Peace, peace, they say when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14).
One of the sad misconceptions promoted by supporters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s actions in Ukraine is that the EP was simply reconciling those who were estranged from the Church. It was only goodwill and a desire to heal schism that motivated the EP. They would claim that people, such as myself, are unjustly criticizing the EP for this generous act of “reconciliation.”
An important consideration is – do the fruits of the actions support this claim? And the answer is clearly no. In fact, we are witnessing that the unilateral actions of the EP in Ukraine are in fact not healing the wound of schism but rather exacerbating it. At current, what was a local issue has become global, and it threatens to bring further distention.
Has a true reconciliation taken place? No. The schismatic group is still in schism with the Canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and most Orthodox Churches in the world. The UOC is an autonomous Church. The EP did not so much invade the “territory” of the Moscow Patriarchate as it did the Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude, Met. Onuphry. Why did the EP do this? Why did it, in an unchristian manner, invade the house of another autonomous local church and scorn the long labor of the existing canonical hierarch – Met. Onuphry – there?
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had laid out the terms of reconciliation – Repentance. The schismatics refused to repent of their many sins against the Church in Ukraine. The MP has been accused of failing to solve the schism, and this also is used as a justification for the illicit actions of the EP in Ukraine. Although, the schism was not so much with the MP as with the UOC, which, I repeat, is an autonomous church. It also must be noted that the UOC is the majority and the schismatics are a minority.
Were they expected to force the schismatics to repent? Again, a clear path had been offered to the schismatics – repentance – and they refused to take the path. How can the UOC or even the MP be guilty for the lack of repentance on the side of the schismatics?
Then comes the EP who offers a path with no repentance. Is the message now: “Repent not for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?” Is it now: “Be reconciled, repentance not needed?”But I digress.
While I was in Ukraine a number of months ago, I had the deep blessing of speaking with the faithful there, together with clergy, even bishops.
How did the grand “reconciliation” affect them? Many of them spoke to me of the fear they lived in because of the aggressive persecution being directed against them by the former (puppet) President of Ukraine, Poroshenko, and the schismatic group under the pretender Epiphany, who is ultimately under the EP. (As a side note, it seems, thankfully, the new government is simply not interested in getting involved in this Frankenstein experiment.)
The “reconciliation” brought terror to millions of Orthodox Faithful. Is this the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit?
One Bishop told me, “The situation was not just scary, it was terrifying.” Why? Because the newly “reconciled” schismatics were working hand in hand with the former Government, and even the media, to frighten, malign, and persecute the True Orthodox Faithful in Ukraine. These are the fruits of the “reconciliation.” Does the EP not know?
Sadly I’m convinced that he does know. I base this conviction also on first-hand information I received while in Ukraine. The EP was also working deeply with government forces in Ukraine for anything but spiritual profit.
Are we to believe a type of double-speak where “reconciliation” is achieved through persecution and falsehood? Are these Gospel principles?
The reality is, there is no benevolent “reconciliation.” The wound in Ukraine is not better, in fact, the reality is that the actions of the EP have made the situation worse and it has increased the sufferings of millions of long-suffering faithful. It has hardened schism and exported it to the rest of the Orthodox world by demanding that its unilateral actions be accepted by all. This is not reconciliation.
To heal is to sooth and to bring wholeness. The actions of the EP in Ukraine have not done this whatsoever. Rather, it has used the tools of a physician to slice a wound deeper, to rend even further.
Now a schism which was local, and should have been left to the wisdom of the local church, has been exported to the whole Orthodox world. The EP is causing schism not healing it. Moreover, it is demanding that Orthodox faithful recognize unrepentant schismatics. Why is the EP willing to risk global Orthodox unity for the sake of a minority schismatic group in Ukraine? I think the answer is becoming clear but I will leave you, the reader, to ponder upon it.
Let the EP fellowship with schismatics but let us have nothing to do with such fellowship. “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord, do not touch any unclean thing” (2 cor. 6:17). This sort of “fellowship” will only spread the malady of unrepentant schism, the fruits of which are evident to anyone who desires to see.
The EP’s actions have not brought true reconciliation at all, rather it has become the vanguard propagator of major schism in the Body of Christ. The fault lines are growing