Joe Biden, a friend of Pat Bartholomew, a patron of LGBT and an advocate of abortions, became US President. How will his presidency affect world Orthodoxy and Ukraine?
On January 20, exactly at noon Washington time and at 19.00 Kyiv time, Joseph Biden and Camilla Harris took the oath of office as President and Vice President of the United States. The current inauguration was shortened and modified in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. Some of its parts were generally rendered online. But what follows is much more important than the inauguration itself. What policy in the religious sphere will the next US administration pursue, and how might it affect church affairs in Ukraine? Let’s figure it out.
Joe Biden is a Catholic promoting LGBT and abortion
Joe Biden is formally a Catholic by his religious affiliation. Moreover, he became only the second Catholic president in US history. Before him, only John F. Kennedy was such. But as for the real religious worldview of the new American president, it is very peculiar.
Joe Biden has established himself as an exemplary and consistent LGBTQ advocate. In 2014, while serving as Vice President of the United States under Barack Obama, he declared that the protection of the rights of sexual minorities is a distinctive feature of civilized countries and that it should stand above national cultures and social traditions. Literally, this statement sounded like this: “I don’t care what your culture is. Inhumanity remains inhumanity, and prejudices remain prejudices.” In other words, “Catholic” Joe Biden called the Bible’s negative attitude towards LGBT people inhumanity and prejudice.
In 2016, while also serving as Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden held a “wedding” ceremony for two homosexual White House employees in his own mansion, and tweeted the following: “Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house.”
Joe Biden held a “wedding” ceremony for two gay White House employees in his own mansion.
In October 2020, during the election campaign, Biden said that the first 100 days of his presidency would be held under the banner of protecting the rights of LGBT and other non-traditional communities. At this time, it is planned to adopt the so-called “Act of Equal Rights” for representatives of the LGBT community. Biden also promised that protecting LGBT people would be a priority in US foreign policy during his presidency.
This is the first time a transgender person should be appointed to a senior federal office in the United States. Biden nominated Rachel Levine for the position of Assistant Secretary of Health.
It is also indicative of how the new President relates to the problem of abortion. In the mid-1970s, as a senator, Biden was negative about legalizing abortion. Here is one of his statements from those years: “I don’t think that a woman has the only right to decide how she should behave with her body, all this (abortion – Ed.) has gone too far.” And in 1976 he also supported the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman. Recently, however, Biden has sharply changed his mind. As part of the election program, Biden’s team presented an action plan that spelt out the cancellation of D. Trump’s decisions on limiting abortions and protecting unborn children, and the “Planned Parenthood” organization, which provides abortion services, on the contrary, will receive budget funding.
Also, as part of the election campaign, Biden announced the appointment of Ron Klein as the head of the White House administration. The politician is considered an ardent supporter of abortion to such an extent that he positions himself as a soldier in the army of supporters of abortion.
Biden’s position on abortion led to the fact that it was the reason for the rector of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in South Carolina, Robert E. Mori, to refuse him the sacrament on October 27, 2019.
Joe Biden and Phanar: friendship forever
However, not all religious leaders are so scrupulous. There were also Catholic bishops who announced the possibility of Biden’s communion, regardless of his position on abortion, and the representative of the Phanar, Archbishop Job (Getcha) of Telmessos, in one of the interviews when asked whether “a politician declaring Christianity can speak out publicly for both abortion and same-sex marriage?” answered that “each person should see and condemn their own sins and not judge the neighbor.”
The great mutual sympathy between Biden and the Phanar began when Biden was Vice President. In 2011 and 2014, two of his visits to Phanar took place, after which the Patriarchate of Constantinople became more active in preparing the Council of Crete, which took place in 2016, and promoting the idea of the supremacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Orthodox world.
As a result of these visits, Biden promised full support to the Phanariots and in return received the Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award, established by the Council of Archons of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
It was at this time that the current head of the American Archdiocese of the Phanar, Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), formulated the concept “the First without equals”. And during the presidential election campaign, he actively urged to vote for Biden and participated in various political actions.
During Joe Biden’s inauguration, Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) took part in an ecumenical prayer service. Besides him, this joint “service” was attended by representatives of the Episcopal Church, Catholics, Baptists, neo-Pentecostals, pagans, Hare Krishnas, Jews, Muslims, the movement of Mormon women “for just government”, LGBT people and others.
It is very revealing how exactly the presidential inauguration committee positions the head of the American Archdiocese. The corresponding statement said that the Phanar hierarch “will represent Orthodox Christianity and offer prayer on behalf of the faithful in the United States”. That is, the new American administration suggests that it is the Phanar hierarch who represents all the Orthodox in the United States, despite the fact that there is the autocephalous Orthodox Church of America in this country (its canonicity is recognized by all, autocephaly – only by five Local Churches) and dioceses of many Local Churches.
The new American administration suggests that it is the Phanar hierarch who represents all the Orthodox in the United States, despite the fact that there is the autocephalous Orthodox Church of America.
Before the inauguration, Alex Karloutsos, PR Director for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, stated that Biden compared the head of the Phanar with Christ: “I’ve traveled around the world and met major leaders, and there are only two Christ-like figures I’ve met — one is Nelson Mandela and the other is Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.” Karloutsos also noted that Biden “is very loyal and friendly with the Greek-American community”.
Where does this friendship lead?
Firstly, this is the Phanar’s adherence to the political agenda presented by Biden’s team: support for LGBT rights, abortions and equality for representatives of all non-traditional orientations. Of course, one should not expect that Patriarch Bartholomew will immediately begin to declare a revision of the Orthodox teaching on these issues. There are many other ways to follow the agenda. From simply turning a blind eye to Biden passing laws that encourage LGBT people to what the Vatican is doing. And there, we recall, with the unchanged official position, a very influential episcopal conference in Germany calls for the approval of gay “marriages”, and Pope Francis asks the sodomites for forgiveness and declares the need to legislate their right to “union”.
The agenda is already outlined quite clearly. For example, on January 20, 2021, Archbishop Elpidophoros, on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day, published a video message in which he urged Americans to ask the question: “What am I doing for racial justice, equality and peace?” This, of course, is not yet a call to support the rights of LGBT people, but already a clear hint of following the very liberal agenda, which puts above all not the commandments of God but the rights of human nature distorted by sin.
Secondly, Biden’s coming to power in the United States significantly increases the already high chances of Archbishop Elpidophoros becoming the successor of Patriarch Bartholomew. In this case, the promotion of his theory of “the First without equals” will reach a qualitatively new level.
Thirdly, the support of the American administration officials for the claims of Patriarch Bartholomew to absolute power in Orthodoxy will significantly increase. As you know, these claims are now expressed mainly in the fact that the Local Churches are being forced to recognize the OCU, which was just born within the framework of the Phanar’s claims to primacy. The hierarchs of the Local Churches have been pressured before in order to force their recognition of the OCU, but now there is a possibility that the pressure of the American administration will significantly increase. Time will show how successful all these attempts will be, but the fact that some Local Churches will follow the path of Cyprus and Alexandria cannot be ruled out.
The support of the American administration officials for the claims of Patriarch Bartholomew to absolute power in Orthodoxy will significantly increase.
True, as the experience of the Local Churches that have already recognized the OCU shows, this recognition brings with it strong disagreements within these Churches themselves, including the refusal to serve together. In the end, this may end with the division of the Local Churches into those which will firmly stand in the Orthodox faith and morality and those which accept the liberal agenda and recognize the supremacy of the Phanar. Moreover, this division can take place not along the borders of Local Churches, and not even along the borders of dioceses or communities, but along the living Body of the Church.
Fourthly, in Ukraine, all this will result in another campaign to discredit the UOC and attempts to forcefully drive as many parishes, and even dioceses, as possible into the OCU. This is also confirmed by the agreements between Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal and the head of the Phanar during a meeting in Istanbul on November 30, 2020, when it became clear that Joe Biden was to become the President of the United States. According to a UOJ source close to the head of government, the Ukrainian official assured the head of Phanar that Kyiv is ready to start implementing the plan to fully support the OCU. The plan provides for the “transfer” of temples and parishes of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to the OCU, as well as the entire spectrum of state administrative support for this structure. According to the source, Denis Shmyhal told Patriarch Bartholomew that he would personally oversee these activities.
The key executor of this work will be the “well-wisher” of the UOC, Andrei Yurash, for whom the Department for Ethnic Policy and Religions under the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers was established not long ago. Yurash, through his son, MP from the “Servant of the People” party Sviatoslav Yurash, intends to carry out legislative initiatives in the Verkhovna Rada, aimed at strengthening the positions of the OCU.
But what about President Vladimir Zelensky, for whom practically all Orthodox Christians, exhausted by Poroshenko’s “tomos terrorism”, voted for in 2019? Well, Zelensky decided to simply distance himself from Shmyhal’s activities. He decided to be “good for everyone”. Is this the correct position for the President of Ukraine, who is responsible for everything that happens in the country? Hardly.
What are the Orthodox Christians to do? The Orthodox should remember what the holy Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it” (2 Tim 3: 12-14). As the Holy Fathers say, the Church does not need to be saved; one must be saved in the Church. One can believe in liberal values, in human rights, in the omnipotence of the American administration or in the fact that the “all-wise” Phanar has answers to all questions in its archives. Or one can believe in Christ and His Church and that “… the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her …” (Matt 16:18). Thank God that we are in the fold of the Holy Church, and if each of us holds to this fold, despite any threats or temptations, we will see how wisely God arranges everything.