Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Russian Orthodox Church has come up with a “Code of Eternal Russian Values”. At the same time, Moscow Patriarch Kirill reiterates the principle of division between political and spiritual powers. Human rights groups are weary of such a code, seen as the expression of religion’s excessive interference in social life.
Presented last month by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, the proposed code is still “under discussion”. Political parties, youth groups and journalists have already addressed the issues raised by the document. Currently, it is being discussed by the Council of Orthodox Public Associations
The Synodal Department chose three core values out of a list of 14 on which society should base itself in the 21st century. They are faith, freedom and patriotism, which, according to Archpriest Chaplin, have remained rooted in the country despite processes of modernisation.
If the first two are uncontroversial, the third one has raised eyebrows, and fed a chorus of critics who reproach the Moscow Patriarchate for flirting with the Kremlin’s nationalist policies.
In the last month, the Russian Orthodox spiritual leader has addressed the issue several times. In a recent appearance on Russia’s Channel One TV station, he said in response to questions from TV viewers that it is “wrong” when the Church to exercise political power and “use secular power to reach its goals”. However, for experts the Patriarchate-Kremlin connection is more than evident.
Following Kirill’s election as patriarch in 2009, the Russian Orthodox Church has won more space in public life as the Kremlin under President Dmitri Medvedev views it as an important ally in its modernisation strategy, especially in view of next year’s presidential election. Medvedev, who has pursued policies of political and economic modernisation, might run for re-election and
However, to ensure that the process is not simply a sterile emulation of Western models, the president has tried to root modernisation in strongly shared traditions. At this level, the Patriarchate can play a role since government plans and Kirill’s cultural project are similar.
The latter, says Adriano Rocucci, professor of history at Rome’s Università Tre and an expert in Orthodox Christianity, is also important from a geopolitical point of view because the Patriarchate is seeking to reassert its pre-eminence in the former Soviet space in order to achieve religious and cultural unity in the region in which it exercises ecclesiastic jurisdiction.