Staunton, Dec. 20 – Since Vladimir Putin announced his expanded invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has been on the defensive both at home and abroad, a trend that is unlikely to be reversed even when the fighting in Ukraine ends, Roman Lunkin says.
At home, the ROC MP is increasingly being ignored by the Kremlin which is no longer prepared to cede part of the responsibility for promoting its traditionalist agenda to the Russian church let alone treat it as a partner in that effort, the specialist on religion at Moscow’s Institute of Europe says (ng.ru/ng_religii/2022-12-20/9_542_traditionalization.html).
And abroad, ever more countries are moving to develop national Orthodox churches rather than allow the ROC MP to maintain its supervision and control of bishoprics and parishes on their territory and to exclude the ROC MP and its leadership from participation in the international religious dialogue it had been accustomed to.
According to Lunkin, there is little chance that these trends will be reversed in the future. Instead, both within Russia and abroad, political leaders are likely to continue to view religion either as an irrelevancy or, in cases where it isn’t, as something that must be controlled rather than listened to.
To the extent that Lunkin is correct, the future of the ROC MP as anything more than an officially controlled national church let alone as a center of world Orthodoxy is most unlikely, another radical and unexpected fallout from Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
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