Russian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox Church

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The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC; , Russkaya Pravoslavnaya Tserkov') or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate ' onMouseout='HidePop("5199")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Christianity">Christians
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 who constitute an autocephalous
Autocephaly
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

 Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow, in communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

 with the other Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million estimated adherents of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Among Christian churches, the Russian Orthodox Church is second only to the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in terms of numbers of followers. Within Russia the results of a 2007 VCIOM
VCIOM
All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, VTsIOM, [established in 1987; till 1992 – All-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion] is the oldest polling institution in the post-Soviet space and is one of the leading sociological and market research companies in Russia.-General...

 poll indicated that about 75% of the population considered themselves Orthodox Christians. Up to 65% of ethnic Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 and a similar percentage of Belarusians
Belarusians
Belarusians ; are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Old Belarusian...

 and Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 identify themselves as "Orthodox". According to figures released on February 2, 2010, the Church has 160 dioceses including 30,142 parishes served by 207 bishops, 28,434 priests and 3,625 deacons. There are 788 monasteries, including 386 for men and 402 for women.

The ROC should not be confused with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

 (also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, or ROCOR), headquartered in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. The ROCOR was instituted in the 1920s by Russian communities outside then-Communist Russia who refused to recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate headed by Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 Sergiy Stragorodsky
Patriarch Sergius I of Moscow
Patriarch Sergius I , – May 15, 1944) was the 12th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, from September 8, 1943 until his death. He was also the de facto head of the Russian Orthodox Church as Patriarchal locum tenens in 1925-1943.-Early life:...

. The two Churches reconciled on May 17, 2007; the ROCOR is now a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The ROC also should not be confused with the Orthodox Church in America
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

 (OCA), an Eastern Orthodox church in North America.

Structure and organization


Administratively, the Church is organized in a hierarchical structure. The lowest level of organization, which normally would be a single church building and its attendees, headed by a priest who acts as Father superior , constitute a parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 . All parishes in a geographical region belong to an eparchy
Eparchy
Eparchy is an anglicized Greek word , authentically Latinized as eparchia and loosely translating as 'rule over something,' like province, prefecture, or territory, to have the jurisdiction over, it has specific meanings both in politics, history and in the hierarchy of the Eastern Christian...

 ( — equivalent to a Western diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

). Eparchies are governed by bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s ' onMouseout='HidePop("29435")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Bishop">episcop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 or архиерей, archiereus
Archiereus
Archiereus is a Greek term for bishop, when considered as the culmination of the priesthood.It is used in the liturgical books of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church, for those services which correspond to the pontifical services of the Roman Rite...

). There are around 130 Russian Orthodox eparchies worldwide.

Further, some eparchies are organized into exarch
Exarch
In the Byzantine Empire, an exarch was governor with extended authority of a province at some remove from the capital Constantinople. The prevailing situation frequently involved him in military operations....

ates, or autonomous
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 churches. Currently these include the Orthodox Churches of the Belarusian exarchate; the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the Latvian
Latvian Orthodox Church
The Latvian Orthodox Church is a self-governing Eastern Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow. The primate of the church carries the title of Metropolitan of Riga and all Latvia...

, the Moldovan
Moldovan Orthodox Church
The Moldovan Orthodox Church is an autonomous church under the Russian Orthodox Church, whose canonic territory covers the Republic of Moldova....

, and the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate
Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate
The Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate is a semi-autonomous diocese of the Patriarchate of Moscow whose primate is appointed by the Holy Synod of the latter. Its official name in English is the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate...

. The Chinese and Japanese Orthodox
Chinese Orthodox Church
The Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church is an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church in China. It was granted autonomy by its mother church, the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-1950s.-Ancient Period:...

 Churches were granted full autonomy by the Moscow Patriarchate, but this autonomy is not universally recognized.

Smaller eparchies are usually governed by a single bishop. Larger eparchies, exarchates, and autonomous Churches are governed by a Metropolitan archbishop
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 and sometimes also have one or more bishops assigned to them.

The highest level of authority in the Church is vested in the Local Council (Pomestny Sobor), which comprises all the bishops as well as representatives from the clergy and laypersons. Another organ of power is the Bishops' Council (Архиерейский Собор). In the periods between the Councils the highest administrative powers are exercised by the Holy Synod
Holy Synod
In several of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, the patriarch or head bishop is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod...

 which includes 7 permanent members and is chaired by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Primate of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Although the Patriarch of Moscow has extensive powers, unlike the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 he does not have direct authority over matters pertaining to faith. Some of the most fundamental issues (such as the ones responsible for the Catholic-Orthodox split
East–West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

) can not be adequately and definitively addressed by a meeting of the Local Council and have to be dealt with by an council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

 of representatives from all Eastern Orthodox Churches. The last time such a council was held was in 787. In 787 there was only a single Christian church. The split into Western and Eastern parts occurred with the Great Schism
East–West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 in the 11th century.

History


The Christian community that became the Russian Orthodox Church is traditionally said to have been founded by the Apostle Andrew
Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew , called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name "Andrew" , like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the 3rd or 2nd century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him...

, who is thought to have visited Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 and Greek colonies along the northern coast of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. According to one of the legends, Andrew reached the future location of Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 and foretold
Prediction
A prediction or forecast is a statement about the way things will happen in the future, often but not always based on experience or knowledge...

 the foundation of a great Christian city. The spot where he reportedly erected a cross is now marked by St. Andrew's Cathedral.

By the end of the first millennium AD, eastern Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 lands started to come under the cultural influence of the Eastern Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In 863-869, Saint Cyril
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

 and Saint Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

 translated parts of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 into Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 language for the first time, paving the way for the Christianization of the Slavs. There is evidence that the first Christian bishop was sent to Novgorod from Constantinople
Christianization of the Rus' Khaganate
The Christianization of the Rus' Khaganate is supposed to have happened in the 860s and was the first stage in the process of Christianization of the East Slavs which continued well into the 11th century...

 either by Patriarch Photius or Patriarch Ignatios, circa 866-867 AD.

By the mid-10th century, there was already a Christian community among Kievan nobility, under the leadership of Greek and Byzantine priests, although paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 remained the dominant religion. Princess Olga of Kiev
Olga of Kiev
Saint Olga , or Olga the Beauty, hypothetically Old Norse: Helga In some Scandinavian sources she was called other name. born c. 890 died 11 July 969, Kiev) was a ruler of Kievan Rus' as regent Saint Olga , or Olga the Beauty, hypothetically Old Norse: Helga In some Scandinavian sources she was...

 was the first ruler of Kievan Rus to convert to Christianity, either in 945 or 957. Her grandson, Vladimir the Great, made Kievan Rus' a Christian state.

As a result of the Christianization of Kievan Rus' in 988, Prince Vladimir I of Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 officially adopted Byzantine Rite Christianity — the religion of the Eastern Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 — as the state religion of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

. This date is often considered the official birthday of the Russian Orthodox Church. Thus, in 1988, the Church celebrated its millennial anniversary. It therefore traces its apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 through the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The Kievan church was originally a Metropolitanate
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 of the Patriarchate
Patriarchate
A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either* one of the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, earlier, the five that were included in the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but now nine,...

 of Constantinople and the Byzantine patriarch appointed the metropolitan who governed the Church of Rus'. The Metropolitan's residence was originally located in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

. As Kiev was losing its political, cultural, and economical significance due to the Mongol invasion, Metropolitan Maximus
Maximus, Metropolitan of all Rus
Maximus was the Metropolitan of Kiev who moved the see of Russian metropolitans to Vladimir-on-Kliazma. In spite of the move, the metropolitans were officially known as "Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus'" until the establishment of autocephaly under Jonah in 1448.Maximus was of Greek origin...

 moved to Vladimir
Vladimir
Vladimir is a city and the administrative center of Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located on the Klyazma River, to the east of Moscow along the M7 motorway. Population:...

 in 1299; his successor, Metropolitan Peter
Metropolitan Peter
Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia was the Russian metropolitan who moved his see from Vladimir to Moscow in 1325. Later he was proclaimed a patron saint of Moscow. In spite of the move, the office remained officially entitled "Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus'" until the...

 moved the residence to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in 1325.

Monastic reform of St. Sergius and its aftermath


Following the tribulations of the Mongol invasion, the Russian Church was pivotal in the survival and life of the Russian state. Despite the politically motivated murders of Mikhail of Chernigov
Michael of Chernigov
Saint Michael of Chernigov or Mikhail Vsevolodovich was a Rus' prince...

 and Mikhail of Tver
Mikhail Yaroslavich
Mikhail Yaroslavich , also known as Michael of Tver or Michael the Saint, was a Prince of Tver who ruled as Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1304 until 1314 and again from 1315-1318...

, the Mongols were generally tolerant and even granted tax exemption to the Church. Such holy figures as Sergius of Radonezh
Sergius of Radonezh
Venerable Sergius of Radonezh , also transliterated as Sergey Radonezhsky or Serge of Radonezh, was a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia. Together with Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, he is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most highly venerated saints.-Early life:The date of...

 and Metropolitan Alexis
Alexius, Metropolitan of Moscow
Saint Alexius was Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia , and presided over the Moscow government during Dmitrii Donskoi's minority....

 helped the country to withstand years of Tatar
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

 oppression, and to expand both economically and spiritually.

The monastic reform of St. Sergius, which culminated in the foundation of the monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 known as Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra near Moscow, was one of the defining events of medieval Russian history. The monastery became the setting for the unprecedented flourishing of transcendent, spiritual art, exemplified by the work of Andrey Rublev
Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev is considered to be the greatest medieval Russian painter of Orthodox icons and frescoes.-Biography:...

, among others. The followers of Sergius founded four hundred monasteries, thus greatly extending the geographical extent of his influence and authority.

The spiritual resurgence of the late 14th century, associated with the names of St. Sergius, the missionary Stephen of Perm
Stephen of Perm
Saint Stephen of Perm was a fourteenth century missionary credited with the conversion of the Komi Permyaks to Christianity and the establishment of the Bishopric of Perm'. Stephen also created the Old Permic script, which makes him the founding-father of Permian written tradition...

 and the writer Epiphanius the Wise
Epiphanius the Wise
Epiphanius the Wise was a monk from Rostov, hagiographer and disciple of Saint Sergius of Radonezh.He wrote hagiographies of both Saint Stephen of Perm and St. Sergius. The latter, The Life of Sergii Radonezhsky, he started to write a year after the death of Saint Sergius according to his own...

, contributed to the consolidation of the Russian nation. Lev Gumilev has observed that, having received the blessing of St. Sergius to make a stand against the Tatars, "the Suzdalians, Vladimirians, Rostovians, Pskovians went to the Kulikovo Field
Kulikovo Field
Kulikovo Field is a field in Tula Oblast in Russia, where the famous Battle of Kulikovo took place on September 8 of 1380.As established by Stepan Nechayev, the battlefield is located between the rivers of Nepryadva, Krasivaya Mecha, and Don some 140 km away from Tula and 23 km away from...

 as representatives of their principalities but returned after the victory as Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

, although living in different towns", a dictum which has been endorsed by modern church functionaries.

At the Council of Florence
Council of Florence
The Council of Florence was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1431 in Basel, Switzerland, and became known as the Council of Ferrara after its transfer to Ferrara was decreed by Pope Eugene IV, to convene in 1438...

 (1439), a group of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church leaders agreed upon terms of reunification of the two branches of Christianity. The Russian Prince Basil II of Moscow, however, rejected the concessions to the Catholic Church and forbade the proclamation of the acts of the Council in Russia in 1452, after a short-lived East-West reunion. Metropolitan Isidore
Isidore of Kiev
Isidore of Kiev, also known as Isidore of Thessalonica was a Greek Metropolitan of Kiev, cardinal, humanist, and theologian. He was one of the chief Eastern defenders of reunion at the time of the Council of Florence.-Early life:...

 was in the same year expelled from his position as an apostate.

In 1448, the Russian Church became independent from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Metropolitan Jonas, installed by the Council of Russian bishops in 1448, was given the title of Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia. This was just five years before the fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453. From this point onward the Russian Orthodox Church saw Moscow as the Third Rome
Third Rome
The term Third Rome describes the idea that some European city, state, or country is the successor to the legacy of the Roman Empire and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire ....

, legitimate successor to Constantinople, and the Primate of Moscow as head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Consolidation and codification


The reign of Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

 and his successor was plagued by numerous heresies and controversies. One party
Non-possessors
Non-possessors belonged to a 16th-century movement in the Russian Orthodox Church in opposition to ecclesiastical land-ownership...

, led by Nil Sorsky
Nil Sorsky
Nil Sorsky was a leader of the Russian medieval movement opposing ecclesiastic landownership . Nil Sorsky is venerated as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. His feast day is on the anniversary of his repose on May 7.-Early life:Before becoming a monk, Nil Sorsky worked as a scribe and was...

 and Vassian Kosoy, called for secularisation of monastic properties. They were oppugned by the influential Joseph of Volotsk
Joseph Volotsky
Joseph Volotsky — also known as Joseph of Volotsk or Joseph of Volokolamsk ; secular name Ivan Sanin — was a prominent caesaropapist ideologist of the Russian Orthodox Church who led the party defending monastic landownership.He is a saint ; his memory is celebrated on 9 September and 18...

, who defended ecclesiastical ownership of land and property. The sovereign's position fluctuated, but eventually he threw his support to Joseph. New sects sprang up, some of which showed a tendency to revert to Mosaic law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

: for instance, the archpriest
Archpriest
An archpriest is a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches, although it may be used in the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church instead of dean or vicar forane.In the 16th and 17th centuries, during...

 Aleksei converted to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 after meeting a certain Zechariah the Jew
Sect of Skhariya the Jew
The Sect of Skhariya the Jew, much more commonly known as the Heresy of the Judaizers or Zhidovstvuyushchiye, was a sect that appeared in Novgorod the Great and Grand Duchy of Moscow in the second half of the 15th century and marked the beginning of a new era of heresy in Russia...

.

Monastic life flourished in Russia, focusing on prayer and spiritual growth. The disciples of St. Sergius
Sergius of Radonezh
Venerable Sergius of Radonezh , also transliterated as Sergey Radonezhsky or Serge of Radonezh, was a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia. Together with Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, he is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most highly venerated saints.-Early life:The date of...

 left the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to...

 to found hundreds of monasteries across Russia. Some of the most famous monasteries were located in the Russian North
Extreme North (Russia)
The Extreme North or Far North is a large part of Russia located mainly north of the Arctic Circle and boasting enormous mineral and natural resources....

, even as far north as Pechenga
Pechenga Monastery
The Pechenga Monastery was for many centuries the northernmost monastery in the world. It was founded in 1533 at the influx of the Pechenga River into the Barents Sea, 135 km west of modern Murmansk, by St...

, in order to demonstrate how faith could flourish in the most inhospitable lands. The richest landowners of medieval Russia included Joseph Volokolamsk Monastery
Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery
Joseph Volokolamsk Monastery is a monastery for men, located 17 km northeast of Volokolamsk, Moscow Oblast. In the 15th and 16th century, it rivaled the Trinity as the most authoritative and wealthy monastery in Russia...

, Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery , loosely translated in English as the St. Cyril-Belozersk Monastery, used to be the largest monastery of Northern Russia. The monastery was dedicated to the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, for which cause it was sometimes referred to as the Dormition Monastery...

 and the Solovetsky Monastery
Solovetsky Monastery
Solovetsky Monastery was the greatest citadel of Christianity in the Russian North before being turned into a special Soviet prison and labor camp , which served as a prototype for the GULag system. Situated on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, the monastery braved many changes of fortune...

. In the 18th century, the three greatest monasteries were recognized as lavra
Lavra
In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

s, while those subordinated directly to the Synod were labelled stauropegic
Stauropegic
Stauropegic, also rendered stavropegic, stauropegial, or stavropegial is a title or description applied to Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christian monasteries subordinated directly to a Patriarch or Synod, rather than to their local Bishop...

.

In the 1540s, Metropolitan Macarius
Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow
Macarius was a notable Russian cleric, writer, and iconographer who served as the Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia from 1542 until 1563.-Early life and work on the Menaion:...

 codified Russian hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 and convened a number of church synods, which culminated in the Hundred Chapter Synod
Stoglavy Sobor
The Stoglavy Sobor was a church council held in Moscow in 1551, with the participation of Tsar Ivan IV, Metropolitan Macarius, and representatives of the Boyar Duma...

 of 1551. This assembly unified Church ceremonies and duties in the whole territory of Russia. At the demand of the Church hierarchy the government canceled the tsar's jurisdiction over ecclesiastics. Reinforced by these reforms, the Church felt strong enough to challenge the policies of the tsar. Philip of Moscow, in particular, decried many abuses of Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

, who eventually engineered his defrocking and murder.

Autocephaly and schism


During the reign of tsar Theodor I
Feodor I of Russia
Fyodor I Ivanovich 1598) was the last Rurikid Tsar of Russia , son of Ivan IV and Anastasia Romanovna. In English he is sometimes called Feodor the Bellringer in consequence of his strong faith and inclination to travel the land and ring the bells at churches. However, in Russian the name...

 his brother-in-law Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

 contacted the Ecumenical Patriarch, who "was much embarrassed for want of funds," with a view to establishing a patriarchal see in Moscow. As a result of Godunov's efforts, Metropolitan Job of Moscow became in 1589 the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus', making the Russian Church autocephalous
Autocephaly
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

. The four other patriarchs have recognized the Moscow Patriarchate as one of the five honourable Patriarchates. During the next half a century, when the tsardom was weak, the patriarchs (notably Hermogenes
Patriarch Hermogenes
Hermogenes, or Germogen , was the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia from 1606. It was he who inspired the popular uprising that put an end to the Time of Troubles. Hermogenes was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1913...

 and Philaret
Patriarch Filaret (Feodor Romanov)
Feodor Nikitich Romanov was a Russian boyar who after temporary disgrace rose to become patriarch of Moscow as Filaret , and became de-facto ruler of Russia during the reign of his son, Mikhail Feodorovich.- Life :...

) would help run the state along with (and sometimes instead of) the tsars.

At the urging of the Zealots of Piety
Zealots of Piety
The Zealots of Piety was a circle of ecclesiastical and secular individuals beginning in the late 1630s in Russia, which gathered around Stefan Vonifatiyev, the confessor of tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. The impetus to the group's formation was the Times of Trouble...

, Patriarch Nikon
Patriarch Nikon
Nikon , born Nikita Minin , was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church...

 resolved in 1652 to centralize power that had been distributed locally, while conforming Russian Orthodox rites and rituals to those of the Greek Orthodox Church, as interpreted by pundits from the Kiev Ecclesiastical Academy. For instance he insisted that Russian Christians cross themselves with three fingers, rather than the then-traditional two. This aroused antipathy among a substantial section of the believers who saw the changed rites as heresy, although the extent to which these changes can be regarded as minor or major ritual significance remains open to debate. After the implementation of these innovations at the church council of 1666–1667, the Church anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

tized and suppressed those who acted contrary to them with the support of Muscovite state power. These traditionalists became known as "Old Believers
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

" or "Old Ritualists
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

".
Although Nikon's far-flung ambitions of steering the country to a theocratic form of government
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

 precipitated his defrocking and exile, Tsar Aleksey deemed it prudent to uphold many of his innovations. During the Schism of the Russian Church
Raskol
Raskol |schism]]') was the event of splitting of the Russian Orthodox Church into an official church and the Old Believers movement in mid-17th century, triggered by the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in 1653, aiming to establish uniformity between the Greek and Russian church practices.-The Raskol:...

, the Old Ritualists were separated from the main body of the Orthodox Church. Archpriest Avvakum
Avvakum
Avvakum Petrov was a Russian protopope of Kazan Cathedral on Red Square who led the opposition to Patriarch Nikon's reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church...

 Petrov and many other opponents of the church reforms were burned at the stake, either forcibly or voluntarily. Another prominent figure within the Old Ritualists' movement, Boyarynya Morozova
Feodosia Morozova
Feodosia Prokopiyevna Morozova was one of the best-known partisans of the Old Believer movement.She was born on May 21, 1632 into a family of the okolnichi Prokopy Feodorovich Sokovnin. At the age of 17, she was married to the boyar Gleb Morozov, brother to the tsar's tutor Boris Morozov...

, was starved to death in 1675. Others escaped from the government persecutions to Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and other inhospitable lands, where they would live in semi-seclusion until the modern times.

Peter the First


With the ascension of Emperor Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 to the throne of Russia (1682–1725), with his radical modernization of Russian government, army, dress, and manners, Russia became a formidable political power.

Expansion


In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Russian Orthodox Church experienced a vast geographic expansion. In the following two centuries, missionary efforts stretched out across Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 into Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, then into California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 which would become part of the United States. Eminent people on that missionary effort included St. Innocent of Irkutsk
Innocent of Alaska
Saint Innocent of Alaska , also known as Saint Innocent of Moscow was a Russian Orthodox priest, bishop, archbishop and Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. He is known for his missionary work, scholarship and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 19th century...

 and St. Herman of Alaska
Herman of Alaska
Saint Herman of Alaska was one of the first Eastern Orthodox missionaries to the New World, and is considered by Orthodox Christians to be the patron saint of the Americas.-Biography:Saint Herman was born in the town of Serpukhov in the Moscow Diocese around 1756...

. In emulation of Stephen of Perm
Stephen of Perm
Saint Stephen of Perm was a fourteenth century missionary credited with the conversion of the Komi Permyaks to Christianity and the establishment of the Bishopric of Perm'. Stephen also created the Old Permic script, which makes him the founding-father of Permian written tradition...

, they learned local languages and translated the gospels and the hymns. Sometimes those translations required the invention of new systems of transcription.

In the aftermath of the Treaty of Pereyaslav
Treaty of Pereyaslav
The Treaty of Pereyaslav is known in history more as the Council of Pereiaslav.Council of Pereyalslav was a meeting between the representative of the Russian Tsar, Prince Vasili Baturlin who presented a royal decree, and Bohdan Khmelnytsky as the leader of Cossack Hetmanate. During the council...

, the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 (supposedly acting on behalf of the Russian regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 Sophia Alekseyevna) pressured the Patriarch of Constantinople into transferring the Metropoly of Kiev
Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is an autonomous Church of Eastern Orthodoxy in Ukraine, under the ecclesiastic jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate...

 from the jurisdiction of Constantinople to that of Moscow. The controversial transfer brought millions of faithful and half a dozen dioceses under the pastoral and administrative care of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', leading to the significant Ukrainian domination of the Russian Orthodox Church, which continued well into the 18th century, with Theophanes Prokopovich
Feofan Prokopovich
thumb|Theophan ProkopovichFeofan/Theophan Prokopovich was an archbishop and statesman in the Russian Empire, of Ukrainian descent. He elaborated and implemented Peter the Great's reform of the Russian Orthodox Church...

, Epiphanius Slavinetsky
Epifany Slavinetsky
Epifany Slavinetsky was an ecclesiastical expert of the Russian Orthodox Church who helped Patriarch Nikon to revise the ancient service-books, thus precipitating the Great Schism of the national church....

, Stephen Yavorsky
Stephen Yavorsky
Stefan Yavorsky was an archbishop and statesman in the Russian Empire, of Ukrainian descent, one of the ablest coadjutors of Peter the Great and the first president of the Most Holy Synod....

 and Demetrius of Rostov
Dimitry of Rostov
Saint Dimitry of Rostov was a leading opponent of the Caesaropapist reform of the Russian Orthodox church promoted by Feofan Prokopovich. He is representative of the strong Ukrainian influence upon the Russian Orthodox Church at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries...

 being among the most notable representatives of this trend.

In 1700, after Patriarch Adrian
Patriarch Adrian
Patriarch Adrian was the last pre-revolutionary Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.Adrian caught the eye of Patriarch Joachim, when he was still an archmandrite at Chudov Monastery. In 1686, Joachim appointed him metropolitan of Kazan and Sviyazhsk. On August 24, 1690, Adrian was chosen to replace...

's death, Peter the Great prevented a successor from being named, and in 1721, following the advice of Feofan Prokopovich, Archbishop of Pskov, the Holy and Supreme Synod
Holy Synod
In several of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, the patriarch or head bishop is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod...

 was established under Archbishop Stephen Yavorsky
Stephen Yavorsky
Stefan Yavorsky was an archbishop and statesman in the Russian Empire, of Ukrainian descent, one of the ablest coadjutors of Peter the Great and the first president of the Most Holy Synod....

 to govern the church instead of a single primate. This was the situation until shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, at which time the Local Council (more than half of its members being lay persons) adopted the decision to restore the Patriarchy. On November 5 (according to the Julian calendar) a new patriarch, Tikhon
Tikhon of Moscow
Saint Tikhon of Moscow , born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin , was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union, 1917 through 1925.-Early life:...

, was named through casting lots
Sortition
In politics, sortition is the selection of decision makers by lottery. The decision-makers are chosen as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates....

.

The late 18th century saw the rise of starchestvo
Starets
A starets is an elder of a Russian Orthodox monastery who functions as venerated adviser and teacher. Elders or spiritual fathers are charismatic spiritual leaders whose wisdom stems from God as obtained from ascetic experience...

under Paisiy Velichkovsky
Paisius Velichkovsky
Saint Paisius Velichkovsky or Wieliczkowski is the person who transmitted Eastern Orthodox staretsdom or the concept of spiritual guidance to the Slavic world.A Ukrainian by birth, Pyotr Velichkovsky was born in Poltava, where his father, Ivan, was a priest...

 and his disciples at the Optina Monastery
Optina Monastery
The Optina Hermitage is an Eastern Orthodox monastery for men near Kozelsk in Russia. In the 19th century, the Optina was the most important spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and served as the model for several other monasteries, including the nearby Shamordino Convent...

. This marked a beginning of a significant spiritual revival in the Russian Church after a lengthy period of modernization, personified by such figures as Demetrius of Rostov
Dimitry of Rostov
Saint Dimitry of Rostov was a leading opponent of the Caesaropapist reform of the Russian Orthodox church promoted by Feofan Prokopovich. He is representative of the strong Ukrainian influence upon the Russian Orthodox Church at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries...

 and Platon of Moscow
Platon Levshin
Plato II or Platon II was the Metropolitan of Moscow from 1775 to 1812. He personifies the Age of Enlightenment in the Russian Orthodox Church....

. Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov was a Russian religious poet who co-founded the Slavophile movement along with Ivan Kireyevsky, and became one of its most distinguished theoreticians....

, Ivan Kireevsky
Ivan Kireevsky
Ivan Vasilyevich Kireyevsky was a Russian literary critic and philosopher who, together with Aleksey Khomyakov, co-founded the Slavophile movement.-Early life and career:...

, and other lay theologians with Slavophile
Slavophile
Slavophilia was an intellectual movement originating from 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles were especially opposed to the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in...

 leanings elaborated some key concepts of the renovated Orthodox doctrine, including that of sobornost
Sobornost
Sobornost is a term coined by the early Slavophiles, Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomyakov, to underline the need for cooperation between people at the expense of individualism on the basis that the opposing groups focus on what is common between them. Khomyakov believed the West was progressively...

. The resurgence of Eastern Orthodoxy was reflected in Russian literature such as the figure of Starets
Starets
A starets is an elder of a Russian Orthodox monastery who functions as venerated adviser and teacher. Elders or spiritual fathers are charismatic spiritual leaders whose wisdom stems from God as obtained from ascetic experience...

 Zosima in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov
The Brothers Karamazov
The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger and completed in November 1880...

.

Fin-de-siècle religious renaissance



During the final decades of the imperial order in Russia many educated Russians sought to return to the Church and revitalize their faith. No less evident were non-conformist paths of spiritual searching known as "God-Seeking". Writers, artists, and intellectuals in large numbers were drawn to private prayer, mysticism, spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

, theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

, and Eastern religions. A fascination with elemental feeling, with the unconscious and the mythic, proliferated along with visions of coming catastrophe and redemption.

The visible forms of God-Seeking were extensive. A series of 'Religious-Philosophical Meetings' were held in St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 in 1901–1903, bringing together prominent intellectuals and clergy to explore together ways to reconcile the Church with the growing of undogmatic desire among the educated for spiritual meaning in life. Especially after 1905, various religious societies arose, though much of this religious upheaval was informal: circles and salons, séances, private prayer. Some clergy also sought to revitalize Orthodox faith, most famously the charismatic Father John of Kronstadt
John of Kronstadt
Saint John of Kronstadt was a Russian Orthodox archpriest and member of the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was a striking and somewhat unconventional figure in his personality but was deeply pious and immensely energetic...

, who, until his death in 1908 (though his followers remained active long after), emphasized Christian living and sought to restore fervency and the presence of the miraculous in liturgical celebration. In 1909, a sensation-creating volume of essays appeared under the title Vekhi
Vekhi
Vekhi , is a collection of seven essays published in Russia in 1909. It was distributed in five editions and elicited over two hundred published rejoinders in two years...

("Landmarks" or "Signposts"), authored by a group of leading left-wing intellectuals, including Sergei Bulgakov
Sergei Bulgakov
Fr. Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov was a Russian Orthodox Christian theologian, philosopher and economist. Until 1922 he worked in Russia; afterwards in Paris.-Early life:...

, Peter Struve
Peter Berngardovich Struve
Peter Berngardovich Struve – Пётр Бернгардович Струве was a Russian political economist, philosopher and editor. He started out as a Marxist, later became a liberal and after the Bolshevik revolution joined the White movement...

, and former Marxists
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, who bluntly repudiated the materialism and atheism that had dominated the thought of the intelligentsia for generations as leading inevitably to failure and moral disaster.

One sees a similarly renewed vigor and variety in religious life and spirituality among the lower classes, especially after the upheavals of 1905. Among the peasantry we see widespread interest in spiritual-ethical literature and non-conformist moral-spiritual movements; an upsurge in pilgrimage and other devotions to sacred spaces and objects (especially icons); persistent beliefs in the presence and power of the supernatural (apparitions, possession, walking-dead, demons, spirits, miracles, and magic); the renewed vitality of local "ecclesial communities" actively shaping their own ritual and spiritual lives, sometimes in the absence of clergy, and defining their own sacred places and forms of piety; and the proliferation of what the Orthodox establishment branded as 'sectarianism', including both non-Orthodox Christian denominations, notably Baptists, and various forms of deviant popular Orthodoxy and mysticism.

Russian revolution


In 1914 in Russia, there were 55,173 Russian Orthodox churches and 29,593 chapel
Chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

s, 112,629 priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s and deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s, 550 monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 and 475 convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

s with a total of 95,259 monks and nuns.
The year 1917 was a major turning point for the history of Russia, and also the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 was dissolved and the Tsarist government - which had granted the Church numerous privileges - was overthrown. After a few months of political turmoil, the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s took power in October 1917 and declared a separation of church and state
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

. Thus the Russian Orthodox Church found itself without official state backing for the first time in its history. One of the first decrees of the new Communist government (issued in January 1918) declared freedom from "religious and anti-religious propaganda". This led to a marked decline in the power and influence of the Church. The Church was also caught in the crossfire of the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 that began later the same year, and many leaders of the Church supported what would ultimately turn out to be the losing side (the White movement
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

).

The Russian Orthodox Church supported the White Army in the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 (see White movement
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

) after the October Revolution. This may have further strengthened the Bolshevik animus against the church.

Even before the end of the civil war and the establishment of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the Russian Orthodox Church came under pressure from the secular
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

 Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 government. The Soviet government stood on a platform of antireligion
Antireligion
Antireligion is opposition to religion. Antireligion is distinct from atheism and antitheism , although antireligionists may be atheists or antitheists...

, viewing the church as a "counter-revolutionary" organization and an independent voice with a great influence in society. While the Soviet Union officially claimed religious tolerance, in practice the government discouraged organized religion and did much to remove religious influence from Soviet society.

Under Communist rule


After the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of November 7, 1917, the officially proclaimed objective of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 was to unite all of the people of the world in a communist state free of "capitalist exploitation" (see Communist International). In such a worldview any ethnic heritage closely tied to traditional religion and its clergy was targeted by the Soviet authorities.

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.
Orthodox priests and believers were variously torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

d, sent to prison camps
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

, labour camps
Sharashka
Sharashka was an informal name for secret research and development laboratories in the Soviet Gulag labor camp system...

 or mental hospitals, and executed
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

. Many Orthodox (along with people of other faiths) were also subjected to psychological punishment
Psychological punishment
A psychological punishment is a type of punishment that relies not or only in secondary order on the actual harm inflicted but on psychological effects, mainly emotions, such as fear, shame and guilt...

 or torture and mind control
Mind control
Mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator, often to the detriment of the person being manipulated"...

 experimentation in order to force them give up their religious convictions.

Thousands of churches and monasteries were taken over by the government and either destroyed or converted to secular use. It was impossible to build new churches. Practising Orthodox Christians were restricted from prominent careers and membership in communist organizations (the party, the Komsomol
Komsomol
The Communist Union of Youth , usually known as Komsomol , was the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Komsomol in its earliest form was established in urban centers in 1918. During the early years, it was a Russian organization, known as the Russian Communist Union of...

). Anti-religious propaganda was openly sponsored and encouraged by the government, which the Church was not given an opportunity to publicly respond to. The government youth organization, the Komsomol
Komsomol
The Communist Union of Youth , usually known as Komsomol , was the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Komsomol in its earliest form was established in urban centers in 1918. During the early years, it was a Russian organization, known as the Russian Communist Union of...

, encouraged its members to vandalize Orthodox Churches and harass worshippers. Seminaries were closed down, and the church was restricted from using the press.

The history of Orthodoxy (and other religions) under Communism was not limited to this story of repression and secularization. Bolshevik policies toward religious belief and practice tended to vacillate over time between, on the one hand, a utopian determination to substitute secular rationalism for what they considered to be an unmodern, "superstitious" worldview and, on the other, pragmatic acceptance of the tenaciousness of religious faith and institutions. In any case, religious beliefs and practices did persist, not only in the domestic and private spheres but also in the scattered public spaces allowed by a state that recognized its failure to eradicate religion and the political dangers of an unrelenting culture war.

In November 1917, following the collapse of the tsarist government, a council of the Russian Orthodox church reestablished the patriarchate and elected the metropolitan Tikhon as patriarch. But the new Soviet government soon declared the separation of church and state and nationalized all church-held lands. These administrative measures were followed by brutal state-sanctioned persecutions that included the wholesale destruction of churches and the arrest and execution of many clerics. The Russian Orthodox church was further weakened in 1922, when the Renovated Church, a reform movement supported by the Soviet government, seceded from Patriarch Tikhon's church (also see the Josephites
Josephites (20th century)
"Josephites" so-called after the name of the Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd – leader of resistance of the True Orthodox Church in 1927-1937...

 and the Russian True Orthodox Church
Russian True Orthodox Church
The Russian True Orthodox Church is a denomination that separated from the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of Communist rule in the Soviet Union. While the True Orthodox Church in Russia was never a single organization, many of its followers were labeled Josephites, after...

), restored a Holy Synod to power, and brought division among clergy and faithful.

In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were executed.

Stalin era


The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited.

The sixth sector of the OGPU
State Political Directorate
The State Political Directorate was the secret police of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union from 1922 until 1934...

, led by Yevgeny Tuchkov, began aggressively arresting and executing bishops, priests, and devout worshippers, such as Metropolitan Veniamin in Petrograd in 1922 for refusing to accede to the demand to hand in church valuables (including sacred relics). In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in the Russian Republic fell from 29,584 to less than 500. Between 1917 and 1935, 130,000 Orthodox priests were arrested. Of these, 95,000 were put to death. Many thousands of victims of persecution became recognized in a special canon of saints known as the "new martyrs
New Martyr
The title of New Martyr or Neomartyr of the Eastern Orthodox Church was originally given to martyrs who died under heretical rulers . Later the Church added to the list those martyred under Islam and various modern regimes, especially Communist ones, which espoused state atheism...

 and confessors of Russia".

In January 1918 Patriarch Tikhon
Tikhon of Moscow
Saint Tikhon of Moscow , born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin , was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union, 1917 through 1925.-Early life:...

 proclaimed anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

 to the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s (without explicitly naming them), which further antagonized relations. When Tikhon died in 1925, the Soviet authorities forbade patriarchal elections to be held. Patriarchal locum tenens (acting Patriarch) Metropolitan Sergius
Patriarch Sergius I of Moscow
Patriarch Sergius I , – May 15, 1944) was the 12th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, from September 8, 1943 until his death. He was also the de facto head of the Russian Orthodox Church as Patriarchal locum tenens in 1925-1943.-Early life:...

 (Stragorodsky, 1887–1944), going against the opinion of a major part of the church's parishes, in 1927 issued a declaration accepting the Soviet authority over the church as legitimate, pledging the church's cooperation with the government and condemning political dissent within the church. By this declaration Sergius granted himself authority that he, being a deputy of imprisoned Metropolitan Peter
Peter of Krutitsy
St. Hieromartyr Peter of Krutitsy , born Petr Fyodorovich Polyansky , was a Russian Orthodox bishop and martyr. From April 12 till December 9, 1925 he was the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, serving as the Patriarchal locum tenens...

 and acting against his will, had no right to assume according to the XXXIV Apostolic canon
Canons of the Apostles
The Apostolic Canons or Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles is a collection of ancient ecclesiastical decrees concerning the government and discipline of the Early Christian Church, first found as last chapter of the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions and belonging to genre of...

, which led to a split with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

 abroad and the Russian True Orthodox Church
Russian True Orthodox Church
The Russian True Orthodox Church is a denomination that separated from the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of Communist rule in the Soviet Union. While the True Orthodox Church in Russia was never a single organization, many of its followers were labeled Josephites, after...

 (Russian Catacomb Church) within the Soviet Union, as they allegedly remained faithful to the Canons of the Apostles, declaring the part of the church led by Metropolitan Sergius schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

, sometimes coined Sergianism. Due to this canonical disagreement it is disputed which church has been the legitimate successor to the Russian Orthodox Church that had existed before 1925.

With aid from the Methodist Church, two Russian Orthodox seminaries were reopened. Moreover, in the 1929 elections
Soviet Union legislative election, 1929
In 1929, elections were held to the Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union.The elections were noteworthy for their rowdiness and elements of political opposition...

, the Orthodox Church attempted to formulate itself as a full-scale opposition group to the Communist Party, and attempted to run candidates of its own against the Communist candidates. Article 124 of the 1936 Soviet Constitution
1936 Soviet Constitution
The 1936 Soviet constitution, adopted on December 5, 1936, and also known as the "Stalin" constitution, redesigned the government of the Soviet Union.- Basic provisions :...

 officially allowed for freedom of religion within the Soviet Union, and along with initial statements of it being a multi-candidate election, the Church again attempted to run its own religious candidates in the 1937 elections
Soviet Union legislative election, 1937
On 12 December 1937 elections were held to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. It was the first election held under the 1936 Soviet Constitution, which had formed the Supreme Soviet to replace the old legislature, the Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union....

. However the support of multicandidate elections was retracted several months before the elections were held and in neither 1929 nor 1937 were any candidates of the Orthodox Church elected.

After Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in 1941, Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort. On September 4, 1943, Metropolitans Sergius, Alexy and Nikolay
Metropolitan Nikolay of Krutitsy
Metropolitan Nicholas , Kovno – December 13, 1961, Moscow), was a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church.He supported the controversial 1927 declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, pledging loyalty of the Church to the Soviet authorities against the will of the imprisoned Patriarchal locum tenens,...

 had a meeting with Stalin and received a permission to convene a council on September 8, 1943, which elected Sergius Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. This is considered by some violation of the XXX Apostolic canon
Canons of the Apostles
The Apostolic Canons or Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles is a collection of ancient ecclesiastical decrees concerning the government and discipline of the Early Christian Church, first found as last chapter of the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions and belonging to genre of...

, as no church hierarch could be consecrated by secular authorities. A new patriarch was elected, theological schools were opened, and thousands of churches began to function. The Moscow Theological Academy Seminary
Slavic Greek Latin Academy
Slavic Greek Latin Academy was the first higher education establishment in Moscow, Russia.-Beginnings:...

, which had been closed since 1918, was re-opened.

Between 1945 and 1959 the official organization of the church was greatly expanded, although individual members of the clergy were occasionally arrested and exiled. The number of open churches reached 25,000. By 1957 about 22,000 Russian Orthodox churches had become active. But in 1959 Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985 fewer than 7,000 churches remained active. Members of the church hierarchy were jailed or forced out, their places taken by docile clergy, many of whom had ties with the KGB. This decline was evident from the dramatic decay of many of the abandoned churches and monasteries that were previously common in even the smallest villages from the pre-revolutionary period.

Persecution under Khrushchev and Brezhnev


A new and widespread persecution of the church was subsequently instituted under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. A second round of repression, harassment and church closures took place between 1959 and 1964 during the rule of Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

.

The Church and the government remained on unfriendly terms until 1988. In practice, the most important aspect of this conflict was that openly religious people could not join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

, which meant that they could not hold any political office. However, among the general population, large numbers remained religious.

Some Orthodox believers and even priests took part in the dissident
Dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

 movement and became prisoners of conscience
Prisoner of conscience
Prisoner of conscience is a term defined in Peter Benenson's 1961 article "The Forgotten Prisoners" often used by the human rights group Amnesty International. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views...

. The Orthodox priests Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin is Russian priest and dissident who fought for the freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union. He was member of Moscow Helsinki Group, and he was elected to Russian Parliaments from 1990 to 1999.-Life:...

, Sergiy Zheludkov and others spent years in Soviet prisons and exile for their efforts in defending freedom of worship. Among the prominent figures of that time were Father Dmitri Dudko and Father Aleksandr Men
Alexander Men
Father Alexander Vladimirovich Men was a Russian Orthodox theologian, Biblical scholar and writer.Father Alexander wrote dozen of books ; baptized hundreds if not thousands; founded an Orthodox Open University; opened one of the first Sunday Schools in...

. Although he tried to keep away from practical work of the dissident movement intending to better fulfil his calling as a priest, there was a spiritual link between Fr Aleksander and many of the dissidents. For some of them he was a friend, for others - a godfather, for many (including Yakunin
Yakunin
Yakunin is a Russian family name:* Gleb Yakunin, born March 4, 1934, a Russian priest and dissident* Vladimir Yakunin, born June 30, 1948, president of state-run Russian Railways company...

) - spiritual father.

By 1987 the number of functioning churches in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 had fallen to 6893 and the number of functioning monasteries to just 18. In 1987 in the Russian SFSR
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

, between 40% and 50% of newborn babies (depending on the region) were baptized and over 60% of all deceased received Christian funeral services.

Glasnost and evidence of KGB links



Beginning in the late 1980s, under Mikhail Gorbachev, the new political and social freedoms resulted in many church buildings being returned to the church, to be restored by local parishioners. A pivotal point in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church came in 1988 - the millennial anniversary of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'. Throughout the summer of that year, major government-supported celebrations took place in Moscow and other cities; many older churches and some monasteries were reopened. An implicit ban on religious propaganda on state TV was finally lifted. For the first time in the history of Soviet Union, people could see live transmissions of church services on television.

Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin is Russian priest and dissident who fought for the freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union. He was member of Moscow Helsinki Group, and he was elected to Russian Parliaments from 1990 to 1999.-Life:...

, a critic of the Moscow Patriarchate who was one of those who briefly gained access to the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 archive documents in the early 1990s, argued that the Moscow Patriarchate was "practically a subsidiary, a sister company of the KGB". Critics charge that the archives showed the extent of active participation of the top ROC hierarchs in the KGB efforts overseas. George Trofimoff
George Trofimoff
George Trofimoff was the highest ranking US military officer ever charged with, and convicted of, espionage by the United States. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 27, 2001.- Background :...

, the highest-ranking US military officer ever indicted for, and convicted of, espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and sentenced to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 on September 27, 2001, had been "recruited into the service of the KGB" by Igor Susemihl (a.k.a. Zuzemihl), a bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church (subsequently, a high-ranking hierarch - the ROC Metropolitan Iriney of Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, who died in July 1999).

Konstanin Kharchev, former chairman of Soviet Council on Religious Affairs, explained: "Not a single candidate for the office of bishop or any other high-ranking office, much less a member of Holy Synod, went through without confirmation by the Central Committee of the CPSU
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 and the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

". Professor Nathaniel Davis points out: "If the bishops wished to defend their people and survive in office, they had to collaborate to some degree with the KGB, with the commissioners of the Council for Religious Affairs, and with other party and governmental authorities.". Patriarch Alexy II, acknowledged that compromises were made with the Soviet government by bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, himself included, and publicly repented of these compromises

Under Patriarch Alexy II (1990-2008)


Metropolitan Alexy of Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, ascended the Patriarchal throne in 1990 and presided over the partial return of Orthodox Christianity to Russian society after 70 years of repression, transforming the ROC to something resembling a state religion; some 15,000 churches had been re-opened or built by the end of his reign. The Church also sought to fill the ideological vacuum left by the end of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, and even, in the opinion of some analysts, became "a separate branch of power".

In August 2000 the ROC adopted its Basis of the Social Concept and in July 2008 its Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights.

Under Patriarch Alexy, there were difficulties in the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, especially since 2002, when Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 created a Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 diocesan structure for Russian territory. The leadership of the Russian Church saw this action as a throwback to prior attempts by the Vatican to proselytize
Proselytism
Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion. The word proselytize is derived ultimately from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος...

 the Russian Orthodox faithful to become Roman Catholic. This point of view was based upon the stance of the Russian Orthodox Church (and the Eastern Orthodox Church) that the Church of Rome is in schism, after breaking off from the Orthodox Church. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, while acknowledging the primacy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, believed that the small Catholic minority in Russia, in continuous existence since at least the 18th century, should be served by a fully developed church hierarchy with a presence and status in Russia, just as the Russian Orthodox Church is present in other countries (including constructing a cathedral in Rome, near the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

).
There had been increasing friction between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church, one example of such friction could be observed at the meeting in Ravenna in early October 2007 of participants in the Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue: the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev
Hilarion Alfeyev
Hilarion Alfeyev is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. At present he is the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow...

, walked out of the meeting due to the presence of representatives from the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church which is in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. At the meeting, prior to the departure of the Russian delegation, there were also substantive disagreements about the wording of a proposed joint statement among the Orthodox representatives. After the departure of the Russian delegation, the remaining Orthodox delegates approved the form which had been advocated by the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The disagreement occurred because Moscow insists that Estonia is its canonical territory for historical reasons, and has incorporated Orthodox parishes in Estonia into the Orthodox Church of Estonia
Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate
The Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate is a semi-autonomous diocese of the Patriarchate of Moscow whose primate is appointed by the Holy Synod of the latter. Its official name in English is the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate...

, a self-governing part of the Church of Russia. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, however, has set up its own jurisdiction in Estonia, called the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, an action that prompted the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia to announce, in 2000, that it will not take part in any pan-Orthodox meeting where members of the EAOC are present. The Ecumenical See's representative in Ravenna said that Hilarion's position "should be seen as an expression of authoritarianism whose goal is to exhibit the influence of the Moscow Church. But like last year in Belgrade, all Moscow achieved was to isolate itself once more since no other Orthodox Church followed its lead, remaining instead faithful to Constantinople."

Canon Michael Bourdeaux, former president of Keston Institute
Keston Institute
The Keston Institute is an organization dedicated to the study of religion and communist countries, at Oxford, United Kingdom. It was founded in 1969 by Rev Canon Dr...

, believed in January 2008 that "the Moscow Patriarchate acts as though it heads a state church, while the few Orthodox clergy who oppose the church-state symbiosis face severe criticism, even loss of livelihood." Such view is backed up by other Russia's political life observers. Clifford J. Levy of New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 wrote in April 2008: «Just as the government has tightened control over political life, so, too, has it intruded in matters of faith. The Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers. <...> This close alliance between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church has become a defining characteristic of Mr. Putin’s tenure, a mutually reinforcing choreography that is usually described here as working “in symphony
Symphonia (theology)
Symphonia is a concept in Eastern Orthodox Christian theological and political thinking, which posits that church and state are to be complementary and exhibit mutual respect....

”.»

Throughout Patriarch Alexy's reign, the massive-scale program of costly restoration of re-opened churches and monasteries (as well as the construction of new ones) was criticized for having eclipsed the Church's principal mission of evangelizing.

On 5 December 2008, the day of Patriarch Alexy's death, the Financial Times
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

 said: "While the church had been a force for liberal reform under the Soviet Union, it soon became a center of strength for conservatives and nationalists in the post-communist era. Alexei's death could well result in an even more conservative church."

Under Patriarch Kirill


On January 27, 2009, the ROC Local Council (the 2009 Pomestny Sobor) elected Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus; with 508 votes out of 700.) He was enthroned on February 1, 2009.

In 2010 news broke of a child abuse scandal involving a monastery in the city of Vladimir where children are said to have been "hit multiple times, forced to do agricultural labor from 3 a.m. till 10 p.m. with 30-minute breaks for breakfast and lunch".

In February 2011 the official spokesman of the Synodal Department of the Patriarchate denied reports that the Church was about to merge with the Russian State. He said, "The Russian Church has never in its history been so independent of the state as it is now. It treasures this independence. However, it also treasures the dialogue that it has with the modern state. No doubt, this dialogue cannot be called easy, but it can be called constructive."

Orthodox Church in America (OCA)




Russian traders settled in Alaska during the 18th century. In 1740, a Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 was celebrated on board a Russian ship off the Alaskan coast. In 1794, the Russian Orthodox Church sent missionaries—among them Saint Herman of Alaska
Herman of Alaska
Saint Herman of Alaska was one of the first Eastern Orthodox missionaries to the New World, and is considered by Orthodox Christians to be the patron saint of the Americas.-Biography:Saint Herman was born in the town of Serpukhov in the Moscow Diocese around 1756...

 -- to establish a formal mission in Alaska. Their missionary endeavors contributed to the conversion of many Alaskan natives to the Orthodox faith. A diocese was established, whose first bishop was Saint Innocent of Alaska
Innocent of Alaska
Saint Innocent of Alaska , also known as Saint Innocent of Moscow was a Russian Orthodox priest, bishop, archbishop and Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. He is known for his missionary work, scholarship and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 19th century...

. The headquarters of this North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church was moved from Alaska to California around the mid-19th century.

It was moved again in the last part of the same century, this time to New York. This transfer coincided with a great movement of Greek-Catholics to the Orthodox Church in the eastern United States. This movement, which increased the numbers of Orthodox Christians in America, resulted from a conflict between John Ireland
John Ireland (archbishop)
John Ireland was the third bishop and first archbishop of Saint Paul, Minnesota . He became both a religious as well as civic leader in Saint Paul during the turn of the century...

, the politically powerful Roman Catholic Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Saint Paul, Minnesota
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Catholic Church in the United States. It is led by the prelature of an archbishop which administers the archdiocese from the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis...

; and Alexis Toth, an influential Ruthenian Catholic
Ruthenian Catholic Church
The Ruthenian Catholic Church is a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church , which uses the Divine Liturgy of the Constantinopolitan Byzantine Eastern Rite. Its roots are among the Rusyns who lived in the region called Carpathian Ruthenia, in and around the Carpathian Mountains...

 priest of St. Marys church in Minneapolis. Archbishop Ireland's refusal to accept Fr. Toth's credentials as a priest induced Fr. Toth to convert St. Marys to the Orthodox Church, and further resulted in the conversion of tens of thousands of other Greek-Catholics in North America to the Orthodox Church, under his guidance and inspiration. For this reason, Ireland is sometimes ironically remembered as the "Father of the Orthodox Church in America." These Greek-Catholics were received into Orthodoxy into the existing North American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the same time large numbers of Greeks and other Orthodox Christians were also immigrating to America. At this time all Orthodox Christians in North America were united under the omophorion
Omophorion
In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgical tradition, the omophor is the distinguishing vestment of a bishop and the symbol of his spiritual and ecclesiastical authority...

(Church authority and protection) of the Patriarch of Moscow, through the Russian Church's North American diocese. The unity was not merely theoretical, but was a reality, since there was then no other diocese on the continent. Under the aegis of this diocese, which at the turn of the 20th century was ruled by Bishop (and future Patriarch) Tikhon
Tikhon of Moscow
Saint Tikhon of Moscow , born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin , was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union, 1917 through 1925.-Early life:...

, Orthodox Christians of various ethnic backgrounds were ministered to, both non-Russian and Russian; a Syro-Arab mission was established under the episcopal leadership of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn
Raphael of Brooklyn
Saint Raphael of Brooklyn , also known as Father Raphael, was born as Raphael Hawaweeny in Beirut, Lebanon, of Damascene Syrian parents...

, who was the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in America.

In 1920 Patriarch Tikhon
Tikhon of Moscow
Saint Tikhon of Moscow , born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin , was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union, 1917 through 1925.-Early life:...

 issued an ukase
Ukase
A ukase , in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader that had the force of law...

(decree) that dioceses of the Church of Russia that were cut off from the governance of the highest Church authority (i.e. the Holy Synod and the Patriarch) should be managed independently until such time as normal relations with the highest Church authority could be resumed; and on this basis, the North American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (known as the "Metropolia") continued to exist in a de facto autonomous mode of self-governance. The financial hardship that beset the North American diocese as the result of the Russian Revolution resulted in a degree of administrative chaos, with the result that other national Orthodox communities in North America turned to the Churches in their respective homelands for pastoral care and governance.

A group of bishops who had left Russia in the wake of the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 gathered in Sremski-Karlovci
Sremski Karlovci
Sremski Karlovci is a town and municipality in Serbia, in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, situated on the bank of the river Danube, 8 km from Novi Sad...

, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, and adopted a pro-monarchist stand. The group further claimed to speak as a synod for the entire "free" Russian church. This group, which to this day includes a sizable portion of the Russian emigration, was formally dissolved in 1922 by Patriarch Tikhon, who then appointed metropolitans Platon and Evlogy as ruling bishops in America and Europe, respectively. Both of these metropolitans continued to entertain relations intermittently with the synod in Karlovci.

Between the World Wars the Metropolia coexisted and at times cooperated with an independent synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 later known as Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

 (ROCOR), sometimes also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The two groups eventually went their separate ways. ROCOR, which moved its headquarters to North America after the Second World War, claimed but failed to establish jurisdiction over all parishes of Russian origin in North America. The Metropolia, as a former diocese of the Russian Church, looked to the latter as its highest church authority, albeit one from which it was temporarily cut off under the conditions of the communist regime in Russia.

After World War II the Patriarchate of Moscow made unsuccessful attempts to regain control over these groups. After resuming communication with Moscow in early 1960s, and being granted autocephaly
Autocephaly
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

 in 1970, the Metropolia became known as the Orthodox Church in America
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

. However, recognition of this autocephalous status is not universal, as the Ecumenical Patriarch (under whom is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquartered in New York City, is an eparchy of the Church of Constantinople. Its current primate is Archbishop Demetrios of America.-About the Archdiocese:...

) and some other jurisdictions have not officially accepted it. The reasons for this are complex; nevertheless the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other jurisdictions remain in communion
Communion (Christian)
The term communion is derived from Latin communio . The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is often translated as "fellowship". In Christianity, the basic meaning of the term communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with...

 with the OCA. The Patriarchate of Moscow thereby renounced its former canonical claims in the United States and Canada; it also acknowledged an autonomous church established in Japan that same year.

Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)


Russia's Church was devastated by the repercussions of the Bolshevik Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

. One of its effects was a flood of refugees from Russia to the United States, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The Revolution of 1918 severed large sections of the Russian church—dioceses in America, Japan, and Manchuria, as well as refugees in Europe—from regular contacts with the main church.

Based on an ukase
Ukase
A ukase , in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader that had the force of law...

(decree) issued by Patriarch Tikhon
Tikhon of Moscow
Saint Tikhon of Moscow , born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin , was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union, 1917 through 1925.-Early life:...

, which stated that dioceses of the Church of Russia that were cut off from the governance of the highest Church authority (i.e. the Holy Synod and the Patriarch) should be managed independently until such time as normal relations with the highest Church authority could be resumed, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was established; by bishops who had left Russia in the wake of the Russian Civil War. They first met in Constantinople, and then moved to Sremski-Karlovci, Yugoslavia. After World War II, they moved their headquarters to New York City, New York, where it remains to this day.

On December 28, 2006, it was officially announced that the Act of Canonical Communion
Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate
The Act of Canonical Communion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with the Russian orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate reunited the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate...

 would finally be signed between the ROC and ROCOR. The signing took place on the May 17, 2007, followed immediately by a full restoration of communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

 with the Moscow Patriarchate, celebrated by a Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, at which the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexius II and the First Hierarch of ROCOR concelebrated for the first time.

Under the Act, the ROCOR remains a self-governing entity within the Church of Russia. It is independent in its administrative, pastoral, and property matters. It continues to be governed by its Council of Bishops and its Synod, the Council's permanent executive body. The First-Hierarch and bishops of the ROCOR are elected by its Council and confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow. ROCOR bishops participate in the Council of Bishops of the entire Russian Church.

In response to the signing of the act of canonical communion, Bishop Agafangel and parishes and clergy in opposition to the Act broke communion with ROCOR, and established ROCA, or the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Some others opposed to the Act have joined themselves to other Greek Old Calendarist
Greek Old Calendarists
Greek Old Calendarists are groups that separated from the Orthodox Church of Greece or from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, precipitated by disagreement over the abandonment of the traditional Julian Calendar.- History :Up until the early 20th century, the Eastern Orthodox Church used the...

 groups.

Currently both the OCA and ROCOR, since 2007, are in communion with the ROC.

Belarusian Orthodox Church


The Belarusian Orthodox Church is part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russian church architecture


Many Russian Orthodox Church buildings differ in design from many modern-type churches. Firstly, their interiors are enriched with many sacramental objects including holy icons, which are hung on the walls. In addition, murals often cover most of the interior. Some of these images represent Mary, the mother of Christ - the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 - (who is particularly revered in the Russian Orthodox Church), saints, and scenes from their lives.

Gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 is the color which resembles the Heavenly Kingdom. It is also used to add a sense of indefinite depth to icons, which would otherwise be perceived as flat. Painted icons are intentionally composed in a two-dimensional, non-perspective fashion to allow equal viewing regardless of the placement, position, and/or angle of the observing person, as well as to emphasize that the depiction is primarily of a spiritual truth rather than of visible reality (which emphasis is also achieved through other iconographic techniques and traditions).

Most Russian Orthodox churches have an iconostasis
Iconostasis
In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church...

, which separates the nave
Cella
A cella or naos , is the inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture, or a shop facing the street in domestic Roman architecture...

 from the holy altar, which signifies the Heavenly Kingdom. Covered with icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s, the iconostasis is intended to stop physical sight, and allow the worshipers to achieve spiritual sight. The iconostasis may reach all the way up into the dome (or domes).

On the ceiling of many churches (inside the main dome) is the iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 of Christ as Pantokrator
Christ Pantocrator
In Christian iconography, Christ Pantokrator refers to a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator or Pantokrator is a translation of one of many Names of God in Judaism...

 ("Ruler of All"). Such images emphasize Christ's humanity and divinity, signifying that Christ is a man and yet is also God without beginning or end.

There are no pews. Most churches are lit with candles rather than electric light. Virtually all churches have multiple votive candle
Votive candle
A votive candle or prayer candle is a small candle, typically white or beeswax yellow, intended to be burnt as a votive offering in a religious ceremony. It now also refers to a standard size of candle two inches high by one and a half inches diameter, of any color or scent.-Christian use:Candles...

 stands in front of the icons. It is customary for worshippers to purchase candles in church stores, light them, and place them on the stands. This ritual signifies a person's prayer to God, the Holy Mother, or to the saints or angels asking for help on the difficult path to salvation and to freedom from sin.

Sometimes the bottoms of crosses found in Russian Orthodox churches will be adorned with a crescent. The common misconception attributes these to the fact that in 1552, Tsar Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

 conquered the city of Kazan
Russo-Kazan Wars
thumb|300px|[[St. Basil's Cathedral]] is a monument to the Russian conquest of Kazan in 1552.The Russo-Kazan Wars was a series of wars fought between the Khanate of Kazan and Muscovite Russia from 1438, until Kazan was finally captured by Ivan the Terrible and absorbed into Russia in 1552.- Wars of...

 which had been under the rule of Muslim Tatars, and in remembrance of this, he decreed that from henceforth the Islamic crescent be placed at the bottom of the crosses to signify the victory of the cross (Christianity) over the crescent (Islam). In fact, crescents on crosses were widespread during the pre-Mongolian period of Russian history and have no relation to the Islamic symbol. The crescent symbol actually is meant to resemble an anchor, which symbolizes the hope for salvation.

Ecumenism and Interfaith relations


In May 2011, Hilarion Alfeyev
Hilarion Alfeyev
Hilarion Alfeyev is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. At present he is the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow...

, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and head of external relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, stated that Orthodox and evangelical Christians share the same positions on "such issues as abortion
Pro-life
Opposition to the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-life, or anti-abortion, movement, a social and political movement opposing elective abortion on moral grounds and supporting its legal prohibition or restriction...

, the family, and marriage" and desires "vigorous grassroots engagement" between the two Christian communions
Communion (Christian)
The term communion is derived from Latin communio . The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is often translated as "fellowship". In Christianity, the basic meaning of the term communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with...

 on such issues.

The Metropolitan also believes in the possibility of peaceful coexistence between Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 as the two religions have never had religious wars in Russia. However, Alfeyev stated that the Russian Orthodox Church "disagrees with atheist secularism in some areas very strongly" and "believes that it destroys something very essential about human life."

See also


  • List of Metropolitans and Patriarchs of Moscow
  • List of Orthodox Churches
  • List of russian orthodox eparchies
  • List of Russian saints
  • List of tallest Orthodox churches
  • Eastern Orthodox Church
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

  • Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
    Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
    The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

  • Eastern Christianity
    Eastern Christianity
    Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

  • Russian Catholic Church
    Russian Catholic Church
    The Russian Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite church sui juris in full union with the Catholic Church. Historically it represents a schism from the Russian Orthodox Church. It is now in full communion with and subject to the authority of the Pope as defined by Eastern canon law...

  • Russian Orthodox bell ringing
    Russian Orthodox bell ringing
    Russian Orthodox bell ringing has a history starting from the baptism of Rus in 988 and plays an important role in the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.-Theology:The ringing of bells is one of the most essential elements of an Orthodox church...

  • Alexander Men
    Alexander Men
    Father Alexander Vladimirovich Men was a Russian Orthodox theologian, Biblical scholar and writer.Father Alexander wrote dozen of books ; baptized hundreds if not thousands; founded an Orthodox Open University; opened one of the first Sunday Schools in...

  • Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University
    Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University
    Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University of Humanities in Moscow, Russia is a coeducational theological university for the laity affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. The university, established in 1991, is Russia's first theological graduate-level school for the lay men and women, unlike...

  • Valaam Monastery
    Valaam Monastery
    The Valaam Monastery, or Valamo Monastery is a stauropegic Orthodox monastery in Russian Karelia, located on Valaam, the largest island in Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe.-History:...


External links




Russian Orthodox resources