Патріарх Московський і всієї Русі Кирил привітав Митрополита Київського і всієї України Онуфрія із 75-річчям, 05.11.2019 рік. Фото: джерело https://pravlife.org/uk/content/svyatishyy-patriarh-kyryl-pryvitav-blazhennishogo-mytropolyta-onufriya-iz-75-richchyam
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A church tribunal is not enough for the head of the Mospatriarchy

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Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine is in itself a grave crime from the point of view of international law. However, this was not enough for the Russian side, so the hostilities are accompanied by war crimes, crimes against humanity and even actions that the Ukrainian side and a large part of the world leaders already today reasonably qualify as the genocide of the Ukrainian nation. Russia’s full-scale aggression, which began on February 24, sharply raised questions about the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2014, a large part of the world has tried to hide from the answer to this question by phrases like “not everything is so clear”, by the term “Ukrainian crisis”, “internal Ukrainian conflict” and similar manipulations in order to continue conduct business with the aggressor state. Today, after the tragedies of Buchi, Irpen, Borodyanka, Okhtyrka, Mariupol and other Russian crimes that have become known to the world, this is no longer possible, that is why sometimes in civilized countries they try to blame Putin alone for the aggression, there is a lot of talk about the responsibility of the Putin regime. However, even the last approach does not fully reflect reality, because, according to VCIOM, 86% of Russians support the actions of the head of the Kremlin.

This gives reason to say that the chauvinistic, great-power anti-Ukrainian psychosis has gripped the absolute majority of Russian society, which as a result has assumed moral and political, and a significant part of it, legal responsibility for the mass-scale crimes that neo-totalitarian Russia is committing in Ukraine. Europe has not known such a tragedy since the victory over Hitler – destroyed or half-destroyed Ukrainian cities (Mariupol, Irpin, Izyum, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, etc.) and other settlements, tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians killed (smaller official figures do not yet reflect the total number of dead, in particular , due to undisclosed rubble in destroyed cities), children and women raped by the occupiers, civilians and soldiers tortured by Russian liberators, more than ten million Ukrainian forced migrants and refugees, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens forcibly deported to Russia, including children, the creation of artificial humanitarian disasters in some Ukrainian areas due to the suspension of food deliveries, electricity, gas and water supplies. The troops of the aggressor state destroyed or damaged hundreds of schools, kindergartens, hospitals, libraries, some theaters and museums, and a huge number of other social infrastructure facilities in Ukraine. Russian soldiers are actively engaged in looting, and they rob not only valuables or household appliances, but also dog kennels and worn underwear. The occupiers in the newly occupied territories of Ukraine are destroying the system of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-language education, seizing and destroying Ukrainian books. And all this against the background of constant massive lies about Ukraine and Ukrainians, their purposeful dehumanization by the Russian authorities, politicians and the so-called mass media, which have long been transformed into information weapons.

Aggressive war and atrocities in Ukraine, their approval by the majority of society in Russia (a symbolic manifestation of which was the publicized advice of the wife of the Russian occupier to her husband to rape more Ukrainian women), testify to the deep moral degradation of the Russian troops, authorities and population. It seemed that confronting these manifestations of the worst features of human nature, and from the point of view of church tradition they should probably be called satanic, should be the direct calling of the Russian Orthodox Church. At least, by default, it is believed that Christian churches are built on the evangelical teaching of love for one’s neighbor and should be “the light of the world.” In addition, the Russian Orthodox Church still has its faithful not only in Russia, but also in Ukraine, and during the invasion operations of the Russian army, dozens of churches were destroyed or damaged (the absolute majority of them belong to the structure of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine – UOC MP) and some monasteries, priests and parishioners of the UOC MP were killed or wounded, and the fighting itself took place in regions with a high proportion of UOC MP supporters.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church between the roles of “Pontius Pilate” and “High Priest Caiaphas”

How did Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) fare during the current peak phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war? As early as February 23, 2022, he congratulated the Russian military, who at that time, by the way, had already been waging war against Ukraine for the eighth year. And the day before, the State Duma allowed the entry of Russian troops into the territory of ORDLO. On February 24, Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine from the north, east and south. On the same day, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church called on the parties to the conflict to avoid casualties and help refugees, to pray for peace, and also noted that Russians and Ukrainians share a centuries-old history since the baptism of Russia by Prince Volodymyr and that he believes that this will help to eliminate the contradictions. That is, at that time the rhetoric of Patriarch Kirill was quasi-neutral – he spoke not about war, but about contradictions and conflict, about the common origin of Ukrainians and Russians, but not about the fact that they are “one people”. It is the last ideologeme that is one of the cornerstones in the ideological foundation of modern Russian expansionism, great statesmanship, and chauvinism. V. Putin is her follower and main propagandist. Relatively speaking, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church at that moment took the position of “Pontius Pilate” regarding the war. He allegedly washed his hands, although it is obvious that at the time of the outbreak of a clearly unjust war, not calling the aggressor an aggressor, and the victim a victim, is already playing along with evil.

In Ukraine, it was immediately obvious when on February 24, Russian missiles, artillery and aircraft began to hit peaceful cities, and convoys of military equipment of the Russian Federation crossed the borders. It is no secret that the Russian special services use the capabilities of the UOC MP to carry out subversive activities against Ukraine, but even in the ranks of this religious structure, an obvious act of large-scale aggression caused shock and a healthy reaction from some of the clergy (of course, I am not referring here to openly treasonous activities and collaboration of a prominent part of the clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine). The Primate of the UOC MP, Metropolitan Onufriy, immediately condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, expressed support for the Ukrainian defenders, called on Ukrainians to “unite with love for God and our Motherland”, and called on Russian President V. Putin to immediately stop the “fratricidal war”. The war between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples “is a repetition of the sin of Cain, who killed his own brother out of envy. Such a war has no justification either with God or with people,” he wrote in the address. The head of the UOC MP has done some “work on mistakes”, because in 2015 he scandalously refused to honor the memory of the heroes-defenders of Ukraine in the parliament. On February 24, 2022, Metropolitan Onufriy also asked Patriarch Kirill to raise his voice against the war. Already on February 28, the Synod of the UOC MP asked the head of the Russian Orthodox Church “to call on the leadership of the Russian Federation to immediately stop hostilities, which are already threatening to turn into a world war,” albeit, unfortunately, in less precise and categorical terms.

However, for more than a week, it seems that no assessments of the war have been heard from Chistye Prudy. In the conditions of the catastrophic increase in crimes committed by the Russian army, the suffering of millions of Ukrainians, the lack of reaction on the part of Patriarch Kirill naturally caused dissatisfaction of the clergy and parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Some priests not only stopped mentioning the Moscow patriarch during the service, but also called on the hierarchs of the UOC MP to convene a council to sever ties with the discredited Russian Orthodox Church. In a number of dioceses, following the decisions of the bishops, they stopped mentioning Cyril. Part of the parishes of the UOC MP became part of the canonical local church – OCU.

Subsequent events only intensified the crisis phenomena in the UOC MP and quickly worsened its perception by Ukrainian society, because the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine was mostly not ready for a quick break with ecclesiastical Moscow, and Patriarch Kirill quickly went from playing the role of “Pontius Pilate” in the war tragedy to the role a certain “high priest Caiaphas”. Already in the first decade of March, in the conditions of the unfolding of a full-scale war and the almost unanimous UN condemnation of Russia’s aggression, Kirill Gundyaev returned to the role of one of the pillars of the military propaganda mechanism of the aggressor state, which obviously contradicts not only international law, but also evangelical teaching. In personal speeches and through the structures under his control, he actively attempts to ideologically justify and justify Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression, caused by the neo-imperial expansionism of the Russian regime based on the revanchist sentiments of the Russian population.

Thus, on March 6, Patriarch Kirill preached a false thesis about its causes in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Then the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said that the current situation (which he qualified as “practically the beginning of hostilities”) is connected with the fact that some forces have been trying to destroy what exists in Donbas for eight years, probably alluding to the “LDNR”. According to the patriarch, Donbas fundamentally does not accept the “so-called values” of the “most powerful world” (obviously the liberal, Western one), to which the gay parade is supposedly a pass. In this “sermon” we see a false message of Russian military propaganda “clothed” in church rhetoric about 8 years of “Kiev’s bullying of Donbas” as the cause of the war. It is kept silent that during this time it was Russia that blocked the UN Security Council 11 times from the entry of peacekeepers into the occupied eastern Ukrainian territories, that it was Russia that, contrary to international law and its obligations, unleashed and supported hostilities on the territory of another sovereign state in order to disrupt the course of Ukraine to European and Euro-Atlantic integration. In the sermon, the patriarch called to pray for peace, but did not mention all of Ukraine, but only Donbas.

On March 9, during the liturgy in Moscow, in a quasi-pious manner, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church called for everything to be done so that the devil “does not manage to destroy our spiritual unity, around which the religious and cultural life of our one people (ed. A.I.) – Russians and Ukrainians – was formed.” . Moreover, Patriarch Kirill pharisaically accused some external forces of igniting the “conflict between Ukraine and Russia”, which are trying to divide the “one nation”. In other words, from the pulpit he propagated the false thesis of “one nation”, which plays an important role in the propaganda of the Putin regime against the existing international legal order and Ukraine’s right to state, cultural and spiritual sovereignty.

On March 13, on the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church symbolically blessed the war against Ukraine in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. After the service, he presented the August icon of the Mother of God to one of the commanders of the army invading Ukraine, the commander of the Russian Guard, V. Zolotov. “Since you are the head of the Russian Guard, I would like this image to be in the ranks of the Russian Guard,” said the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. In response, Zolotov assured that the troops of the Russian Guard “together with the armed forces of the Russian Federation will fulfill all the tasks set during this military counteroperation”, called the defenders of Ukraine “Nazis”, complained that “not everything is going as quickly as desired” and stated that the donated the icon “will protect our army and accelerate our victory.” Metropolitan Epiphany, head of the local OCU, considered this event as follows: “The presentation of icons and the wish of a “blessing” to murderers and murderers by the head of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill Gundyaev, at the liturgy on Sunday, to the director of the Russian Guard, is a spiritual crime. The position of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who supported the aggression against Ukraine, should be condemned by all the religious leaders of the world!”

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church is under the church tribunal!

Further large-scale atrocities of the Russian occupiers in Ukraine did not affect the immoral position of the Moscow Patriarchate in supporting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It seems that she was not impressed either by the deliberate bombing of the maternity hospital and hospitals in Mariupol, nor by the bombed-out Mariupol drama theater, in which mostly women and children were hiding, nor by the shooting by a Russian tank of the regional geriatric boarding house in Luhansk region, nor by the killing of hundreds of Ukrainian children (unfortunately, the victims among them may be significantly more), nor thousands of other flagrant crimes committed by the occupiers. Even after the world saw the different consequences of Buch in early April and was horrified, as a result of which a number of world leaders spoke about the genocide of Ukrainians, the pro-Kremlin position of the Mospatriarchy did not change.

This is evidenced by the rhetoric and symbolic actions of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Against the background of the bloody barbaric war unleashed by the Russian Federation, on April 3 he cynically called Russia a peaceful country. Such a statement sounded from the pulpit of the main temple of the Russian Armed Forces. Kyryll Gundyaev emphasized: “…in wartime, service in the armed forces is a real feat, and this is exactly the kind of time we are experiencing now.” With the activities of army soldiers who kill civilians, rape and loot in Ukraine, he linked hope for Russia’s security, freedom and independence. Moreover, according to him, not only the military should “wake up”. On April 8, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church personally paid tribute to one of the most odious Russian politicians, V. Zhirinovsky, who for years preached aggressive war and other misanthropic ideas, and described him as a “prominent political figure of modern Russia” who gained high respect among the Russian people. On April 10, Patriarch Kirill said in a sermon that Russian society should unite around the authorities, that is, the criminal Putin regime, in order to achieve solidarity and be able to repel internal and external enemies.

Against the background of such statements, ritual appeals for peace from the lips of Patriarch Kirill are expectedly perceived by many in the world as extreme cynicism, mocking common sense. The course of the Moscow Patriarchate in support of Russia’s aggressive war, constant attempts to justify and sacralize it cause fair criticism in the world Orthodoxy and deep disgust in the Ukrainian society, for which the war has become the most tragic experience in the last more than 70 years and at the same time caused patriotic elation. This position of the ROC has discredited it in the eyes of the majority of Ukrainians, it is perceived by many as a betrayal of evangelical teachings and an insult to the rights and interests of the Ukrainian people. According to the data of a nationwide poll by the sociological group “Rating”, at the beginning of April, 74% of Ukrainians believe that the UOC MP should break ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, and 51% of respondents believe that the state should ban the activities of the UOC MP on the territory of Ukraine. As a result, draft laws were registered in the Ukrainian parliament on the banning of this denomination and on depriving it of the right to use state property and benefits. So far, they have not been considered, but, in any case, the war will accelerate changes in Ukrainian Orthodoxy.

It is obvious that the grave disease of Caesaropapism was never overcome by Mospatriarchy. She is still ready to serve Moloch of power, even contrary to evangelical teaching. The lessons of the crisis at the end of the existence of the Russian Empire and the responsibility of the synodal church for it and the subsequent catastrophe turned out to be unlearned by them. Specific non-evangelical ideological doctrines supported by its head and other bishops were also hinted at. This moral nakedness of Moscow Orthodoxy proved unbearable for the conscience of the better part of the priests of the UOC MP.

On April 10, on the initiative of Archpriest Andriy Pinchuk, a petition for bringing Patriarch Kirill to justice by the “international church tribunal”, i.e. the highest court of world Orthodoxy – the Synod of Patriarchs of the Ancient Eastern Churches – began to be collected. At the time of closing the opportunity to sign, on April 16, the document had 427 signatures of protodeacons, archdeacons, priests, propriests, hieromonks, and archimandrites from dozens of dioceses of the UPU MP. In fact, there are more of them, but the names of clerics from the occupied territories are not made public for security reasons.

In the world Orthodoxy, there is a long-standing tradition of turning to the court of the Council of Eastern Patriarchs in case of deep conflicts. In this case, we are talking about the institution of the pentarchy (“power of five”), which arose back in the days of the Ecumenical Councils and which now includes the oldest Orthodox churches – the Ecumenical (Constantinople), Alexandrian, Jerusalem, Antioch Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus. Such a council has already repeatedly considered lawsuits against the highest church dignitaries. A. Pinchuk recalled that in 1666 it was the Eastern Patriarchs who condemned the Moscow Patriarch Nikon and deprived him of his patriarchate and episcopal rank.

In the appeal of the clerics of the UOC MP, a deep theological, historical, and even political argumentation is given for bringing the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to justice for 1) his preaching of the doctrine of “Russian world”, which does not correspond to Orthodox teaching and should be condemned as heresy; 2) for committing moral crimes by Kirill, when he blessed the war against Ukraine and fully supported the aggressive actions of Russian troops on its territory. They prove that “despite the fact that Patriarch Kirill has for many years in his public statements… claimed that he considers the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine to be his flock for which he is responsible, today he directly blesses the physical destruction of this flock by Russian troops.” According to their information, such actions caused mass indignation among the clergy and faithful of the UOC MP.

“We fully support the refusal of the bishops and clergy of our Church to commemorate Patriarch Kirill during the service. But today this is not enough. We clearly declare that it is impossible for us to remain in any form of canonical subordination to the Moscow Patriarch. This is the dictate of our Christian conscience,” the authors of the appeal claim.

They declare full support for the state and the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their fight against the aggressor and emphasize that their position corresponds to the Gospel, church tradition and the Foundations of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, adopted in 2000. But Patriarch Kirill and numerous bishops and priests in Russia directly violate the norms of this document, first of all, the provision that the church cannot provide assistance to the state and cooperate with it if the latter is waging an aggressive war.

It is important that clerics also recognize that one of the ideological foundations of this war was the doctrine of “Russian peace”, and Patriarch Kirill is one of its main ideologues. “The ideologues of the Russian world, in particular within the Moscow Patriarchate, have never hidden that this doctrine should contribute to Russian irredentism, that is, the gradual establishment of Russian political control over the territories that were previously part of the Soviet Union or even the Russian Empire,” states the appeal . Its authors note that Patriarch Kirill’s statements regarding the “Russian world” clearly distort the Orthodox teaching on the Church and resemble the ethnophiletism condemned by Universal Orthodoxy, where the role of ethnos is played by “Russian civilization.”

After analyzing the situation, representatives of the clergy who signed the statement came to the conclusion that “the tragedy that is unfolding today in Ukraine was, among other things, the result of the policies that Patriarch Kirill is pursuing during his tenure at the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.” They considered this situation as a challenge for the entire world Orthodoxy and called on the leaders of local Orthodox churches: 1. To clearly and unequivocally condemn the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. 2. To call on the President of the Russian Federation, V.V. Putin, to immediately end the war and release all captured territories of sovereign Ukraine. 3. Consider the public statements of the Moscow Patriarch Kirill regarding the war against Ukraine and evaluate them in the light of the Holy Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition of the Church. 4. Consider at the pan-Orthodox level the doctrine of “Russian world”, which has been promoted by Patriarch Kirill for many years and which has become one of the ideological justifications for the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and evaluate this doctrine from the point of view of Orthodox teaching, and in case of condemnation of this doctrine, attract to hold Patriarch Kirill accountable and deprive him of the right to hold the patriarchal throne.

The appeal of clerics from Ukraine has already been sent to the addressees. The question arises: will it be heard by the leaders of the ancient churches? It seems that the situation allows us to hope for this. For years, the Russian Orthodox Church was moving into a dead end not only doctrinally, but also through its destructive, and then openly schismatic actions in world Orthodoxy. In 2016, despite all previous promises and concessions made to it, the Mospatriarchy tried to disrupt the holding of the All-Orthodox Council, which was supposed to be the first meeting of this level in over a thousand years. She not only did not come herself, but also pushed three other churches to do the same. In 2019, it severed the Eucharistic union with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as it, in accordance with canon law, canceled its decision of 1686 to transfer the management of the Kyiv Metropolitanate from Moscow, which, by the way, had violated its conditions for centuries, and contributed to the formation of the autocephalous OCU. And at the end of 2021, the Russian Orthodox Church defiantly and brutally violated the canons of Orthodoxy when it established its exarchate in Africa on the lands of one of the ancient Orthodox churches, a member of the Pentarchy, the Patriarchate of Alexandria. This is another divisive step of the Moscow church in relation to world Orthodoxy. Already this year, Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II called on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to convene the Council of Ancient Eastern Churches and condemn Patriarch Kirill and the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole.

The Russian Orthodox Church and the tribunal for accomplices of aggression against Ukraine and the genocide of Ukrainians

As we can see, there are certain prospects of bringing to justice for anti-canonical actions that grossly undermine the unity of Orthodoxy, the spread of the heretical doctrine of the “Russian peace”, complicity in the aggressive war against Ukraine through the supreme court of Orthodoxy. Despite the opposition of the Russian Orthodox Church and its pressure on other churches, Cyril may eventually be deposed, and the actions of the synod of this denomination are delegitimized for the community of Orthodox believers.

However, this is clearly not enough, because outside the Orthodox world, Kirill Gundyaev, who is directly involved in the ideological justification and justification of the crime of aggression, will appear not only clean before the law and even submissive. More effective measures are needed to stop the war crimes, crimes of aggression and genocide committed by Russia in Ukraine and to prevent their recurrence in the future. The latest tragedy of Ukraine became possible largely due to the large-scale terrible crimes of the 20th century. of political regimes centered in Moscow (mass artificial famines, political repressions, “decentralization”, destruction of the intelligentsia, deportations, persecution of churches, etc.) in relation to the Ukrainian nation remained unpunished, and often even unrecognized.

Naturally, with the beginning of the phase of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which was accompanied by other international crimes, the question of a tribunal against Putin and his henchmen immediately arose. Already at the beginning of March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs D. Kuleba and international lawyers presented to the Western elite a declaration on the creation of a special tribunal to punish the crime of aggression against Ukraine. In mid-March, former British prime ministers G. Brown and D. Major, together with other representatives of civil society, created an online petition calling for the formation of a special international tribunal modeled after the Nuremberg trials to try the president of the Russian Federation and his closest accomplices. So far, more than 1.7 million people have signed the document. In April, the President of Germany F. Steinmeier spoke about the need for a tribunal against V. Putin and S. Lavrov.

Lawyers have outlined ways to overcome the organizational and legal barriers that Russia will build on this path. International tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were established by the decisions of the UN Security Council. Russia, as a member of the Security Council, will block this possibility. However, there is also a case of the creation of a special tribunal (hybrid court) – Extraordinary Chambers in Cambodian courts by the country’s government on the basis of an agreement with the UN, which was based on a resolution of the UN General Assembly. The establishment of a tribunal by a coalition of countries is discussed separately.

After the formation of the tribunal, the question of those suspected of planning, organizing and committing international crimes will arise. It is obvious that next to the military and political leadership of Russia, the “information forces” should also be on the dock – heads of mass media, propagandists-“journalists” and prominent representatives of religious structures, who incited hatred, supported and justified the aggressive war against Ukraine and the genocide of the Ukrainian nation . In our opinion, an important place among the latter should be occupied by Kyryll Gundyaev.

It is obvious that the matter of forming such a special court, bringing the culprits to justice and issuing sentences is not easy and will take a considerable amount of time. By this time, the hierarchs and other clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church, who support the commission of serious international crimes in Ukraine, should be included in the sanctions lists. These persons themselves have placed themselves outside civilized society, and therefore contacts with them become undesirable. In this context, it seems, at the very least, inappropriate to continue discussing the possibility of a meeting between the head of the Vatican and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church…

Andrii IVANETS

leading researcher of the Holodomor Research Institute of NMHS,

candidate of historical sciences, representative of the Regional Council of Ukrainians of Crimea

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