Thursday, July 19, 2007
DIVISION IN THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
The recently signed Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has sparked major disagreement within the denomination. The Wall Street Journal reports:
When Communism crumbled, efforts to heal the rift began, culminating this year in May in a Moscow ceremony attended by President Vladimir Putin. There, the two sides signed the Act of Canonical Communion, joining members of the Church Abroad with more than 140 million Russian Orthodox world-wide.
But dissidents believe the Moscow church hasn't adequately repented for its sins and is still too close to the Kremlin. About 100 of the 340 Church Abroad clergy around the world have broken away in the past four years, particularly in recent months. At least 10 of the Church Abroad's estimated 145 U.S. parishes have asked other Russian or Greek Orthodox bishops to lead them instead, while many parishioners have joined Greek, Serbian or Russian Orthodox churches unaffiliated with the Church Abroad.
Several Church Abroad priests who opposed the canonical union have been ordered out of rectories and stripped of their parish posts. Seven clerics quit the Protection of the Mother of God Church in Rochester, N.Y., splintering the worshipers. In some locales, family members are attending separate churches.
Some members believe that Putin will use the priests sent to America from Russia as spys:
Some dissident priests fear for American security, saying Mr. Putin will use the union to send over government agents disguised in cassocks. The Rev. Victor Dobroff of New York City, who broke with the church, says that "in a very short time," Russia's current FSB security agency will have hundreds of "new spy nests all over the world, absolutely untouchable, working under the cover of the church."
Hat tip to NOR.