Decision to be met in terms of Pan-Orthodox Gathering on Crete, Russia ignoring the event
Ukraine is passionately awaiting the decision of the Pan-Orthodox Council currently being held on the Greek island of Crete.
Earlier Ukraine's Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) officially addressed His All Holiness Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine that is currently subordinate to Moscow's Patriarchate.
The deputies asked to recognize the Act of 1686 according to which the Kyiv metropolitan was allegedly attached to the Moscow Patriarchate.
The unique gathering of Eastern Orthodox Christianity Churches started on June 19th after a thousand-year-break. Nearly a century ago the representatives of the confessions started negotiations of a new Pan-Orthodox gathering, full of scandals and intrigues mixed with preparations hindered by wars, Soviet cadency, and internal manipulations.
The preparations for this event began in 1961 with an aim to deal with the problems within the Orthodox Christianity. The political issues are seemingly prior to religion.
Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus: "Religious dissidents claim their believers are willing to switch to the Kyiv Patriarchate".
In view of the demand of Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' the issue of Ukraine's autocephaly is out of agenda. Patriarch Bartholomew satisfies Russia's request in order to make the Gathering happen. At a first glance this means a total loss for the long-lasting Ukraine's struggle for church independence.
Infographics - Ukraine Crisis Media Center
In November 2015 Turkey downs the Russian fighter jet after its violating the Turkish airspace near the Syrian border. Patriarch Kirill immediately refuses to visit Istanbul, previously supposed to host the Pan-Orthodox Gathering. Russia's conditions are met again, and the place of meeting is transferred to the Greek island of Crete instead of traditional Constantinople.
The map reflects the territories embraced by Orthodox belief. Eastern Christianity branch encompasses the globe from Balkans in the west to the Kuril islands in the east, and from the Solovetsky Islands in the north to Africa and Middle East region in the south. 14 Orthodox churches are officially recognized, the most influential are the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow. Numerous religious philosophers and theologists allege these two are the main players on the global church map, whereas the rest are subordinate to them.
In this Monday, June 20, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Senior Clergy and Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Stavropegial Monastery of the Greek island of Crete (AP Photo)
Here is the first group with its core centre of Constantinople Patriarchate. It is supported by the Churches of Alexandria, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Albania, and Czechia, the latter has recently got rid of Russian influence. All the churches listed are known as open and democratic. Despite having a long history dating back to the middle ages, currently the authorities have no territorial pretensions, being instead open to the dialogue.
The center of the second group is Moscow Patriarchate, including additionally Bulgarian, Serbian, and Polish churches. Though being wholly totalitarian and rigid in administrative methods, this branch has the biggest number of the followers.
Read also Feuding patriarchates
The third group includes the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch centered in Syria, Georgian, and Romanian patriarchates. All the aforementioned churches differ a lot and are allegedly quite unpredictable, holding various geopolitical vectors. The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is seemingly pro-Russian, but exists mainly on the financial donations from the USA. The priests of Romanian church studied mainly in Europe which is why the Romanian Orthodox Church managed to free from Russian dictate.
June 20, 2016, the photo released by Holy and Great Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, second left and the Patriarchs take part in the opening session of the Orthodox Synod at Orthodox Academy of the Greek island of Crete (AP Photo)
The total number of Christians estimates more than 2 billion believers, half of them belonging to the Rome Catholic church, 800 million more follow the Protestant religion. The Orthodox believers are said to count approximately 200 million.
Have a look at this map. The centres of Orthodox Patriarchates are situated in Moscow, Warsaw, Belgrade, Bucharest, Athens, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Tbilisi. They altogether form a circle with Ukraine in the middle, and Russia fears to lose this territory of influence. Just a couple of days before the gathering the patriarchates of Georgia, Antioch, and Bulgaria refuse to fly to Greece, whereas Russia and Serbia demand the meeting must be postponed. This Pan-Orthodox Gathering has already demonstrated the vivid split between East and West, both struggling for Ukraine to be on its side.