Advisor to the President of Ukraine, Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Rostyslav Pavlenko has debunked a number of most prominent myths Russian propaganda has been spinning regarding the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The expert noted eight major disinformation messages Russia has been disseminating.
1. “A Metropolitan of the Moscow Patriarchate is included in the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the OCU isn’t.”
In response to this statement, Pavlenko notes that the OCU in its status is equal to ROC. “Therefore, the OCU Metropolitan doesn’t need to be included anywhere as he is already heading the independent church.
2. “OCU has no right to establish foreign dioceses and parishes”
Here, Pavlenko says that no church can actually create congregations outside its jurisdiction, even the ROC. “This is as if the state decided to create own “branches” in the territory of other countries. But the issue of foreign parishes is resolved through interchurch agreements. For example, one can open a representative office on the territory of another church, with the latter’s consent,” he wrote.
3. “The Patriarchate is being abolished in Ukraine.”
Responding to this statement, Pavlenko wrote: “For the first time in the history of Ukraine, we have a Church that is both independent and recognized by others. This is a huge step. All churches received recognized independence in the status of a metropolis or an archdiocese. And then some would get the status of patriarchy, which would be recognized by Phanar as a separate act. The ROC is an exception, but they received “status confirmation” with the exclusive role of the Moscow state.”
He added that once the OCU becomes stronger, when it is joined by those who now remain with the MP, it will be possible to talk about obtaining the recognized status of the Patriarchate.
“In the meantime, the metropolis is no worse, being equal among equals,” the presidential advisor wrote.
4. “Constantinople will be the highest authority in the resolution of disputes within the OCU.”
To this, the expert responds that the Ecumenical Patriarchate “is such an authority for all Churches.” “Because of this status, millions of Ukrainian non-Moscow Orthodox were returned to communion, while excommunication orders on Filaret and Makariy were lifted. The fact that Moscow does not recognize this now is their personal problem,” Pavlenko wrote.
5. “The OCU Charter of must comply with the provisions of the tomos.”
The expert explains that this is a standard requirement. “But Tomos is written in such a framework manner that it’s hard not to comply with it,” he added.
6. “The OCU, as a subordinate, must take part in all meetings held under the Phanar auspices.”
The advisor has refuted the claim of “subordination.”
“First, it’s not subordinate, but equal among equals. And secondly, we are talking about events of the scale of the Pan-Orthodox Council of 2016, which Russia ignored, and also talked others out of it, thereby demonstrating their true attitude towards canons and Orthodoxy.
7. “OCU will receive chrism from Constantinople.”
Commenting on this claim, the expert explains that this is a purely “symbolic thing” present in most tomos papers, and that it does not entail any practical restrictions.
8. “The rights of Constantinople to having its Exarchate and the Stauropegia in Ukraine are enshrined in Tomos.”
Responding to this statement, Pavlenko wrote: “The exarchate is a representation, the mission, in fact, the ’embassy’, which is located in St. Andrew’s Church. This is what it’s all about. Nothing else. “Speaking about stauropegia, see the paragraph about interchurch agreements. Without consent, no one will create stauropegia. By the way, there are no secret or open agreements on Stavropigia (except for the mentioned St. Andrew’s Church),” Pavlenko wrote.