Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior - destroyed by Stalin in 1931, painstakingly restored in the 1990s
Last week saw the formal unification of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Moscow-based ROC. Since the Soviet breakup, growing ties have emerged between diaspora Russians and Russia.
After the Russian Civil War (1917-1921), the politically exiled anti-Communist "White" Russians formed the ROCOR. The ROC which remained in Russia had to be subservient to Soviet rule in order to survive. Critics of that church have been quick to highlight this fact. It's also true that in pre-revolutionary Russia, the ROC was beholden to the existing government structure.
Whether during pre-Soviet, Soviet and post Soviet times, one can find plenty of negative commentary about the ROC. Much of the criticism comes from non-ROC sources. I'm glad to see some individuals making a sincere effort to provide a more even-handed perspective on the subject. To my knowledge, every major religious denomination has had political aspects ranging from the good to not so good. The many earnest followers of each respective faith should not be tarnished because of such actions.
Cathedral viewed from the Moscow River
For a thought provokingly frank overview of ROC and other related matter, I recommend the Rus Journal.com web site, with the proviso that some might find a good portion of its contents to be offensive. A point which also applies to my previous citations of eXile.ru. The Rus Journal.com Editor Matthew Johnson has been featured at such mainstream outlets as Intelligent.ru.
I'm not in agreement with all of Dr. Johnson's views. My commentary at his site (and elsewhere) confirms this point. I understand how many people might choose to tune him out altogether. I decline to do so, in recognition of the man's intellect, which includes a keen knowledge of various historical, religious and political issues.
I find Dr. Johnson's candor to be a refreshing break from the stuffy political correctness that intimidates many Russia watchers from freely expressing themselves.
When critiquing Dr. Johnson, keep in mind how many popular American media outlets have given forums to religious figures like Louis Farrakhan, Sun Myung Moon, Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson and the late Meir Kahane. At one time
or another, all five of these men have offended many people.
Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst whose commentary has appeared in Eurasian Home, Johnson's Russia List, Intelligent.Ru, The Moscow Times, New York Times and Newsday.