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ENGLISH VERSION: LEV REGELSON, religious historian and publicist: “Rejection of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by the society and the intellectuals from among the faithful may become critical”
Portal-Credo.Ru: What events in Russia’s religious life in 2013 you would note as the most important ones?
Lev Regelson: A sharp decline in the authority of ROC in the Russian society is related to the anti-human, aggressive and sanctimonious attitude of their clergy members. The final fiasco of the pseudo-imperial "Russian World" strategy, i.e. the de facto loss of the religious Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Moscow. Perhaps, this was the cause of a certain cooling of relationship between the authorities and the leadership of ROC. Some public criticism of ROC presently permitted on the TV is accompanied by the proliferation of anti-Christian sentiments, conspiracy theories, occult tendencies and apocalyptic threats.
Positive trends with some religious components include a certain growth of interest towards the monarchical form of government of the European type.
- Would the departing year go down in history as the one notable for new victories or, on the contrary, defeats in the fight for religious freedoms and liberal attitude towards religion?
- Here we see a double-sided picture. On one hand, the attempt to push the rule on the dominant role of the Orthodoxy through to the Constitution (meaning the ROC’s version of the Orthodoxy) failed. Public opposition to the plans to clericalize the society kept on growing. On the other hand, the process of the liquidation of the most significant sources of the "alternative" Orthodoxy continued. The confiscation of the temples of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) in Suzdal is almost over. Within the ROC itself the "demonstrative crackdown" of the unique parish in the village of Zaostrovye has been terminated.
- What events in your Church do you consider as the most important ones?
- By all means, the most important event in our Apostolic Orthodox Church (AOC) was the Kiev Assembly of October 18, 2013 which adopted major resolutions. The most important among them was the resolution on the clear distinction between the clerical office and administrative position and the respective temporary nature of the positions (metropolitan, primate) elected by the AOC for the term of four years. Murdered priest Pavel Adelheim was sainted as a Confessor and a Teacher of the Church. Bishop Oleg (Vedmedenko) of Kiev and Lutsk, a famous preacher and an industrious administrator, was promoted to the position of Metropolitan.
- What are your expectations of the coming 2014?
- The year promises to be an alarming one and may bring about significant changes. The Ukrainain Orthodoxy would probably release itself from the control on the part of the ROC. In this context the autocephalous Ukrainian Church governed from a sole center would be established. Inside Russia the rejection of the ROC leadership by the society and the intellectuals from among the faithful may become critical. In this connection a substantial growth of the role and the expansion of the scope of the "alternative" Orthodoxy in all its branches – conservative and reformative ones – is expected.
I have uneasy expectations with regard to the Olympic Games with their maddening security measures. Obviously, there is something to be afraid of. Destructive natural calamities may occur in this region.
All this may result in the growing "degree of religiosity" accompanied by the growing mistrust towards the "state-controlled Church".
Intervied by Alexander Soldatov,
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