Peter Anderson reports from the Orthodox world.
Longstanding reporter of the news from the Eastern Church, Peter Anderson shares our dream of a unified Christianity. His love for Orthodoxy has driven him to this personal mission to share the news of East with the world through his email list. The Urbi et Orbi Foundation is proud to share his efforts and his insights with you.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has now ended his visit to Kyiv. His last day, August 24, was the formal state observance of the 30th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. In the morning, the Ecumenical Patriarch met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. https://www.kmu.gov.ua/news/denis-shmigal-proviv-zustrich-zi-vselenskim-patriarhom-varfolomiyem Also during the morning, President Zelensky and his wife attend a “Prayer for Peace for Blessed Ukraine” which was sponsored by the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organization and which was held in the courtyard of the historic St. Sophia Cathedral. A video of the entire service can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2bITNMgKUw&t=2s. The service was almost identical with similar services held in prior years. As in prior years, Metropolitan Epifany (OCU) spoke first followed by Metropolitan Onufry (UOC-MP). Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil (UOC-MP) subsequently claimed that Bartholomew was not invited to the service because of the insistence of the UOC-MP that he not be there. Metropolitan Anthony stated: “Guests come and go, and we live here. And I want to live in inner peace and mutual understanding.” https://news.church.ua/2021/08/24/blazhennishij-mitropolit-onufrij-vzyav-uchast-u-derzhavnix-urochistostyax-iz-nagodi-30-ji-richnici-dnya-nezalezhnosti/ One wonders whether Metropolitan Anthony’s desire to live “in inner peace and mutual understanding” applies to the relationship of the UOC-MP to the OCU.
The major state events for the celebration occurred in the afternoon. The entire public broadcast of the events can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK8kQwehb1Q (2 hr., 45 min.) In the first part of the video, heads of state (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, North Macedonia) and the Ecumenical Patriarch (the latter at 7:20 in the video) arrived in separate limousines in front of the reviewing stand and were formally received with honors. The Ecumenical Patriarch was seated next to the podium on the right. Also in the reviewing stand was Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. He was seated some distance left of the podium in the second row immediately behind the wife of President Zelensky. In the video, he can be seen at 16:22 (talking to the President of Lithuania) and at 1:33:02 & :09 (seated behind Mrs. Zelensky). It was good to see Metropolitan Onufry and Metropolitan Anthony (UOC-MP) in the reviewing stand as well. The UOC-MP have previously said that its representatives would not attend any of the events at which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was present, but apparently the UOC-MP decided not to skip this very important national event. They were seated in the far right of the reviewing stand as were Metropolitan Epifany and other hierarchs of the OCU. The hierarchs of the OCU and the UOC-MP are seen numerous times in the video, but at 2:42:30 one can see all of them in one frame. In the video, there are two very touching scenes involving a little girl. The first (beginning at 1:19:30), showing the girl in a film and then live, brought Zelensky to tears and evoked extremely long applause by everyone. The second appearance of the little girl at 2:41:30 concluded the program with a peaceful (and not military) theme.
President Zelensky gave a major address. The official English translation of the speech can be read at https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/promova-prezidenta-volodimira-zelenskogo-z-nagodi-30-yi-rich-70333. This speech included the following:
What is the strength of the Ukrainian people? It is the Ukrainian people.
Citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities.
Today, for the first time in history, I want to name those who live in Ukraine, so that we finally understand that the Ukrainian people are Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, Karaites, Krymchaks, Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Roma, Georgians, Gagauz, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Turkmens and Tajiks, Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians, Turks, Koreans, Bashkirs, Lezgins, Avars, Mari, Germans, Slovaks, Czechs and Finns, Komi, Albanians, Karelians, Chechens, Ossetians, Abkhazians, Kabardians, Tabasarans, Dargins, Arabs, Laks. And we are all citizens of Ukraine.
The national team of Ukraine. One team.
Father Nikolai Danilevich, deputy head of the DECR of the UOC-MP, has written a commentary in which he essentially praised the President’s address. https://t.me/s/MykolayDanylevych
After the conclusion of the program and the major military parade, President Zelensky held a reception on the grounds of the Presidential Mariinsky Palace. A description and photos are found on the website of the OCU. https://www.pomisna.info/uk/vsi-novyny/patriarh-varfolomij-ta-mytropolyt-epifanij-vidvidaly-pryjnyattya-prezydenta-z-nagody-dnya-nezalezhnosti/ It states that at the reception, Metropolitan Epifany held talks with “the President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda, the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, and the Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.” The apostolic nunciature in Kyiv had stated earlier that the Cardinal’s visit “has a strictly diplomatic and protocol character.” https://nunciaturekyiv.org/it/2021/08/23/visita-in-ucraina-del-card-pietro-parolin/ Presumably, the Cardinal was very careful not to do anything that would involve the Vatican in the current religious dispute in Ukraine. Earlier Cardinal Parolin had visited with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who confirmed President Zelensky’s earlier invitation for Pope Francis to visit Ukraine – to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ukraine in 2001. https://www.kmu.gov.ua/en/news/premyer-ministr-ukrayini-obgovoriv-iz-derzhsekretarem-svyatogo-prestolu-pogliblennya-spivpraci-v-gumanitarnij-sferi
After the reception, Metropolitan Epifany showed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the historic St. Michael’s Vydubychi Monastery. https://www.pomisna.info/uk/vsi-novyny/patriarh-varfolomij-vidvidav-vydubytskyj-monastyr/ There, Bartholomew stated: “We will fly away soon, but be sure that a part of our heart is in Ukraine, in the Ukrainian Church. Looking back as events unfolded, occurred the recognition of autocephaly, we can say with certainty that you were worthy of the granting of autocephaly and that you are worthy to lead the Church, Your Beatitude.” It would seem that the visit strengthened the personal bond between Bartholomew and Epifany. Metropolitan Epifany then bid farewell to the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Boryspil Airport. https://www.pomisna.info/uk/vsi-novyny/vselenskyj-patriarh-varfolomij-z-delegatsiyeyu-vidbuly-do-konstantynopolya/
On Monday, the day before the Ecumenical Patriarch’s departure, he had a very busy program. During his visit, he averaged 7-8 events per day. Perhaps, the most important event on Monday was his meeting with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations. The chairmanship of the Council rotates among the various denominations and is presently held by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). Although the UOC-MP is a member of the Council, it chose to boycott this meeting because of the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The complete text of Bartholomew’s address to the Council can be read at https://www.pomisna.info/uk/vsi-novyny/zvernennya-vselenskogo-patriarha-varfolomiya-do-vseukrayinskoyi-rady-tserkov-ta-religijnyh-organizatsij/. At the close of the meeting, Bartholomew presented to Sviatoslav a beautiful panagia with the signature of the Ecumenical Patriarch engraved on the back. A panagia is worn by a bishop. https://risu.ua/glava-ugkc-podyakuvav-vselenskomu-patriarhu-za-te-shcho-vin-yak-dobrij-pastir-vidchuvaye-bil-ukrayinskogo-narodu_n121223 The Union of Orthodox Journals has posted three English language articles concerning this gift. https://spzh.news/en/news Descriptions of the many other events involving Bartholomew in Kyiv can be found at https://www.pomisna.info/uk/category/vsi-novyny/.
As I described in my last report, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the large Sunday Liturgy made an appeal to the UOC-MP for “peaceful coexistence” and “tolerance” between the churches. https://risu.ua/en/patriarch-bartholomew-called-on-the-uoc-mp-to-reconsider-their-position_n121251 (English translation of the appeal) To date, I have not seen any response from hierarchs of the UOC-MP with respect to this. On the day after the Liturgy, the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti posted a major interview with Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil (UOC-MP). https://ria.ru/20210823/vera-1746843374.html The Metropolitan did not mention the remark relating to coexistence and tolerance. Perhaps there will be a response to this appeal later.
Peter Anderson, Seattle USA