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Jan 11, 2022
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Srbiјa did not live by “shells” alone

Orthodox Balkans urgently need a spiritual CSTO

No matter how the events developed in Kazakhstan, Moscow took a firm step on the eve of negotiations with Washington on the “red lines”, which are the lines of delimitation of national interests.

And in the very underbelly of NATO – in Serbia – Russia completed the delivery of the Kornet missile systems by the New Year, before covering the republic with Shells.

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Self-propelled anti-aircraft missile-gun complex “Pantsir S-1”

By acting so decisively, the Kremlin has somehow subtly canceled out the use of the euphemism “our Western partners”.

Meanwhile, Orthodox Moscow decisively steps into the canonical territories of those who are in no hurry to delete from the list (diptych) of brothers in Christ. Anathema was not handed down to either the Istanbul and Alexandrian patriarchs, or the Greek and Cypriot metropolitans. Nevertheless, a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate was opened in Turkey, and in Africa, two whole dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Which is undoubtedly necessary. However, this was done through … trampling on the canons – the fundamental strongholds of Orthodoxy, built by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Without a canonical solution to this issue – strategic for the whole of Orthodoxy and the ROC as a potential leader of the Orthodox world in the issue of preserving the purity of faith – the positions of the Moscow Patriarchate will be shaky.

And now there is an urgent need to beat the enemies of the ROC on their canonical territory – not only in Turkey, but also in the Balkans.

The same Balkan knot

On December 26, Metropolitan of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) Cyprian concelebrated in Istanbul with one of the founders of the “Most Holy Church of Ukraine” (SCU), Metropolitan Emmanuel of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul. The latter mentioned in the diptych the primates of local churches and Sergei Dumenko – “Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kiev”. However, the bishop of the Bulgarian Church, which did not recognize (yet?) The SCU, in no way reacted to the commemoration in the service of the leader of the unauthorized gathering.

The fact that Metropolitan Cyprian was appointed head of the BOC commission “to study the issue of Ukrainian autocephaly” immediately after the formation of the SCU gives this case a special piquancy. And at this time, the commission has not made any decision. Truth be told, one should not be comforted by this provision. We, after all, had already managed to experience the craftiness of not only fellow (as it seemed) Greeks, but also half-brothers, NATO members, who, in this status, even managed to take part in the bombing of Yugoslavia.

The self-appointed “speaker of the UOC” Fr. Mykolay Danylevich, however, tried to shield his Bulgarian comrade: “Vladyka Cyprian with this commemoration of Met. Emmanuel just set up. A similar thing has already happened with another Bulgarian bishop – with vl. Nikolai Plovdivsky, who served somewhere in Greece and during his reign they also remembered the head of the “OCU” … This was about 2 years ago.

With such antics, the Phanariots and their supporters simply substitute or provoke hierarchs from other Local Churches….

Supporters of the “OCU” are again beginning to inflate this fact of commemoration of “victory”. Although this is from the same opera as recently their Ternopil “bishop” Nestor (Pysyk) stood in the church of St. George on the Phanar next to Metropolitan Nifon of Targovish from the Romanian Church, who came to congratulate Patriarch. Bartholomew on the anniversary of the service … Met. Niphon was visiting at that time, so he considered that it would be impolite towards Bartholomew to leave the church in which the schismatic stood … ”.

A lovely “excuse” (in the words of the deputy head of the DECR UOC). For the Bulgarian bishops, politeness towards the violator of the canons, Bartholomew, is more justified than loyalty to the Holy Spirit, who guided the creators of the canons. Therefore, obviously, the church Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UOC (MP), instead of expressing extreme bewilderment, actually indulges a similar attitude of the Bulgarian and Romanian episcopate to the church issue in Ukraine.

I remember that the “speakers of the UOC” were engaged in the same auto-training immediately after the formation of the UOC, when the presence of the Helladic Irenaeus and the Alexandrian Theodore at the services of Bartholomew with the participation of Epiphanes was explained by “unexpected setups.” And those, it turns out, were glad to be “substituted”.

In the light of what is happening now in world Orthodoxy, the following passage of the representative of the DECR of the UOC is also important (a structure, in fact, of an incomprehensible status, for the patriarch of Moscow endowed the UOC with independence in internal government, and not in external church activities): Allegedly, the BOC stands for the autocephaly of the Macedonian Church, so this is also an exaggeration, if not to tell a lie. First, there were no such official statements from the BOC. Secondly, the Bulgarians consider the Macedonian Church to be a historical part of the BOC, and the Macedonians are also Bulgarians. “

The unrecognized “Macedonian Church” (MC) is a structure that broke away from the Serbian Church in the then Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on a national-territorial basis (that is, on the basis of the heresy of ethnophyletism), although members of Orthodox communities in Macedonia are not only Serbs who are faithful to canonical Orthodoxy Macedonians and Bulgarians, but also Albanians. It happened in 1967 with the assistance of the ill-wisher of the Serbian Church, Croat, atheist (born Catholic) Josip Broz-Tito.

Despite the fact that North Macedonia remains in the eyes of world Orthodoxy the canonical territory of the Serbian Church, Bartholomew received a delegation of “bishops” of the MC in 2007. “The Patriarch… listened to the clergy from Macedonia,” explained the then secretary of the Istanbul Synod, Archimandrite Elpidifor, calling the schismatics clergy. “But the patriarch did not fail to remind them that the situation with the imprisoned Archbishop John (Vranishkovsky) and the canonical Archdiocese of Ohrid (belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church) is part of one big problem.”

As you can see, the Ecumenical Patriarch did not demand the release of his Orthodox brother, the canonical primate of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – the head of the Ohrid Archdiocese of the SOC, who was imprisoned on the libel of the MC. And only “reminded of the problem.”

Well, “the larger problem (the existence of non-canonical jurisdiction) Bartholomew strongly suggested that it be solved“ only through negotiations ”. That is, not in a way that first presupposes the repentance of schismatics, and then negotiations on the future status of the church in the republic, but generally without repentance.

“The present situation, unfortunately, does not allow holding joint services, since we are not in ecclesiastical unity with the Macedonian Church,” – expressed bitterness at the impossibility of performing service with the schismatics Elpidifor – the right hand of Bartholomew.

Only chop

Why did Bartholomew need at the very beginning of 2007 to excite the Orthodox world with this audience?

Recall that a year before (with the rise to power of the Russophobe Yushchenko), Bartholomew’s new papal claims to the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church were renewed. They talked about the opening of farmsteads of the Istanbul Patriarchate in Ukraine without the consent of the Moscow Patriarch. In 2006, there was an interference in the affairs of the Sourozh diocese. In 2008, an open invasion of Ukraine was planned at the invitation of Yushchenko for the adoption of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Church” into the jurisdiction of the Phanar of the “Kiev Patriarchate” II).

On the eve of his visit to Kiev, the Istanbul patriarch tried to neutralize the position of the Serbs allied with the ROC, blackmailing them with the recognition of Filaret’s Macedonian colleagues.

Actually, now we see a repetition. In September 2018, at the same synaxis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at which war was declared to the ROC, the Macedonian issue was also raised. And in December 2021 – after a decade and a half – Bartholomew again receives the delegation of the MC.

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“His Holiness the Patriarch made a corresponding appeal, in which he expressed his fatherly concern for all of us and our Church. In the end, we all received a blessing from him by kissing his holy right hand. “, – said the members of the delegation.

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Phanar did not refute the statements about Bartholomew’s paternal care in relation to the schismatic structure operating on the territory of the Serbian Church.

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Curator of the CCU Emmanuel, Bartholomew and the Macedonian schismatic

And here we come to the Bulgarians, on whose account the DECR UOC is engaged in yet another public complacency. It is no secret that many in Bulgaria consider the Macedonian Slavs to be part of the Bulgarian ethnic group. On this basis, the “brothers” allied to Hitler in 1941 captured Macedonia. The Serbian clergy and those of the Macedonian priests who did not consider themselves Bulgarians were expelled by the Bulgarian co-religionists. At the end of the Second World War, the Serbian Orthodox Church returned to its jurisdiction the dioceses on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. However, with the collapse of Yugoslavia, the Bulgarian Church faced a minimum task – at least to recognize the Church in Macedonia as not Serbian.

On November 23, 2017, the “synod” of the MC recognized the BOC as its “Mother Church”. And literally three days later, the BOC Synod pledged “to provide full assistance, intercession and intercession before the Local Orthodox Churches, doing everything that is necessary to establish the canonical status of the MC.” This, by the way, is also to the assurances of the “speaker of the UOC” about “exaggerations concerning the alleged performance of the BOC for the autocephaly of the Macedonian Church” and “the absence of official statements from the BOC” in this regard.

Fortunately, there are also priests in the UOC (MP) who are aware of the danger of the situation. Thus, in November 2021, Metropolitan Anthony, head of the UOC (MP), served in the Zlatoust monastery of the SOC in North Macedonia with the blessing of Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kiev, which is perceived as a readiness for challenges.

Met.  Anthony and Archbishop of Macedonian and Bulgarian prisons.  John

Met. Anthony and Archbishop of Macedonian and Bulgarian prisons. John

So, all the cards are open in front of us (remember that we started with the participation of the “responsible for Ukraine” hierarch of the BOC in the Istanbul service, where the “primate of the OCU was commemorated). The only question is the sequence of actions.

First option. After Sofia’s recognition of the CCU, Moscow will inevitably break off Eucharistic relations with the BOC. This unties the last hand for the recognition of the Macedonian schism. Thus, it is the ROC that will unwittingly transfer the schism in the Serbian Church into an irreversible phase.

Second option. If at first the Phanar recognizes the MC (as a punishment for the Serbs “persistent” in non-recognition of the SCU), and the BOC will inevitably support them, then the ROC will have to break off relations with the BOC. Not only for the sake of fulfilling the canons (which is, in fact, the main thing), but at least for the sake of supporting the SOC – its only firm ally in the Balkans.

Both scenarios are bad. And not only because they open up all the possibilities for the Phanar to recognize another heretical structure – the “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” (and this is the deepening and civilizational split of Serbia). The very loss of Orthodox Bulgaria (namely the Orthodox – in many respects still the Russophile part of the Bulgarian society) is a very painful blow to the Orthodox Slavic unity. The gap that the Greeks will make in it and thus present Eastern papism is not a purely Greek phenomenon.

This means that we need to be proactive – to enter the Balkans (Hellas, Istanbul) at the same pace as we entered Africa. Let us also transparently hint to Bulgaria that there are a lot of Russians and Russophiles living in the country, firm adherents of the canons, finally. And for their sake, it is not a problem to open a Russian exarchate.

But this will be canonically unshakable only if you first adhere to the apostolic rules: first anathema, and then the entry of the forces of the Organization of the Canonical Security Treaty.

And if there are no canons, then everything is possible. And Bartholomew too.

Cover photo: AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic

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