Back to Index

RUSSIA: The Orthodox Church

A posting was devoted to Meropolitan Joan, patriarch of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, From Moscow, Cameron Sawyer says" I have never heard of this guy. [Joan sniffs: Who is Gospodin Sawyer? I wish these Moscow folks would stop poking fun at us.RH]. There are indeed anti-Western, reactionary strains among some Orthodox believers, but this is by no means universal or even widespread. The Patriarch does not at all subscribe to this. As to the Church recovering its former status, such proposals along these lines which I have heard are inspired by the status of the Catholic and Evangelical Churches in Germany, where as established churches they are entitled to tax revenues (!) the Kirchensteuer. [What is the source of revenue for Orthodox churches? RH]. The last vestiges of worldly authority of the Patriarch were taken away in Tsarist times; ironically it was the Communists who tried to restore some of these in order to use the Church as a way to manipulate the people.

In general, one must keep in mind the peculiarly mystical, anti-rational, non-political nature of Orthodoxy, which stands in stark contrast to Catholicism and most Protestant sects, as well as Islam. There are no pulpits, no sermons in Orthodox services, which are very long and almost entirely sung or chanted. In Poland, the Church played a key role in overthrowing Communism. Catholic priests have a pulpit from which they can exercise tremendous political influence. Islamic imams have the same power, also used for political purposes".

Ronald Hilton - 11/16/02