Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Traditional values and family policy as sources of contention in church state relations in Russia

Fri31  Mar12:30pm(15 mins)
East Quad Lecture Theatre


1 University of Oslo, Norway


The consensual view is that after the fall of communism and particularly after the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill relations between state and church in Russia is marked by intimate collaboration. While there is certainly much evidence to support this view, the situation is more complex. The church pursues a paradoxical dual strategy of close collaboration with the Putinite state at the same time as many in the Church express deep skepticism towards the institutions and servants of this very state. This ambivalence is shown to a high degree in the Church’s struggle for traditional values, where the Orthodox often have different priorities from the Putin regime. Many in the Russian Orthodox Church are unhappy with how child welfare authorities intervene in what they regard as malfunctioning families in order to protect the children -- spokespersons of the church deem this as unwarranted encroachments into the sanctity of the family. Also, open conflict has come to the fore on the issue of abortion, as the Russian state has been reluctant to introduce the near total ban which the Church would like to see. Leading Russian politicians has characterized the Church’s position on abortion as “extremist”, but many hierarchs have ratcheted up their rhetoric rather than search for compromise positions. Evidence suggests that the close state-church relationship in Russia is more a marriage of convenience than a relationship built on mutual trust.