Friday, September 7, 2018

By Serving Kremlin rather than Christ, Moscow Patriarchate Now a Small National Church, St. Petersburg Believer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 7 – Ilya Zabezhinsky, an Orthodox commentator from the Northern capital, says that the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by its promotion of the Kremlin’s agenda of “a Russian world” has failed in its Christian mission to the peoples of the former USSR and been reduced to a small national church of the Russian Federation.

            Under Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin, the writer says, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has become “the ideological department of the powers that be of the Russian Federation and essentially ceased to be the Russian Orthodox Church. Instead, it is becoming the Church of the Russian Federation” (

            Instead of reaching out to the faithful in Russia and in the former Soviet republics, Zabezhinsky says, Kirill and his subordinates have “kissed only one president … blessed only one army … prayed for only one Olympic team” and in general shown indifference to all the others.

            Moreover, he continues, the Moscow Patriarchate has cursed liberals and the West as sources of evil and threats to Russian values, but what forces of evil are these? “In America, there are six million practicing Orthodox Christians, but among us there are no more than three or four million.”

            No one in the Moscow Patriarchate should be surprised that all are running away from it, the Christian churches in the former Soviet space, the Russian believers who put Christ ahead of Putin, and all those who care about the rights and freedoms they should have as citizens of a modern country.

            Our church, he says, has spent the last 20 years promoting things that have nothing to do with Christianity and not promoting the things that are at the core of the faith. Its members should not be surprised that others are running away from us, as the Ukrainian Orthodox now are, and that unless we change, others will do the same.

            Today, Zabezhinsky says, “we are small little local church with a small flock, something that is not bad in principle.” Perhaps, he continues, it will lead us to give up our “earthly ambitions and remember Christ.”  Our size puts us at a level with the Roman Catholics of Austria. That is something we must accept because it is the result of what we have done.

            “We will be the Church of the Russian Federation. The rest do not want us. We ourselves are guilty that they don’t. Let’s leave the rest in peace. Let’s give up our protection from the government. Let’s sell our mitres …Let’s reduce the taxes on the bishoprics … Let’s make the texts of divine service more accessible.”

            That is a worthy program for “the next candidate for Patriarch” in a church of our size and status, he concludes.

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