From Canon Michael Bourdeaux
Sir, - Your report "WCC consults on humanitarian aid for
Ukraine" (News, 27
March) fails to make clear the incredibly complicated situation
of the "Orthodox Church" in Ukraine.
In fact, it is deeply divided between the Moscow Patriarchate,
Kiev Patriarchate, and Autocephalous Orthodox; so the reference to
"62 per cent of respondents" as saying that "they trusted the
Church" is problematical. Which Church?
The churches under the Moscow Patriarchate may be canonical, as
Bishop Christopher Hill says, but they are themselves divided: do
they take their instructions from Patriarch Kirill in Moscow or
not? Then the uncanonical (that is, "unrecognised" by the
Patriarchate of Constantinople) Kiev Patriarchate commands the
fierce loyalty of some, but has its own deep-seated problems dating
back to its formation at the beginning of the 1990s.
The Autocephalous Orthodox Church is, at present, a tiny
minority, but originated in the years of Ukraine's first brief
independence after the 1917 Revolution, after which it was
suppressed until Ukraine achieved independence.
One wonders what the delegation from the World Council of
Churches discovered about the persecution of the Protestant
churches in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine or about the
suppression of the rights of the Crimean Tatars in the Crimea.
This may all sound too complicated for the non-specialist to
take on board, but it is critically important for the future of
Ukraine - and therefore for European security. There is, however, a
chance for anyone interested to learn more. There is a
consultation, with many speakers from Ukraine, at Lambeth Palace on
Tuesday 28 April from 10 to 5. Although places are limited, there
may be still some availability by registering with the following
Subsequently, there will be a report on the event to be widely
101 Church Way, Iffley, Oxford OX4 4EG