RT’s “Worlds Apart” interview program recently interviewed Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), a hierarch who heads the Department of External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The Duran has covered the crisis in Ukraine surrounding the activity of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, of Constantinople, intended to create a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This effort falls completely outside the normal and authorized operating procedures of the Orthodox Church, but to the lay listener it is difficult to understand what the fuss really is all about.
Metropolitan Hilarion and Oksana Boyko do an excellent job with both the answers, but more importantly, the questions, since Ms. Boyko asks the questions that someone who knows nothing about the Church might ask. This situation is completely about politics and not about the true work of the Church, and Met. Hilarion answers these questions very completely and thoroughly.
One of the really interesting points that Met. Hilarion makes is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch seeks to bring about the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from these four groups:
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (which is canonical and which has not requested self-rule, called autocephaly
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Church “Kyiv Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko, which is a completely schismatic group. This group, and Filaret, are leading the charge.
- The Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church – another schismatic group that is not in communion with Filaret’s church
- The Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine – and this is truly interesting, because this group is not even Orthodox, but is an Eastern Rite group under the Pope of Rome, and is in fact Roman Catholic.
The notion of bringing together such a disparity of groups is stunning to the Metropolitan, and yet he understands the motives of the men driving this idea, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Filaret Denisenko.
While the United States is not mentioned in this interview in any prominent sense, it should be noted that this move also does have strong US support as the American political leadership has been advocating for the Poroshenko government in an effort to continue to surround and isolate Russia. As we have noted elsewhere, this series of moves may well create more problems for Russia, by design.