War in Ukraine: the Russian Orthodox Church in tight ranks behind Vladimir Putin – Le Monde

The time is no longer for silence in the ranks of the Russian Orthodox Church, but for explicit and unalloyed support for Vladimir Putin and Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. For two weeks, several Russian bishops have taken the floor to approve the military offensive in Ukraine ordered by the Russian president. This is a new fact because, during the first five weeks of military operations, Kirill, although totally aligned behind the Head of State, was the only one to speak officially. As early as February 24, the patriarch had provided religious support for the invasion of Ukraine, an operation which, according to him, has a “metaphysical” dimension and which is waged against the “forces of evil” hostile to the unity of the people and the Russian Church. Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The Russian Orthodox Church in turmoil “It seems that we are dealing with a major mobilization of the Russian episcopate, which endorses Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric and is also raising shields to protect the patriarch Kirill”, explains Antoine Nivière, professor at the University of Lorraine, specialist in Russian cultural and religious history. The researcher associates this wave of positions with the “general takeover of society” operated by the Russian authorities. He noted, since the beginning of April, several unequivocal positions taken by religious leaders, as reported by Russian websites. One of these thurifers is unsurprisingly Tikhon Chevkunov. “Communion of thought” Ultranationalist, reputed to be very close to Vladimir Putin and the FSB, the Russian intelligence service, the Metropolitan of Pskov thus questioned the faithful of his diocese, on April 8: “Why a decision with such heavy consequences was taken by our president? (…) Based on the experience of my discussions with him, I can say that, if he had not considered that there were reasons of vital importance, an imminent danger for the Russian people, making this operation essential, he would not have initiated it. (…) If he had not done it now, but later, Russia would have been attacked, with the risk of having millions of victims (…) Let us remember the beginning of the Great Patriotic War [la seconde guerre mondiale] in 1941 and the terrible losses we had then. Bishop Sava, very high up in the central administration of the Moscow Patriarchate, disagreed with the idea that there would be pro and anti-war. “There is not the war party and the peace party,” he declared to the Russian agency Interfax on April 7. There is no one who would not want to live in peace. But, he added: “Do we need peace at the cost of the death of Russia, the trampling of our ideals and, ultimately, the ‘peaceful’ extermination of the Russian people? You have 48.8% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.