Saturday, August 01, 2009

Kirill fighting the pull of the European magnet..

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill's 10-day visit to Ukraine has caused some disquiet, as illustrated by this recent blog on the 'Segodnya' site entitled: "The patriarch as a civilizing tool - a hyperboloid of engineer Putin" .

The author of the article disparages Patriarch Kirill's criticism of a recent OSCE declaration which equates the crimes of Nazism and Soviet Communism. [The Patriarch follows the standard Kremlin line that Stalin's crimes were merely 'excesses']. The author considers the Patriarch was given a far too open and unchallenged platform on Inter TV to air his views, and describes, what was, in his opinion, the main purpose of Patriarch Kirill's visit to Ukraine.

I've translated some portions below:

"The main message of the head of Moscow Orthodoxy was that "Sacred Russia" should not be led [or be guided] by the West". These words mean, that according to the patriarch, European (or so-called western) values do not suit the so-called Slavic mentality. The Patriarch, in the name of the church, declares that there is a certain Slavic mentality for which a special approach is necessary; and the foundation of this mentality is a certain "Sacred Russia", which, in the given context, is opposed to Western values and Ukrainian attempts to rewrite history."

The author challenges these ideas, and continues: "The aim of the "Sacred Russia" project consists only of maintaining the status quo...maintaining a spiritual influence over Ukraine which is boldly rushing into 'the abyss of Western values', (it is well known, the majority of Ukrainians support idea of entry into the European Union). The "Sanctity of Russia" is an abstract concept that not all orthodox believers can explain. It counterposes the Eastern slavic world with other orthodox peoples, e.g. Romanians and Georgians. This idea is dangerous as it declares the supremacy of one set of values over others, and carries the risk of conflict which could result in the construction of the new Iron Curtain. The main question is where its border will be - on the western, or on the eastern border of Ukraine.

In essence, the statement that Slavs do not accept European values is similar to the statement that Ukrainian officials cannot live without taking bribes. It is grandiose lie. Why should European values suit orthodox Romanians, but not orthodox Ukrainians?

Core European values include:

The preeminence of the rights of the individual
A well-developed system of social security
A well-developed system of local government
Total, or at least near-total absence of corruption
Tolerant attitude to all minority groups
Equality of people before the law and in courts
Europe without borders and customs
Secular society with full freedom of worship

Certainly, the church in its current state cannot support the points set out above for the reason that after the implementation of European legislation in Ukraine or Russia, the church would lose all levers of influence on the state... Freedom of worship does not suit the orthodox church, and in Russia legislation very rigidly regulates registration of new religious communities - lessons in Orthodoxy have already been introduced in schools.

It seems that Moscow wishes to offer Ukraine the same system of preservation of so-called "traditional values" via the mouth of the Patriarch with the help of some kind of "spiritual uplift", to enable the elite, which we so hate with all our heart, to remain in power.

For the Kremlin the main thing is that the border of European values remains on the western border of Ukraine, and Ukraine remains in sphere of influence of the Kremlin. The patriarch has arrived to rescue the Ukrainian elite, to offer it a way to eternally remain in power and 'in the money'.

The irony of the situation is that huge numbers of Ukrainians have travelled in Europe, studied in Europe, lived in Europe and know than in the EU the organisation of life differs from the organisation of life at home, so for the normally-developed person all these fairy tales on the Slavic mentality are simply nonsense. European values are craved in Ukraine and Ukraine will come to them, as will Russia. The question is only at what rates. To be an opponent of Western values in the modern world is the same as trying to stop a million hedgehogs with a naked backside. It will happen, even if all of the advocates of "Sacred Russia" try to do this..."

Incidentally, the chief editor of 'Segodnya', in his blog defends Patriarch Kirill's anti-European stance (and also reveals a surprising ignorance of attitudes amongst citizens of the EU's newest Eastern European member countries).

But I'd bet he drives a Beemer or a Merc or one of those other disgusting European motors ..


Anonymous said...

Dear LEvko, thank you for your excellent summary.

There are some points that I would argue about, however.

Sadly, very often people can't make the distinction between the high Church (i.e. the establishment of the clergy) and the apostolic/ evangelical church (the community of believers in Christ's subsitutionary death and His resurrection).

The Russian Orthodox Church believes they are the Third Rome since the times Constantinople fell to Muslims. Hence their air of superiority and conviction they have the ultimate authority over the issues of Christian doctrine and Christendom in general. It goes back that far. So Kirill's attitude is not surprising at all.

But going back to values, the high Orthodox Church is fighting for the right values but the means are wrong. That's just the thing about that mysterious 'Slavic mentality': it puts a lot of faith in coercion and little faith in love understood as sacrificing self for the benefit of others.

As for the European secular values, they have been widely proclaimed, but little implemented. Most unbiased people in Europe would agree things are not getting better, ethically or culturally. Why haven't those values been a total success? Why don't the immigrants assimilate them? Well, the answer lies with the answer to the question 'Who says?'... I am not saying there's something wrong with the most of the European values, not at all (except those that undermine the sanctity of heterosexual marriage and the right to life). I am just saying that without proper foundation that they spun off (i.e. the Christian values implying the rights coupled with responsibilities), these values will fall. All we have to do is sit back and watch it happen.

elmer said...

What is the oily orthodox rooshan church about? It is about political power - of Russia.

Here is an article (excerpt below) about how the rooshan oily orthodox church cooperated with stalin to eliminate Ukrainian Catholics, which has repercussions even today:

Patriarch Kirill's recent high-profile visit to Ukraine was interrupted by an unwanted visitor from the past: Josef Stalin's ghost.

A five-decade-old letter from the Soviet Communist Party archives, made available to RFE/RL's Russian Service this week as Kirill was wrapping up his 10-day visit to Ukraine, illustrates the extent to which the patriarch's predecessors were involved in Stalin's efforts to wipe out the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the 1940s.

The letter, from then-Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksy I to the head of the Soviet Council on Religious Affairs, Georgy Karpov, was dated December 7, 1945, when the Kremlin was consolidating control over territories in heavily Catholic western Ukraine after World War II. Karpov was a colonel in the NKVD, a predecessor to the Soviet KGB.

In the letter, Aleksy informs Karpov of an "initiative group" that was being formed in Greek-Catholic dioceses in western Ukraine that would pressure clergy to agree to disband their church and convert to Orthodoxy.

"More than 800 priests have already joined the initiative group, and it is expected that by the New Year the entire clergy will have done so with the exception of a small number of diehards," Aleksy wrote.

At the time of the letter, all of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church's bishops had been either imprisoned or exiled, making the clergy especially vulnerable to pressure as Stalin sought to eradicate the Vatican's influence.

"What strikes me most about that letter is that, within the context of the particular power relationships that were in place, [Patriarch Aleksei I] really sounds like he was trying to give a semblance of ecclesiastical credibility to what was otherwise clearly a blatant act of state intervention in Church affairs," says Andrii Krawchuk, the former president of the University of Sudbury in Ontario, Canada and the author of the book "Christian Social Ethics in Ukraine."