Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Putin grabbing Churches outside Russia as 'State Property'

“they presented their request as though they were the normal owners.”

That was how some Experts from Russia - representatives of the Kremlin (yes bonified reps of the Government in Moscow) represented themselves to the community of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Nice in France according to a NY Times article.

It's part of an effort started by Czar Putin to strengthen Russia's cultural identity.

Last spring, leaders of Orthodox churches outside Russia that had broken with the Russian Orthodox Church after the Bolshevik Revolution returned to the fold in services in Moscow that received Mr. Putin’s blessing. “The idea is to restore the identity of the Russian church,” Mr. Obolensky said, “and to recuperate all of its patrimony in the world, above all churches.” (emphasis added)

I'm reminded of the concept of the Caesaropapism that grew in the Byzantine Empire where the Emperor held Spiritual as well as temporal power - as justified by Constantine's summoning of the Ecumenical Councils.

What's interesting though too is the notion of recuperating all of its patrimony in the world, above all churches. Is this a slight because of the recent advances in Catholic/Orthodox talks of reunification, or perhaps the Vatican's bolstering of the Patriarch of Constantinople - which Moscow disdains. Who knows but they're pulling out all the stops - not just the spiritual:

Russian diplomats in Paris say the cases are entirely different. In Nice, their lawyers have presented documents showing that the church was originally the property of Czar Nicholas II, but was given with a 99-year lease to the archbishop of St. Petersburg. The lease expired on Dec. 31, 2007, they say, so the property should revert to the Russian state, the successor to the czarist regime.

The community doubts the validity of such documents - does it sound familiar, it's sort of like the Donation of Constantine?

One explanation for why the government is involved is:

“The place of religion in the formation of the Russian identity is essential,” said Father Gueit, 62, a law professor in Aix-en-Provence when he is not serving the parish’s spiritual needs. “After the fall of the Communist identity, they had no other choice but to revive the Orthodox tradition.”

This insinuation of state intervention (usurpation?) is very intriguing, and I think it's plausible. What's even more interesting is figuring out how this will effect the process of Ecumenism.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: