We would create our own Third Rome


In the Orthodox media space the news flow on daily basis: Moscow disputes with Constantinople over Kiev. Both of the Patriarchs consider Ukraine for his legal territory and quotes canons in support of his attitude. But the canons are not dogmas, eternal and unchangeable. They are regulations of the ecclesiastic law, written testimonies as to how the Bishops solved the misunderstandings between them in the past. They are susceptible to change, sometimes they oppose one another, and sometimes unsettled issues remain – such as for example the autocephaly – no canons describe the proper way of proclaiming an autocephaly i.e. the complete independence. This means that everyone acts as he thinks he can. (Comment: Still the right of the Ecumenical Patriarch to solve issues has been defined by the regulations of the Ecumenical Councils.

Constantinople insists that it has the primary role in the entire Orthodox world. But if it treats the rhetoric of the past centuries with such care, then it is only right it should admit that the primacy in the early Church belonged to Rome. At one point in the past the eastern half of the Christian world separated from the western part, exactly due to the problem of how one should understand the primacy respectfully. And if there should be a Bishop assigned for all the Orthodox Christians, to solve their disputes and change their boundaries, then it’s only logical that it should be the Roman Bishop, and not the Constantinople one.  If we are to imitate in such way the papal exclusive authority, then why not turn to the original? In the end, the Constantinople Throne appeared as the same “newcomer” to disturb the order of the old Patriarchies, as the Russian Throne seems to be now for Constantinople.

Moscow insists that there can be no change in the boundaries of the ecclesiastic jurisdictions to suit the political borders and so that it could please the present rulers of the Ukrainian lands. And it seems to forget that in the same manner it took Kiev under its rule in XVII century, after the consequent redo of the political map according the wish of the Moscow Emperor

And now many orthodox citizens of Kiev strive at full independence of their Church from Moscow – but are they certain that they could preserve their ecclesiastic institutions free from the influence of the Government, that the new autocephalous Church would not become first, second, third Ukrainian and only somewhere around the tenth place – Christian?

Everything in this world seems to repeat itself in cycles, especially the history of the constant struggle for power and territories. And everyone always considers just and righteous only the solution which gives him more. .

But my home is in Moscow, my parish is in ROC – Moscow Patriarchy, and I am not concerned about Kiev and Constantinople, in spite of my great love for these two wonderful cities.  I see how during this entire history the authority of my own Church is gradually isolating itself in a corner and depriving itself of a chance for maneuvers. And there is no need for you to say: “The others are even worse than us” – it being so still doesn’t offer comfort to any Christian.

The Ukrainian schism lasts for more than a quarter of century. In all those years the canonically impeccable Moscow Patriarchy only repeated one thing: We are the proper Church – repent before us and then we would decide what to do with you.” This attitude may be right, but it sure doesn’t work. Today Constantinople is offering its own method of overcoming the schism and in its roots it might be improper, but still it has only managed to offer this because for already a quarter of century Moscow offered nothing important. While rejecting roughly all of its present activities, we still have nothing to offer in exchange.

Today I often hear this: “The granting the Ukrainian autocephaly would cause a war.” And I just cannot understand: Are you serious?! Can’t you see that the war is going on for five years now and is nowhere near to an end? That the line of events is exactly the opposite: first the war started in the Ukrainian country and as a result of it the then stale aspirations for autocephaly grew stronger. Maybe we deserve to feel the pain, to accept the blame for this problem we have caused, and for a start at least to stop the propaganda for the “Russian world”, if for no other reason, then because this slogan was used by one of the sides in the war. And if this is not done, then we shouldn’t be surprised at the harsh reply.

The words that we and the Ukrainian people are brothers and will stay together forever sound really wonderful. But this is what they usually mean: they are our brothers and because of that we will decide for them because we know better what is good for them and how things should go. No my beloved ones, this is not an attitude towards your brothers, but rather towards your subordinates. The brother is a person to whom you recognize the ownership right, no matter if they are right or wrong. So in order to keep what was left of the property, it’s worthwhile to stop suffocating your brothers with your own embrace and let them build life on their own.

The most absurd thing, of course, is the breach of theological dialogue with Constantinople. In today’s Orthodox world there are many issues and challenges we should address and overcome. Such a thing can be done only through a dialogue with the other Local Churches, if we distance ourselves form that dialogue (as it has already happened in the course of the Pan-Orthodox Council in 2016), then the solution would be reached without us.

The ignoring and boycott lead not into victory, but just to self-isolation.

Would there be a live broadcast from the Jerusalem ceremony the next Great Saturday? Would pilgrims go to Mount Athos? Or we would simply shut ourselves down in our proud self-isolation: only we have the pure and unaltered Orthodoxy, there for we have nothing in common with the rest of the world. But that is the way of the sect, not of the Church.

After all, that is the usual way. Alexander Shtipkov, the second man in the ecclesiastic institutions, responsible for the relation with the public and media, published an article in which he put all the things in the right perspective: the Constantinople Patriarchate is a puppet of USA, heretical gathering which strives to alter the religious identity of the Russians, certainly through its tenants, the liberal Orthodox who are tearing the Church apart with the money of the Italian Catholics, and now also with the ones of the American protestants. This is the exclusive article of “Pravda” in the Stalinist manner, the only thing missing is a sentence of the type: “Our whole community must shoot the traitors as mad dogs”. The history repeats itself as a farce…


Thus everything is clear and in order… We are not to think of the problems standing before the Homeland and society, and before the Church as part of that society. We shouldn’t have a complicated dialog with those who think differently from us, we shouldn’t build a relation with Christians of other denominations. We are knights of good and light, and they are heretics from hell… Let’s get all into battle, woe is the one who wouldn’t manage to hide in time. This is the result of the 30 – years long “ecclesiastic revival” – this relentless, pure Stalinist style, but new in the name of Orthodoxy, incidentally an Orthodoxy with authority

Our enemies are evident, our traitors are defined – get to work, buddy?

The original headline: “We would create our own Third Rome” is a parody of the Internationale anthem “We would create our own new world”.

Andrew Desnicki