Skip to comments.Orthodox Church unholy alliance with Putin
Posted on 02/23/2008 4:42:20 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
Russia's Orthodox Church, despite decades of brutal repression under Soviet rule, is putting its trust in the KGB to ensure that a remarkable religious revival does not fade with the departure of President Vladimir Putin.
In an unusual move, Alexei II, the Church's patriarch, has endorsed deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev ahead of next week's presidential election.
The influence of his support on Russia's estimated 100 million Orthodox worshippers is immense.
It also illustrates the unholy alliance the Church has forged with the Kremlin since Mr Putin came to power eight years ago.
The president, a proud adherent, has allowed the Orthodox Church to regain much of its Tsarist-era lustre and has won the enthusiastic support of religious leaders in return.
With his hand-picked successor almost guaranteed victory in the March 2 poll, Mr Putin is determined to maintain the arrangement by holding on to the reins of power as prime minister.
The relationship might seem odd. It was the KGB, after all, that led persecution of the Church in Soviet times, when priests were regularly jailed, tortured and executed. Neither this nor accusations that Mr Putin is restoring many of the attributes of Soviet rule seem to bother Alexei.
Although he has never confirmed it, the patriarch, like the president, is a former KGB agent codenamed Drozdov, according to Soviet archives opened to experts in the 1990s.
Many in the Orthodox hierarchy are also accused of working as KGB informers, a fact that critics say the Church has never fully acknowledged.
"Essentially, the Orthodox Church is one of the only Soviet institutions that has never been reformed," said one priest, who declined to be identified for fear that he could be defrocked. That fate already befell another colleague, Gleb Yakunin, in the 1990s when he called on Church leaders with KGB links to repent.
Yet it is not just the KGB that binds the Church and the Kremlin. In the Tsarist era, the Church was a committed supporter of the imperial rallying cry "orthodoxy, autocracy and nationhood." Critics say that Mr Putin, who draws as much of inspiration from imperial Russia as he does from the Soviet Union, has adopted the same mantra - making the president and the Church ideal bedfellows.
Both have blossomed from the relationship. The number of Russians who identify themselves as Orthodox has doubled in the past decade, with two-thirds of the 140 million population proclaiming the faith - quite a feat after seven decades of official atheism.
Yet most Russians say they follow Orthodoxy for national rather than moral reasons. Deeply patriotic and with a declared intention of making Russia great again, the Church has milked the sentiment.
Priests are regularly seen on television sprinkling holy water on bombers and even nuclear missiles, a blessing that reinforces Mr Putin's own militaristic philosophy.
The Church has even supported Mr Putin's repression of democracy, with a senior bishop last year comparing human rights activists to traitors.
When a prison chaplain suggested that the jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a personal enemy of the president, was a political prisoner, he was promptly defrocked.
Late last year, Sergei Taratukhin - who served five years in a Soviet gulag for defying the authorities - recanted, falling to his knees in front of television cameras and won a partial reprieve. He is now employed as a rubbish collector at the cathedral in the far-eastern city of Chita, near where Khodorkovsky is jailed.
In return, Mr Putin has worn his religious credentials very publicly and is regularly shown on state television kissing icons at Church services.
Given his popularity, Mr Putin's example has been emulated by many Russians. The business and political elite have assiduously followed instructions to fund the rebuilding of churches destroyed by the Soviets across the country.
Last year the magnificent Assumption cathedral in the Siberian city of Omsk, blown up by the Bolsheviks in 1935, was rebuilt with donations from the city mandarins.
The result is that Russia, at least in religious terms, is beginning to take on a Tsarist-era hue - and not just in terms of architecture.
Sister Varvara, who lived under a tree for many years before locals helped her to build a wooden church, is Omsk's local prophetess, healer and mind reader - a throwback to the wandering mystics such as Rasputin, who dominated religious rural life at the turn of the 19th century.
Dignitaries from across Siberia visit her to hear their fortune or just get advice. Sometimes, she gives Mr Putin a helping hand. A few years ago she told Tatyana Chertova, a retired actress with a shock of red hair, that she would become famous by writing a play about the president.
Mrs Chertova's play, Putin's Holiday, premiered last year.
....And sam egoes to Catholic and Protestand denominations during WWII.
Was Pope fighting Hitler?
Was Pope fighting Mussolini?
Was Church of England fighting evil of colonial exploatation!?
To your information, great number of Soviet troops were mass-baptised prior to battles in WWII.
Stallin was Godless bastard, but you are confusing STATE and IDEOLOGY.
Stance of Orthodox church was to help defend COUNTRY from barbaric hordes of Nazis, not do help Stallin.
As for Putin, Im not Russian so I cant help you with that.
If your countr is attacked (like Hitler attacked USSR) you will obay and defend country. No questions asked.
And yes, church defeated communism, nut by defeating politicians and dictators, but defeated communism trough revival of Chrustian vales and Christianity in general.
Strange thing... Today in Europe, only christian nations are- post communist nations, former Eastern block...
Russia, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria....
Are you suggesting that Christians who fought for the Soviet Union were just as justified in their actions as the Christians who fought for Nazi Germany?
No. You said that yourself.
You asked why Orthodox Church didnt fought Stallin and communsits, and I simply asked bac why Cahtolics didnt fought Nazis and Fascist in their own countries?
Do you have an anwhser?
Oh, forrget it...
“Strange thing... Today in Europe, only christian nations are- post communist nations, former Eastern block...
Russia, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria....”
I’ve been thinking about that lately. Why do we say Russia is a Christian nation? It once was, but is it really one now? I’m not so sure it is. I don’t think there are any Christian nations anymore so much as nations with significant Christian populations. Is Russia really anymore Christian than the US? Abortion is legal in both countries. Divorce, pornography is rampant, homosexuality seems to be growing, etc.
Christian nations? I really don’t think there are any anymore - well Vatican City and Mount Athos still fit the bill of course even if Mt. Athos isn’t a nation and Vatican City is tiny!
No, you make a good point. The analogy is apt! Those who fought for the Soviets are equal to those who fought for the Nazis.
“Priests are regularly seen on television sprinkling holy water on bombers and even nuclear missiles”
“I would call it down right eerie and virtually out of the Hitler playbook - but that’s just me”
Not me. I’m Orthodox, although not Russian. I pray over everything. Every meal, every plane flight, every date with a girl. It’s just a different attitude. It’s not much of a stretch for us to pray over the military as well.
If you go to an Orthodox Divine Liturgy here in the U.S., there is a specific point in every service where the Father issues blessings to various entities. One of them is the U.S. Military.
And as an Orthodox adherent in the U.S. Military, I can tell you that I pray profusely over my job every day. I only hope that I will be guided to do my job correctly and effeciently, so that those who go beyond the wire come home safely.
“...even if Mt. Athos isnt a nation”
An autonomous monastic republic is what it is officially called I believe.
I think you are right, at least to a point, Vlad. Certainly you are right if the standard is the Christendom of the medieval West. There are arguably no true Christian nations left. I would argue, however, that there are some to this day which are very close to Christian states, maybe in the tradition of Byzantium, secular evils like legal abortion to the contrary notwithstanding. Poland is an example, as are Ukraine and places like Romania, Bulgaria, Greece & Serbia. Not the Christian states they once were, but still pretty good. And they are pretty good because of that concept that The Faith is far more than it is in the West. Its almost genetic. You two know what I mean. The Faith forms our ideas about virtually everything. As my wife once commented to the Geronda of the monastery outside our village, “In Greece, the people walk Orthodox.”
This doesn’t mean that Greeks aren’t sinful, fallen people. We are, maybe the most sinful and fallen of all.
You are right, kronos77. Unfortunately, ingorance rules. You'd think some of these people would have at least read something (say form Wikipedia) to at least know what they are tlaking about. Naw. It's much easier to shoot from the hip and ask questions later.
Most of this is pure crapola, me thinks.
Perish the thought!
You know what’s funny about that? I wonder if Russians are asking themselves the same thing about the job I’m doing.
That is also true of the Catholic Mass, regarding the prayers for/blessing of our troops.
“The Orthodoxers are afraid of competition from Lutherans, Mormons, Baptists, etc.”
We get along just fine with conservative Lutherans. The Orthodox in Russia do too. We don’t have much to say to Baptists. Most Orthodox outside the US view them as cultists. Pretty much all of us view the Mormons that way.
Its has never been a matter of competition with Lutherans. Lutherans and Orthodox have lived side by side for centuries, especially in Russia. Its certainly isn’t with the other two either. With them it is a concern that people will be pulled into cults which are seen as being antithetical to Orthodoxy and the well being of the Omogenia.
All in all, Orthodox people and Orthodox countries don’t believe that religious pluralism is necessarily a good thing but they have a different concept of what it means to be a Russian or a Greek or a Serb (or an Orthodox) than we do of what it means to be an American or a Baptist or a Presbyterian or whatever. The same mindset can be see among Poles and used to be seen among the Irish.
“Priests are regularly seen on television
Perish the thought!”
Is “Patriarch” like Pope??
Yes in matter of being a head of the Orthodox church, but he does not posess a power that Pope does in Catholicism. Patriarch is first among eaquals in Holly Sinod (coledge of cardinals)