgaria, then Khazars, and then,”between the 8th and 10th centuries, the southern part of Bessarabia was inhabited by people from the Balkan-Danubian culture (the culture of the First Bulgarian Empire).” There followed the raids of the Golden Horde, the area in question (modern Moldova) not even being considered Vlach (remotely Romanian) until after this time.

            Anyone can look this up in Wikipedia. Your claims of Bessarabian/Moldovan and Romanian ties spanning 1800 years are simply untrue. How you relate this to WWII and the atheist Soviet Union occupation are just too tough for me to follow. I won’t try.

            And since the ties you claim between Bessarabia/Moldova and the nation-state of Romania of 1800 years are false, I must reassert the 1000 year history of Orthodox Kievan Rus, including ancient Galicia in the west, as the root and shared history of one people in three tribes, the Rus, the Belo Rus, and the Malo Rus. The word ‘ookrayna’ came into usage as a region between the shifting borders of three empires in the middle of the second millennia. The term wasn’t applied to a people until three hunderd years ago, and by non-Orthodox Poles and Lithuanians and others that did not originate from this area. It’s much like peoples of western Europe misnaming the eastern Romans of Constantinople ‘Byzantines’.

            It’s because the area of Moldova/Transdniester was lost and won and lost again between these same empires/states that the jurisdiction is in dispute today. The brief Soviet occupation as part of Molotov-Ribbentrop has no bearing on the issue. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s HOW the Local Churches come into existence that is of primary concern. The current Moldova/Transdniester dispute is a legitimate one that has existed for many years as a result of the conflicts of history. The creation of the OCU is merely the fanciful dismissal of three hundred years of settled jurisdictionality and history for ambitious political and monetary gain. They cannot reasonably be compared.

            Most people know this stuff, or, not knowing it, look it up before posting.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Hans, while I as a Greek have no dog in this fight, I believe you have convinced me. Also, you are correct regarding the term “byzantine” (which was a pejorative used by Latins); the people of that empire, regardless of ethnicity called themselves “Romans”.

              ApS, you lost me –as well as most honest scholars–when you stated that there was a “1800 year continuity” between the modern Romanians and late Antiquity.

              Having said that, I see no reason why Moldova shouldn’t be given to the Patriarchate of Romania. Especially given the modern borders and all (especially if the people living there have a Romanian/non-Slavic identity).

              Along these lines, I would ask you what you feel is just regarding the Church of Greece and its claims to the so-called Northern Lands? Consistent with you argument, all dioceses which exist within the modern Greek polity (with its universally-recognized borders) should be recognized as belonging to the Church of Greece. And let us go further, the Archbishop of Athens should be elevated to patriarchal status.

              • Yes George, I also see no problem with the Moldovan Church taking a non-Russian course if that is best for the Church of Moldova. The MP could quite easily facilitate and encourage a non-Russian course for her, which would be ‘the letting go with mature love’ that is supposed to be the example of the establishment of Local Churches.

                And I agree with you on the Northern Lands and the elevation of the Archbishop of Athens. Perhaps what the Ecumenical Patriarchate failed to understand about his position in the world is that it was honorable, but precarious; and now he has unwisely misused his Throne in the pursuit of greater power and authority, and so has diminished his Seat. I believe Met Kyrill recently said he saw the will of God in the reconversion of Hagia Sophia back into a mosque after a hundred years, due to the EP’s ambitions in Ukraine. Telling!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Truly, the reversion of the Hagia Sophia to mosque status was God’s chastisement upon the See of Cpole for its pretensions and arrogance.

                  I take no pleasure in saying that.

            • Some more on the etymology:


              Every Slavic country has a krajina.

          • Interested Roman says

            “It is also simply irresponsible to ignore the 1800 years of historical ties of the Romanians living in Romania…”

            There are Moldovans who do not consider themselves Romanians — probably the majority in fact. Simply speaking the same language does not make you part of the same country. There are other factors in play in shaping national and cultural identity.

            The claims of the MP on Moldova have a twofold basis:

            – History. The Metropolia of Bessarabia came under the Russian Holy Synod in 1812, well before there was a Romanian state and when what is now Romania itself was still under the Phanar. After 1918 this area came under the Romanian state and church, then went back in 1940 to Moscow. Whatever the justice of the original reasons that Moldova came under the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, the fact is this remained unchallenged for more than the 30-year period (1945 to 1992).

            – Allegiance. There is a Romanian Orthodox Metropolia under Bucharest in Moldova, but it has a hold only on a small minority of Moldovan believers. The truth is the great majority of Moldovan Orthodox believers prefer to be under Moscow. I understand that this has to do with Moscow being perceived as more conservative / traditional. Same in Ukraine where not one of its 127 Romanian-speaking Orthodox parishes have bolted the UOC-MP despite the OCU promising to set up a special jurisdiction for them.

            (I don’t have time to line up my sources but they are mostly in SPZH — don’t rely on the English articles there, you can do a lot of reading via Google Translate on the Russian side of that website. I don’t know why people say SPZH is propaganda, when it also publishes articles criticizing Russia and even Patriarch Kirill himself.)

            “While in Ukraine it uses much weaker historical and linguistic links to argue the that the Ukrainians should be under Moscow.”

            “Historical and linguistic links” may mean nothing to Americans but these mean so much more to, well, the rest of the world. Plus these aren’t the only reasons — there are well-written articles out there on the weighty canonical and theological principles involved in preserving the unity of Holy Rus, a unity that was defended by many Patriarchs of Constantinople centuries ago.

            As Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) observed lately, Met. Onufry and the 100 or so bishops and 5,000 or so monastics of the UOC-MP in Ukraine could have walked out of the MP and into the OCU, and there was nothing that Moscow could have done to stop them. The fact that all but 2 bishops and every single UOC-MP monastery remained with the MP speaks volumes about the quality of the choice they had to make.

            I’m not even Orthodox (but I am looking into it), still I can see that Moscow isn’t stupid or unreasonable at the very least. It is a shame that many American Orthodox prefer to let their Russophobia do the thinking for them instead of earnestly looking at the real reasons for Russia’s / MP’s actions.

            • Interested Roman, my thanks to you and Basil above for filling in some of the blanks in my knowledge of the history of the Moldovan Church!

              I really enjoy it when people come together and can enlighten, rather than disparage, one another.

            • Interested Roman says

              You are welcome, Hans!

              In my OP I said, “Historical and linguistic links” may mean nothing to Americans”

              I should have said “some Americans”. I certainly did not intend to generalize ALL Americans. My apologies for my rubbish choice of words here.

              • Interested Roman: Welcome to the blog; great contributions so far. Become Orthodox, since you’re already one with us in spirit.

                Hans: Welcome to the blog; great contributions so far.

                These interesting times are certainly attracting some good people to this little corner of the internet, which is the only blog I take the time to read and contribute to. Good to have you on board for the coming struggles.

    • The EO church doesn’t have a Tradition that each nation should have their own Patriarchate. Bulgaria and Africa each have their own Patriarchates, but Africa is not one nation alone. Likewise, there is no Patriarchate of Italy.

      • George Michalopulos says

        That’s not exactly true, Hal. We do have a tradition of “local” churches and episcopal dignity regarding the inviolability regarding diocesan boundaries. As well as episcopal equality.

        In any event, the modern concept of nations did not exist in Classical Antiquity. Having said that, the present Phanariote narrative of supremacy is completely antithetical to what obtained in previous centuries.

  2. Well said George.

  3. Lenora Bearer says

    Who’s not whose

  4. The conjuration of the schismatic OCU is a great physical, political and spiritual threat to the ordinary Ukrainian soldier, and the ordinary soldier of Russian ethnicity in the Ukrainian army, and their families.

    Roughly a third of the people living in Ukraine are Russian, and live in the southern and eastern regions of the country, the most industrialized areas. They were resettled there during the Soviet period and still have familial links to regions in present-day Russia.

    When Yanukovich won the 2010 presidential election, primarily on Russian ethnic votes from the south and east, the US State Dept began to fund the Maidan movement, which culminated in the violent overthrow of the elected Yanukovich government the end of 2013. The Lugansk and Donetsk states in far east Ukraine on the Russian border began forming militias when legal routes to restore the elected president failed. Direct armed conflict began to occur between the two factions after the peaceful pro-Yanukovich protest in Odessa was violently attacked by Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitaries in January of 2014.

    Round after round of conscript soldiers were ordered up by the coup regime now in control in Kiev, given little training and equipment, and sent to fight the ‘terrorists’ that had formed to defend their homes and businesses in Lugansk and Donetsk, a region known as “the Donbass”.

    Fighting was heaviest in the regions of the Donetsk airport, the central Debaltsevo area, and west of the city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea. Generally, the Donbass militias have been able to withstand the NATO/US-backed Ukrainian assaults as they were supplied in modest amounts by donated Russian Federation equipment. Both sides have employed mercenaries.

    The conscript system of the Ukrainian military forced soldiers of Russian ethnicity to fight against other Russians, often as sacrifice units to reveal enemy strongpoints for counterbattery fire. Many soldiers defected, taking valuable equipment with them in the beginning of the conflict, many others objected conscientiously and were beaten, shot, or had their families living in Ukraine (and unable to emigrate) threatened.

    Only Ukrainian Greek Catholic (UGCC) or Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) members of clergy are permitted in the Ukrainian military as chaplains. Conscripts who are UOC-MP and refuse to participate in the schismatics’ services are treated harshly and are denied medical attention and proper religious rites at internment. This is a direct and intentional result of the actions of the Istanbul Patriarchate and its supporters. The conscripts’ families are then usually denied access to their loved ones’ remains, or any pay or stipend for service.

    The Ukrainian government has made it very clear this is an ethnic-cleansing operation for them, to rid as much land of those of Russian ethnicity as possible. This includes Russians who they have conscripted into their own armed forces.

  5. Joseph and others present a strange debate.

    In the Orthodox Church, it isn’t that a national people form a national Church, which we refer to as a “Local Church”.

    It’s HOW that Local Church establishes its autonomy from its Mother Church that matters. The situation in Ukraine is highly irregular in the way the OCU was established. Research on your own time should reveal the answers to your posts. They are too numerous and well-known for me to waste time reposting them here.

  6. Carville had a better reputation with me until the last few years. I was shocked to see what I believe may be his mental deterioration in an interview he gave two years ago.

    Yes, the international polling watchers agreed the 2010 election was free and fair. So too did they admit the voting in Crimea was legitimate to join with Russia, although that admission took awhile to come out.

  7. I need help to understand the fundamental principle at play here. If the principle is that ethnic Ukrainians ought not to be subject to a church headed by ethnic Russians, then how does the EP justify maintaining jurisdiction over Americans, Australians, Greeks in Greece (Crete, etc) , Albanians in the US, Palestinians in the US, etc…? Is the primary determination what one’s ethnicity is, what one’s national residence is, what one’s nationality is? Should the EP have jurisdiction only over Orthodox Christians who are Turkish nationals residing in Turkey? If the Moscow Patriarchate is not allowed to have satellite jurisdictions, then why is the EP? If any Orthodox Christian who does not live in a territory that has an historic Orthodox Church is meant to be subject by the EP, why do we have a multiplicity of Orthodox jurisdictions in the US, Western Europe, Australia, etc? What IS the guiding principle put forward by the EP?

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      Solomaros, your questions are excellent! They also beg the question of the politicization and ethnocentrism that often mars Orthodox ecclesial life today.

      That is why so many of us–not only in ROCOR or the Patriarchate of Moscow–see the EP’s meddling in Ukraine for what it is: an unwarranted, uncanonical, hypocritical, shameless “home invasion” on the historic territory of another autocephalous Orthodox Church for political, ethnic, and other miscreant reasons.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I’m with you, Father.

        I don’t pretend to know what’s good for Ukraine. I only know what isn’t . It isn’t good for us to meddle in their affairs and use the Church to do it.

        As for the Moscow Patriarchate, Bartholomew can tear up a piece of paper, but he cannot wave his magic wand and undo years of recognition. When a patriarchate is recognized as being over a specific territory, it makes it a fact.

        His “special” powers may give him the authority to issue a Tomos but it does not give him the authority to redefine another bishop’s territory.

        • Interested Roman says

          “As for the Moscow Patriarchate, Bartholomew can tear up a piece of paper, but he cannot wave his magic wand and undo years of recognition. When a patriarchate is recognized as being over a specific territory, it makes it a fact.”

          I read an article 2 years ago on SPZH that made this point: the bishops and monastics of the UOC-MP starting with Met. Onufry himself spent most or all of their lives seeing the Patriarch of Moscow as their “father”. (Met. Onufry served for a long time in the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra.) Did Bartholomew really expect to just step in and all of a sudden tell them, “I am your father now”?

    • The guiding principle of the EP is: “The EP is in charge”.
      All else is negotiable – until the EP decides otherwise.
      And there is no appeal – except to the EP.

    • The guiding principals for the EP seem to be…

      1. The EP has universal jurisdiction (in its own eyes).
      2. The EP does whatever serves the cause of #1
      3. The EP lives in constant fear of becoming powerless and irrelevant

      As it concerns this general topic, it is worthy of noting that the granting of autocephaly is often based in the ever-shifting political structures of this world and the practical matters this entails, but it has never, to my knowledge, been granted to any Church based upon that Church’s hatred for any other Church.

      • Brian,

        I love your 3 summarized rules. How accurate.

        Now if only the Patr of C’ple realized that it’s already irrelevant, at least in the eyes of the Church. That’d be progress.

        When the US State Dept and the secular world tells you that you’re relevant (i.e., they want to use you!… they don’t give 2 hoots about Christ) but the Church reminds you that you ain’t all that, then you know that you’re operating in delusion.

        Happy Theophany!

  8. Michael Bauman says


    An excellent commentary on the terrible price we each pay seeking temporal power especially to “do good”. Sobering and based on a profound understanding of the Scriptures and the Incarnation.

  9. Just a pedantic comment from an English-language grammar pedant (I’m sorry; but hey, given that “proper English” is now considered oppressive, people like me won’t be around for much longer…)

    This article’s title “Whose Behind the Ukrainian Schism?” should read “Who’s Behind the Ukrainian Schism?”

    Who’s = who is
    Whose = belonging to or associated with which person

    Now you could say “Whose behind is the big behind that’s behind the Ukrainian Schism?” That’d be ok, and a bit funny.

    Sorry again. And keep up the great work on your awesome website, Mr & Mrs M!

  10. The article says:
    the informal leader of the order is Protopresbyter Alex Karloutsos, whose son Mike Karloutsos heads the protocol of the US State Department.
    It wasn’t clear reading thus what exactly the protocol refers to.

  11. George Michalopulos says

    Wow! Don’t you just LOVE that autocephaly?


    • Johann Sebastian says

      Smiegel? That’s a different kind of Orthodox, and it’s not a Christian one.

    • George, I’m not so sure that they’ll want to risk the ire of the rest of the Orthodox world. Could they be that stupid? (Well, they probably can, but we’ll see what happens.)

  12. “Hierarch” of OCU urges to tag those not loving Ukraine “as rootless dogs”

    ‘ “Bishop” Adrian Kulik on Facebook suggested attaching plastic tags with numbers to the ears of everyone who, in his opinion, does not like Ukraine.

    “Hierarch” of the OCU Adrian Kulik advocates marking all citizens of Ukraine who, in his opinion, do not like their country, with plastic tags in their ear, as is done with stray dogs. He wrote about this in a commentary under the publication of his fellow OCU member, “metropolitan” Alexander (Drabinko), about the UOC.

    “Everyone who lives in Ukraine and does not love it had better attach a plastic number to their ears, as it is done with rootless dogs. So that the Ukrainians can see who they deal with,” the “bishop”of the OCU believes. ‘

    Thus speaks one of the Phanar’s preferred prelates in Ukraine.
    With such rhetoric, the Donbass will not be encouraged to return.

  13. Abp. Elpidophoros: Head of Phanar is
    a front-line defender of Orthodoxy


    “Archbishop Elpidophoros believes that due to granting the Thomos to the OCU,
    Patriarch Bartholomew can be compared to St. Patriarch Photios.”

    Robert Burns:

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:

  14. Ukrainian schismatics launch campaign against Metropolitan
    Athanasios of Limassol of Cypriot Church


    ‘ The schismatics of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) have taken aim at His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who is a staunch supporter of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and a likely successor to Archbishop Chrysostomos as the primate of the Church of Cyprus. ‘

    I expect the State Department will be sticking its oar in too