Monday, April 29, 2024

Moscow Patriarchate’s Moves against Anti-War Priests Undermining the ROC MP and Opening the Way for Renewal of Orthodoxy in Russia, Soldatov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 26 – Moscow Patriarch Kirill is punishing ever more Russian Orthodox priests for anti-war views, an action that may win him support in the Kremlin but that is undermining the authority of his church structure and even opening the doors to the creation of an alternative Russian Orthodoxy to replace it, Aleksandr Soldatov says.

            Kirill’s actions not only violate the rules of the ROC MP but offend believers and have led the Ecumenical Patriarchate to restore the priestly rights of those he has punished and thus create a group of religious who may form the nucleus of a new Russian Orthodoxy within Russia itself, the specialist on Russian religious life says (

            (For a constantly updated list of the priests the current Russian patriarch has sought to exclude from church life for their opposition to the war in Ukraine, see

            As a result of Kirill’s actions, Soldatov says, “a new host of confessors of the Christian faith has appeared in Russia today, one that is suffering in the first instance from its new persecutors in the person of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, its bishops and other church officials obedient to him.”

            One of their number, Andrey Kurayev, who was stripped of his office as a proto-deacon, has gone into emigration and not long ago became a priest subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, says that what is happening shows “the complete powerlessness of Kirill and his satraps.”

            Russian Orthodox publicist Sergey Chapnin who now lives in the United States says that Constantinople has opened the floodgates and the number of those who will follow Kurayev into the ranks of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s priesthood will exceed Kirill’s ability to control the situation in Russia itself.

            For the first time in many centuries,” Soldatov continues, such priests have a chance to escape serfdom from the patriarchy, and the jurisdiction of the ROC MP on its own ‘canonical territory,’ ceases to be absolute and unconditional – the first step toward the dismantling of the post-imperial totalitarian structure of the ROC in the form it took after 1943.”

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