“It had been clear long before the anniversary that this march would reveal the spiritual bonds between Ukrainians and Russians, since prince Vladimir during the baptism did not make any difference between these two nations. So, the authorities tried to prevent the march, while giving maximum support to an alternative event, organized by the so called Ukrainian church of Kiev Patriarchate, which is loyal to the authorities and calls the war in Ukraine a ‘Russian aggression,” Vladimir Sinelnikov, a reporter, told the Russian Vesti FM radio station in Kiev.
Now the press service of the Patriarch of All Russia has announced that Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill will visit Istanbul on August 31, 2018, for “very important talks” with his colleague, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Kiev.
The much anticipated meeting will be watched closely in Russia and Ukraine, as Bartholomew is being faced with a tough decision: He has been asked by the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to separate the Ukrainian “sister church” from the Moscow Patriarchate.
The obvious problem is that Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox believers have belonged to the same church since Russia’s baptism in 988 AD, which makes it more than 1000 years.
The head of the un-recognized pro-Poroshenko “alternative” Ukrainian church, Filaret Denisenko, said that Bartholomew’s decision could mean an immediate confiscation of all the temples, chapels and monasteries in the country from the “pro-Moscow” church.
The possible landgrab by the newly formed Unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine could happen after obtaining Bartholomew’s permission. Several deputies have however warned of “bloody consequences” if the buildings of prayer were to be confiscated from the traditional church.
Bartholomew’s response is therefore awaited in September with much anticipation and the meeting between the Russian Patriarch and Bartholomew in Istanbul has an urgent character.
The move by Ukraine’s President Poroshenko is to divide the Russian Orthodox Church and execute a massive land grab against the Russian Church.
“The strength of the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukrainian sister UPTs MP lies in the apostolic succession, which the current Ukrainian government can neither provide nor imitate,” Alexander Shchipkov, deputy head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for relations with society and media noted. “The state cannot ‘create’ a church, nor should it aspire to do it. But this is exactly what the Ukrainian authorities are trying to do, urging the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to merge with Denisenko’s entity.”
The first Orthodox bishops in Russia were Greeks from Constantinople who visited Rome and Greece on many occasions, starting the tradition of ordaining new bishops and priests, which lasts to this day.
Today, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are in fact celebrating the 1030th anniversary of this unbroken tradition.