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Russia’s New Orthodox Military Mega-Church

Gebre Menfes Kidus

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"The walls of Russia’s new Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Armed Forces will be decorated with the faces of President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Soviet leader Josef Stalin, the MBKh News website reported Friday."

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/04/24/russias-new-military-mega-church-to-feature-putin-stalin-crimea-mosaics-a70100


This is beyond disturbing. Absolutely disgusting. It breaks my heart as an Orthodox Christian. I hope and pray that faithful Russian Orthodox clergy and laity will protest this blasphemy. Does anyone know if any priests or monks have spoken out against this madness?

Lord have mercy.

Selam
 

Deacon Lance

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Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
"The walls of Russia’s new Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Armed Forces will be decorated with the faces of President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Soviet leader Josef Stalin, the MBKh News website reported Friday."

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/04/24/russias-new-military-mega-church-to-feature-putin-stalin-crimea-mosaics-a70100


This is beyond disturbing. Absolutely disgusting. It breaks my heart as an Orthodox Christian. I hope and pray that faithful Russian Orthodox clergy and laity will protest this blasphemy. Does anyone know if any priests or monks have spoken out against this madness?

Lord have mercy.

Selam
Some have sadly defended it...
 

Ainnir

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God is judge.
 

Luke

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Oh yeah.  I forgot they were building that Church.  Does anyone know where it is located?
With all the pictures of the political leaders and the annexation of Crimea, does the Church have any room for icons? :eek:
 

MarkosC

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From what I've seen (the Moscow Times video) I don't find it too bad, at least theologically.  That Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War is a fact, to have him depicted in a poster in a mural of soldiers of said war is not outlandish.  I would rather that mural be outside the actual church (naos or temple for those who want to be sticklers), but just based on the video I'm not terribly worked up about it.  The depiction of serving Orthodox heads of state, their subordinates, and even donors in icons/murals/frescoes in churches has plenty of precedent.   

All that said, and I hate to say it because it somewhat makes light of those who died in the war, but I honestly think a lot of the art depicited in video, be it in the actual church or in the memorial around it, is pretty tacky and in bad taste, and would definitely be inappropriate inside the church.  This includes the mural with Putin, the Crimea reference, and the Soviet-veterans-in-uniform-with-Stalin-in-the-back War mural.   

And no one should really be surprised; apparently many elements of the Russian Church have embraced nationalism in a big way.  I would recommend to folks the book "Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy" which had some pretty eye opening things about the Church's embrace of Russia's nuclear weapons - were you even to propose that the synods/bishop's conferences of Western churches adopt such policies I'm sure they'd  (sorry for the pun) meltdown.  It's completely foreign to the mindset of many theology schools and formation of the past severa decades.  The book claims: (I'm not Russian in any sort besides reading books so I can't verify them, though the book purports to be a footnoted academic book)

- the Russian church blesses Strategic Rocket Force and other nuclear units on a regular basis

- the Russian church apparently 100% supports Russia's comparatively aggressive nuclear weapons policy, to include first use of nuclear weapons*

- St Seraphim of Sarov is the patron Saint of Russia's nuclear weapons manufacturing because ..... the Soviets put that whole complex in Sarov, after forcibly seculariizng his basilica and the town.  Then- Metropolitan Kyril apparently was one of the leaders of this move to bring Orthodoxy into the Sarov workforce, and was very forward leaning in this effort.** 

Ultimately, this IMO is one facet of the Russian Church's desire to reinsert itself into government and society, in a way that follows on Russian tradition, and in a way foreign to the secularized west (and would be very inappropriate in the explicitly non-established-church U.S.)  It's weird to westerners, and it's IMO can be in bad taste (the same way i honestly think some facets of US society's admiration of the miiltary sometimes moves into patronizingly bad taste), but so far I've heard of no official MP action that I find very disturbing. (beyond possibly uncritical nationalistic bandwagoning, especially in Crimea, Ossetia, etc.) 

Anyway, my Greek Catholic $0.02.  (which may have gone beyond the mandate of the church news sub forum!)

* I'm not accusing Russia of being nuclear aggressors; based on my limited understanding of such things I'm not disturbed because Russia's policy is defensive, even if some of the things mentioned in the Pentagon's very public and google-able Nuclear Posture Review are problematic.

** I also won't "fault" Patriarch Kyril because that's not my right or place, even if I don't agree with a direction the Patriachate takes, or even some of the things he says, and what I see reinforces my automatic presumption that our hierarchs are pious, holy men.  For instance, I don't view him as anti-western - there's a video on youtube where he's giving some kind of homily in relation to St. Mark of Ephesus, and though the uploader says it "shows the errors of the Catholicism" or somesuch it's just the Patriarch's opinions on the moral crisis on the West, and I happen to disagree with his statement that the EU forces secularism and liberalism on the people and churches of Europe.(I see the situation as the reverse, for the most part, at least in Western Europe).  I would also note he signed a fairly long, detailed, and IMO good Joint Declaration with Pope Francis. 
 
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I have an iPhone on a family plan & the link was taking up too much data for me. Are these secular depictions within the narthex or even further in? Mind you, I am already pessimistic of this and feel only my pessimism will be further confirmed.
 

rakovsky

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I don't remember whether Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, which was built as a memorial to the Russian victory in the Napoleonic Wars, included a fresco of Tsar Alexander with other military officials. That is one of the closest analogies that comes to mind.

The MP church couldn't make an ikon for Ivan the Terrible because he was excommunicated and killed a Russian Saint, the Metropolitan of Moscow. It's debatable I think whether paintings or frescoes in churches are necessarily "ikons" for veneration. So for instance Tsar Alexander was not a canonized saint, but I could imagine that he could be included in a painting showing him with other military officials.

For Stalin, some of the biggest problems for putting pictures of him in churches are that he was apparently an Atheist, and also killed tons of his population, and persecuted the church, including shutting down churches, and killing lots of priests.

I think that the reports, like from his bodyguard, are true that he had a turn to Orthodox piety during WWII, praying in a Kremlin chapel. After WWII, the persecution in general and against the church drastically diminished. But it's not like we have a serious report that he formally performed Confession, openly repented, expressed faithfulness, and communed. So it looks hard for churches to treat him as some spiritual Orthodox Christian.
 

rakovsky

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Stalin's portrait is in the upper right.

Представитель РПЦ возразил против мозаики Сталина в храме Вооруженных сил

В главном храме Вооруженных сил в парке «Патриот» не должно быть изображений Иосифа Сталина, высказал свое мнение председатель Синодального отдела по взаимоотношениям Церкви с обществом и СМИ Владимир Легойда в эфире радио «Вера». Он сказал, что с именем Сталина связаны «многие беды в жизни людей, которые невозможно вычеркнуть из истории» (цитата по «Интерфаксу»). Сама реакция, которую вызвало решение, свидетельствует, что инициатива требует более широкого обсуждения, сказал Легойда.

The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church objected to the mosaic of Stalin in the temple of the Armed Forces

There should be no images of Joseph Stalin in the main church of the Armed Forces in Patriot Park, Chairman of the Synodal Department for the Relations of the Church with Society and the Media Vladimir Legoyda expressed his opinion on the radio station "Vera". He said that “many troubles in the lives of people that cannot be erased from history” are associated with the name of Stalin (quoted by Interfax). The very reaction that the decision provoked indicates that the initiative requires wider discussion, said Legoyda.

https://www.vedomosti.ru/society/news/2020/05/01/829505-stalina
The article also says that Putin's spokesman also objected to Putin being in the mosaic for the church because it was too early to evaluate Putin's actions in that way.
 

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I initially imagined Stalin was going to be on there with a halo, so I suppose it's not as distasteful as it may have been.

rakovsky said:
The article also says that Putin's spokesman also objected to Putin being in the mosaic for the church because it was too early to evaluate Putin's actions in that way.
Very cool of Putin!
 

rakovsky

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platypus said:
I initially imagined Stalin was going to be on there with a halo, so I suppose it's not as distasteful as it may have been.
It's not clear whether it's going to be in the finished version of their church. Since the ROC spokesperson opposed the Stalin portrait, it seems most likely that it won't be.
 

PorphyriosK

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Ok, you all know how I am and that I get tired of the occasional "MP bad" attitude I see around here at times. But even I will not try to defend this. It is a misplaced nationalism that has clearly crossed the line.
 

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The Russian Orthodox Church is an integral part of Russian identity - the mentality is that Russians became a nation when they adopted Christianity. Now, due to being incessantly attacked and invaded for the past 1,000 through misfortune of being inconveniently situated at the Europe/Asia land corridor, the militarism and a defensive mindset has also become ingrained in the Russian psyche. We can complain about the symbiosis of church-state-military from an outside perspective, and also (rightfully, I’d say) about Stalin being depicted here. But keep in mind, in living memory, that country fought a war, although victoriously, that left 27 million of its citizens dead. Symbols of the victory over death and destruction are very important, and there is at least context as to why this cathedral has emerged in this form.
 

PorphyriosK

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The Russian Orthodox Church is an integral part of Russian identity - the mentality is that Russians became a nation when they adopted Christianity. Now, due to being incessantly attacked and invaded for the past 1,000 through misfortune of being inconveniently situated at the Europe/Asia land corridor, the militarism and a defensive mindset has also become ingrained in the Russian psyche. We can complain about the symbiosis of church-state-military from an outside perspective, and also (rightfully, I’d say) about Stalin being depicted here. But keep in mind, in living memory, that country fought a war, although victoriously, that left 27 million of its citizens dead. Symbols of the victory over death and destruction are very important, and there is at least context as to why this cathedral has emerged in this form.
This is insightful. I am reconsidering my above comment.
 

LizaSymonenko

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It is true... the Russian people faithful... and they are mired in a tragic violent history. However, if we were to look at the history of the Russian Federation, we would most likely deduce that they were more often the aggressors and attackers, rather than the victims... because as you said, they are pretty much land-locked... and have had to continuously find ways to reach Europe and the Mediterranean... and still do.

However, when building a church... an edifice that is to focus on God.. it is crucial, no matter how sentimental the symbols of victory in war are to the people... to leave them behind and not have villains sharing the same walls as icons of the saints.

We travel upward, climbing steps usually, in order to reach a church, which is located "above" the earth, and the earthly. In the narthex, we pause, cross ourselves and pray before we enter the nave, leaving behind all our earthly cares, concerns and passions... so that when we enter the nave we can focus entirely on God. Even the windows in the churches are colored or etched so as to block out the mortal world, limiting distraction of people passing by, so that we may focus on our future life, and upon salvation.
 

hecma925

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From the videos I've seen, it's awesome. I want one in my backyard.
 
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