There is no doubt that Tomos is ours, even among the greatest skeptics. The document is signed, and tomorrow it will be in Ukraine. Opinion found out what changes should be expected, how communities of Moscow Patriarchate will move to the UOC, what to expect from the Russian Orthodox Church and whether Tomos is a political or a religious issue.
What changes should we expect after receiving Tomos?
According to Dmytro Sinchenko, the chairman of the Association of Political Sciences public organization, getting Tomos is the final step in the creation of an independent Ukrainian church, and in addition – another signal for MP priests and believers, who still hesitate.
“After receiving Tomos, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine will complete the procedure of obtaining official recognition as a separate local independent church, and the activities of the Moscow Patriarchate will eventually lose their canonicity on the territory of Ukraine. This will be the signal to the transition of the believers and priests from the MP, who are currently hesitating, to the UOC,” the expert explained.
Artur Karvatskyi, a lawyer, an expert on national security, defense and legislative support for law enforcement agencies, also supported the idea that Tomos will become a new signal for MP believers.
“Obtaining Tomos is the completion of the legal process (from the point of view of the church law) of the formation of a new local Orthodox Church – the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. In fact, this will be the last step in the formation of this church as a full-fledged local church in the Orthodox world. This will be another signal for those Orthodox believers who are still in the church of the Moscow Patriarchate, but who have long wanted to have their own, canonical, recognized church, the sacraments of which will not be in doubt. So, basically, this will cause the next wave of “transitions” of the Moscow Patriarchate parishes to the UOC. Although, it should be noted that this process started immediately after the Unity Synod in December. Only in some regions (if speaking on the churches’ territorial division – eparchies), no parish made such a “transition”, for example, in Kherson. This clearly illustrates that believers identify themselves as proponents of pro-Russian sentiment, which is common for the south and east of Ukraine”, is said in the commentary to Opinion.
But, a political expert Serhii Tsyhipa believes, that no particular changes should be expected, but at the same time, Tomos receiving is a historic event and the final destruction of the “close link” with the ROC.
“After receiving Tomos, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine should not expect any fundamental changes, other than the moral component, for Ukrainian society. This is definitely a historic event and a huge step forward, which ultimately tears us apart with a centuries-old umbilical cord of the ROC,” Tsyhipa is convinced.
Liliia Brudnytska, an expert of the Center for Structural Political Science Choice, noted that after receiving Tomos, “judicial wars” initiated by the Moscow Patriarchate can begin. At the same time, it is possible that the ROC can change the “tone” of its statements and even its position on this issue.
“With the receipt of Tomos, the new church will be finally legalized in the Orthodox world, obviously, it will be legally registered in Ukraine, and therefore one should expect a rapid intensification of parishes and/or individual clerics’ transitions. At the same time, the “judicial wars” between the Orthodox churches will become real with the receipt of Tomos.
Since the UOC-MP and the Russian Orthodox Church have actively reacted to the event, after the Tomos is granted, they will no longer have such a contextual vacuum, and it is interesting whether the speakers of the Russian Orthodox Church and the UOC (MP) will change the tone of their statements or even their position,” said Brudnytska .
What is the procedure for the transition of MPs’ parishes to the UOC?
The massive transition of parishes after the receipt of Tomos is predicted by lots of experts, but what are the rules? According to Dmytro Sinchenko, so far the procedure is not clearly defined, and therefore needs an additional legislative regulation.
“Unfortunately, the procedure is not clearly prescribed, therefore, there were only a few of such transitions and they were successfully challenged in courts, or physically defended by pro-Russian militants. This problem should be solved by adopting a law that will clearly regulate the issue of these transitions. Such a bill already exists, and it is already waiting for consideration in the parliament.
The second reason for the previous negative experience of inter-confessional transitions was the lack of political will on the part of the state’s leadership. As of today, we see that such a problem, fortunately, is not existing “, explained the expert.
Sinchenko’s opinion was supported by Liliia Brudnytska, who stressed that now it is necessary to expect changes in the legislation because at the moment everything seems extremely difficult, and mass transitions are possible only within the limits of separate regions or areas.
“Legislative changes should be expected, as the current legislation does not assign either the parish as a territory with the temple, or parishioners, or the priests to a particular church. (That’s why the appearance of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate became possible). Without changes, the massive transition of communities will be local (within certain regions or areas), and it will never be peaceful and calm. The legal proceedings will be the second act of such a transition. If the Verkhovna Rada adopts amendments to the legislation, the probability of communities’ migration outburst is high, but it is difficult to say if it will last for long,” the expert said.
Artur Karvatskyi, in his turn, explained that in the first place the transition process is regulated by the charter of a religious community, and the right to such a step is recognized by Ukrainian legislation. Implementation of the transition takes several steps: the creation of an initiative group, the development of an action plan, general meeting and re-registration.
“This is regulated, first of all, by the charter of a separate religious community; the very right of “transition” is guaranteed by the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations”, Part 2 Art. 8 of which provides for the state to recognize the right of the religious community to its subordination in canonical and organizational matters to any acting religious centers (administration) in Ukraine and abroad and the free change of this subordination.
The process of subordination changing consists of several steps. Initially, an initiative group is created to hold a general meeting of the Orthodox community regarding the change of jurisdiction, the minimum is 2-3 people. This group develops an action plan.
The next step is to provide people with objective information about the history and current state of Orthodoxy in Ukraine. The next step is to prepare a general meeting.
Then a meeting is held and, in case of a relevant decision, a re-registration is carried out. Accordingly, if the parish passes along with the priest, then he remains there, otherwise, he loses legal attachment to this parish “, the lawyer commented for Opinion.
Tomos – a political or a religious issue?
Dmytro Sinchenko is convinced that religious issues are always political. And Orthodox churches on the territory of the former Soviet Union are especially close to the politics. However, if one saturate oneself in this subject, according to the specialist, it may turn out that the baptism of Kievan Rus is also a completely political decision.
“The issue of religion, no matter what is said, has always been and always will be political. Orthodox churches are particularly closely connected with politics, especially in the territories of the former USSR. It should not be forgotten that the ROC was created by Stalin as a separate subdivision of the NKVD, after the physical destruction of the clergy in the days of red terror, and the church remains the same in Russia. And before the October Revolution Orthodoxy was the official state religion of the Russian Empire, and, accordingly, the church was an integral part of the state apparatus. The idea of Moscow as a “Third Rome” is the official ideology and strategy of the Moscow tsars, which included both a political and a religious component. In fact, one without the other was impossible.
The Orthodox Church issue was the political issue for Ukrainians, too. Thus, the Ukrainian Cossacks always supported the Orthodox Church, unlike the Catholic and Greek Catholic”, said Sinchenko.
“The issue of granting Tomos is not of religious, but of a great political significance. Religious disputes arise when there are some questions about dogmatic differences. For example, between Catholics and Protestants or Orthodox and Muslims. Here we have one and the same Orthodox denomination, where after the creation of a single Orthodox Church and giving it a canonical status by the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliate in Ukraine, the UOC-MP only had groundless claims against the canons of the Orthodox Church and common sense. And the initiator of these claims is the president of Russia V. Putin and the political leadership of Russia,” Maryna Bahrova is sure.
Tomos is an issue of both political and religious matters. And besides – the matter of national security. The expert on national security Artur Karvatskyi assured Opinion.
“Tomos for Ukraine is now a matter of political, religious, and national security. Political, because the UOC immediately becomes a significant political entity, which affects the mood and opinions of its parishioners, that is millions of people. Religious, because the “church question” is a hot issue in Ukraine. The feeling of isolation from the world’s Orthodoxy for parishioners of the UOC-KP and UAOC may have had not a big but significant influence on both church structures. Finally, last but not least, this is a matter of national security, since during the so-called “hybrid war” or the “hybrid aggression” UOC (MP) did not even hide its clear pro-Russian sentiment, which, however, occurred even before the conflict – the participation of clerics in elections from pro-Russian political forces, the use of Russian language in everyday life, and the rejection of the Ukrainian language as a language of worship and sermon, and finally – a frank refusal to commemorate the victims of Holodomor, political repressions, and so on. Such a policy has been actively imposed on the believers by the UOC-MP and has been the norm in recent years, until 2014, when President V. Yanukovych actually took the Moscow Patriarchate Church under his protectorate and guardianship”.
By Dmytro Zhuravel