Religion and Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Round-table discussion with scholars from Europe and the USA moderated by Roman Koropeckyj, professor of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures at UCLA

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UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies hosted an online round-table discussion about "Religion and Russia's Invasion of Ukraine". The event took place via a Zoom webinar on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Speakers of the roundtable included scholars from Georgetown University, University of Helsinki, University College Stockholm, and University of Alberta. The discussion was moderated by Roman Koropeckyj of UCLA.

If you missed the webinar, you can watch it here on our website or on our YouTube channel. If you prefer to read a summary of the discussion, you are welcome to read Is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a ‘holy war?’ It’s complicated - an article by Madeline Adamo published by UCLA Newsroom.



José Casanova is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. From 1987 to 2007 he served as Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research, NY. His book, Public Religions in the Modern World, (Chicago, 1994) has become a modern classic and has been translated into many European and non-European languages. Among his recent publications are Global Religious and Secular Dynamics (Brill, 2019) and two collections of essays in Ukrainian, Po toy bik sekuliaryzatziyi (Dukh I Litera, 2017) and Relihiya v suchasnomu sviti (UCU Press, 2019). He is also co-editor of The Jesuits and Globalization (Georgetown UP, 2016) and of Islam, Gender and Democracy in Comparative Perspective (Oxford, 2017). Casanova holds a B.A. in philosophy from the Seminario Metropolitano in Zaragoza, Spain, an M.A. in theology from Universität Innsbruck, Austria, and M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the New School for Social Research. He is the recipient of the 2012 Theologischer Preis der Salzburger Hochschulwochen in recognition of his life-long achievement in the field of theology. In 2021, Casanova delivered the CIUS Bohdan Bociurkiw Memorial Lecture on “The Three Kyivan Churches of Ukraine and the Three Romes.”


Sean Griffin is a research fellow in the Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on the history of the Orthodox Church and its role in the making of cultural memory. His newest book, The Sacred Reign of Vladimir Putin, will be published by Cornell University Press.


Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun is a Professor in Ecclesiology, International Relations and Ecumenism at the University College Stockholm (Enskilda Högskolan Stockholm). A graduate of the Theological Academy in Kyiv and National University in Athens, he accomplished his doctoral studies at Durham University under the supervision of Fr Andrew Louth. He was a chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, first deputy chairman of the Educational Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church, and later research fellow at Yale and Columbia Universities, visiting professor at the University of Münster in Germany, international fellow at Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life at the University of Alberta in Canada, director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Assistant Professor at the same university. He has published several books in different languages, including La riconciliazione delle memorie: Ricordare le separazioni tra le Chiese e la ricerca dell’unità (Roma: San Paolo, 2021, in co-authorship with Lothar Vogel and Stefano Cavallotto); Sacred Architecture in East and West (edited, Los Angeles: Tsehai, 2019), Political Orthodoxies: The Unorthodoxies of the Church Coerced (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2018; Ukrainian translation published in 2018); Ukrainian Public Theology (Kyiv: Dukh і Litera, 2017, in Ukrainian), Scaffolds of the Church: Towards Poststructural Ecclesiology (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2017; Ukrainian translation published in 2018); Wonders of the Panorthodox Council, (Moscow: Christian Book Club, 2016, in Russian); Meta-Ecclesiology, Chronicles on Church Awareness, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; Ukrainian translation published in 2017); From Antioch to Xi’an: an Evolution of ‘Nestorianism’ (Hong Kong: Chinese Orthodox Press, 2014, in Chinese); Will, Action and Freedom. Christological Controversies in the Seventh Century (Leiden - Boston: Brill, 2008).


Frank E. Sysyn is director of the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS), professor in the Department of History, Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, and editor in chief of the Hrushevsky Translation Project, the English translation of the multi-volume History of Ukraine-Rus’ (12 volumes). He is head of the executive committee of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) at CIUS, a member of the editorial board of Harvard Ukrainian Studies and East-West: A Journal of Ukrainian Studies, and head of the advisory board of the Ukrainian Program at the Harriman Institute. He has taught at the University of Alberta, Harvard University, Columbia University, Stanford University, and other institutions. A specialist in East Central European history, he is the author of Between Poland and the Ukraine: The Dilemma of Adam Kysil, 1600-1653 (1985), Mykhailo Hrushevsky: Historian and National Awakener (2001), and studies on the Khmelnytsky Uprising, Ukrainian historiography, early modern Ukrainian political culture, modern Ukrainian religious history, and the Holodomor. He is also coauthor with Serhii Plokhy of Religion and Nation in Modern Ukraine (2003) and co-editor with Martin Schulze Wessel of Religion, Nation, and Secularization in Ukraine (2015). He is co-editor with Andrea Graziosi of Communism and Hunger: The Ukrainian, Chinese, Kazakh, and Soviet Famines (2016) and the recently published Genocide: The Power and Problems of a Concept (2022). He is editor in chief of three-volume collected work of Father Mykhailo Zubryts’kyi : Vol. 1 Scholarly Works (2013) and Vol. 2 Materials toward a Biography (2016) Vol.3 Newspaper Articles, Ethnographic Works, and Archival Materials (2019).



Roman Koropeckyj is a professor of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures at UCLA. He is the author of numerous articles on Ukrainian, Little Russian, and Polish literature, two award-winning books on the Poland’s national poet Adam Mickiewicz, and co-author with Robert DeLossa and Robert Romanchuk of Rozmovliaimo! [Let’s Talk!], a basic grammar of Ukrainian.

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Duration: 01:27:50



Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for being

here. Welcome to the Center for European and

Russian Studies, which we call CERS for short. I'm

Laurie Kain Hart, Faculty Director of the Center,

and Professor of Anthropology and Global

Studies. So again, thank you to our audience for

joining us today, and to our

panelists and moderator for initiating

this very important conversation on “Religion and

Russia's Invasion of Ukraine” in the midst of a

rapidly changing and deeply disturbing situation

on the ground, that with the bleak news we're

receiving today at least seems to bear very poor

prospects for a peaceful resolution anytime soon.

I'd also like to thank our Center's Executive

Director Liana Grancea, and Outreach Director

Lenka Unge for their contributions to today's

event. And finally, as it's our custom here at

UCLA, I want to acknowledge that we're here on the

territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples, who are

the traditional land caretakers of the Los Angeles

basin and South Channel Islands. As a land grant

institution, we pay our respects to the Ancestors,

Elders, and Relatives in relations past, present,

and emerging. With that brief introduction, let me

introduce our participants in alphabetical order.

We will have full bios in the chat box for you to

read, so I'll be very brief in my introductions.

José Casanova is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley

Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs,

and Emeritus Professor of Sociology, and Theology

and Religious Studies at Georgetown University,

and formerly Professor of Sociology at the New

School for Social Research. His book, "Public

Religions in the Modern World" (Chicago, 1994) is

a modern classic. Among his recent publications

are "Global Religious and Secular Dynamics" (Brill,

that I will not go to pronounce. He is also

co-editor of "The Jesuits and Globalization",

and of "Islam, Gender and Democracy in

Comparative Perspective" from Oxford in 2017.

Sean Griffin is a Research Fellow in

the Collegium for Advanced Studies

at the University of Helsinki. His research

focuses on the history of the Orthodox Church

and its role in the making of cultural memory. His

newest book "The Sacred Reign of Vladimir Putin"

will be published by Cornell University Press.

Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun is a Professor

in Ecclesiology, International Relations and

Ecumenism at the University College Stockholm.

He's a graduate of the Theological Academy in

Kyiv and the National University in Athens, as well

as Durham University. He was a Chairman of the

Department for External Church Relations of the

Ukrainian Orthodox Church, First Deputy Chairman

of the Educational Committee of the Russian

Orthodox Church, and later Research Fellow at Yale

and Columbia Universities, among other positions.

He's the author of many books, you'll see them

listed, on Orthodoxy, church history, architecture,

and more in multiple languages. Frank Sysyn is

Director of the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian

Historical Research at the Canadian Institute of

Ukrainian Studies, professor in the Department

of History, Classics and Religious Studies at

the University of Alberta, and editor-in-chief

of the English translation of the 12-volume

"History of Ukraine-Rus". He is a member of the

editorial board of "Harvard Ukrainian Studies

and East-West: A Journal of Ukrainian Studies",

and Head of the Advisory Board of the Ukrainian

Program at the Harriman Institute. He's taught at

many universities, including Harvard University,

London University, Stanford etc. He's the author

of a number of books on Ukrainian historiography,

early modern Ukrainian political culture, modern

Ukrainian religious history, and the Holodomor. He is

as well co-editor with Andrea Graziosi of "Communism and

Hunger: The Ukrainian, Chinese, Kazakh, and Soviet

Famines", and the recently published "Genocide:

The Power and Problems of a Concept". And that's

just out in 2022. And finally our moderator,

Roman Koropeckyj is Professor of Slavic, East

European, and Eurasian Languages and Cultures here

at UCLA. He is the author of numerous articles on

Ukrainian, Little Russian, and Polish literature,

two award-winning books on Poland's national

poet Adam Mickiewicz, and co-author with Robert

DeLossa and Robert Romanchuk of

"Let's Talk!", a basic grammar of Ukrainian.

So I just want to express once again my incredible

appreciation for such an illustrious panel

to come together, and especially to Roman

for his work in putting this together and

moderating it. So one more quick reminder,

before I turn it over to Roman. For the audience:

I'm sure you'll have many questions, so

please write your questions in the Q&A box

at the lower right of your screen at any time

during the discussion and we'll collect them.

The presenters will be able to see all of them

and we'll be able to read them during the Q&A.

The talk will be recorded for viewing

afterwards via Facebook and our website.

So just a reminder - don't use the chat box,

use the Q&A box for your questions. So with that,

thank you so much to everyone once more and let me

turn the podium over to you, Roman. Thank you very much,

Laurie. And thank you to the Center for European

and Russian Studies for inviting me to organize

this roundtable, and especially to Ms. Lenka Unge

for doing the logistics for this. I'd also like to

thank my very old friend Frank Sysyn for offering,

as is always his want, invaluable advice about

putting this panel together. I really appreciate

it. The idea for this roundtable occurred to me

when I zoomed in very early on at the early days

of the invasion to a number of webinars, usually

including people from political science,

historians, journalists, even some eyewitnesses,

who offered varieties of explanations, of

prognostications, of views of what is occurring

in Ukraine in those early days. What I was rather

taken aback by was, among all of these opinions,

hardly anybody if anybody

at all if I remember correctly,

bothered to mention the ostensible impact or

the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church

on Putin's thinking in the lead up to his

invasion of Ukraine. It has kind of surprised me.

In as much as I clearly recall, among other

things, a comment that Putin made in his

year-end news conferences that he

held, and which happened, as a matter of fact, to

coincide precisely - because it was in December -

with the granting of autocephaly

to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In response to a question from whom?

Konstantin Malofeev's Tsargrad TV, concerning

the geopolitical games being played by the US

in connection with sectarian activities by the

Patriarchate of Constantinople and Kyiv. This is

what Putin responded. And I'm going to quote here:

“The situation with the Orthodox Church defies

comprehension. This is direct interference of the

state in religious life. [I love that one.] Now,

look at how dependent they [meaning the Kyiv

Church] are becoming on Turkey,

on the Turkish Patriarchate. Many appointments,

and most importantly, a lot of money. I think this

is Bartholomew's main impelling motive - to bring

this territory into subjection and make money on

it. I believe this is the main underlying motive,

except for a tip from Washington, of course.”

And then he goes on: "I am mostly concerned

about the likelihood that property redistribution

will follow. This is already happening. The

redistribution could turn into a heavy

dispute, if not bloodshed, God forbid."

There are three things here that are

certainly worth noting. First of all,

what concerns Putin above all, it seems, is

the prospect of the redistribution of church

property - that it will have to be

divided up between the Moscow Patriarchate

and the new Kyiv Church. That is, the issue for

him seems to be, above all, the monetary aspect of

everything and not the spiritual one. This is

a perfect example of the Lacanian - of a message

being returned to its sender in inverted form. So

that's the first point. The second point

that one notes here is that somewhere behind

all of this are the fingers of the United States

meddling in these sectarian activities.

And then finally, most obvious is

his comment that this process of redistribution

could lead to bloodshed. Now this was 2018.

As we have learned by now to our peril, what

we've sometimes assumed over these past few years,

that this was simply Putin's blustering,

bragging and so forth, what he actually was

doing was giving us an overt explanation of the

game plan he was intending to carry out all along.

And of course his response,

when we look at it,

it is inconceivable to imagine that

his answer was not, in most ways,

channeling the most important concerns of

his faithful ally, the Moscow Patriarch Kirill. Now,

not that Kirill and the church he heads lack for

property - I'm going to do this little screen

share here - for personal use,

as we all know, the watch,

the yacht, the car, nor of course, for the

use of his flock. A church that he built

was consecrated in June 2020. It

cost 86 million dollars, apparently.

The Main Cathedral of the Russian

Armed Forces. Another picture of this.

In hindsight, one could argue that

the construction of this church

was an integral element of the preparations

leading up to the invasion. Preparations

that included, among others, the poisoning

and the arrest of Alexei Novotny,

the closing of Memorial and of a number

of other NGOs, as well as the crackdown on

independent media. However this may be,

over the past month and a half I should say,

there's no doubt that more and more attention

has been devoted in the media, as well as in

academia, to the role that the Russian Orthodox

Church has been playing and continues to play

in the prosecution of the Russian war in Ukraine.

I don't know whether you've noticed

this, but just the other day we had this report

on Fox News: "One figure has risen to give

theological cover to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

There are questions tonight about whether one

Russian Orthodox Patriarch is turning Putin's

invasion of Ukraine into a holy war. Religion

correspondent Lauren Green has that story.

We need to be very strong. When I say “we”,

I mean the Armed Forces first and foremost.

On Sunday, Patriarch Kirill, Head of the Russian Orthodox

Church, blessed the soldiers invading Ukraine. The

support of Vladimir Putin's violent and bloody

campaign is angering the Christian Orthodox world,

which say this supposed man of God is

more powerful politician than priest.

He is a small copy of Putin, and of Putin's oligarchs.

And he lives the life like other oligarchs live.

Theologian and journalist Sergei Chapnin

worked with Kirill for 15 years in the Moscow

Orthodox Church. He said once Kirill rose to

the highest rank of Patriarch 13 years ago, he

restructured the Church to be more autocratic

and in line with Putin's vision to recreate

Imperial Russia. He's using religious language for

political reasons. After the Soviet collapse, the

Church gained power by promoting conservative

values, like traditional marriage and gender roles.

Critics say Kirill justifies supporting the

invasion by calling it pushback against Western

threats and liberalism. So the violence that Putin

is unleashing in Ukraine is designed to protect

Russian speakers from the Godless West. Church

observers say Putin sees himself as defender

of Orthodox Christianity, but his faith is less about

the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and more about

maintaining power over an institution that is

larger in scope than even Russia itself. Putin is

not a genuine believer. Putin is an instrumentalizer

of religion. Kirill's support of Putin's war is

likely to lessen his power in the Orthodox world.

Many parishes once aligned with Moscow before the

war are now distancing themselves from Kirill, and

moving toward aligning with the Ukraine

Orthodox Church. Lauren, thank you!

I think it's quite interesting that we see

this report on Fox News of all places, right?

In any case, as we all know

the involvement of the Russian

Orthodox Church in military matters is

not something new. We all remember the wonderful

chapter in "The Good Soldiers Švejk" and the drumhead

mass that he has there. Or for that matter, I

was just recalling Eric Burdon & The Animals'

Vietnam-era song "Sky Pilot", which is also about

the involvement of the church in that

particular war. But these moments don't pale in

comparison to what, I'm sure some of you have seen,

the broadside that was produced

by the Bryansk metropolitanate,

a broadside that was distributed to the

Russian soldiers there. It said: "You are

a Russian warrior. Your duty is to defend

the fatherland from Ukrainian nationalists.

Your task is to wipe the Ukrainian

nation off the face of the Earth.

Your enemy is an ideology causing

sinful damage to human souls."

Before we begin our roundtable

then and to finish off my own remarks,

you'll note that the title of

the roundtable today is "Religion and

Russia's Invasion of

Ukraine". My hope is that

in today's discussion, the participants

might address not only the religious

situation in Ukraine itself, the many

churches that are there, and what their

reactions are to the war, but also a

few comments, just glancing comments,

about the reactions of Roman Catholicism, and

perhaps even of the Baptists to the current crisis.

At the same time, considering the fact that so many

soldiers in the Russian army come from places like

Chechnya, from Bashkortostan, Kalmykia, Yakutiya etc.,

it would be very interesting to devote

a separate seminar to the response of

Russian Islam, Buddhism, and even of Shamanism

to the war. And a separate seminar

devoted to the response of Judaism - be it in Russia,

Ukraine, Israel, as well as in the Jewish diaspora

in the West, towards the war, or for that matter,

as José suggested a little earlier, to devote an

entire seminar to the reaction of the Catholic

Church, which is as we all know quite controversial

at the moment, to the war.

We have plenty of stuff on our plate today, so without

further due, let's dig in! The first question I

would like to pose is a very basic one.

I'd like to hear what some of your reactions are,

what you think about this.

How would you describe the relationship

between the Moscow Patriarchate, and on the

one hand the Russian Armed Forces, on the

other hand Putin himself? Those are two separate

questions, obviously. Maybe the best way to

begin is the relationship between the Moscow

Patriarchate and Vladimir Putin. How would

we describe this? What will be

some of your reactions to that?

Go ahead, Cyril.

Thank you! I will start with addressing

a popular myth about the relationship between

the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian state.

This is a myth of symphony. This

Byzantine-kind of model of relationship

that goes back to the era of Constantine, to

the 4th century, which suggested a kind of

marriage between the church and the

state. I would call the present relationship

between the Russian Church and the Kremlin a

marriage of convenience. Not a marriage by love.

There is no love between the Kremlin and

the church, I would say. At least

personified by the leaders of the church and

the state - between Kirill and Vladimir Putin.

It's really a marriage of convenience. They try to

use each other to achieve their goals.

They don't trust each other as far

as I know. They don't really have

a good chemistry between them. So

when people see them standing next to

each other, almost like this double-headed

eagle, the symbol of Russia,

I think it's a superficial icon of their

relationship. In the depths, it's much more

complicated. They really instrumentalize each other.

I believe that Putin instrumentalizes the church

for his own aims and the church does

instrumentalize the Kremlin for its own purpose,

which is to enhance the presence

of the church in the public square.

Professor José Casanova knows much better about the

presence of the church in the public square.

I think it describes the desire of the church.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the

church had been expelled from the public

square, the desire of the church, and of Patriarch

Kirill particularly, is to regain a central place

in the square. And he uses the interest

of the state in the church to gain the

central place in the Russian public square.

Sean, I see your hand's up. Would you

like to say something? Sure. I think

Cyril knows, as well as anybody, about

the relationship you just described. I'll

address another part of the question about the

Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Armed Forces,

because it's something I've been researching and

writing on lately. I think the thing we have

to keep in mind is that this did not start in 2022

with the invasion of Ukraine. Patriarch

Kirill, long before he was the Patriarch, while

he was still the Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk,

from as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed,

he took a very keen interest, he and of course

Patriarch Alexy, he took a keen interest in

bringing the Orthodox religion and the Orthodox

Church into the Armed Forces. In fact, in 1992

only two weeks after the official dissolution

of the USSR, he gave his speech in front of 5,000

ex-Red Army officers, in which he basically said

Orthodoxy can fill the ideological

vacuum of the loss of Marxism-Leninism,

and basically create patriotism in the

population, and especially in soldiers.

This led to a multi-decade relationship

that has been very financially

profitable for the Russian Orthodox Church

and which, as you rightly pointed out, professor

Koropeckyj, is incarnated more than anywhere

else in this Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed

Forces. If you actually look at

the ideology that is painted,

it's not really painted, there are

mosaics on the walls of the church there,

what you see is an ideology of holy war.

And this is a point that

I want to emphasize throughout whatever

I can contribute to this conversation.

Cyril Hovorun has described it over and

over again in a lot of his writings - political

orthodoxy. I think, especially with the invasion

of Ukraine, we need to talk about something called

"Siloviki Orthodoxy", "Siloviki" being the Russian word for

the security state, the security agencies,

the military. My reading of events is that there's

a lot of ideological factions within the Russian

Orthodox Church. In 2022 we have seen the rise of

a very specific stream of ideological Orthodoxy,

that is strongly tied to the Russian Armed Forces,

and Kirill is directly responsible for its

creation. He's been doing it for 30 years

and what's remarkable is that, in my opinion and

perhaps I'm putting the cart before the horse here,

it has really come back to bite him, because the

ideology that he created, that promotes

this holy Russian army, it ended up

invading his own canonical territory.

So it's a bit of a disaster for him in my opinion.

Just to add two things. One,

the Bryansk manifesto that you read, we

think is a fake. Yeah. So I wouldn't want that

to go further. The other would be - my initial

response when this occurred was that one of

the interests of both Putin and Patriarch Kirill

in Ukraine was biological Orthodox material.

I think you're pointing out

over the various creeds within Russia and the

creeds of the soldiers is a very important

issue. If Russia in 1991 was 9% Muslim,

today it is 13% Muslim. It will be, within another

state which has civil society, be manageable, but

not in a Holy Rus or Russian Orthodox society as

portrayed. In some ways now whatever the original

planning would be, would maybe take that back.

Because of course what the Russian invasion has

proceeded to do, is to destroy so much of the

potential group that it would have taken into

this new world. But certainly this dissonance

between where the Orthodox Church's official

position is, and the reality of Russian demography,

and religious practice, with the low level

of practice of Orthodox believers in Russia,

I think makes this a particularly brittle

symbiosis, or really no symbiosis at all.

Cyril mentioned your name, José. Would you

like to make a few comments here? Yes, I agree

with Frank that this question of

demography is central for what would become

the coalition between the Russian Orthodox

Church, some Russian thinkers, and the world

kind of council of families - let's put it this

way - the movement that led to the cultural wars

between conservative and liberal forces. I'm no

expert on the inner workings of the Kremlin or the

Orthodox Church, but it seems obvious to me that

prior to 2010, when Putin spoke of the Russkiy Mir,

he was talking in terms of the Russian language.

Not much more. And protecting the Russians abroad.

It was the Moscow Patriarchate that gave Putin

the ideology, the political theology of Russkiy Mir,

that has two dimensions. One is: Ukraine can

only exist as part of Russia. If it's not

part of Russia, it has to be annihilated.

This is, if you wish, the war against Ukraine.

The other is, of course, the war against the

decadent West. Hilarion Alfeyev, the

Archbishop, has been basically developing this argument

since his lecture in 2004 in Melbourne. In 2005,

in the Europe of religions' dialogue, he went

against Protestants, he went against secularism,

and basically this argent that Russia has to

defend itself against Ukraine, but also against the

decadent, liberal, feminist West, has been going

on now for at least 15 years. And this is what the

Moscow Patriarchate has given the regime. I'm not sure

about the personal relations, but ultimately when

Crimea was invaded, occupied and annexed,

in the end when Putin recognized that

indeed they did it, he said: Yes, Crimea is ours

because Prince Volodymyr was baptized there.

Of course, if Crimea is Russian because Prince

Volodymyr was baptized there, the more so, of

course, Kyiv, and all of Ukraine is Russian.

So this is the central argument for why

Ukraine has to be annihilated, de-nazified,

but also why this is part of the conflict with

the entire West, with the decadent, liberal,

democratic West, and against the European Union.

This brings up another issue here.

Was there a direct role that the Orthodox Church

may have played in undermining the Ukrainian state

all along, and encouraging the

invasion of Ukraine? What active

role, do you think they played, in the planning or

the build up to the situation? Frank, go ahead.

Not build up, but maybe to switch Orthodox churches

of the Moscow Patriarchate. I think we've got to

face that, as well. The Moscow Patriarchate in

Russia is a very different institution from

the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.

Without a doubt, what happened after 2018

and throughout the process leading up to it

and after it, showed that the Moscow patriarchal

followers in Ukraine were able to create a rather

vibrant institution. We can argue as to what

role of a minority it is, and how dependent

on the clergy as opposed to the laity,

but certainly something that was much more vital

than the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia is.

Did it undermine Ukrainian statehood? This is

now, I think, a major issue going on among the

followers of the Moscow Patriarchate, and certainly

they are being accused of it by others

in Ukraine at the moment. That is their

willingness to go along with Mr. Novynskyi,

groups who back the Russian world in arguing that

they were being ferociously persecuted, going to

international bodies, played into the hands of

the Russian state in a way, but also did not

portray the reality of the religious situation

in Ukraine. We've had a very interesting text

by Seraphim Pankratov, Archimandriter from Sumy,

who calls upon the believers, and above all the

clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine,

to begin to admit some of these issues, which

they have been very reluctant to at this point. So

even if one can argue that it was only a minority

of the Moscow patriarchal clergy, who backed the

Russian world or are still hoping for something

that they can remain under the Moscow Patriarchate,

it certainly played a role in building

up what might be called the drum-roll, never

expecting, I'm sure, the invasion that came. And this

is of course the great shock they are all going

through now. Anybody else? Yes, go ahead, José.

Father Cyril probably has

something to say. We can see

not only when the tomos was

announced and then Putin called

the Security Council of the Russian Federation,

but when the visit of Bartholomew to celebrate

the anniversary of Ukraine's independence was

announced, there was a movement to

boycott and an organization to

boycott the visit. It was very unsuccessful.

So on the one hand, you could say there were some

people that were going to go along, but many of

the believers and in fact public opinion

surveys showed that the majority of people

from the Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate

in Ukraine welcomed the visit of the Patriarch.

So again, there is the question

of leadership, and the question of

believers. There is a famous picture

of the Ecumenical Patriarch and, I think on his

right was Epiphanius, and on his left Sviatoslav,

so the head of the Ukraine Orthodox Church,

the head of Greek Catholic Church, then dozens

of other religious leaders from Ukraine

that represent Ukrainian religious pluralism,

Protestant ministers, the Roman Catholic cardinals,

Jewish rabbis, imams, all of

them accompanying

the Patriarch. The only one absent in the picture was the

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

I agree with the speakers

in the assessment of the

role of the church. I would say that the church,

I mean the skin, the flesh, and the bones of the

church were used by the Kremlin to justify this

aggression, this war. We spoke about the

church providing ideology for

Putin's regime and this is exactly true.

After granting autocephaly to

the independent Orthodox Church

of Ukraine, the Kremlin did everything possible

and impossible to keep the Moscow Patriarchate

in Ukraine away from the process of

unification of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.

They used different methods,

like bribing, forcing, threatening,

creating confusion, all sorts of propaganda, and

actually at this point, the Orthodox Church of

Ukraine under the Moscow Patriarchate

corroborated Moscow's narratives

about the church being divided in Ukraine. Even

though the schism was healed in 2018, Moscow

insisted that the church is still divided. This

was exactly the common narrative of the

Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, and the Moscow

Patriarchate in Russia. If you remember

Putin's speeches just before the invasion, he mentioned

that our church, he actually called it the

Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, is being

persecuted, is being treated unjustly.

Therefore we go. This kind

of pretext was artificially created by

Kremlin's propaganda. There were no persecutions.

The church is not really divided in Ukraine.

All this propaganda was

created to make a pretext for

Putin to invade. And he used it as a

pretext. I would call the ideology the skin of the church,

not just the flesh. The skin of the

church was also used to invade Ukraine.

I have a very quick question to interrupt you.

Is there a disconnect between the hierarchy of the

Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine and the clergy?

Are we seeing a split in the hierarchy

now as well in the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine?

I believe the Russian Church in Ukraine is getting

really fragmented, both horizontally and vertically.

There is an increasing stratification within

the Ukrainian Church, so the hierarchical layers

of the church really get away from

each other. The social distance, to use

the classical sociological term, between the strata

within the Ukrainian Church is really getting more

remote from each other, getting bigger

and bigger. The church is also divided vertically.

The hierarchs are divided between each other, the

priests are divided, so it's really a chaotic

situation. I compare the Ukrainian Church at the

moment, I mean the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine at

the moment, with the belt of asteroids.

There used to be a planet and now the planet

has dissolved into a belt of asteroids. They

move somehow in the same direction, but they

go away from each other, so it's really difficult

to say what will happen to this belt of asteroids.

One more question on that subject. Is there

also a disconnect between the Moscow Patriarchate's

people who are involved in the monasteries

versus those who are involved with just

the regular church? Well, this fragmentation affects

everyone, every pocket within the Ukrainian Church.

The monasteries are divided. Well, my estimation is,

for example the main mass of the Ukrainian Orthodox

Church of the Moscow Patriarchate - the

brotherhood, the monastic community -is

divided like 50/50 pro and against,

for example on joining the Autocephalous Church.

Just to add to that. We've had

some reports particularly about Pochayiv Monastery.

Pochayiv is an extremely interesting example,

because although we don't

have exact statistics where they're drawing the

monks from, it's been created as a forepost against

both the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and of

course, against the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

The surrounding area of Pochayiv is

basically a fiefdom of the monastery.

I read a recent report of complaints that

the caves were being closed off to the local

population, who said that this showed that

in case of bombing, they would have nowhere

to hide. The monks would keep them from going

in. Of course it's the exact opposite of what

happened with the St. Michael's Cathedral

during the Maidan, where the monks took them in.

So I think those have become very

important device. I think the other issue

on the relation of the Moscow patriarchal clergy

is to what degree they will be accepted by the

Orthodox Church of Ukraine. And that is how hard

line is the Orthodox Church of Ukraine now going

to bring up their past, or their supposed past in

many cases, of what they had done. That creates

even a more difficult situation, I think, for

many that are involved with the Moscow Patriarchal

Church. That is no one likes to admit to an

error or having been wrong, and yet at the moment,

at least in the recent things I've read, it

seems as if the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is

beginning to take a harder and harder line towards

the Moscow Patriarchate. I think what it's doing

is it's following as well popular feeling at

the moment towards the Moscow Patriarchate.

We are already seeing in

Western Ukrainian intervention of

civil authorities that these communities just

can't imagine how the Moscow Patriarchate could

continue to exist in some

of these territories. Sean, please go ahead.

I thought it might be helpful to our audience,

those who are not specialists in this field.

You asked about the relationship between

the uppermost clerical elite, and kind of the

parish clergy. Something to keep in

mind, that maybe not everybody be familiar

with, is how fantastically hierarchical

the power structure of the church is. Like it

is really the breadth of the Middle Ages in the

total control over their priests, which basically

quells dissent, and at the moment makes dissent

very risky regardless on which

side of the conflict you're on.

The point I want to make is that the thing that

has surprised me, and I'd be interested to hear

our other panelists take on this, the number

of bishops in Ukraine who are part of the

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, there

have been very few who have actually come out

against the war as strongly as you might expect.

And there have been very few in my opinion. I think

at last count, there were 17, the number could be

different, who have said: We've got to form our own

church and separate from Moscow. So that means

there's a lot of bishops, who are not doing that.

Why are they not doing that? Well, if you want to be

really cynical about it, because one way

to look at the uppermost clerical cast of bishops

is basically as a kleptocratic mafia, that

steals from the parishes and the parish

priests. So in a way, you could look at the

structure of the Orthodox Church and make

some rather compelling comparisons to the

structure of Putin's autocratic regime

in Russia. There are some definite

parallels there. So what I think we're seeing,

and I could be wrong, I would love to

be corrected about this, we're seeing bishops who

are men of the system and they're waiting

to see who wins. Because all they want

to do is protect their own fiefdom. If I'm wrong

about that, then please correct me, but

that's my general sense of the matter.

Would anybody like to respond to that?

Well, I think what happened was that

the chance was when the tomos came. There

was a chance to join the new church and only two

bishops did. Those who didn't, to a certain extent,

then took side with the Moscow Patriarchate.

It's a bit too late for them to do it now.

Obviously, they've gotten a lot of money.

Money is part of the way, in which

the Moscow Patriarchate has been containing and

maintaining control. We know what happened in

Greece. Even those who were pro-Russian, the Greek

bishops, were so upset by the pressure, the bribes

of the Moscow Patriarchate, that they decided to vote

for joining communion with any Orthodox Church.

So there is a lot of pressure and I think by now,

it's a bit too late. Of course, the leadership

of Onufriy in this respect. He's not a worldly man, he's

this kind of a spiritual man that doesn't want to

get involved in any of these matters. Of course,

a disaster in this context.

Cyril, do you want to say something here? Yes, I pretty

much agree. Actually, I think that the bishops

have different motivation. There are still bishops,

very few, not many of them actually,

who still envisage, who still want Putin

to parade in Kyiv, to take over Kyiv.

That's clear, I think. And there

are bishops who are really upset.

It should be also said there are bishops who

came out honestly and made very bold statements.

They're also just a few. But the majority of the

bishops really wants to preserve the status

quo for themselves, because that status quo

was very comfortable for them, it was a very

great zone of comfort for them, and they don't

want to leave it, unless they are really forced,

unless they don't have any other chance. So as far

as they have a chance to preserve the status quo,

they will do everything possible and impossible to

do that. I would say that the same kind of

feeling of staying in the zone of comfort

can be observed in the Autocephalous Church,

Orthodox Church of Ukraine. That's what

I'm observing. They say: We are fine.

We have been established. We've been granted

autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We are fine. Let the others join us, make

their move to join us. It's also a passive position,

I would say. I personally urge both sides to take

a more active position in approaching each other,

because this is indeed such a chance. Maybe a

greater chance that we had in 2018, when the tomos

was granted. A chance to reunite the Ukraine

Orthodoxy. The problem is that both sides

are not really willing to do that, because

it means we want them to leave their zones of

comfort regardless of the war. Does the

zone of comfort mean finances or are there other

considerations? Well, many things. It's

much easier to be passive, not to do anything,

but to preserve what is there. Also,

money is involved. I believe that.

It's just comfortable to stay where

they are without changing anything. Frank, go ahead.

It's also an issue of power. Had the Moscow

patriarchal bishops gone to the Council, they would

have outvoted the bishops from the two independent

churches in 2018. By not going, they then allowed

the Autocephalous Canonical Church to be

recognized, in which they play a very minor role.

Today, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine can

look at them and say: You, who did not come,

will we really trust you? Now, you can say

they can do it on ideological grounds,

but there also would be grounds of - what if all

of the Moscow patriarchal bishops would now try

and join the Orthodox Church of Ukraine?

They would then de facto take it over

just by their numbers, because they are

recognized as bishops. This also, I think, involves

the clergy in some ways. You've got to remember

that in many ways the Moscow patriarchal clergy

have been calling these other clergy

"non-canonical schizmatics" for decades now.

Well, to overcome those is very difficult, but

particularly in this specific situation now,

where the issue of fault comes in.

And the only other thing I would add is

the problems that then come - I can see

for Moscow Patriarchate - may be coming within

a horrible way with what's going to be happening

in Eastern Ukraine. The more casualties there are

among the Ukrainian army, the more dead

return to their native villages or small

towns to be buried, the more the congregations,

and above all parents and families, are going

to begin moving against the Moscow patriarchal

clergy, if they have no resolution of this problem.

The only other thing to be added is, it seems

as if the Moscow patriarchal clergy would like

to find any other resolution but joining the

Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and may in fact be

bringing an even more complicated situation in

church affairs in the midst of Ukraine facing

war crimes and genocide. At a time when people need

comfort, they may be bringing more divide.

I'm curious to continue this a little bit.

Considering that in the official ideology,

particularly that screed that

came out recently in RIA Novosti about

de-nazification, where the author Timofey

Sergeitsev, whatever his name was,

wrote off Western Ukraine as a Catholic

Ukraine. I wonder how concerned the

Moscow Patriarchate is about Western

Ukraine, considering that there are a

number of Orthodox parishes in Western

Ukraine, but they are relatively new

Orthodox parishes? Are they concerned about it

at all? Or have they written that off, as well?

If you mean the Moscow Patriarchate

in Moscow, I don't believe that they are

concerned about Ukraine whatsoever. No, they

are not not. For them the only thing is to survive

in Russia. I mean the leadership of the Moscow

Patriarchate in Ukraine. They use the

situation in Ukraine just as a kind of means to

balance within Russia. But it's certainly

a concern for the Moscow Patriarchate

in Ukraine. I should say

that Western Ukraine is not homogeneous.

Yes, there is Galicia, which is Greek Catholic

to a great extent, but if you take Volhynia, it's

predominantly Orthodox. And actually, Volhynia has

huge numbers of Orthodox communities belonging

both to the Autocephalous Church, and the Moscow

Patriarchate. It's kind of

divided. If you take Bukovina,

also in Western Ukraine, Bukovina is predominantly

Moscow Patriarchate. Not much

footing for the Autocephalous Church. So

Western Ukraine is probably as Orthodox as

East, maybe even more Orthodox

than Eastern or central Ukraine.

The Orthodox community in

Ukraine is really divided.

We still have a few minutes.

What I would like to talk

about is the possible dissent

in the Orthodox Church in Russia.

The most prominent recently, the one that I've

been reading about, is some poor priest in Kostroma,

I think it was, who protested rather vocally

about the war and then first was reprimanded,

and then arrested, as far as I know. How wide

is this a real exception? Or do we know about

more dissident voices in Russia

protesting against the war?

Sean, go ahead.

I can say a couple of words

about that. You're talking about

a guy named Father Ivan Burdin,

who has become even more

outspoken against the war since his arrest.

He was fined. I think it was

like 35,000 rubles. He wasn't in jail.

He's now started his own Telegram channel,

which I followed pretty devotedly. I think

generally, within the official

church hierarchy, there has been an astonishing

lack of any kind of serious dissent, especially

again from the hierarchs. I'm

not trying to beat a dead horse here, but

for those who may not have a lot

of knowledge on this subject, I think we have to

distinguish between the leadership of the church,

and the praying church. And this is

nothing new in a Russian context. In the Soviet

Union, there was a lay theologian named Sergey

Fudel, who coined the term "temnyi dvoinik" - the

dark double. He was a guy, who was

in the Gulag for his faith. He would have to

hear the bishops of the Russian Orthodox

Church in the Soviet Union tell

that there was no persecution of Christians in

his home country. This is a situation

that Christians in Russia have been faced with

for a long time. There are definitely

people living there, trying to follow the teachings

of Christ. That number is probably closer

to two, or three, or four percent, and not the

respect, there is a remarkable similarity between

the percentage that identifies Orthodox, and the

percentage that support the war in Ukraine. They're

both like about 80 percent. And this is the point I'd

like to make if I could go on a little further.

It is that this form of Orthodoxy that

we're all talking about from the Russian side of

things, we are talking about state religion.

We are talking about state religion. We should

not mistake this for the Christianity of the gospels.

Now, you can't say we shouldn't mistake this for

historical Christianity, because this has been

historical Christianity for many centuries. Going

back, I would say, as far back as Constantine.

You look at the ancient liturgical hymnography

of the church, and where does the sacred war cult

start? It starts in the hymns celebrating Saint

Constantine, which were written somewhere between

the 5th and 8th centuries. So there is a 1500-year

tradition of holy war against your enemies

within the Russian Orthodox Church. I guess

what has surprised me is that people are surprised

by Patriarch Kirill's rhetoric, that people are surprised

that the Russian Orthodox Church is supporting

this war. The Russian Orthodox Church has

been nationalistic, xenophobic, anti-Western

for centuries. And one patriarch after

another has blessed holy Russian soldiers

to go kill other Orthodox people.

This is nothing new. To get back to the

question about dissent, pardon me for going on

so long here. The dissent is occurring at the

lower levels. And you can point this.

It's happening, of course, among certain

Orthodox priests - what's known as the liberal

wing - Father George

Mitrofanov, Father Alexey Uminsky is another one.

But in my opinion, these guys are

exceptionally well-educated priests, speaking very

eloquently and increasingly in Aesopian

language, which is making a comeback again like

it's the Soviet Union. But the place where the

most interesting form of dissent is going on,

in my opinion, and I think Cyril will probably

agree with me, because he runs a Telegram channel

as well, is on Telegram. The most interesting

forms of dissent are anonymous clerics, like for

instance a guy that used to be called

Father Zvezdonyi, but now he's going by Father

Kuksha, because the letter Z has been bastardized.

These are anonymous clerics, who are

satirizing and criticizing Kirill and the

Moscow Patriarchate in a way that was absolutely

impossible before the advent of the social media

technologies. And that in my opinion is where the

most important and creative forms of dissent are

going on. Nothing public at all coming

from the top leadership.

Just a short comment. Maybe Father Cyril or

Sean can add on this, as well. I think what also

has occurred is the de-Ukrainianization of the

Russian Orthodox Church in Russia. And that is 30

years ago, one of the major products of Khust Raion

in Zakarpattia, or Turka in Lviv was to produce

priests that then went all over the old Soviet

Union in Russia. Everywhere you had these priestly

clans that came from Western Ukraine. I would assume

the 30 years has slowly been breaking that

up, although they still are somewhat prominent.

And with that you have many fewer Ukrainian

priests in Russia than you would have had

would have been one group, whatever their stance,

however brainwashed they may have been, but just

in human terms would have been thinking about their

cousins and family, and the people they knew from

seminary, who are now suffering in Ukraine. And so

in a way, that certain divide has occurred

between the Russian and the Ukrainian Church.

Father Cyril, you had something

here that you wanted to add.

I actually agree with you, Sean and Frank,

in your assessment. I think it's a very correct

assessment. Just to summarize, I would say that

there is a tiny minority within the Russian Church,

that speaks up either through anonymous

Telegram channels, or sometimes

semi-publicly, or through euphemisms, against

the war. There is a minority within the Russian

Church, that speaks up openly in favor of the

war, including bishops and priests. The vast majority,

like 90-something percent -

that's my subjective estimation -

are passive. They are passive against the war -

a small fraction of this passive majority.

The largest part of this passive

mass of the Russian Church would support the

war. It also happens outside Russia.

I receive reports from the Baltic countries,

which are under the direct threat

of Russia. The Russian pockets,

the pockets of the Russian Orthodox

Church in the Baltic countries,

like 80 percent of clergy and faithful in those

communities, are in favor of the war, in favor of

Putin. Imagine! So it's really very disappointing.

The European Parliament praised 300

priests from the Russian Church,

who signed a petition against the war.

drop in the ocean. Literally. It's not something to

be praised, it's something to lament that

so few priests spoke up against the war.

The thing that's remarkable

is that what I would call "Putin's

preacher of war" - Father Andrei Tkachev -

he is Ukrainian from Lviv. And he's the guy on the

Russian Orthodox television channels

telling believers that every time you do a

bow during Great Lent, a bullet dodges a Russian

soldier. So you know there's some Ukrainian

elements preaching very strongly in favor of the

war, which is obviously rather horrifying.

Well, the reference to the Baltics also raises the

question on the consequences for global Orthodoxy.

The conflict between the two Patriarchates

going on since at least the Council of at last 2015

has now become for the first time

vocal. Surprisingly, much of the world Orthodoxy

has been siding with the Moscow Patriarchate

until very recently. And the whole issue. Very

few churches were willing to recognize the new

Ukraine Orthodox Church. And especially much of

the ecumenical movement in Europe, in the US, Catholic,

Protestant had been siding with the Moscow

Patriarchate until today. So we have now

the beginning of a new reckoning, and going back

now to the old Russian Orthodox kind of liberal

theological thinking, that grew up in the diaspora.

So there are beginnings now and we don't know how

this will affect developments eventually in Russia.

From within the combination of a

more and more authoritarian regime

leading in the totalitarian direction.

And this passivity - I cannot anticipate

any fundamental transformation,

but the interesting question

was going to happen on the global

level of the Orthodox Church.

I think that we can now turn to

final words about

how do you think this war is

going to affect the fundamental nature,

if it will, of let's just call it East Slavic

Orthodoxy? Do you see

this moment as one of these inflection moments,

a possibility of a paradigmatic shift

in the way the Church is organized, in the way

it thinks and so forth? Let's go in reversed

alphabetical order then. Frank first.

Let's hear what you have to say about that.

Well, I would say that the major crisis

will be faced by the Moscow patriarchal church in

Ukraine and decisions will have to be made.

It does not appear there will be large groups

that transfer to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

We haven't seen that happen so far. It will occur

particularly in Western and central Ukraine,

but we are going to have to

see a reckoning. Now, there are those who are, as we

heard before, waiting to see how the war turns out,

but I think there's a much larger group of that

clergy already that realizes that they must make

some move. Some change must occur. And they

are in a cul-de-sac. They are led by a

metropolitan, who will not lead them easily to

some other resolution. They face the fact that

any patriarchs they may turn to, particularly

the Eastern patriarchs, ancient patriarchs,

are not going to want to offend Constantinople, so

it would have to be worked out as a very difficult

deal. The other will be, as I said earlier, the

reckoning in relationship with their congregations.

God forbid, but this war clearly

will be bloody, and many will be affected,

and people will be turning to their priests,

and their priests will have little answer,

particularly on this issue with the relationship

of the Patriarch of Moscow. So just the dodge of

not mentioning that Patriarchate. And the other

is, of course, what we saw during the Maidan

and which was the grouping of almost all

religious groups, except the Moscow Patriarchate.

One wonders how long that's going to continue

before you will not see much more actively

Moscow patriarchal priests joining with other

religious groups. Probably most reluctantly with

the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, but at least with

Protestants, the Greeks, even Greek Catholics.

I think that society will push them

towards that. In practice, of course, it

all depends, I'm afraid, on the battlefield,

as so often history has depended before.

Father Cyril, please. Well, I will conclude very

briefly. The only thing that the Slavic Orthodoxy

may learn from this, which would be helpful,

indeed, even though there is a small chance

that the Slavic Orthodoxy will learn this, is

repentance. Recognition, acknowledgement of

their own faults and mistakes. And when they stop

accusing others of mistakes

and start recognizing their own mistakes. That

would be a great benefit, would be a great

achievement for the Slavic Orthodoxy as a result

of this war. But still, I'm not very much hopeful.

But there is a chance. I'm just going to quickly

interpose here. Let's think about the

Serbs and see how far that went and is still going,

so I'm not critically optimistic about that.

Thank you. Sean, please. I'm afraid

I'm going to be the more pessimistic one.

Nothing is going to change in the nature of

the Slavic Orthodoxy, because the dark devil

of the church is always going to exist. And

thinking in terms of church time, which we

measure in many centuries and not a

lifetime, or the duration of whatever this war

ends up being, this has all happened before

many times in the past. It's happening now

and Kirill's successors are going to do it again

in the future. Orthodoxy will always be co-opted

by the state. It will always be

bastardized and they will always

turn this very beautiful thing into something

ugly. I don't think that's ever going to change.

José, maybe something more optimistic. Let me finish

on a more hopeful, not optimistic but hopeful note.

There is a real possibility that

Ukraine could become a central focus of Slavic

Orthodoxy in a different direction. That was not

possible until now. I think there is going to be

a global movement within global Orthodoxy. I

think the Ecumenical Patriarch is going to

come out of it more positive.

Let's not forget that this is also

a conflict, a war within Orthodoxy. The Moscow

Patriarch has declared war on the Ecumenical

Patriarch. Now, the war was expanded to Africa

through the Patriarch of Alexandria.

I think there is a chance now, the diaspora

Orthodoxies, and some people at last within the

European Union, there's going to be a possibility

of some rethinking in Ukraine.

As Father Hovorun said, if there is a possibility of some

serious discussions between what is

now really a divided Orthodoxy within Ukraine, if

there is some possibility for some convergence,

then there is a possibility that Ukraine

could play, the same way it's playing now in terms

of revitalization of democracy even within

the European Union, it could play a role. I'm

not saying for Russia yet, but in the rest of the

global Orthodoxy, there could be a turning point.

I'm going to turn over the discussion

to the audience and some of the questions that

have been posted on the questions and answers

board here. I'm looking through them.

Let's go through the first one.

One question is: The persecution of religious

minorities, such as Jehovah's Witnesses

has intensified since the start of the war.

Do you expect that all the unwanted

religious minorities like Mormons, Pentecostals,

ISKCON, as well as various local autochthonous

religious "deviant" groups will be put under

a lot of pressure, or will there be

an attempt to eliminate them altogether?

Go ahead, José. Obviously,

within the Russian Federation, this is going to be

the case. More repression of whatever possibilities.

There are three categories: the national

religion of the Russian people, which is the Russian

Orthodox Church, the traditional religions of the

Empire, let's say Muslims, and Buddhists, and Jews,

and perhaps Baptists, and then the others, the new

religions. But let's not forget what happened in

Crimea, and in Luhansk, and Donetsk after the

occupation. The other groups - Ukraine Orthodox,

Greek Catholics, Protestant ministers, Muslim Tatars -

they suffer repression. So again, within Ukraine

in places that are going to be occupied, if the

occupation continues and is basically strengthened,

then other groups than the Russian Orthodox, all

of them are going to suffer serious repression.

Any other comments about that?

Anybody wants to add anything?

Sean, go ahead.

I can just briefly add that it certainly

seems like things are heading in that direction,

because what we appear to be witnessing

in Russia itself is a turn from

basically autocracy, in which Russians

generally didn't have any real

political power, but they could pretty much

still say what they wanted to say. And now

that has been taken away.

The media is calling it a lot of

different things: re-Stalinization, the

new Soviet Union... All these.

But it seems like a new form of totalitarianism

is back and that never bodes well

for any kind of ideological or religious

minorities. So I think that's important to add.

I think this is a very interesting

question. What are the ramifications for the Moscow

Patriarchate Church, both in Ukraine and in Russia,

if the Ukrainian military ultimately prevails?

Frank, go ahead.

First of all, my assumption is: To some

degree the Ukrainian military will prevail, that a

Ukraine is going to emerge out of this conflict. We

will see what that compromise would be.

I don't expect this, but of course we cannot tell. The

situation that will come with that victory

is also going to be related with what kind

of Ukraine comes territorially out of it .

If the Putin scenario comes of lopping off still

parts of South and Eastern Ukraine, one will find

a rather more homogeneous Ukrainian state, and

one in which the Moscow Patriarchate in particular

will have great difficulties in finding how it

can fit in this state. Since I assume that

the recriminations from the war will be rather

great at that point in time. What it will do is

it will continue to have a religiously pluralistic

Ukrainian state. And I think one of the things that

we maybe should have paid more attention to in our

discussion is that no Ukrainian state can ever be,

as Russia can be, based one creed. I mean, in

Russia it's already demographically a bad idea,

but the fact that the very idea of Ukraine

depended on finding a compromise between the

Orthodox and the Greek Catholics in the ethno-cultural terms,

and then expanded to deal with the Protestants,

Roman Catholics, Armenians, other such groups means

that any Ukraine that emerges from it still will

have that pluralistic category. Even though

it will be predominantly Orthodox population.

Laurie has an interesting question.

She'd love to know what the position of

the Greek Orthodox Church is towards all of

this. Is it unified? Split? Different opinions?

José, I think you'd probably be a good person.

I don't know about the whole Greek Orthodox

Church, but I see at least from the people

that have spoken lately.

Obviously, it was the Greek Orthodox theologians

that basically were the leaders of the letter

condemning Russkiy Mir. It was

signed by so many theologians.

If you look at the role of the Volos Academic

Theology and its linkage to Ukraine, I think

that in general sense, Greece made the

decision ultimately, once they joined the

Ecumenical Patriarch in recognizing the new Orthodox

Church. So this was the turning point for Greece.

For the other churches, it is different. But

for Greece, I think the decision was made.

Anybody wants to add anything? I have

a question along these lines.

There have been several stories about the

tensions that the war has been causing among

Orthodox congregations in the United States.

I was wondering what your opinion about

this is, and how this may be playing out.

We know that there are several

different types of various different Orthodox

denominations in the United States, with different

allegiances, and different origins and so forth.

But aside from the ethnically oriented ones,

like Ukrainian for instance, or even the Greek,

the more ecumenical Orthodox churches here in the

United States, what's the situation with them?

Go ahead. If I

may briefly address this, I think

indeed different jurisdictions in the US have

made different statements. Their boldest

statement, I think, has been produced by the

Ecumenical Patriarchate in the U.S., I mean the

Archbishop of Elpidophoros, the head of this church

in the United States. Probably the weakest was

produced by the ROCOR, Russian Orthodox Church Outside

of Russia. There was some kind of hesitation on

behalf of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA),

kind of autocephalous according to Moscow.

But recently, the Synod of the church and the

Metropolitan Tikhon made good statements.

Actually, they decided where to go eventually,

even though that church had been affected by

the Russian propaganda and influence

quite profoundly. If you take even the case of

St. Vladimir's Seminary, which has been

really heading to an unclear direction to say,

to put it politely. So yes, it's moving.

There is a polarization within the

American Orthodoxy, I would say. And yeah, it is

polarized. I mean American Orthodoxy in general,

across different jurisdictions. It

is as polarized as many other Orthodox churches

in Europe. Before I go to you, Frank, I want

to clarify. Would you say polarization

in terms of the hierarchy and

the priesthood, or the congregations?

The same as in Ukraine - both horizontally

and vertically. I mean between the strata, like

lay people - I think the majority

of lay people, as far as I

know, would support Ukraine. And

I know they do, but some priests and

some bishops, until recently at least, the majority

probably would go for Russia and they would

support even as far as

they would support Putin.

I'm following up on this idea of the

congregations. It was an interesting article

done in Boston's various parishes, going to both the

Ukrainian Orthodox parish, and then to the

ROCOR parish. One of the most interesting things

at the ROCOR parish was the correspondents, who

were really quite well informed by that point on

these issues, found that almost no one would talk

to them without permission from the priest. That

is the ROCOR sounded, at least of this particular

parish, still remarkably clerically oriented. Yet on

the other hand, I have heard as Father Cyril has,

that there are many people within the ROCOR,

who are disturbed by this. Indeed, there are many

people within the Moscow Patriarchate. Canada has

a large number of Bukovinian and other parishes

in Western Canada. Of course this is causing

a problem for them, because as attention is paid

to this, it becomes harder and harder for them

to defend their positions on it, as well.

And the other, of course, is the transfer issue. Suddenly,

people finding themselves moving to the Ukrainian

Orthodox Churches, now even in the diaspora. The

only other thing I would point out is the Polish

Autocephalous Orthodox Church probably should

be discussed, which has gone from one of the

most pro-Kremlin positions, and at least reputed

by much of Polish society to be one of the most

infiltrated by the security service churches

that exist, I think the pressures are doubled.

They have been from the believers and the large

number of believers, who are arriving in Poland,

who are serving the church, but also from general

Polish public opinion, which made it impossible

for the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church

to continue on in the way that it had begun.

So you can see these splits occurring

now, because of pressures, as well.

Not only congregations, but also the

general society in which they exist.

To continue this line of questioning,

because there's another question

here that relates to this. How do you

see the future relationship, no matter

how the war turns out? Whether

there will be a change in relationship between

the Western Orthodox Churches, the OCA,

the ROCOR - the relationship between

those churches after the war concludes, or

however it may conclude? Will there be changes

in the relationships?

Well, it's really difficult to predict.

Hopefully, they would get closer to each

other, because they were really away

before. Several decades ago, they would

not even greet each other. When

priests from the two churches would meet

each other in the street, they would

not greet each other, or

pass to another side of the street. Hopefully,

they would get close eventually, but I think this

polarization will stay as a result of the war.

There was already a polarization within American

Orthodoxy as the result of the culture wars,

and this polarization has been inflicted,

has been imposed upon the American Orthodoxy

from the Protestant, mostly from the Evangelical

and the Catholic communities. And now a

new polarization is added as a result of this war.

Now, the churches are polarized in their attitude

to the war, so I think it's a bit complicated.

It's going to continue to be a bit complicated -

the relationship within the American Orthodoxy.

Another question here is: If we argue

that Russian self-identity is tied to Empire -

that Russia has little sense of

national, but more an imperial identity -

what role does Russian Orthodoxy play in that

identity, in creating that identity? Can

Russia ever shed that imperial identity without

a fundamental reorientation of Russian Orthodoxy?

Leg one, two, three

of the famous stool, right?

I think it would be very

difficult to shed that imperial identity, because

it's built into the ritual services

that people participate in.

Russia receives its Christianity from the

Byzantine Empire, the most powerful empire

of the Middle Ages. And when that

liturgical technology was implanted in Rus,

it didn't just save souls, it also implanted

a lot of core narrative imperial paradigms in

the minds of the people, that then expanded over

the centuries, especially as

Muscovy came into being. I would say

at this point, we're too far down the road.

There would have to be a reformation of

absolutely unprecedented magnitude in the Russian

Orthodox Church and anybody that sees that coming

is not looking at things

very accurately in my opinion.

Any final comments? Questions to each other

that you might have? Frank, go ahead.

On the issue of the relation of the churches,

we've got to remember that probably hundreds of

thousands of new refugees are going to arrive in

North America as a result of this. These

churches are going to have to adapt to them,

serve them in the way, I hope, as well as they

can serve them. And they will change the nature

of these various groups - clearly

throughout Europe at the moment, but certainly in

North America. And so I think the ability of those

churches to respond will be up. And then on this

issue of is there another possibility? If there

is a possibility, it's back to José's point about

Ukraine becoming a center. Strangely enough, the

most living part of the Russian Orthodox Church

probably is the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine,

which is going to have to find a way out of

its situation. And it's not going to be an easy way,

and it's going to have to come to accommodations,

if it wants to remain, barring that the

cataclysm comes, and that Ukraine is destroyed,

and Putin and then Russia take over if there is

an independent Ukraine. And that church, whether

it's called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or

now will be called the Russian Orthodox Church,

is going to have to come up with a new way of

dealing with both societies and other church

matters, and maybe the most vital part

of what Russian Orthodoxy that exists.

Thank you very much all of you

for what I've personally found to be a very

revelatory and interesting roundtable.

I hope you also found it interesting. And I hope our

audience also found it interesting. Thank

you very much for taking the time out.

I know that José is going to

be with me in two days at Berkeley, so I'm sure

all of you are busy responding to invitations to

these kinds of events. And I really appreciate the

time that you've taken out of your daily lives to

participate here. On behalf of myself and the

Center for European and Russian Studies at UCLA,

thank you all very much. And let's hope that things

work out. Thank you so much, Roman. And thank you

to all the panelists. It was a really enlightening session

and I'm sure it will have very many views on our

website and on Facebook etc. because this is a

extraordinarily valuable

conversation for the moment,

despite the uncertainties that we've all raised

about what can happen in the future. I just wanted

to draw your attention, before we close, to the

Ukraine Fund for Students and Scholars at Risk

that we have at the Center for European and

Russian Studies. We are welcoming donations

and building up some coffers for those refugees,

that professor Sysyn just mentioned,

and hoping to be able to post some scholars

here at UCLA who are displaced. So thank you again,

everyone, and I'm also anticipating that when

we will want to have another conversation of

this kind, the issues have only just opened, so

hopefully we can invite you back and hear more.

Duration: 01:27:50