Is Russian Orthodox Church Seeking To Be ‘First Among Equals’?

January 22, 2010

An article by Jeffrey Donovan on Radio Free Europe’s web site speaks about the ambitions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the politics in the Ukraine. Igor Frolov, spokesman for Russia’s Union of Orthodox Citizens, gives his view:

Kirill “has the qualities” not only to unite all Orthodox churches around him, but to displace the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, as the Orthodox world’s symbolic leader — its “first among equals.”

Frolov also said the Russian church should be as powerful and effective as the Vatican, which oversees the world’s 1 billion Roman Catholics. Orthodoxy currently has some 200 million faithful worldwide, but Frolov said that under Moscow’s stewardship, “we have every right to say that we need our Orthodox billion.”

Father Romano Scalfi, touted as an expert on Orthodoxy, has a different view:

But does Kirill actually seek to take over the Orthodox world? “Doubtless, there are contrasts between Constantinople and Moscow,” says Father Romano Scalfi, an Italian Catholic priest and expert on Orthodoxy.

“There are reasons for this. Moscow has the biggest church in Orthodoxy; Constantinople has only a few hundred faithful,” Scalfi adds. “Still, I don’t see Moscow trying to take over from Constantinople, but rather seeking to influence things more — which is perhaps natural, given its size.”

Read the full article at: http://www.rferl.org/content/feature/1498708.html

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