(CNN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has given various explanations for his country’s war against Ukraine, and some are more credible than others. Among them is to stop NATO’s progress on Russia’s borders and protect their comrades from unsubstantiated claims of “genocide” or “denationalize” Ukraine.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church cited a very different reason for the invasion: Pride marches of homosexuals.
Patriot Grill Said last week This conflict is an extension of the fundamental cultural conflict between the wider Russian world and Western liberal values.
However, experts say Grill’s comments provide Putin’s critical spiritual insight into his return to the Russian Empire, where the Orthodox religion plays a key role.
But the stern stance of the Russian patriot also loses his followers. The Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam on Sunday announced that it was severing ties with the clergy and church leaders who had fled Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
“Putin has put forward this idea, which is called the Russian world, and it is based on the Russian tradition,” Victoria Smolkin, an associate professor of history at Wesleyan University, told CNN.
“Russian-speakers are everywhere in the Russian world. The Russian church is everywhere in the Russian world. It does not recognize the existing political boundaries,” Smolkin said.
Grill supports Putin’s view that he sees Ukraine as an integral and historical part of his Russian church, George Michael, a professor of history at the University of California at Riverside, told CNN.
“At the beginning of the war, the patriot Grill delivered a sermon emphasizing the God-given unity of Ukraine and Russia,” Michaels said in an interview. UC Riverside News.
“Grill denounced the ‘evil forces’ in Ukraine who wanted to destroy this faction,” Michaels explained.
Last Sunday, during a sermon in Moscow, Grill went a step further, especially linking these “evil forces” to homosexual pride events.
According to the Patriots, the war in Ukraine is associated with “a fundamental rejection of the so-called values offered by those who seek world power today”, namely the West.
Grill said the “test” of which side you are on is whether your country is ready to host gay pride parades.
“To enter the club of those countries, it is necessary to hold a parade of gays. To hold a gay parade, not to sign any agreement, without releasing a political statement that ‘we are with you’,” he said. March 6 Sermon.
“If you see violations of the law [de Dios]With those who destroy this law, we will never tolerate those who blur the line between holiness and sin, and we will never tolerate those who promote sin as an example or one of the models of human behavior, “Grill said.” Today is a real war. “
Grill’s speech condemned the infiltration of Western liberal ideals into the hearts and minds of those who claim to be historically united and Orthodox Ukrainian and Russian.
“He says there’s a clash of civilizations, and the proud parades of homosexuals in this story are a litmus test of which side you are on,” Smolkin said.
Despite Grill’s call for condemnation of Putin’s war, the “Russian pope” not only refused to do so, but gave moral legitimacy to the invasion and called it the “metaphysical meaning” struggle of mankind to choose to follow God’s laws. .
“The Russian Orthodox Church provides much of the symbolism and ideology that Putin used to justify his popularity,” Michaels added.
The importance of Kiev
The city of Kiev is very recognizable to both Putin and Grill, due to its association with Vladimir I, the medieval ruler of Kiev Rus, a region that includes present-day Ukraine and parts of Russia that converted to Christianity in 988.
“In today’s hegemonic Russian nationalist view, Vladimir was the founding father of the first Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church. The state and the church formed a productive coexistence and Kiev became the cradle of Russian civilization,” Michaels wrote.
“Putin considers Vladimir to be Russia’s savior,” Michael told CNN. “According to him, Vladimir’s baptized Kiev and Crimea were holy Russian lands.”
The Christianization of Kyiv Rus is the founding story of Putin and Grill telling Ukraine to be part of Russia.
“They are trying to tear apart this legacy of Kiev race for Russia, which is a very important part of Putin’s history and the role of Russian heritage in that history,” Smolkin said.
“Putin says he’s restoring God-given natural things: Ukrainians and Russians have always been the same people, and everyone knows that, because they are all from Kiev and they are all Orthodox.”
Grill’s speeches also reinforce the notion that Western powers are interfering in the historical unity of the Russians and Ukrainians.
Three days after Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, Grill said in a speech: “Dark and hostile external forces must not stop laughing at us.
Smolkin argues that Krill’s rhetoric is meant to show that the divide between the Ukrainians and the Russians was sown abroad.
He categorizes the Russian nationalist theory of patriarchy as follows: “If the Ukrainians think they are a different people from the Russians, they have sown contradictions among these harmonious brethren only because they were taken by the West.”
In 2016, after the invasion of Crimea, a monument to Vladimir was erected in the center of Moscow. Prior to that, another large monument to Vladimir, built in 1888, was in the center of Kiev.
Problem with rows
Grill is likely to support Putin’s war, as he has recently lost control of several Ukrainian Orthodox churches.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has special historical ties with the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, distinguishing it from other independent Orthodox churches in Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and parts of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
In 2018, after the invasion of Crimea, an area Ukrainian Orthodox Church He severed ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, which angered Russian patriots.
“For Patriarch Grill, it’s a matter of life and death,” Michaels said.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there are still signs of growing discontent among broad Orthodox factions.
The Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam on Sunday announced the severance of ties between Grill and the Moscow Patriarchate over the war.
“This decision is very painful and difficult for everyone involved,” wrote St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Amsterdam. On his webpage.
About 300 Orthodox priests and deacons, including many living and working in Russia, are in danger of disobeying their leader and their country by publicly signing a letter calling for an immediate ceasefire.
“The Church is not a communist party that speaks only through its leader,” said Father Andrei Kordochin, a Russian Orthodox priest, dean of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Magdalena in Madrid and signer of the letter.
Kordochkin noted that the letter mentions the word “war” four times, which is now illegal to print in the Russian media.
“It was a brave act,” he said.
“I was inspired by the Russian exiles of the 20th century,” Kordochkin added. “I’m on a good list.”
The governing body of the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is constantly affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, called on Grill to ask the Russian government to stop the war.
“Your Holiness! We beseech you … to call on the leaders of the Russian Federation to immediately stop the hostility that already threatens to escalate into World War II,” the bishops wrote in an open letter on February 28.
Another Ukrainian Orthodox leader, the Metropolitan Epiphany, an independent church from Moscow, had even stronger words.
“The spirit of the Antichrist is at work in the head of Russia,” he wrote in a February 27 statement. “This is Hitler during World War II. Today he is Putin.”
In a significant move away from the grill, 12 Russian Orthodox dioceses in Ukraine, on the advice of their bishops, withdrew his name from their prayers during the liturgy.
Pope Francis has so far refrained from asking Grill to condemn the war, and has not publicly condemned either Putin or Russia, despite their fervent calls for an end to the war.
However, other Catholic Church officials were not so lenient.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Catholic Church would soon be expelled from the Patriarch Grill’s sermon and that they risked “exacerbating” marriages expressing homosexual pride.
Archbishop Stanislav Kadeki, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference, wrote a letter directly to the Grill on March 2: “Brethren, I urge you to appeal to Vladimir Putin to stop the irrational war against the Ukrainian people.” .
“It is a moral obligation to refuse to follow orders in such a situation,” he said, urging Grill to persuade Russian soldiers to refuse his orders.
Father Antonio Spadaro SJ, a close adviser to Francis and author of the semi-official Vatican and Jesuit magazine “La Civilda Catholica”, has given voice to the surprises of many in the Catholic and Orthodox world now.
“The question of all is: what does the Patriot Grill do, what will he do?” Spadaro said in an interview with Italian news agency Adnkronos last week.
That question, so far in the light of Grill’s statements, seems to have been widely answered.