Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia Losing the War of the Churches


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The utter gall and ignorance of the Russian leadership, and now including the Russian Orthodox Church, sometimes astounds me.  But at least they’re not Soviet stupid.  Almost, but not quite. 

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Zabezhinsky concludes the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) self-isolated itself by becoming beholden to the Putin regime, and now the very same Church attacks the Constantinople Patriarchate Holy Synod over Ukraine, that action inevitably leading to further isolation. In the midst of this delusion, and ongoing shrinkage of the ROC flock, the ROC plans to present itself as an “Orthodox Vatican”, a delusion well and truly worthy of the Russian government.

Possibly most curious are the numbers – the Russian polls cited i.e. Levada / VTsIOM say that 65-75% of the population claim to be Orthodox, yet others are far more conservative, putting the actual size of the Russian ROC membership to be smaller than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. So the result is likely to be yet another Potemkin village in Russia, like almost everything else – a hollow facade with no substance.

The delusions of grandeur we see in Russian government agencies appear to be a feature of other institutions in Russia – a society that appears increasingly committed to fakery in every aspect of its function.


Russian Church Synod: Actions of Constantinople in Ukraine threaten world Orthodoxy – 112.international

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said that the communiqué of the General Secretariat of the Constantinople Patriarchate Holy Synod, published on September 7, 2018, informing the appointment of two hierarchs of this church, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia (USA) and Bishop Hilarion of Canada (Canada), “exarchs” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Kyiv, threaten the unity of world Orthodoxy. The corresponding statement was published by the press service of the synod of the ROC. “These actions lead to a stalemate between the Russian and Constantinople churches, create a real threat to the unity of the whole world Orthodoxy. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church declares that all responsibility for these anticanonical acts falls personally on Patriarch Bartholomew and those persons in the Church of Constantinople who support him,” said in a statement of the synod of the ROC. At the same time, the Moscow Patriarchate stated that “retaliatory actions” will take place in the near future. Earlier, the UOC stated that the appointment of Constantinople exarchs in the person of Archbishop Daniel of Pamphil from the United States of America and Bishop Edmond of Illarion from Canada to Kyiv is a gross violation of the canonical territory of the UOC, and also contradicts the second rule of the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. Reportedly, the Bishops’ Council of the Constantinople Church began on September 1 and will last till September 3. The main topic of the Council is the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. It is expected that after negotiations with the bishops from all over the world, the Patriarchate of Constantinople can make a final decision concerning the terms of Tomos provision.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: By Serving Kremlin rather than Christ, Moscow Patriarchate Now a Small National Church, St. Petersburg Believer Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 7 – Ilya Zabezhinsky, an Orthodox commentator from the Northern capital, says that the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by its promotion of the Kremlin’s agenda of “a Russian world” has failed in its Christian mission to the peoples of the former USSR and been reduced to a small national church of the Russian Federation. Under Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin, the writer says, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has become“the ideological department of the powers that be of the Russian Federation and essentially ceased to be the Russian Orthodox Church. Instead, it is becoming the Church of the Russian Federation” (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2068798353179455&id=100001479301887). Instead of reaching out to the faithful in Russia and in the former Soviet republics, Zabezhinsky says, Kirill and his subordinates have “kissed only one president … blessed only one army … prayed for only one Olympic team” and in general shown indifference to all the others. Moreover, he continues, the Moscow Patriarchate has cursed liberals and the West as sources of evil and threats to Russian values, but what forces of evil are these? “In America, there are six million practicing Orthodox Christians, but among us there are no more than three or four million.” No one in the Moscow Patriarchate should be surprised that all are running away from it, the Christian churches in the former Soviet space, the Russian believers who put Christ ahead of Putin, and all those who care about the rights and freedoms they should have as citizens of a modern country. Our church, he says, has spent the last 20 years promoting things that have nothing to do with Christianity and not promoting the things that are at the core of the faith. Its members should not be surprised that others are running away from us, as the Ukrainian Orthodox now are, and that unless we change, others will do the same. Today, Zabezhinsky says, “we are small little local church with a small flock, something that is not bad in principle.” Perhaps, he continues, it will lead us to give up our “earthly ambitions and remember Christ.” Our size puts us at a level with the Roman Catholics of Austria. That is something we must accept because it is the result of what we have done. “We will be the Church of the Russian Federation. The rest do not want us. We ourselves are guilty that they don’t. Let’s leave the rest in peace. Let’s give up our protection from the government. Let’s sell our mitres …Let’s reduce the taxes on the bishoprics … Let’s make the texts of divine service more accessible.” That is a worthy program for “the next candidate for Patriarch” in a church of our size and status, he concludes.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Signs Russian Patriarch Kirill Knows He’s Lost on Ukrainian Autocephaly

Paul Goble Staunton, September 6 – The Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church continues to assert that it will be able to block Ukraine’s drive for autocephaly, but three developments which surfaced today suggest that Patriarch Kirill knows that he and his organization have lost and that the Ukrainian church will become autocephalous soon.

First, and most obviously, spokesmen for the Russian Church are now attacking the Universal Patriarch in ever sharper tones, an indication that talks are effectively over and that Moscow has lost. The words of Father Sergii Karmyshev of the Rybinsk bishopric are typical (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2018/09/06/izza_figury_patriarha_varfolomeya_vyglyadyvayut_ushi_vatikana/). According to the Orthodox publicist, “the Constantinople Patriarch is a puppet in the hands of more serious political forces, in the first instance, the Vatican, and in the second, the US.” Thus, the ROC MP has not lost to a churchman with few bishops, priests, and followers but to the usual powerful underground anti-Russian forces.

Second, Patriarch Kirill told a visiting delegation of church leaders from Finland that he and his church are “today free as no one has ever been free in the history of the Russian Church … completely free from any political influence in the country and in an equal dialogue with the authorities” (politsovet.ru/60163-patriarh-kirill-obyavil-sebya-nezavisimym-ot-vlasti.html). “This is a first for all its history,” the patriarch continued, thus making a claim that is undercut by an enormous amount of evidence including Kirill’s own statements in the past in support of Vladimir Putin but that effectively separates the Kremlin leader from the Russian Church’s looming defeat in Constantinople.

And third, in the best traditions of Russian institutions suffering defeat, the ROC MP has announced plans for a dramatic show of bravado — in this case, redesigning the center of Sergiyev Posad, its headquarters, in order to make it a true “Orthodox Vatican.” Even more, the church says that “Vladimir Putin has already agreed to this” (bbc.com/russian/news-45371422). While the Kremlin leader has given his blessing for the project, those involved say that no final decisions will be made until at least November and that the entire project will only go forward if enough money is found. “If there will be funds, we will do this; if not, perhaps we will do only one street a year over the course of a century,” one involved official says.

Closer to autocephaly: Ecumenical Patriarchate appoints its Exarchs in Kyiv | UNIAN

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed two Exarchs in Kyiv as part of preparations for granting autocephaly to Ukraine’s Orthodox church. These will be the Archbishop from the United States and the Bishop from Canada.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church consider appointment of Exarchs by Constantinople as blatant violation – Ukrainian Orthodox Church consider appointment of Exarchs by Constantinople as blatant violation – 112.international

Ukrainian Orthodox Church consider appointment of Exarchs by Constantinople as blatant violation

Tomos for Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Tomos for Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Why, how and what happens next – 112.international

A little bit of history: The confrontation between the two largest Orthodox churches in Ukraine: of Moscow and Kyiv Patriarchates has been going on for more than a quarter of a century. In 1990, the Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow granted the status of self-governing status to the Ukrainian church, but nevertheless it remained a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Two years later, at the Bishops’ Council, the head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church Metropolite Filaret was deprived of his rank for “blackmail and perjury.” According to some bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, he urged the Ukrainian metropolites to support the proclamation of independence of the Ukrainian Church in 1991. Filaret refused to admit his guilt, and a year later, with the support of secular authorities, proclaimed the creation of a separate from Moscow Kyiv Patriarchate. In 1995, he became a patriarch of the Kyivan Church, and two years later he was anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Kyiv Patriarchate considers Moscow Patriarchate to be “Kremlin Church” and opponents of Ukraine’s independence and blames it for the sympathies for separatists. While Moscow Patriarchate do not see the opponents as the church at all calling them renegades who indulge politicians.

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