Resisting the Russian World Ideology is crucial for the future of the Church, - the Head of the UGCC
His Beatitude Sviatoslav said this in a conversation with Polish journalist Krzysztof Tomasik for the book "God Has Not Abandoned Ukraine," reports the Information Department of the UGCC.
As the head of the UGCC noted, the Moscow Patriarchate, which blesses Russian soldiers for the war in Ukraine and justifies aggression on religious grounds, is now a challenge to all Christianity.
“The current situation represents an unprecedented mutation of the so-called political theology, with roots in the history of Russian Orthodoxy, where for centuries church and state operated in consonance. However, what we are now witnessing is a perilous transformation of this ancient foundation, as embodied in the double-headed eagle, a symbol of Russia,” commented the Head of the UGCC.
According to him, the ideology of the Russian World and the ideology of the Islamic State are almost identical.
“Both these ideologies appear almost identical, except that ISIS used Islam to justify its goals, thereby instrumentalizing the religion, whereas the Russian World ideology similarly instrumentalizes Christianity," explains His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
“Firstly, we are witnessing a justification of violence from a religious standpoint by the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as both the Islamic State and the Russian World ideologies justifying violence as a means to achieve their goals. However, this has nothing to do with the true teachings of either Islam or Christianity.
Secondly, the representation of the West as an enemy is also present in both ideologies. The Western world and culture are portrayed as a collective enemy that symbolizes all possible sins. The ultimate goal of this violence is to fight against the supposed immorality of the collective West and what is seen as the Antichrist. This shift from the religious to the political realm represents a dangerous mutation in these ideologies," explains His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
Third, these are totally suicidal mutations, because they promise unconditional life after death to those who stand under these banners. And we heard Patriarch Kirill saying that anyone who dies in this war in Ukraine will be forgiven all their sins. No Christian Church knows such a theory of forgiveness of sins.
Finally, an absolutely apocalyptic vision of the world is another shared feature of these ideologies. Both the Islamic State and the Russian World subscribe to the belief that we are living in the last days. That is, we are talking about an idea that is extremely dangerous."
The head of the UGCC emphasized that the ideology of the Russian World poses a significant threat not just to the Ukrainian Church, but also to the entire Christian world, similar to how the ideology of the Islamic State posed a threat to Islam in the past. This danger is mainly due to the potential loss of moral and religious authority of the Christian Church:
"Similar to the ideology of the Islamic State, which proved to be a calamity for Islam, the ideology of the Russian World represents a calamity for Christianity, regardless of denomination or church. This is because it undermines the very essence of the Christian faith - the Gospel, which is the message of God, who is Love. The ideology of the Russian World promotes an entirely different conception of God, the one that is not God at all. Thankfully, the Islamic world has developed a resistance to this kind of political instrumentalization of faith.
Does modern Christianity have such immunological resistance to the Russian World virus? I don't have an answer...
Therefore, I believe that the question of resisting the Russian World ideology is a question of the future of the Church of Christ in the modern world. Of course, we believe that the words of Christ will be fulfilled: "Simone, Simone, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” And also: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Just as the Islamic world was able to reject the ideology of the Islamic State, I believe that the Christian world can also reject the ideology of the Russian World. In fact, the Orthodox world has already begun to do so.
The Catholic Church has not yet spoken out on this issue, as it considers it an internal problem of Orthodoxy. However, I believe that sooner or later, this will impact all churches that identify as Christian. This is a critical moment, a diabolical temptation for the Church in the third millennium. As faithful disciples of Christ, we must resist this with dignity," emphasized the head of the UGGC.