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Eastern Express 12.09

There is a well-known saying about the alliance of the throne and the altar. In the case of modern Russia, there is no such thing. The altar has become the footstool of the throne. This means privileges, but also huge political risks. The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is finding this out now, due to the unpopular war waged by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

The position of the Russian Orthodox Church toward Russia’s assault on Ukraine is no surprise to those familiar with the Church’s relationship with the Kremlin. In light of the close ties, it was to be expected that the Patriarch of Moscow would support the war.

The Russian Orthodox Church has not only failed to condemn the military action in Ukraine, but also blesses those involved in the invasion: in particular, military, and secret service personnel.

A victory for Putin would be a victory for Kirill, too, who has never come to terms with the canonical recognition of the national Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The granting of autocephaly several years ago caused some Orthodox communities in Ukraine to switch from structures loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate to the national church.

Kirill probably hoped that a swift defeat of Kyiv by Russian forces would make it possible to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the process and not only restore but even expand the Russian Church’s influence on the Dnieper River. However, the only fast-paced warfare we can see recently is the one conducted by the Ukrainians.

And Patriarch Kirill is losing even more than Vladimir Putin in the process, not just in Ukraine but throughout the Orthodox world. The Russian Orthodox Church, following the Russian Federation, has entered a path of deep international isolation. After all, Orthodox Greece, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, and North Macedonia were among the countries deemed hostile by the Russian government. Russia’s war against Ukraine and the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church toward the conflict deepen the isolation of Moscow’s Orthodox Church in the Christian world.

Eastern Express’ guest

Jan Piekło, Poland’s former ambassador of Poland to Ukraine, was TVP World’s guest invited to the programme to shed more light on the matter.


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