[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] First Interview of Hilarion & Other News - Orthodox Christian Laity

First Interview of Hilarion & Other News


Source: Peter Anderson, Seattle USA

Metropolitan Hilarion

Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest has given a long interview to RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency.  https://ria.ru/20230725/mitropolit_ilarion-1886120415.html   To the best of my knowledge, this is the first significant interview that Metropolitan Hilarion has given since his transfer to Budapest in June 2022.  Most of the interview relates to Constantinople and the document presented by Metropolitan Hilarion at the recent Bishops’ Conference (https://mospat.ru/ru/news/90540/ ).  However, the Metropolitan also addressed the discussion at the Conference concerning  the “current armed confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.”  Thus, the Metropolitan stated:

I would like to quote the words of His Holiness the Patriarch from his report at the Bishops’ Conference.  He talks about the current armed confrontation between Russia and Ukraine: “Entire territories become uninhabitable!  It is with deep pain that I perceive what is happening, especially the suffering and sorrow of peaceful people, especially since on both sides of the line of hostilities there are, among other things, the children of the united Russian Orthodox Church.” 

This is the position that clearly indicates that the Russian Orthodox Church perceives everything that is happening with pain, prays for all those who become victims of armed confrontation, both for military personnel and for civilians.  The Patriarch recalled that the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church is on both sides of the confrontation, which makes this conflict particularly tragic for the Russian Church.

His Holiness the Patriarch touched upon the now most important topic of pastoral care for servicemen and a number of other very important topics.  His report has a programmatic character and at the same time incites the bishops to the appropriate actions in their dioceses.  The thoughts that the Patriarch shared with the bishops are reflected in the adopted resolutions of the Bishops’ Conference.

For each of the participants, this meeting became an opportunity not only to hear the voice of the Primate of the Church, but also to communicate with each other, and for those who wished, also an opportunity to express their opinion. 

If one were reading the above remarks with no other information, one would assume that the Russian Orthodox Church is pursuing a position of neutrality in the Russian – Ukrainian war and is praying for the “victims of armed confrontation, both for military personnel and for civilians” on both sides of the conflict.  However, at the dinner the night preceding the opening of the Conference, Patriarch Kirill told the bishops, “Today, we must all recognize our calling and join the fight.  Fight for the Motherland, for the Church.”  Personally, I believe that Metropolitan Hilarion selected only the words of the Patriarch that reflected most closely the personal views of Metropolitan Hilarion himself.

The agenda for the Conference was primarily set by Patriarch Kirill and not by the Holy Synod.  Metropolitan Hilarion was given great visibility at the Conference by his presentation to all of the bishops and the discussion that followed.  This exposure was not a role played by a person assigned to obscurity.  In my opinion, this very important role indicates that the Patriarch never lost his respect for the intellectual and other abilities of Metropolitan Hilarion.  According to a theory held by many, the Metropolitan was assigned to Budapest not at the initiative of Patriarch Kirill, but rather as a result of pressure from the Putin administration.  Metropolitan Hilarion, unlike Patriarch Kirill, had not given public support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and the Putin administration might well have been unhappy with Hilarion for this reason.  Interestingly, Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Exarch for Africa, sent a message on Telegram during the actual course of the Conference.  https://t.me/s/exarchleonid  With respect to the report given by Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan Leonid stated, “The report is strong, the theological justification is impeccable.”  This compliment comes from Metropolitan Leonid, who is one of the most prominent “hawks” in favor of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.  We have not yet heard Constantinople’s rebuttal to the report.

On July 25 Metropolitan Onufry personally met with Viktor Yelensky, head of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience (DESS), in the Kyiv Lavra.  https://news.church.ua/2023/07/26/blazhennishij-mitropolit-onufrij-zustrivsya-z-golovoyu-dess-v-jelenskim/#2023-07-26  The UOC website states:

During the meeting, a number of issues related to state-church policy in Ukraine were discussed.  During the conversation, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy emphasized that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, according to its constitution, is endowed with all the rights that enable it to carry out its mission exclusively independently in Ukrainian society, and refuted accusations about the influence on it of religious centers located outside the Ukrainian state.  The Primate also emphasized that the general church position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church consists in fully supporting the actions of the authorities to preserve the sovereignty of Ukraine in all its territories, as well as in the fight against Russian aggression, which was repeatedly highlighted in official documents adopted by synodal and council decisions.

DESS also posted a statement.  https://dess.gov.ua/holova-dess-zustrivsia-z-predstoiatelem-upts-mytropolytom-kyivskym-i-vsiiei-ukrainy-onufriiem/  It provides:

The religious situation in the country, the issue of church life in the conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war, targeted terrorist attacks by Russian aggressors against civilian infrastructure and the civilian population were discussed. 

The head of the DESS especially emphasized that the complete and unconditional break of the UOC with the Russian Church is not only a request of the state and society, but also, to a growing extent, of the faithful and clergy of the UOC. 

In my opinion it is exceptional for the primate himself to attend such a meeting.  For example, on July 7, Yelensky held a meeting with UOC Metropolitan Kliment of Nizhyn and Archbishop Sylvester (rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy) at their request.

A long appeal has been posted by a group of UOC clergy urging Metropolitan Onufry to make a final and complete break with the Moscow Patriarchate.  The full text of the appeal can be read at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf8BQhNSno0BlVZevRM0FeWBJSVEzGQiMEpTTk6F8CrMW9v0w/viewform .  So far 362 UOC clergy have joined the appeal.  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16QHBZ3ha9PfUgFaUXC3mFerNy1wIFFww1gs-2lCu6Ds/edit#gid=0

Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko, submitted a letter of resignation on July 20.  The National Reserve of the Kyiv Lavra is part of the Ministry of Culture.  The resignation letter will now be considered by the Rada.  https://lb.ua/news/2023/07/21/566326_radi_zareiestruvali_zayavu_pro.html  Since July 6 no further efforts have been made by the National Reserve to seal additional buildings in the Lavra.

At the request of the Russian Federation, the United Nations Security Council considered on July 26 the issue of persecution of the UOC in Ukraine.  At the request of Ukraine, it is also considered the recent missile strikes in Odesa.  The complete proceedings can be watched at https://media.un.org/en/asset/k11/k11j8ftrs3  (beginning at 17:00).  A summary of the various presentations can be read at  https://www.publicnow.com/view/40EBA1BCE137A0B8B31701CB15D12252F9FD6A51?1690397173.  Nihal Saad, Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, gave a report which can be watched and read at  https://www.unaoc.org/2023/07/briefing-by-ms-nihal-saad-director-of-unaoc-at-the-united-nations-security-council/  The Russian Federation sought to present two non-UN briefers but the UK chairmen allowed only one with a written statement to be submitted by the second.  A vote was taken with only three votes in favor of the presentation by two briefers.  As a result, UOC Bishop Gideon (Charon)( http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5231408.html ), now living in Russia, did not appear.   No vote was taken on Russia’s allegations as to persecutions.

Peter Anderson, Seattle USA


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