Orthodoxy in Dialogue has made an exceptional decision to publish this essay anonymously because the author fears retribution from various quarters. Suffice it to say that we know her identity and the school with which she is affiliated.
From the extensive Ukraine section in our Archives by Author, we single out  Ukrainian Autocephaly: An Awkward Spot for the OCA, Ukrainian Autocephaly: What Says the OCA?, and The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) Ignores Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Bows to the Will of Moscow, Rejects the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) as especially relevant to the following.

The Primate and Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America

The Orthodox Church in America’s Synod of Bishops has issued a letter of instruction and guidance on Ukraine for the clergy and faithful of the Church. Certainly, the clergy and laity who are attracted to the myth of “Holy Russia” rejoiced in the OCA’s decision to support the Moscow Patriarchate over the Phanar.

The letter idealizes the OCA’s autocephaly as one oriented toward mission and the correction of canonical irregularities in North America. Ukraine’ politicized autocephaly—forced upon the faithful by a mysterious alliance of the Phanar, President Poroshenko, and the US State Department—is a source of sorrow for the bishops. Yes, they regret Moscow’s decision to break communion with the Phanar, but nevertheless, they join Moscow by calling for Patriarch Bartholomew to convene some kind of pan-Orthodox gathering to resolve this issue in accordance with the canonical discipline of the Church.

On the basis of the OCA’s difficult journey of 50 years of autocephaly, the bishops think they can contribute to an Orthodox resolution of the schism. For good measure, the bishops make sure that they withhold recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine created in the Phanar’s laboratory by cross-breeding two groups of schismatics, and voice their support for Metropolitan Onufry as the canonical primate of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.

All of this sounds good, especially since it enjoys compatibility with the story told about Ukrainians who betrayed Russia for the last century.

Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have been telling anyone willing to hear them that all of Ukraine’s problems are caused by uncanonical uniates and schismatics. These rabid, fascist nationalists are a threat to the peace-loving Orthodox of Ukraine who (of course) cannot survive without Moscow.

Atop the list of villains is the malevolent Filaret (Denisenko), a former KGB agent who was secretly married with children and regularly abused his subordinates. Moscow banished him for his misdeeds in 1992, adding an anathema in 1997. When Filaret merged with Ukrainian autocephalists in 1992 to form the Kyiv Patriarchate, not only did he pollute them with his anathema, but he exposed their own anti-Christian agenda to persecute the lawful Orthodox of the Moscow Patriarchate.

This is but one small part of the narrative constructed and distributed by the Moscow Patriarchate about the Ukrainian Church crisis since 1992.

For the most part, all of the Orthodox Churches in the world have accepted this narrative without question. Its persuasive power is such that the vast majority of Orthodox people who believe it—including ordained clergy—passionately form a chorus condemning the neo-nazi Ukrainians to the uttermost depths of hell…even though they have never met a member of a Ukrainian parish in person. They render judgment without dialogue, because canon law prohibits a lawful Christian from meeting with a schismatic—it is a violation of the laws of ritual purity.

The OCA has accepted this narrative and continues to believe it. Were this not the case, the letter would have acknowledged the OCU in some way other than a passing reference to a “unification council” of “schismatics.”

Sadly, the pastoral letter of the OCA expediently endorses the version of the truth convenient for the Synod’s awe and reverence for Moscow. The bishops lied when they said the instruction arises from “their own experience,” because they failed the litmus test posed to the OCA when the late Archbishop Job posed a simple question in the midst of a severe moral crisis: Are the allegations true, or are they false?

The OCA bishops know that Filaret appealed the canonical sanctions imposed upon him six times, only to wait 27 years for someone to actually hear the appeal. Granting that Filaret was a clever opportunist at best, and most likely a demon in Byzantine vestments, the OCA bishops certainly knew that the Church they openly support—the UOC-MP [Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate]—has been mired in a series of scandals of its own. Overlooking the numerous scandalous statements made by Metropolitan Onufry about the Holodomor [the 1932-33 Ukrainian genocide by artificial famine] and the Phanar, the UOC-MP reveres an abbot of its renowned monastery, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed), who compared the totalitarian former President Yanukovych with Jesus Christ, and recently boasted that four workers at the Lavra museum died when he cursed them.

The worst offense, though, has been the overt complicity of UOC-MP bishops in contributing to Russia’s war against Ukraine, publicly supporting soldiers, blessing battalions, and bearing arms for photos.

These same bishops remained silent when official spokespeople of the Moscow Patriarchate, infuriated by the Ukrainian revolution of dignity in 2013-14, invoked a holy war against Ukraine and justified bloodshed and murder, since the Ukrainians were clearly possessed by demons when they removed President Yanukovych. The protesters on the Maidan committed the cardinal sin of self-determination, rejecting the place post-Soviet Moscow had appointed for them alongside Belarus in the Russkii Mir {“Russian world”].

The OCA did not condemn and never will condemn Russian violations of sovereign territory, invocations of a holy war, bishops who brag about killing insubordinates by cursing them, and public hatred of a nation, because those who make such statements and commit these acts are committed by clergy of the canonical Church.

The OCA knows this story well by covering up the misdeeds of their own bishops who committed crimes, a policy incompatible with the “canonical tradition and discipline of the Church.” The OCA “retired” them instead of imposing canonical sanctions. When it came to the OCA’s self-benefit, the bishops opted for mercy and forsook penance, especially when they could no longer prevent the truth from coming to light. They support the reverse process in Ukraine by supporting permanent canonical depositions without investigating the truth of the allegations.   

Drunk with the poison of neo-imperialist propaganda, the OCA bishops lied when they said the Ukrainian people are their primary concern by forsaking mercy and refusing to consider their side of the story. The bishops would like to leave Ukraine hanging for another 27 years while they call in futility for a synodal and conciliar process of resolution, even though the Moscow Patriarchate has mastered the art of withdrawing from its commitments to dialogue on the eve of an event as significant as the 2016 Council of Crete.

Never mind that the OCA’s autocephaly was also the result of a unilateral decision by Moscow, with no sign of Orthodox unity in sight fifty years after the commencement of the OCA’s “missionary work” inspired by autocephaly.

An appeal for a council to resolve this issue is an intentional act of kicking the can down the road because it avoids confronting the bully of the East and calling upon him to assume responsibility for his actions. The safer play for the OCA is to placate Moscow [such as paying obeisance to Patriarch Kirill here], lest the Patriarchate, sensing disorder in the American region of the Russkii Mir, revoke the 1970 Tomos of Autocephaly.

As for Ukrainians, they will learn that the OCA’s Synod of Bishops is not trustworthy. The OCA bishops have no intention of healing the schism in Ukraine because these bishops are Moscow’s slaves, and Moscow needs a Ukrainian schism to justify its neo-imperialist presence in Ukraine.

Some readers may pity the OCA’s bishops, giving them the benefit of the doubt on account of naivete. Unfortunately, they cannot be let off the hook, because their letter deliberately leaves out most of the truth so that the OCA gets to play the role of loyal soldier to mighty Moscow.

Soon enough, the OCA will learn that they are Moscow’s pawns. But by then, it will be too late to backtrack, because no one will trust American bishops who believe lies when it is convenient for them.   

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