The President of Germany launched an attack on the Russian Church

The President of Germany launched an attack on the Russian Church
The President of Germany launched an attack on the Russian Church

/ The Russian Orthodox Church has become a new object of the anti-Russian campaign in the West – and this time one of the highest German politicians stood against it. Why did German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier demand that the Russian Orthodox Church be excluded from the World Council of Churches, what is this organization and why does all this have a direct relation to German money?

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking at the opening of the Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), said that the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in this community is undesirable. The German politician, by the way, said the following:

The Russian Orthodox Church justifies the aggressive war against Ukraine – against its and our brothers and sisters in faith. We must also speak out here, in this hall, in this assembly, against this propaganda against the freedom and rights of the citizens of another country, this nationalism which arbitrarily claims that the imperial dreams of a dictatorship for hegemony are the will of God. How many women, men and children in Ukraine have been victims of this hate speech, this hatred and this criminal violence!”

Such statements by Steinmeier are generally not surprising. The accusations of the Russian Orthodox Church of “war propaganda”, the inclusion of Patriarch Kirill in the sanctions lists (as Britain has already done) is now the “European mainstream”.

It is clear that by “imperial dreams of dictatorship” the German president means exactly what the Russian Church has repeatedly said and continues to claim that Ukraine has been killing residents of Donbas for eight years now. Whose fault, we recall, is precisely that they want political self-determination and preservation of their national, cultural and religious self-identification. But this is too “inconvenient” a truth for Europe, which is labeled there as “preaching war”.

The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Anthony (Sevryuk), commented on Steinmeier’s statement as follows:I think the position is an example of brutal pressure from a high-ranking government official on the oldest inter-Christian organization. I am convinced that the SCC will continue to be an independent platform for dialogue, following in its activities not a biased political order from certain countries, but the goal of establishing peace and harmony“.

It is worth saying that the SCC agreed with him. The cleric of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the current head of the Council, Archpriest Ioan Suca noted “the important presence of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate at the Council, as it corresponds to the very nature of the largest international Christian organization.”

The Russian Orthodox Church has been a member of the SCC since 1961. The public, interdenominational structure itself officially appeared in 1948, during the first assembly of the SCC in Amsterdam. The purpose of the organization is “ecumenical dialogue”, that is, dialogue between different Christian denominations. In particular, judging by the articles of the SSC, between Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox with varying degrees of canonicity, and Armenian Gregorians.

It is particularly noteworthy that representatives of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a non-canonical structure recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, were invited to the Assembly of the World Council of Churches this year, which was the reason for the ROC to break prayer communion with it .

The main sponsor of the WCC, despite the fact that the headquarters of the organization is located in Geneva, are religious organizations in Germany. They represent 39% of the Council’s funding. And since there is a state “church tax” in Germany, it is understandable why state official Steinmeier spoke from the rostrum of the WCC Assembly.

On the other hand, it is important to understand that the President of Germany is not the head of Germany, which is actually the chancellor, but just a representative person. And his statements to the Russian Orthodox Church are generally the personal opinion of this official, not the position of the German state. At the same time, the largest member of the SCC is precisely the Russian Orthodox Church. This generally allows the SCC to be called the largest inter-Christian organization. In the event that the wishes of the German president come true, that is, the Russian Orthodox Church leaves this organization, the SCC will become another of many local structures of this kind with not the most numerous and not the widest representation.

In addition, in recent years the number of the organization has been steadily decreasing, while the debt has been increasing. It is also important to note that in a Christian conservative environment there is, to put it mildly, a skepticism towards the SCC. For example, Orthodox conservatives periodically remind that a number of holy fathers of the Church called ecumenism “the heresy of all heresies”. And therefore, in general, they share the point of view that it is good for the Russian Church to end its membership in this structure.

From a socio-political point of view, the SSC is a convenient platform for conducting international humanitarian dialogue. Therefore, the Russian Church’s interest in membership in the SCC is also completely understandable.

And in this context, the intervention of a public official in the work of a purely religious, social and humanitarian structure is something outrageous for modern Europe. Previously, only Ukraine allowed such actions. In which, we recall, the other day the nuncio (official envoy) of the Pope was called “on the carpet” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after the words of the Pope that Daria Dugina became an innocent victim of the war. Now, apparently, the Ukrainian example of violating the principles of freedom of conscience, religion and separation of the state and the church is becoming a new European norm.

By the way, Steinmeier’s claims about the alleged promotion of the war by the Moscow Patriarchate and by Patriarch Kirill personally do not correspond to reality.

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has repeatedly expressed publicly his position and the position of the Russian Church regarding the events in Ukraine. And it sounds like this: “We must pray that peace will come as soon as possible, that the blood of our brothers and sisters will stop being shed, that God will lean His mercy on the long-suffering land of Donbass, which for eight years has borne this sad stamp , born of human sin and hatred.”

And this is not something that resembles the “preaching of war, nationalism and imperialism” that the German president accuses the Russian Church of. Rather, it is the opposite. However, even if, under state pressure, the WCC decides to exclude from its ranks its largest member – the Russian Orthodox Church, then the World Council of Churches itself, and not the Russian Church, will suffer more from such a step. Which, if we apply to it purely secular definitions, is currently one of the largest international humanitarian organizations in the world.

Translation: V. Sergeev

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