Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks from Russian control

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
As reported in Reuters, but apparently not in any of the other mainstream news sources I checked (although it may be that I didn't look long and hard enough).
Ecumenical Patriarch signs decree granting Ukraine church independence | Reuters

This move is far more significant than the sparse news coverage would suggest, and may credibly be likened to the split from Rome by Henry VIII back in the 1530s. The background is that the Orthodox Church, with its headquarters in Constantinople, has long been under pressure from its Russian branch to transfer more administrative power to Moscow. The argument is that, with 150 million followers, the Russian Orthodox Church is by far the largest of the 14 recognised Orthodox churches around the world.

Within Russia, Putin uses the church as another political tool. Whilst supporting the church and encouraging it, observers note that he emphasises the pro-Russia Imperial aspects of the church's teachings and important historical figures, seeking to link church with state and hence bringing religion into play as another weapon against those who may be tempted to speak out against aggressive Russian nationalism (or, by extension, against Putin himself).

By splitting with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is making a statement of independence that encompasses not only religious worship but also politics. Aside from cutting ties which may be promoting Moscow's influence within the Ukraine, the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is also an important step towards reinforcing national independence. By splitting from Russia, it removes one more excuse, that of 'shared Russian culture', for Moscow to interfere in Ukrainian affairs.
 
#2
It's been ongoing for a few months now at least. It does seem to have the potential of adding a "religious war" aspect to the conflict in the east too!
 
#3
It's not being ignored by general news sites/publications/channels. I think there's just an underestimation of the significance of it.

BTW, welcome back @Sadurian.
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
Fuchs66: Yes, they have been moving towards independence for some time, to the increasing frustration of the Russian Orthodox Church. It appears that the vast and ponderous church bureaucracy has finally led to a signing of the relevant documents.

W P: I think you are correct in that it is being underestimated. I imagine most editors will be looking at it and thinking 'oh, more religious stuff from an obscure foreign church' and filing it under 'filler material'. IT is, however, vastly more significant than that. As I mentioned, it is not too much of a stretch to compare it with England's break from Rome in the C16th. Obviously the Ukrainian Church has had official permission this time, but the Russian Church is nonetheless the biggest player in terms of state backing and numbers.

Oh and thanks for the welcome back. I dusted off the password to get this topic under discussion because I think it is an interesting one.
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
As reported in Reuters, but apparently not in any of the other mainstream news sources I checked (although it may be that I didn't look long and hard enough).
And, rather embarrassingly, it turns out that it has been reported elsewhere after all, albeit not exactly front page headline stuff.
Ukraine Orthodox Church wins independence
Ukraine: new Orthodox church gains independence from Moscow
Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks away from Russian influence
Ukraine's Orthodox church granted independence by Ecumenical Patriarch
 
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Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Interesting to read RT's version of events, although I couldn't find an up-to-date report of the signing of the final independence agreement.

'Church serfdom': Constantinople won't hand Kiev independence, new statute reveals
US Orthodox priest blasts splitting of Ukrainian Church from Moscow as Poroshenko’s election ploy
‘Perverting history’: Bulgarian priest condemns Constantinople for splitting Orthodox Church

RT's coverage is full of how the Ukrainian Church is betraying its worshippers and is breaking agreements with Russia. It forms a useful spotlight on how Moscow views what ought to be, after all, a purely religious affair, and adds further evidence to how the church in Russia is seen as a tool of the state rather than an independent spiritual entity.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#8
Religion and politics have always been close bedfellows, since long before Christianity or any of the 'modern' religions.
 
#9
I think I saw this at the bottom of a BBC new item linked to that item. I didn't follow it as I was aware that it was in the offing from bit some months ago. Like others have said it's not front page news, it is diet season for the front page.
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
Religion and politics have always been close bedfellows, since long before Christianity or any of the 'modern' religions.
Historically that has certainly been the case, but in the West I would argue that it is no longer so. Should a new branch of the Church of England schism here in the UK, I doubt it would have political ramifications and reflect poorly n the government. The same is true of the rest of Europe.. Similarly, the Protestant Church in the USA is about as fragmented as they come, with all manner of localised denominations appearing and disappearing without any impact on the government.

Yes, a more widespread and wholesale change of religion, such as Christian to Muslim, might cause problems, but that is not what is happening in the Ukraine. Instead, it is one branch of the Orthodox Church breaking from control and influence of another. No major religious changes are likely to take place, no change of worship or doctrine, just a bureaucratic independence and freedom from Russian Orthodox control.

To see how significant the event is for Russian politics, you only need to see how it is reported by RT. Their aim of discrediting of the whole thing makes for an interesting read, and illustrates how the Moscow government wants to paint the process. Most significantly for me is the piece (linked to above) which claims that the whole affair is just a ploy by Poroshenko backed by the USA.
 
#11
Religion and politics have always been close bedfellows, since long before Christianity or any of the 'modern' religions.
Does anyone on both sides of the orthodox debate actually hold the faith ? I seriously doubt Putin is a true believer based on his actions and poroshenko certainly does not suggest to me a moral man, who will pass through the proverbial eye of the needle as the crook he undoubtedly is.

Religion is simply a tool used by politicians to exploit the people.. BUT, the faith is something else and people can believe earnestly and be a good person despite the church hierarchy.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#12
In my experience when one has worked out the difference between Religion and Faith understanding gets so much easier.
 
#13
The orthodox influence on Putin's does bring into focus the actions taken some years ago when the Sally Army was banned from Russia.

From 2001,
BBC News | EUROPE | Moscow bans Salvation Army
They may feed the hungry and care for the sick, but to Moscow's Department of Justice, the Salvation Army is nothing more than a violent paramilitary group out to destroy the Russian state.
They can be a bit persistent but violent? It also could be that SA have to renounce alcohol so the drop in revenue for the local officials could also be a problem.
The answer may lie with the law on religious organisations, passed in 1997.

That aimed to boost the power and influence of the Russian Orthodox Church at the expense of religious organisations from abroad.

All religious groups across Russia were required to re-register with the authorities by the end of last year if they wanted to continue to operate. Not all were successful.
The Orthodox spent many years in hiding and out of the limelight so they are making hay now the sun is shining on them. I have a feeling that the government has funded much of the church restorations.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#14
Religion and politics have always been close bedfellows, since long before Christianity or any of the 'modern' religions.
If you can claim to have the gods backing you then the meek and feeble minded tend to do as you decree!
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#18
Ah but it wasConstantine that blatantly used it first in that way. Very interesting thread
Oh, I think that religion had been used long before Constantine. He might have been the first to use Christianity, but it is religion that is the subject at hand. I think the Pharaohs* would be most displeased to be told that Constantine was first.

*And yes, there were leaders before Pharaohs who used religion.
 
#19
The orthodox influence on Putin's does bring into focus the actions taken some years ago when the Sally Army was banned from Russia.

From 2001,
BBC News | EUROPE | Moscow bans Salvation Army

They can be a bit persistent but violent? It also could be that SA have to renounce alcohol so the drop in revenue for the local officials could also be a problem.


The Orthodox spent many years in hiding and out of the limelight so they are making hay now the sun is shining on them. I have a feeling that the government has funded much of the church restorations.


In my experience in Russia - including during that period when the Salvation Army was banned ("a fascist military organisation", to quote someone who was the RO equivalent of an arch-bishop...) - the Orthodox church there was a very unpleasant and un-Christian organisation, especially at state level.

The church was never proscribed, or part of the opposition or underground refusenik movements during soviet times - it was very much an instrument of state used as a useful management tool to browbeat the remaining elements of the population that still favoured superstition over communism.

In the smash-and-grab criminality of the 1990s in Russia, the church was very much part of the get (very, very) rich quick movement. At a time when there was no clear title to property or land (the richest/best-connected person always wins in Russia), the Orthodox Church had a competitive advantage in that it had plausible claim to those bits of land which had a church or monastery sitting on them.

The church duly sold or attempted to sell many of these parcels of land (lots of brown envelopes and Swiss bank account details being exchanged), especially to foreign corporations attempting to make legal and secure basaes for their start-ups in Russia. Funnily enough, few of these transactions were valid, as all those churches and monasteries happened to be state assets and not church assets!

A lot of inward investment into these sites avoided being stolen, as from 2000, Putin had the difficult choice of either enforcing state ownership in order to spite foreigners, or legitimise the church's title to historic (ie pre-communist) real estate in order to continue the soviet style pact with the church. He chose the latter, and now its very much business as usual, with the Orthodox Church playing its role as an arm of state and actor in the new nationalistic mythology.


p.s. the Salvation Army was at the time highly respected in Russia, as it was about the only source of organised charitable work for the destitute and homeless - e.g. it ran soup kitchens for vulnerable street people. When it was kicked out, there was no move by the church to take over this work, and a few maverick monks who had worked with foreign NGOs were themselves sanctioned.

I could mention a string of anecdotes to do with the Russian Orthodox Church but, in a sign of the times, I may need to go back to Russia one day and so will desist!
 
#20
Oh, I think that religion had been used long before Constantine. He might have been the first to use Christianity, but it is religion that is the subject at hand. I think the Pharaohs* would be most displeased to be told that Constantine was first.

*And yes, there were leaders before Pharaohs who used religion.
No doubt
 

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