Russia’s Orthodox Nationalism

Cherenkov in First Things Journal:

The facts speak for themselves: Greek Catholics and Kiev-patriarchate Ukrainian Orthodox churches have become de facto ­il­legal entities in the annexed Crimea; in the Donbass region, an “Orthodox army” is active; dozens of Protestant ­churches have been seized; there have been cases of kidnapping, torture, and killing of pastors; ­Moscow-patriarchate priests openly bless terrorists and refuse to pray over deceased Ukrainian soldiers; Patriarch Kirill of Moscow predicts the downfall of Ukraine as a “kingdom divided against itself.”

Russia’s war against Ukraine has exacerbated a series of international, interethnic, and interconfessional conflicts. It is the religious aspect of the conflict that may prove to be the most significant, because Moscow Orthodoxy has been presented as the thing holding the “Russian world” together, and thereby as the main actor in the bloody Russian Spring.

Putin has justified the annexation of Crimea by saying that it has “sacred meaning for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for Jews and Muslims.” He calls it “the ­spiritual source of the formation of the ­multifaced but monolithic Russian nation. . . . It was on this spiritual soil that our ancestors first and forever recognized their nationhood.”    continue…

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