By Kostas Onisenko
The escalation of reactions of the Russian Church given the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was foretold in an interview by the Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
Speaking to RIA news, Metropolitan Hilarion claimed that the forthcoming visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch is expected to provoke “a new wave of squatting of temples. In recent months, the level of violence has been rising,” he said, referring to Ukraine.
“Ukrainian archpriests and hierarchs, many analysts and experts have reservations about the visit of the Patriarch of Constantinople, saying that the clashes will only grow. “Ukraine’s extremist forces should show in Phanar ‘united orthodoxy’ in Ukraine – and this could provoke a new wave of occupation of temples,” said Metropolitan Hilarion.
However, referring to “analysts” and “hierarchs”, Hilarion spoke of people who indiscriminately support the arguments of the Russian Church, against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the moderate voices – analysts in Ukraine, in no way connect the expected Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to the mother of Russian cities – Kyiv – with an impending escalation in the Ecclesiastical issue. In other words, these are analysts – tools of the Russian Church, those who are against Patriarch Bartholomew.
The position of the Ukrainian Church on the issue of parishes passing through the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine is also known: These are court proceedings that take many months, mainly on the transfer of property and not on the substance, ie the decision that was taken by the parishes to pass to the Canonical Ukrainian Church. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is claiming its rights in the legal courts of Ukraine and not in the streets.
It is noteworthy that on the website of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Hilarion, an article was published on the same day as the interview about the “crusades” carried out by the Moscow Patriarchate in various parts of Ukraine on the occasion of the Sunday of Orthodoxy. It is indicative that in the text, apart from the areas where the “crusades” took place, the number of participants in them is mentioned, which could be a “show of strength” that the Russian Church can mobilize “on the street”.
Therefore, the recent interview of Metropolitan Hilarion, which refers to an alleged danger due to the visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine, can only be perceived as a “warning” for problems by the Russian Church and not as a record of real conditions prevailing in Ukraine.