Skip to comments.Putin's War Has Come to the Pews
Posted on 03/04/2015 7:53:53 AM PST by annalex
By Hannah Gais March 4, 2015 | 9:00 a.m. EST
One year on, Russian President Vladimir Putins war is threatening to further fracture Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
While Orthodoxy has played a role in Ukraine-Russia relations long before the 2013 to 2014 Euromaidan protests and the subsequent conflict in eastern Ukraine, a decades-long divide has found renewed prominence in the past year. From churches being used to store weapons for the rebels to calls from pro-Ukrainian church leadership to send weapons to Kiev, its hard to deny that the war has come to the pews.
Like the Ukraine-Russia foreign policy divide, Ukraines inter-Orthodox conflict has its roots in two divergent perspectives on the relationship between national identity and faith. As a result, its had profound implications for Ukrainian religious and political life.
The collapse of the Soviet Union gave way to yet another period of re-imagining the churchs relationship to national identity. Throughout the 1990s in both Russia and Ukraine, different denominations jousted for followers, and religious affiliation grew across the board. In Russia, church membership fell largely under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. In Ukraine, however, the playing field was far more mixed, with three different Orthodox churches the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivian Patriarchate, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church vying for membership. Because the church in Moscow claims Ukraine is under its jurisdiction and doesnt recognize either the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivian Patriarchate or the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church as canonical, the restoration of church property that took place in the 1990s has been one of the main points of contention, at least until now.
Todays tensions can be most directly traced back to 2009, when the newly elected Patriarch Kirill gave a spiritual boost to Putins Russian world concept, which defines Russia as a transnational entity whose influence goes beyond the Russian Federations borders. At the Third Russian World Assembly, Kirill presented the churchs narrative about the baptism of the Rus, the predecessor of imperial Russia, under Prince Vladimir in 988 as evidence that the so-called Russian world isnt limited by its borders. Kirills Russian world was one bound by the churchs historic jurisdiction, of which Ukraine was part.
During the Euromaidan protests, these tensions came to the fore. Putin, who claimed Crimea was the equivalent of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for Russians, has used the narrative established by Kirill to justify Russias actions. In the meantime, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivian Patriarchate has found renewed prominence. [T]hey greatly helped ... [the] participants of Maidan campaign, cultural historian Vladyslava Osmak told Voice of America. "Priests of this church were always together with people on barricades praying and fighting with them.
The clergy are also divided. There are clergy who are radical separatists pushing for merger with Russia, etc, said Adrian Karatnycky of the Atlantic Council during a panel at Fordham University on Putins use of religion in sustaining the war in Ukraine. There are very many, I would say, patriotic clergy. I think its a pretty mixed bag, and these ... forces are creating a deep crisis, precisely because the church was instrumentalized by these major political actors.
Increased church involvement on both sides does have its drawbacks. Many of them arent limited to Ukraines religious life.
For one, Putin and Kirills use of religious language and imagery has transformed Orthodoxy in Ukraine, turning membership into a matter of national identity. By May 2014, a shift was already apparent in the Orthodox faithful. According to one public opinion poll, of the 70 percent of the population that identified as Orthodox, 32 percent identified as members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivian Patriarchate up from 26 percent in 2013 and 25 percent identified as members of the the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate a 3 percent decline. Another poll found that 74 percent of Ukrainians believed the church should always side with the people over the authorities. Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, a band of troops who call themselves the Russian Orthodox Army has appeared, whose commander is alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence.
It also creates a quagmire for church leadership, especially those in or near the areas of conflict. The [Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the] Moscow Patriarchate has found itself in a very delicate position, noted Patriarch Filaret in an interview with EurasiaNet. On the one hand, it can't speak against its people. On the other hand, being dependent on Moscow and having their own Moscow patriarch, they cannot call aggression by its name.
Religious minorities, such as the Greek Catholics and Muslim Tartars, have found themselves in a difficult place too. Russian lawmakers and clergy, not to mention state media, have been eager to claim that the instability in eastern Ukraine has been instigated and perpetuated by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivian Patriarchate and Greek Catholics.
The [Greek Catholics] aggressive statements, moves undermining the canonical Orthodox religion, active contacts with the dissent and desire to split up the united multi-ethnic Russian Orthodox Church, did enormous harm to Ukraine and its people, and also to the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, noted Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, in June 2014. On other occasions, church and state officials have claimed Greek Catholics and schismatics (i.e., Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivian Patriarchate) are out to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarch and have perpetuated discrimination against Orthodox Christians. In reality, much of Moscows ire comes from the groups decidedly pro-Ukrainian stance.
But arguably the most dangerous effect these religious tensions can have is perpetuating a menace of unreality. Since the beginning, neither side has been able to come to an agreement on the nature of the conflict and interpretations of events on the ground are extremely varied. The church, with its own interpretation of the conflict, is only deepening this divide, not bridging it.
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Please note, this is not an article about theology.
Look over here!
Forget about Obama helping Iran develop a nuclear bomb.
Putin is being a bad boy again!
"...censuring and condemning it, we reject phyletism, that is racial discrimination and nationalistic contention, enmities and discord in the Church of Christ as being contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the sacred canons of our holy Fathers, who support the holy Church and adorn the whole of the Christian life, leading to divine Godliness
It should be noted that The Church does not condemn, indeed it encourages, patriotism.
Of course, at that time the Synodal Fathers were dhimmis in the last great caliphate, the Ottoman Empire. They couldn’t proselytize, either.
When Russia allowed the reunification of Germany without a shot being fired, they were promised that NATO would never try to park itself on Russia’s doorstep. Barrack Hussein Obama, George Soros, and Victoria Nuland perpetrating one of their color revolutions in the Ukraine clearly violates that promise. The ideas of calling this whole thing “Putin’s War”, is ridiculous.
No. Bad boy Putin/Ukraine articles and posts have written and posted here often for almost 15 years. You're barking up the wrong tree.
BTW speaking of Putin and Iran, isn't it Putin who enriches Iran's Uranium?
“When Russia allowed the reunification of Germany without a shot being fired, they were promised that NATO would never try to park itself on Russias doorstep.”
KGB manufactured nonsense.
Do you have the source for that?
By the way, what do you mean “”When Russia allowed the reunification of Germany without a shot being fired””?
What the heck does that even mean?
Obama is a weak liberal. Putin is providing Iran with political and technological support for their nuclear program. They're also knee deep into world wide Islamic terrorism.
No such promises were ever made. And, in fact, while Russia has been modernizing its nuclear forces and expanding them, the West has been dismantling them and even failing to properly maintain them.
In other words, the clown might be following Russia’s recent line recently that hanging back Germany was “illegal,” at least that’s what the Russian fake-parliamentry was recently discussing.
There is more than one thing happening, usually, in the world, involving more that one bad boy. We have ours and they have theirs.
If you are concerned so much about nuclear proliferation in Iran, my advice is to watch Russian Federation closely.
Yes. However, Deacon Kuraev (the all-Russia evangelist) noted several times on his blog that it is normal for a local Orthodox Church to pray for their country’s military, even as the other side, in case it is also Orthodox, would be praying for theirs.
This is not ethno-phyletism strictly speaking though, is it? The Moscow Patriarchy considers Ukraine its canonical territory. They may end up in total rupture, if they are not there yet.
Welcome to FR.
There was no such promise. The promise was to guarantee the very borders Putin is violating.
The NATO grew because the peoples of East-central Europe are afraid of the Russian Federation. They are not afraid of Germany, England or the US. The experience of the post-WWII Europe taught them whom to fear and whom not to fear; they learned their lesson.
"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has accused the West of breaking promises made after the fall of the Iron Curtain, saying that NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe violated commitments made during the negotiations over German reunification. Newly discovered documents from Western archives support the Russian position."
"While Russia has been adhering to international law and showing complete lack of aggression over the last 14 years, the US and NATO have been doing the opposite. US alone has intervened in the following countries: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Philippines, Côte dIvoire, Iraq, Georgia, Haiti, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya, Uganda, Jordan, Chad, Mali, Turkey. NATO, meanwhile, has been involved in the Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention, Kosovo intervention, the Afghanistan War and most recently the Libyan intervention; with the latter two being complete disasters that have the left the countries in shambles and anarchy.
In addition, NATO has broken its promise to Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly agreed to allow German reunification within NATO after being promised that NATO would not expand one inch to the east. Instead, in 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined the organization, despite NATO claiming that it had no plans to expand after the end of the Cold War. Another expansion came with the accession of seven Central and Eastern European countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. These nations were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. Most recently, Albania and Croatia joined on 1 April 2009, shortly before the 2009 StrasbourgKehl summit. Future expansion is currently a topic of debate in many countries. Cyprus and Macedonia are stalled from accession by, respectively, Turkey and Greece, pending the resolution of disputes between them. Other countries which have a stated goal of eventually joining include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Georgia."
” Deacon Kuraev (the all-Russia evangelist) noted several times on his blog that it is normal for a local Orthodox Church to pray for their countrys military,”
We do at every liturgy. This isn’t the problem. Nor are any efforts to reclaim canonical territory. Supporting an aggressive war in the name of Orthodoxy, or in the name of a Patriarchate is. What is worse is any notion of “otherness” within The Church.
I don’t suggest for a minute that Greeks are not prone to the latter in spades, especially here in America. That phyletism probably will mean that the future of Orthodoxy in America will look a lot more like that seen in Antiochian parishes than in Greek ones.
Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly agreed to allow German reunification within NATO after being promised that NATO would not expand one inch to the east. Instead, in 1999...
Again, which treaty? When diplomats talk, promises are made. They are either codified and become international law, or they are not codified and therefore do not survive the negotiation. Here you don't even cite Gorbachev directly. Further, Germany reunified in 1991. When NATO was expanded in 1999 it was not due to reunification of Germany but due to the legitimate fear of the USSR resurgence. In 1991 NATO did not expand and the nations requesting NATO membership eight years later were not involved in the talks.
Very much so. The result is that the Christian revival that everyone hoped would happen in Orthodox Russia now appears short-lived: while a certain contingent, including the Kremlin leadership continues to show up in church, the content of the faith is dangerously mixed with chauvinism.
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