Saturday, January 10, 2015

Shiropayev Calls for Reformation of Orthodox Church in Russia

Paul Goble


            Staunton, January 10 – The Russian Orthodox Church must undergo “a reformation” not only for the sake of the spiritual life of its followers but also to advance “the liberation political struggle for the triumph of the constitutional principles of democracy, federalism, and secularism,” according to Aleksey Shiropayev, one of Russia’s leading advocates of regionalism.


            On the portal, Shiropayev says that he has been prompted to push for that by two events. On the one hand, Patriarch Kirill recently gave church awards to “odious political figures like Oleg Dobrodeyev of State TV and Dmitry Kiselyov of Russia Today, an indication that the church remains “a structural part of the System” and “in essence a state church.”


            And on the other, and only two days later, Gleb Yakunin died, a prominent religious dissident in Soviet times and someone who exposed the ties of the ROC hierarchy to the KGB, fought to memorialize Russia’s new martyrs, andspent the last years of his life in the Apostolic Orthodox Church (


            “The present dominating position of the ROC of the Moscow Patriarchate and its monopoly on Orthodoxy in Russia are unacceptable, above all from the point of view of the existing constitution,” Shirpoayev says. Many indeed have called the hierarchy “a Soviet church” because it was created by Stalin and insist it has no right to represent Orthodoxy.


            Father Gleb agreed, the regionalist writer continues, and argued that the ROC of the Moscow Patriarchate is “a closed ‘totalitarian sect’ which always fervently served an anti-religious totalitarian state.”


            Consequently, Shiropayev argues, “it is long past time to liquidate the monopoly of the Moscow Patriarchate on Orthodoxy in Russia” by making all Russian Orthodox denominations --
both existing and newly emerging – equal. Indeed, he says, “it is time to raise the question” about having many Russian Orthodox churches and not just one.


            That “alternative Orthodoxy,” he suggests, “could begin a Reformation and resolve (and by the way is already resolving such longstanding questions” that were raised by church authors and philosophers before the 1917 revolution but which were put on hold by “Comrade Stalin” and his “’Byzantinism.’”


            Among the most important of these are “the election of the clergy at all levels” something that was done in Novgorod before Moscow conquered it, a married episcopate, the use of Russian in all services, temporary monasticism, and a shift to the Western calendar so as to bring holidays in Russia into line with those elsewhere in the Christian world.


            Such an Orthodox Reformation, Shiropayev argues, would promote democracy, federalism and secularism; but precisely for those reasons, it will be opposed by the current Russian powers that be who need an Orthodox church only as a supporter of its authoritarian course, and it may be opposed by many hierarchs of the Church itself for the same reasons.


            “Of course,” he adds, “one of the necessary conditions of the appearance of a genuinely alternative Orthodoxy is the liberation of Russian Orthodox consciousness from its imperial and monarchical notions” and its return to the Orthodoxy of Novgorod the Great, Pskov, and the Cossacks, all of whom showed that “tsarism and the empire are hardly obligatory things.”


            Those who know their history will recall that “Orthodox Novgorod was a republic and also an organic part of the Hansa Leage and Northern Europe,” something that Georgy Fedotov stressed in his 1950 book, “The Republic of St. Sophia,” and which he contrasted with Moscow’s approach.


            “Moscow,” Fedotov wrote, “became the successor at one and the same time of Byzantium and the Golden Horde, and the orthodoxy of the tsars was not only a political fact but also a religious doctrine and for many almost a dogma.”  But that is not the only possible tradition, he said, and Orthodoxy properly understood can support “a democratic Russia.”



No comments:

Post a Comment