Staunton, July 12 – Many Ukrainians and their supporters have misunderstood the Orthodox procession organized by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Vitaly Portnikov says. It is not about putting direct pressure on the Ukrainian government as some suppose but rather about making an impression on the Universal Patriarch in Constantinople.
The only way for that to be different, the Ukrainian commentator says, is for Ukraine to be made up of fanatic believers or even of people for whom religion is a central fact of life. But at the present time, Ukraine is, “albeit to a lesser degree than Russia … a land of Orthodox atheists” (newsru.ua/columnists/11jul2016/krestnyi_strah.html
They are acting now out of fear of “the real possibility” that the Orthodox world or at least large segments of it will recognize Ukrainian Orthodoxy as “canonical” and that they won’t be part of that because they will come to be viewed not as Ukrainian but rather as Russian on a space which is canonically not Russian.
Thus, he continues, “the Procession is not a road to Kyiv; it is a road to Constantinople, an attempt to show the Universal Patriarch” just what he will be up against if he decides that Ukraine is its own distinctive canonical space. Whether this tactic will succeed is unclear, but it is critical Ukrainians understand what is going on rather than fighting something that isn’t.