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The author wrote that Moscow Patriarch ..." issued a sharp denunciation of the recent removal of some churches in Ukraine from his jurisdiction, which nonetheless remains the most widely organised religious institution on Ukrainian soil."
Two problems: a) no one "removed" anybody from his jurisdiction, the bishops, the clergy and the faithful in Ukraine decided to form their independent jurisdiction at the time of dissolution of the USSR in 1991. There are valid historical precedents that have been recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarch.
b) "the most widely organised institution" is author's attempt to avoid naming conflicting claims about the number of parishes or the number of faithful of either church. For years Moscow has been playing games with numbers by sending in more priests to establish more "parishes" to attract more supporters by offering more 'Patriarchal generosity" - typical ideological propaganda exercise in the name of religion. With Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine in the Donbas support for the Moscow Patriarch has dramatically declined.
So, what is the British Prelate going to "study" ... is this any of his business ?
With their enthusiasm for reprising the great-power games of the 19th century, the Russians look set to replace the French as Europe's premier nostalgists. One reason for the Kremlin's interest in controlling the Church also comes into focus: like a population of ethnic Russians, the presence of Orthodox Christians can provide a pretext for involvement in other countries' affairs.
As a religious minority under pressure, the Middle East's Christians deserve support and attention. But efforts like these -- and they have parallels in sentiments expressed in the United States -- are also depressingly tribalistic. Rather than trying to help co-religionists, it would be nice to see efforts on behalf of all religious and other minorities.
Why has the Archbishop promised to study the matter: Eastern orthodoxy is supposed to be autocephalous
"to study" the issue is a polite way of saying " this is your problem, not ours" !
“Previous archbishops of Canterbury have been deeply involved in Middle Eastern diplomacy“.
It seems depth of involvements have been correlated to the expanse of the Empire. Which is perhaps validated by Archbishop Welby; "replied that it could indeed be hard at times to take a critical stand that appeared to contradict the outcome of a democratic process". Then again, there is a thing called leadership.
(Why so far no one commented?)
I am sure this will come across as politically naive and more than a weebit Pollyanna-ish. But I think the altenative is even more unsavory.
I put stock in the intellignece of Archbishop Justin Welby and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and their respective theology. I trust neither wishes to see killings and mayhem in the name of their shared faith in the same patriarch in Heaven.
Therefore, perhaps the event reported in the article is the first baby step, but nonetheless a step, toward a constructive diaglogue on how to broach the centuries-old strife engendered by the belief in that heavenly patriach.
A feeble response to this excellent Erasmus piece. But what else could be said?
You can hope naively, or wish the most evil of wishes on innocent people who at the mercy of the Machiavellian decisions of politicians.
And thanks, Erasmus, for a very informative piece - fact-filled, clearly writtien, and providing a detailed historical context.