Thursday, April 18, 2019

True Orthodox Church in Russia Must Be Treated as Separate Denomination, Father Superior Innokenty Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 17 – Concerned the Kremlin may soon attack Orthodox groups the Moscow Patriarchate considers schismatics ( and, Father Superior Innokenty (Pavlov), a leader of that denomination, has called for recognition of the True Orthodox Church as a separate denomination.

            In a commentary for the Credo.Press portal, Innokenty, a much-published expert on the True Orthodox and one of its leaders, says that the True Orthodox Church in Russia deserves that because it is a bulwark against the nationalism and hegemonism that infect many other churches, including the ROC MP (

            The risk that Moscow will go after the True Orthodox reflects three things: first, the True Orthodox Church is relatively small, with only a few dozen parishes willing to make themselves publicly known. Second, the church itself has links with Ukraine that make it a particularly tempting target as far as Moscow is concerned in the current environment.

            And third, while many in Russia and the West know about the simultaneously tragic and heroic history of the catacomb church in Soviet times, few are aware that much of this church has emerged as the True Orthodox Church since 1991. Consequently, if it is viewed only as a breakaway from the ROC MP, it will have fewer supporters than it deserves.  

            Innokenty appeals in the first instance to Russian specialists on religion but his call should be heeded by all people of good will: “Consider True Orthodoxy in [Russia] a separate confession, distinct from ‘world’ Orthodoxy … [a church] which is trying to embody the original Christian ideal of love without which no true church is possible.”

(For background on the history of the True Orthodox Church under the Soviets, in emigration, and since 1991 in Russia, see the detailed article in the Orthodox Encyclopedia at and Father Superior Innokenty’s publications ( On recent events, see and

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