» 01/13/2012 17:32 RUSSIA Moscow Patriarchate proposes creating Christian parties by Nina Achmatova A proposal by Archpriest Chaplin to establish Orthodox political parties has caused great controversy in Russia. For experts, faith-based parties would break the law and could lead to interfaith tensions.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – A proposal by the Moscow Patriarchate to establish “Christian or Orthodox parties or in-party groups” has caused a stir. The idea comes from Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin (pictured), head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations.
"The Church is positive about the prospect of setting up Christian or Orthodox parties;” however, “it won't provide them with exclusive support or bless them. The Church is for all, not for allies of a certain political force," Father Vsevolod writes in the Orthodox politics blog .
Under the post "Is it possible to set up an ‘Orthodox/Christian’ political party?” he concludes that "the time of active political parties building is likely to start."
"The law does not allow to create parties based on religion, but no one will ban the formation of an Orthodox or Christian party without formal mentioning of it in the title - let us recall that Christian Democrats in the European Parliament refer to themselves as the European People's Party, and the moderate political Muslims in Turkey as the Justice and Development Party," he noted.
According to him, the Patriarchate will not oppose such parties. However, they "cannot have the blessing of church hierarchs or speak on behalf of the Church."
Orthodox leaders responded to the proposal right away. “Orthodox values would do go to our political life,” said Kirill Frolov, the head of the Association of Orthodox Experts, who has not excluded the possibility that his association might be “a platform for a new party to attract voters.”
Yuri Shuvalov, deputy secretary of United Russia’s general council presidium, said that Christian values inspire his party already.
Georgy Fedotov, a member of the public chamber, and political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin, find Chaplin’s proposal dangerous because Russia is a multi-faith society and an Orthodox party could stoke interfaith tensions.