Wednesday, May 8, 2024

‘Cold Schism’ in Orthodox World Likely to Become ‘Hot’ if Moscow Church Continues to Back Kremlin and Its War at Home and Abroad, Chapnin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 5 – The Moscow Patriarchate’s unqualified support for Putin’s aggression abroad and repression at home has already led to the isolation of the Russian church in world Orthodoxy and the beginning of what may be called “a cold schism” between the ROC MP and Ecumenical Patriarchate and its supporters, Sergey Chapnin says.

            The researcher at Fordham University’s Center for Orthodox Studies says that despite Moscow’ s provocations, both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its supporters in other ancient Orthodox churches have been restrained up to now ( reposted at

            But Chapnin, a former publications official at the Moscow Patriarchate, says that the situation is deteriorating and that other patriarchates may soon be prepared to attack the Moscow church more directly and turn what has been a “cold” war between them in the past to a “hot” one in the future.

            The potential for such a development is critical because “the ROC MP is not the whole Church” in the Russian Federation, Chapnin continues. “There are also Orthodox communities which are formally part of that Church but ideologically oppose it. They are small, but they persist and everyone hopes that the future lies with them.”

            That is because the ROC MP “in the form in which it has emerged as an ideological institution of a totalitarian state will become of no use to anyone after the regime falls.” Whether it will find the strength to change or simply split and be replaced by others remains to be seen. ROC MP leaders will likely fight to keep things as they are, but they aren’t the only player.

            But it is certainly and unfortunately the case, that “there is no magic wand” and that until the departure of Putin from power “and possibly until the death of Patriarch Kirill, no reforms [in the ROC MP] are possible.” But moves by the Ecumenical Patriarchate could give rise to the emergence of an alternative Orthodox Church in Russia far closer to the Christian tradition.

            (For background, see,, and

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