On September 8, 2018 the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations published Metropolitan Hilarion’s “Patriarch Bartholomew Will Bear Personal Responsibility before the Judgment of God and the Judgment of History.” In it His Beatitude responds to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s moves to normalize the canonical status of the Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate as the autocephalous (i.e., fully self-administered) Orthodox Church for Ukraine.
Metropolitan Hilarion’s statement is very brief. We recommend that you take the two or three minutes to read it. For our purposes we draw attention to the following assertion by His Beatitude:
…[The] Ukrainian Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate], which unites a majority of the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine (over 12 thousand parishes, over 200 monasteries) has not asked for any autocephaly, for any independence. […] Thus the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now openly on the warpath. And it is a war not only against the Russian Church, not only against the Ukrainian Orthodox people….
It seems significant that Metropolitan Hilarion should cite the total number of parishes and monasteries rather than actual people. On page 78 of the periodic Public Opinion Survey of Residents of Ukraine—this one conducted March 15-31, 2018 and published on May 21—we find that the Kyiv Patriarchate holds the allegiance of precisely twice as many Orthodox Christians in Ukraine as the Moscow Patriarchate: 39% and 19% respectively of the total population of Ukraine. These figures have remained remarkably consistent over the course of consecutive releases of the same survey.
It would seem that the presence of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine constitutes a far greater hurdle to ecclesial unity among Ukrainian Orthodox Christians than the efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
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