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
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
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.