https://youtu.be/m-6rSFdE8MY Sociologist of religion Jerry Pankhurst (Wittenberg University) and political scientist Alar Kilp (University of Tartu) discuss the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian-Ukrainian war, explain why Moscow Patriarch Kirill supports Putin, and…
Kristina Stoeckl is Professor of Sociology of Religion at the University of Innsbruck (Austria). Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Dmitry Uzlaner, is titled The Moralist International. Russia in the Global Culture Wars (Fordham University Press 2022).
The Russian war against Ukraine has put a religion at the center of public perception and journalistic reporting that has so far remained largely under the radar of broad public attention: Orthodox Christianity and, more specifically, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox churches in Ukraine. Nearly every news outlet these days has shown at some point symbolic images of the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill and Vladimir Putin in a gilded church setting. And indeed, this war and the justifications given by the Russian president and the head of the church for the military aggression have made clear how closely the Orthodox Church and the state are linked in Russia. On the other hand, the critical reactions of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine and the Orthodox churches worldwide have also demonstrated that Orthodoxy is not always guided by a “symphonic” closeness of church and autocratic state but that there are also Orthodox voices that speak for democracy, peace, and liberal values.
In this blog post, I focus on the Russian church-state side of this story. For the critical reactions of global Orthodoxy to the Moscow Patriarchate, I refer the reader to the blog Public Orthodoxy of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University and, in particular, to the recent post “A Declaration on the ‘Russian World’ (Russkii Mir) Teaching.”
Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua, and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University.
The media that have been covering the Catholic Church’s handling of the war raging in Ukraine have often focused on two details. On the one hand, the Pope went to visit the Russian Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome a few days before tanks invaded Ukraine—a very unusual move for a Pontiff. On the other hand, the Church has so far avoided blaming Russia explicitly for the destruction of cities and the thousands of deaths in Ukraine. This silence, the story goes, would fit with the Catholic agenda. After the epochal meeting between the Moscow Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis that took place in Cuba in early 2016, the Vatican would try to avoid any attrition with the Russian Orthodox Church’s leader, who seems to support Putin’s invasion. Actually, there is more than what meets the eye.