(Reuters) Vladimir Putin says the Orthodox Church should have more control over Russian life

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Vladimir Putin said on Friday the Orthodox Church should be given more say over family life, education and the armed forces in Russia, as he celebrated the leadership of its head Patriarch Kirill.

Faith runs deep in Russia after the fall of the officially atheist Soviet Union and Putin has looked to the largest religion in Russia for support since he began his third term as president after a wave of protests against his rule.

He has also tried to mix spirituality with his own brand of patriotism in order to unify the officially secular country where ethnic and political fault lines are beginning to show.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

10 Comments
Posted February 7, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

And, no doubt, the state have more control over the Orthodox Church.

February 7, 11:51 am | [comment link]
2. St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse wrote:

Yes, more Church-directed deportations of non-Orthodox foreign-born clerics should do the trick. Quite the puppet show, over there..

February 7, 12:00 pm | [comment link]
3. Phil wrote:

Russia has had a living culture of Orthodoxy for 1,000 years, interrupted only by the Soviets.  Not all cultures believe 20,000 flavors of Christianity is normative, or preferred.

February 7, 1:59 pm | [comment link]
4. flaanglican wrote:

#1, the cynic in me, wants to think like you’re thinking.  But, if done right, it could be a good thing.  In Uganda, the Anglican Church of Uganda does many things you would expect a government or private sector to do and does them better than anyone. Hospitals are just one example.  Of course, that would never happen in the U.S.

February 7, 2:15 pm | [comment link]
5. St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse wrote:

#4, perhaps translation is the culprit here, but I would prefer “influence” over “control”.

February 7, 4:58 pm | [comment link]
6. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Phil,

The present accommodation of Russian Orthodoxy with the State has much in common with that forged under the Czars. It’s not one that Patriarch Kirill should seek to revive.

February 7, 5:37 pm | [comment link]
7. A Senior Priest wrote:

I can’t imagine how this would help reduce oppression and corruption in the least.

February 7, 6:59 pm | [comment link]
8. MichaelA wrote:

“Russia has had a living culture of Orthodoxy for 1,000 years, interrupted only by the Soviets.”

Reality check - 1. The Orthodox Church also made accommodation with the Soviets and vice versa. 2. Whilst Orthodoxy has existed in Russia for 1,000 years, it is not true that Russian culture is the same thing as Orthodox culture, although I know some would like to conflate the two.

And even now, Putin is hardly a model of reasonableness or good government.  Many Orthodox priests in Russia would (foolishly) like to see the powers of Putin’s State aid them in opppressing and driving out non-Orthodox christians from Russia.  But if they do get into bed with Putin they will regret it in the end.

Nor will it work.  Non-Orthodox Christianity has always existed in Russa, but it has spread widely over the past century, and it will grow even more strongly if persecuted.

“Not all cultures believe 20,000 flavors of Christianity is normative, or preferred.”

I have no idea what this means - how does a “culture” believe something?  In any case it appears to be built on a false premise - Russia has ALWAYS had many flavours of Christianity within its borders. 

Such a comment only makes sense if the Orthodox Church is going to try and insist on restoration of the special State privileges that it enjoyed in past ages, which in turn led to it being held in such low repute in Russian society by the 19th century.  That should be a warning.

February 8, 2:47 am | [comment link]
9. Phil wrote:

MichaelA,

You make some good points.  There’s no love lost for Putin on my part, certainly.  The man appears determined to be hostile to my country, after all.

But I think you are being a little tendentious.  It may be strictly the case that, “it is not true that Russian culture is the same thing as Orthodox culture,” but, in real life, it’s as close as you get.

Similarly, I think a “culture” can be said to believe something as a textual shorthand when the belief is widely held - again, no belief will be 100% held in any real human society, but we can get close enough for argument’s sake.  For example, I believe it’s pretty clear that Islamic culture detests Israel; you can argue there are some Muslims who feel otherwise, but that hardly defeats the point.

February 8, 11:49 am | [comment link]
10. Ad Orientem wrote:

Being Orthodox and with much admiration for what the Church in Russia endured during most of the last century I view this with deep concern. Russia is indeed not a country with a history or a culture that supports the kind of separation of church and state we have in the United States. Nor was the near union between the Church and the Crown under the czars a universally bad thing. Since the time of Czar St. Vladimir the Great Orthodoxy has been probably the greatest single unifying element in Russian culture.

But too close of an association between state and church is dangerous.

There is a heresy that is fairly unique to the Orthodox world called phyletism that has plagued many of the otherwise Orthodox nation states for centuries, and in some places still does.

That said I would take issue with the suggestion that there were accommodations between the Soviets and the Church (re #8). Following the Revolution, of the roughly 300,000 clergy in Russia 200,000 were murdered outright. Most of the rest died in prison or slave labor camps. Every single bishop who attended the 1917 synod was martyred or died in prison. The number of lay martyrs will never be known but they certainly number in the millions.

To the extent that there were “bishops” who went along with the Communists I would say they were window dressing used for propaganda purposes. The real church was underground. Mostly six feet underground. No local church, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant has suffered a more brutal persecution in the history of Christendom.

To say that the Russian Orthodox Church was in league with the Communists insults the millions of martyrs whose feast is coincidentally observed this Sunday.

Holy Great Martyrs of Russia pray for us!

February 8, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
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