Sunday, October 25, 2020

Reaction to Papal Declaration on Civil Unions Highlights Gap in Russia Between Church and Popular Religiosity, Pastukhov Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 23 – The reaction of Russians to the papal declaration about civil unions for homosexuals unintentionally highlights the enormous gap between “the enormous mass of potential religious energy” of the Russian people and the absence of its being channeled by the existing Russian Orthodox Church, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

             This is not because the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian people are on different sides of this issue, the London-based Russian commentator says, but because the sources of their positions are completely different and the church has as little influence on the people as the people have on the church.

             Unless this changes and there are few signs that it will, the existence of this popular religiosity – and the London-based Russian commentator says he is convinced that Russians are among the most religious people on earth – and its quest of certainty and order will lead to the rise of something like Russian Bolshevism (

            That movement, Pastukhov continues, was “a deeply religious movement” and was successfully spread by a handful of adepts to the entire population which very much wanted to have something to believe in with certainty. Indeed, certainty for them was in many cases far more important than what the certainty was about.

            According to the Russian scholar, homophobia in Russia is not so much a specific set of ideas about how to live as about a fear on the part of people of anything that isn’t in their view “normal.” And that is “very logical,” he suggests, “because in Russia, in general everything that doesn’t correspond to the norm frightens people.”

            As such, alarm at what the Pope has said and the view of many that some Russian Catholics will shift to Orthodoxy in protest is not the most significant thing about this development. Rather, Pastukhov suggests, it shows that Russians are ready to be mobilized once again by a quasi-religious movement that will give them the certainties they do not now feel.   

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