So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Russian Orthodox feathers ruffled... again.

Moscow, it seems, never tires of complaining. Or, is that whining? More specifically, the Patriarchate of Moscow never seems to tire of playing the blame game in what appears to be an attempt to portray itself as martyr while at the same time demeaning others.

The shifting of narratives is a common enough practice these days not limited to the Russians. The current American Administration, too, is well versed in the art of deception.

A common scapegoat for the Russian national church is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
2 August 2016
The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has stepped up its complaints against Ukrainian Catholic Church, demanding that the next worldwide meeting of Orthodox leaders should discuss the status of Eastern churches that are in communion with Rome.
At the same time, however, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has issued a statement of friendship for the Ukrainian Catholic Church, welcoming its support for the recent Orthodox council in Crete.
The Moscow patriarchate, which has complained for years about the “uniate” Catholic Church in Ukraine, has redoubled those complaints, charging that Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has inflamed hostility toward the Ukrianian Orthodox Church that is allied with Moscow. The Catholic prelate, the Moscow patriarchate charged, has used rhetoric “unprecedented in its aggressiveness toward the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Moscow patriarchate.” (Don't expose the corrupt political machinations of the Moscow Patriarchate or they'll call you names!)
The statement from Moscow alluded to a statement from Archbishop Shevchuk charging that “the Moscow patriarchate has often been used as a tool in the hands of the aggressor.” (True! The Moscow Patriarchate was the patsy of the Soviet state for decades: cf., links below.)
A prominent priest, Father Georgi Edelshtein, has stated that one-half of the clergy were overt or covert KGB employees through the end of the Gorbachev era. He has confirmed that the hierarchy took large bribes from priests seeking transfers to rich parishes and from candidates for bishoprics. Father Edelshtein comments, “Do you know where our present-day church ends and the KGB begins? The only difference was that some wore hoods and some had shoulder boards.” —Father Georgi Edelshtein, interview, Argumenty i Fakty, No. 36 (September) 1991, p. 7.
A secret Soviet-era document uncovered in Estonia suggests that Patriarch Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and spiritual leader of tens of millions of Christians, was a fully fledged KGB agent.
Accusations that Alexy, elected Patriarch in 1990, co-operated closely with the KGB under the code name 'Drozdov' (Thrush), have circulated since a parliamentary commission was allowed a brief peek at secret police files in Moscow in 1991. ]
(A)rchbishop (Shevchuk) referred to the Moscow patriarchate’s support for Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. (The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate has been notably less aggressive in its statements on the conflict in Ukraine.)
The Moscow patriarchate went on to say that the hostile attitude of the Ukrainian Catholic Church has created an “emergency” which should be addressed at the next meeting of Orthodox leaders. (An obvious tactic: 1) establish a coalition to lend credibility to your cause; 2) spread responsibility for an attack among allies; and 3) if things go south, spread out the blame among the leaders of the other national churches to (a) draw attention away from oneself and (b) rob your allies of the opportunity to attack you.) Referring to the “uniate” churches as “a bleeding wound,” Moscow called for the resumption of a discussion of their status. The statement from Moscow blamed the same Ukrainian Catholic Church for having caused a disruption of earlier discussions on that topic. (Somehow the disruption of conversation is never Moscow's fault. Wasn't it Moscow that asked the recent Pan-Orthodox gathering to halt its proceedings for no apparent reason other than to deflect the influence of the Patriarchate of Constantinople?)
Full statement -
The Russians must be aware that most other Christian churches, Catholic and national eastern (e.g., the Patriarchate of Constantinople) and Coptic, are no longer falling for Moscow's attempts to dominate the rest of the eastern national and Apostolic churches. The Moscow Patriarchate, or some influential cadre within said Patriarchate, continues to conjure up nonexistent villains—typically the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church—that Moscow claims are being aggressive toward Moscow.

Why is Moscow so threatened by Patriarch (Major Archbishop) Shevchuk (Святосла́в Шевчу́к) and the UGCC?
Is the Moscow church intimidated by Greek Catholic enthusiasm and resilience which has allowed them to endure decades of persecution while thriving as an underground community?

Is the national church of Moscow poorly expressing its collective guilt for having colluded with the Stalinist and subsequent Soviet regimes and, burdened by its past, now lashing out at the Ukrainian Greek Catholics who preserved the Apostolic Faith undefiled and authentic Ukrainian culture?

Has the Moscow national church now become the oppressor? Has Moscow forgotten the suffering of its own faithful members, the one's not co-opted by the state, who were killed or sent to the gulags? Because conversion has repeatedly been avoided, the national church of Moscow now has within it a heart that has dried into a stumbling block to the healing of memories and the unity of the Church.

The complaints of the Moscow hierarchs have become tiresome and a completely unnecessary hindrance to ecumenical charity and unity. Is anyone in the Moscow Patriarchate capable of appreciating how uncharitable the actions of the hierarchy have been and continue to be?

Pray for the Patriarch of Moscow, that he may defy the inclination within his ranks to persecute the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and work for peace with the UGCC and for unity with the Catholic Church.

Pray especially for Major Archbishop Shevchuk and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. May the UGCC continue to thrive even while it faces persecution by our Christian brothers and sisters of the national Russian church.

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