The Global Pretensions of the Russian Orthodox Church

Jerry G. Pankhurst is professor emeritus of sociology and of Russian and Central Eurasian studies at Wittenberg University.

In global affairs, Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church operate in several arenas of action, and their actions are carried out on interrelated moral, normative, canonical, legal, political, and economic dimensions. We might imagine a globe with the headquarters of the Moscow Patriarchate at the center of a worldwide system of converging vectors of action on all these dimensions. (Imagine a huge spider sitting in Moscow with its many legs stretching around the world in all directions.) The vectors originate at the point of convergence, which is His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’, surrounded by his most faithful assistants in ROC leadership. The vectors stretch out to points around the globe where the ROC has significant interests and attempts to exert influence on others.

One might imagine such a global vectored arrangement for many global organizations from businesses to international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), but the multiplicity of arenas of action in which the ROC acts is noteworthy; indeed, the ROC must worry about a large number of arenas of action that grow from its particular nature and global position.


Continue Reading The Global Pretensions of the Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church and Inner-Orthodox Relations

Thomas Bremer is a Roman Catholic theologian and professor emeritus of the University of Münster.

Even before the Russian aggression against Ukraine, world Orthodoxy was in a crisis that made its normal functioning impossible. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) refused the autocephaly that the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) had granted to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in early 2019, and the ROC eventually broke communion with the EP and three more (out of some fifteen) Orthodox Churches.

The ROC resisted the autocephaly of the OCU for four interconnected reasons, all diametrically opposed to the position of the EP:


Continue Reading The Russian Orthodox Church and Inner-Orthodox Relations

The Great Inventor: In Memoriam Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon

Andrey Shishkov is a research fellow at the School of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Tartu (Estonia) and a member of the “Orthodoxy as Solidarity” research projects supported by the Estonian Research Council. 

On 2 February 2023, John Zizioulas, Orthodox hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and one of the most influential theologians of the past 50 years, passed away at age 92. He is known worldwide for his theology of communion, described in his two major works: Being as Communion (1985) and Communion and Otherness (2006). These books offer an attempt at a systematic theology that brings together various theological disciplines (such as triadology, Christology, ecclesiology, anthropology, pneumatology, and eschatology) based on the idea that being is communion. His opponents regarded him as a heretic and a modernist, while his supporters considered him one of the greatest minds of the Orthodox Church in history.


Continue Reading The Great Inventor: In Memoriam Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon