Russia’s Holy War?

Is Russia waging an ‘Orthodox jihad’ against the West? John Schindler, a former National Security Agency official and professor at the U.S. Naval War College, thinks so. The war in Ukraine, says Schindler, ‘bears more than a little resemblance to Holy War in a Russian and Orthodox variant.’ He attributes to Moscow, ‘a virulent ideology, and explosive amalgam of xenophobia, Chekism, and militant Orthodoxy which justifies the Kremlin’s actions and explains why the West must be opposed at all costs.’ In a second essay Schindler similarly remarks that, ‘The Kremlin now believes that they [sic] are at war with the United States, an Orthodox Holy War’.

In his blog for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher writes that he finds parts of Schindler’s thesis ‘perceptive’. It isn’t. It reflects a deep misunderstanding of Orthodox theology on the subject of war. Moreover, Schindler cites Ivan Ilyin (whose work I have discussed on this blog here and here) in support of his thesis, calling this ‘holy war’ an example of ‘Ilyinism’. Ilyin’s writings on the subject of violence cannot support that conclusion either.

Holy war has never achieved the same recognition in Orthodox theology as in that of Catholicism. Orthodox theologians have overwhelmingly tended toward the idea that war is sometimes ‘necessary’ as a lesser evil but can never be considered ‘just’. Father Alexander Webster thus notes that, in contrast to Catholicism, which developed a ‘just war theory’, Orthodoxy developed a ‘justifiable war ethic.’ In a study of mediaeval Church documents and Byzantine military manuals, Father Stanley Harakas concluded that, ‘The Eastern Orthodox Patristic tradition rarely praised war and, to my knowledge, never called it “just” or a moral good.’ A meeting of senior Orthodox theologians in Minsk in 1989 issued a statement proclaiming that:

The Orthodox Church unreservedly condemns war as an evil. Yet it also recognizes that in the defence of the innocent and the protection of one’s people from unjust attack, criminal activity, and the overthrowing of oppression, it is sometimes necessary, with reluctance, to resort to arms. In every case, such a decision must be taken with full consciousness of its tragic dimensions. Consequently, the Greek fathers of the Church have never developed a ‘just war theory’, preferring rather to speak of the blessings of and the preference for peace.

Similarly, in 2000 the Jubilee Council of Russian bishops phrased its views on war in terms solely of occasional necessity, saying: ‘While recognizing war as an evil, the Church does not prohibit her children from participating if at stake is the security of their neighbours and the restoration of trampled justice.  Then war is to be considered a necessary though undesirable means.’

Whereas the Catholic Church invented the concept of crusades to spread the faith by means of the sword, the Orthodox Church never endorsed a similar idea. Nor did it endorse the belief, supported by Catholicism in the Middle Ages, that death in a holy war leads to the salvation of the soul. In a recent examination of Orthodox writings on the ethics of war, Yuri Stoyanov notes that Byzantine rulers pushed for the acceptance of a holy war doctrine but met resistance from the Church. ‘This sanctification of warfare’, he writes, ‘did not find widespread acceptance among ecclesiastical elites or more generally within the Byzantine ideology of warfare.’ Instead, the Church generally preferred the teachings of St Basil the Great, who refused to recognize killing in war as ‘praiseworthy’ and recommended that those who kill in battle be denied communion for three years. The Eastern Church also differed from the Western one in that it did not permit priests or monks to bear arms. There was no Orthodox equivalent to the ‘warrior monks’ of the Templars, Hospitallers, or Teutonic Knights. Priests who fought in battle were defrocked.

Schindler’s attempt to argue that modern Russia is waging an ‘Orthodox jihad’ thus reveals an unfortunate ignorance of Orthodoxy.

As for Ivan Ilyin, I will examine his writings on the ethics of force in more detail in another post, but for now it is sufficient to point out that although Ilyin was very firm in arguing that it was necessary to wage war against evil, in line with Orthodox theology he made it very clear that it while ‘necessary’ it was not ‘just’. In his essay The Moral Contradiction of War, Ilyin argued that ‘every war without exception is a morally guilty act.’ He developed this theme further in his 1925 book On Resistance to Evil by Force, in which he stressed that the use of force cannot be considered ‘just’, merely ‘an unsinful (!) perpetration of injustice’. Writing to fellow émigré I. Demidov, he wrote, ‘All my research proves that the sword is not “holy” and not “just”.’

Schindler’s effort to enlist Ilyin as evidence of Russian holy war again displays a profound ignorance.

Nowadays, a blend of liberal democracy, free markets, and human rights has replaced Christianity as the ideology of choice in the West, but the belief that it is ‘just’ to wage war to spread this ideology remains strong. There is, however, no such thing as ‘Holy War in a Russian and Orthodox variant.’

 

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28 thoughts on “Russia’s Holy War?”

  1. Yes, Russia IS waging an Orthodox crusade against the West. The West just didn’t notice it. And John Schindler characterizes it perfectly – it is “a virulent ideology, and explosive amalgam of xenophobia, Chekism, and militant Orthodoxy”. It started at least 20 years ago, during the Yugoslav war, when the Russians suddenly discovered that they were “Orthodox”, and needed to share that knowledge with the rest of their Orthodox brothers. Whether they wanted it or not.

    So, at first in their own country, where they obviously control real and virtual life, they replaced the communist indoctrination with the Orthodox indoctrination. It happened the same in all former communist countries which had a majority of Orthodox population – after the fall of communism, the Orthodox churches rushed to plant their flag, tainted by the collaboration with the security police, into the fresh minds of the little former communists. In the Eastern Europe and Russia, the Orthodox Church is a bicephalous monster, half KGB and half only God knows what else.

    For years, the Orthodox Church/KGB trolls worked dilligently to spread hatred against Catholics and Protestants (and also against gays, Muslims and atheists) in all those countries, and they were tolerated because it suited the agenda of the local Orthodox. However when push came to shove, ironically, the local churches disowned the Russians and asserted their own independence. Considering that Russia also instigated the break-up of the same churches from the Constantinople Oecumenical Patriarchate in the 19th century, it could be called a double whammy.

    And now in the West sites like The Vineyard Saker promote Orthodoxy as the only path to salvation and write virulent articles against Catholics and “Anglo-Zionists”.

    Moreover, “just” and “justifiable” are not that different, no matter how much Orthodox theologians would like to split hairs. Are the actions of the Orthodox Greek justifiable, when they killed tens of thousands of defenseless Turkish women and children during their war of independence ? Was the Russian Orthodox Church more justified to burn the Old Believers at the stake than the Catholic Inquisition to burn the Cathars ?

    Also, the Catholic Church never “invented the concept of crusades to spread the faith by means of the sword”. The crusades started in order to regain the Holy Land which had been conquered by Muslims; and the first ideea for them came from a Byzantine emperor, who asked the Pope to help him regain that part of the world which formerly had belonged to the Byzantine Empire. But that is never mentioned, and all blame is laid at the feet of the Catholics by their Orthodox non-brothers, who are always very skillful at glossing over their own sins.

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    1. FLOR Solitaria, you are wrong to assume that current crisis in Russia-West relations are caused by, as you quote Mr. Schindler, “a virulent ideology, and explosive amalgam of xenophobia, Chekism, and militant Orthodoxy”.

      Ideology pre-supposes a complex system of beliefs and traditions backed by a serious philosophical justification. Like the idea that a democracy is a virtue in itself and that a democratic country always holds a moral high ground in any conflict with “authoritarian” state. This ideology is backed by serious philosophical “support” starting with Locke. The fact is that Russia’s reactions are purely DEFENSIVE! Russia is defending itself against a threat – this threat is quite possibly NON-EXISTENT, but the Russians seem to believe they are being encircled by NATO and the US. Constant messages that “NATO is a purely defensive alliance and that it is not a threat to Russia” inspire little faith considering NATO’s involvement in recent events in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, now Ukraine. Bombing of Yugoslavia was just the starting point. There NATO countries openly sided with one side in what was civil war. In justifying their attacks on Yugoslavia in 1998-99 the Western countries “forget” to mention that Kossovar Alban paramilitary groups have been waging terrorist war against Serbian population for years! Serbian army came to the aid of their countrymen after a massacre of at least 150 Serbian civilians near Pristina.

      Also, FLOR Solitaria, when you repeat some ideology driven nonsense about “an amalgam of xenophobia, Chekism and Orthodoxy”, do try to understand first that the ideas of xenophobia simply CANNOT mix with “Chekism”. Much less so with Cristian Orthodoxy. What you call “Chekism” is usually a referral to a period of mass terror campaign waged by the “CheKa” (“chrezvychainaia kommussia”or “commision with extraordinary powers”) against “counter-revolutionaries”. It was an ideological concept of fighting counter-revolution with mass terror. Ideological concept behind “CheKa” HAD NOTHING TO DO with xenophobia (i.e. fear and hatred of other nations and ethnicities). It was based on CLASS struggle, as defined by V.I. Lenin (Ulyanov) in many of his works (like “On the State and Revolution”). By the way, “Chekists” killed thousands of Russian Orthodox Church priests.

      And to state that Christian Othordox faith can somehow be connected with xenophobia and “Chekism”, that’s plain stupidity and spectacular ignorance.

      “However when push came to shove, ironically, the local churches disowned the Russians and asserted their own independence. Considering that Russia also instigated the break-up of the same churches from the Constantinople Oecumenical Patriarchate in the 19th century, it could be called a double whammy” — what a load of idiolic lies. You are obviously referring to the emergence in 90’s of Ukranian Orhodox Church, which declared its independence from the Moscow Patriarchat. In all other FSU countries Orthodox churches are a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. And even in Ukraine, despite years of anti-Russian propaganda, 75% of Christians consider themselves members of the Russian Orthodox Church parish (data of 2013). The Russian Empire didn’t instigate the break-up of the Constiantinople Oecumenical Patriarchate! When you state something like that, you need to have proof, like historical documents or something.

      Do read some history books. Then you wouldn’t embarass yourselg with statements like the Catholic Church never “invented the concept of crusades to spread the faith by means of the sword”. One of many examples, the decree of Pope Innocent III creating the Order of Swordbearers with the clearly defined mission: to spread Christianity to pagans in Eastern Baltics. Means of executing the mission: a holy crusade against pagan tribes who had the misfortune to live there.

      Conclusion:
      1. Try to avoid discussing what you obviously have little understanding about.
      2. On a broader subject of Russia-evil-corrupted-barbarian-state thing: Russia clearly violated some of the articles of the International Law, but Western countries in general, and the USA in particular, have no right to judge her on that. Because they themselves are gross violators of the same Internation Law. Hell, USA doesn’t even recognized Intrenational Criminal Courty in Hague, which is an integral part of Internation Law. Russia is behaving itself right now just like the US has been doing for most of its history.

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      1. Alex Yatsenko,
        you spent so many paragraphs debating what I never said. But I guess you had to promote the party line.
        I never said that the current crisis in Russia-West relations was caused by the things from Mr.Schindler’s quote. I said he was right to use those words, and I explained why in every paragraph I wrote. Whether you agree or not with it, it’s your business.
        I never said ANYWHERE in my comment ANYTHING about Russia’s reactions to Nato, or about her defending against “a threat, even though possibly non existent”, as you yourself said.

        Regarding xenophobia, I will direct you to the comments section of well-known Russian sites like English Pravda, Russia-Insider and The Vineyard Saker, etc., where you will find a very virulent amalgam of “militant Orthodoxy, Chekism and xenophobia” in the comments of dozens of Orthodox Russians expressing their hatred of the “papist poison”, of Ukrainian nationalism, of Americans, Canadians and Westerners in general. The superiority of Orthodoxy (especially Russian) is violently affirmed, and anybody daring to profess a different opinion is mocked, insulted, or his/her comments are simply not published on some of these sites.
        It is the same on sites in all the countries where there is a Russian minority, the Russians show their love of their neighbours in the same way. Also applied in life in their behaviour towards the people of those countries where they are a minority, and occasionally towards immigrants in their own country.

        As for your data regarding the numbers of the Cristians from other countries belonging to the ROC, the different national churches in those countries have different data.

        Re the pretensions and interference of the Russian Orthodox Church, one interesting document is the paper from the Ecumenical Patriarchate “First without equals: A response to the text on primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate”. It is basically a rebuke on the pretensions of the ROC of being the leader of the pack, but also an important source of information. For instance, the document quotes the unacceptable behaviour of the ROC delegates described in Aidan Nichols’ book “Rome and the Eastern Churches”. At the page cited by the Patriarchate we can also find “the virulently antiecumenical attitudes of not only Russian supernationalists, but also the “Russian Orthodox Church Abroad”.

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      2. @Alex Yatsenko

        part 2
        In the book quoted by the document of the Patriarchate there are also some bits of interesting history about the Russian meddling in the 19th century:
        “…a delegation of Bulgarian churchmen, with the approval of the [Ottoman] Porte, sought to enter into Catholic communion, and Pius IX welcomed their initiative to the extent of personally consecrating the archimandrite Joseph Sokolski as archbishop in 1861. Kidnapped by Russians at Constantinople and interned at Kiev, Sokolski’s career came to a dramatic full stop.” [22 – See A. Slavov, Kievskijat zatvornik Archiepiskop Iosif Sokolski – Sofia 1930]
        Re Albania: “The twentieth century Eastern-rite church derives from the decision of a group of villages of the Mali Shpatit, southeast of Elbasan, to enter ecclesiastical union with Rome. Though their desire for a bishop was frustrated by the consular representations of Russia and Montenegro, they received pastoral help, after the First World War.”

        And this is from an Orthodox site, Ancient Faith Radio, from the lectures of the Orthodox priest, Fr. Thomas Hopko:
        “You can say that it really was the Russian armies, in their war with Turkey in 1877-78, that actually brought down the Phanariote rule over Orthodoxy within the Ottoman Empire”.
        “..it was the Russian army – again – that went into these areas, especially the Antiochian Patriarchate and dismissed the Greek man who was acting as the Patriarch of Antioch.” [1898]

        There is much more evidence of past and present interference of the ROC, and it is now being translated from the different languages of the countries where it took place. Also it would need a blog of its own.

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      3. re: The crusades

        Historian Edward Gibbon writes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire about the origin of the crusades:

        “In the age of the crusades, the Christians, both of the East and of the West, were persuaded of their lawfulness and merit.”
        “The right of a just defence may fairly include our civil and spiritual allies: it depends on the existence of danger; and that danger must be estimated by the two-fold consideration of the malice and the power of our enemies.”

        The Muslims had conquered all the Christian lands in Egypt and Asia Minor and they were advancing towards Europe.
        Gibbon says about the Muslim conquest:
        “…it cannot be denied that the Oriental churches are depressed under their iron yoke; that in peace and war they assert a divine and indefeasible claim of universal empire; and that in their [Muslim] orthodox creed, the unbelieving nations are continually threatened with the loss of religion or liberty. In the eleventh century, the victorious arms of the Turks presented a real and urgent apprehension of these losses. They had subdued in less than thirty years the kingdoms of Asia, as far as Jerusalem and Hellespont; and the Greek Empire tottered on the verge of destruction.”

        So when pope Urban II held a council at Placentia in 1095, the representatives of the Byzantine Empire (what was left of it) were present too:
        “The ambassadors of the Greek emperor Alexios Comnenos were introduced to plead the distress of their sovereign and the danger of Constantinople, which was divided only by a narrow sea from the victorious Turks, the common enemies of the Christian name. In their suppliant address they flattered the pride of the Latin princes; and appealing at once to their policy and religion, exhorted them to repel the Barbarians on the confines of Asia, rather than to expect them in the heart of Europe. At the sad tale of the misery and perils of their Eastern brethren the assembly burst into tears: the most eager champions declared their readiness to march; and the Greek ambassadors were dismissed with the assurance of a speedy and powerful succour.”
        Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

        This is how the first crusade started.
        And if there doesn’t seem to be much, or any, participation of the Byzantine Greeks in it, it’s because they too were willing to fight the Muslims down to the last Western crusader.

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      4. FLOR SOLITRARIA,
        1. Your quote from E. Gibbon proves only that ambassadors of Alexios Comneos wanted alliance with the Western nations in the fight against Seldzjuk Turks. How does this quote prove the point that it was the Greek Orthodox church was in the cahoots with the Catholic Church in starting the crusades? This is exactly the point that I am trying to make: Orthodox Church cannot possibly encourage a Holy War or a Crusade against anyone. This is just not how it works, period! Alexios only wanted assistance in stopping advance of several tribes of Seldzhuk Turks in Asia Minor because he viewed them as a threat to his own sphere of inlfuence. At the same time he had alliances with other tribes in Asia Minor and in the North Africa, many of his allies (and, thus, Byzantine allies) were muslim. He never viewed this temporary alliance with the Western nations as a common cause in Holy War. Unlike in the West, Byzantine emperors were more powerful than the Greek Orthodox church, and you really must separate their actions from the actions of the Church. I actually did a lot research on holy crusades when I was a student, I also read several times E. Gibbon’s masterpiece. I think it’s one of very few really authoritative works about Ancient Rome and then Byzantine Empire. Edward Gibbon was a true histrorian and very clearly minded thinker. In his work you cannot find unsubstantiated claims and unverified facts (available to him at the time of his writing). He knew very well about limitations of the sourcers that he had access to. Which was why he never wrote that the Greek Orthodox church, as an institution, conspired with Urban II to start the Crusades. He had no proof of that and so he didn’t write about it.

        2. On your comment about my original comments: you clearly sided with Mr. Schindler in your comments. And his article is an attempt to explain current Russia-West crisis in terms of ideology. If you don’t agree with Mr. Schindler’s opinion then I apologize for having misundestood you.

        3. You quote Yuri Tabak and his article, and again it leaves me really perplexed (well, not really, I am not surprised at these egregious verbal atacks on this Russians and Russian Orthodox church). How is this quote a proof of “open antisemitism” of the Russian Orthodox Church? Why don’t you quote repeated and numerous statements of officials from the Church condemning anti-semitism in particular, and racism in general ?!?!? I mean, somebody writes a stupid article, disguised as “serious research” with reference to little known radicals and open neo-nazis in Russia, and then somehow this becomes proof of antisemitism of the Russian Orthodox Church??? I am not familiar with all Yuri Tabak’s work, but the article you quote is really his opinion and nothing more! Again, part of he stays in his article has to be viewed in the historical perspective. Catholic church after WWII had to make some kind of atonement to Jews because during the War it said nothing PUBLICLY about genocidal extermintaion campaign the Nazis waged against the European Jews. The Pope was under severe preassure, obviously. Russian Orthodox Church during the war condemned atrocities commited by the Nazis against Jews, Poles, Russians, Ukranians, Gypsies and many other nations who the crazed Nazis labeled sub-human and tried very hard to exterminate. During and after the war Russian Orthodox Church had nothing to be ashamed of, while the Roman Catholic Church had a lot of explaining to do. At the same time I, for one, will never claim that Catholic Church colloborated with Nazis and should thus, be condemned. Nor will I ever call her antisemitic. I know about many documented occasions when officials of the Catholic Church did everything they could to save Jews. One Catholic priest in Western Belarus saved my great-aunt and her family!

        4. There are many antisemites in Russia, no doubt about that. There are many more antisemites in Ukraine and in Poland. And they too are organized. And I know what I am talking about because I happen to live in that part of Europe. Hell, there are open anti-semites in parliaments of some European countries!!! And yet you don’t claim that, say, Greek-Catholic church in Western Ukrain and Catholic Church in Poland are anti-semitic simply because members of radical organizations, like “Svoboda” in Western Ukraine, also happen to be regular church-goers.

        5. You quote E. Gibbon in an attempt to prove that Greek Orthodox Church had a role to play in the start of the Crusades. Although this thesis is generally not accepted by the academia, it is at least entitled to some benifit of credibility, because no-one knows what really happened a thousand years ago. Then you start quoting people who can hardly be called non-biased or, indeed, informed of anything more important than typical propaganda crap. The Russian Orthodox Church , in my opinion, has many drawbacks, and I say this with pain because I am Russian Orthodox myself. But it is NOT xenophobic or antisemitic nor is it run by KGB or by Putin himself! And although I don’t have much Russian blood in me, I can see that current russophobia is getting out of hand. In my original comment I tried to show that from the point of view of basic terminology and concepts, Mr. Schindler’s article is a piece of propaganda, nothing more. I am sorry that you, personally, seem to believe it, instead of using your mind to make your own judgement and your own opinions.

        Regards!

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      5. @ Alex Yatsenko
        It seems that you are again missing my points, so I will highlight them for you. It is not MY attempt to prove that the Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church had a role to play in the crusades, it is what Eward Gibbon, whom you call “a true historian and a very clearly minded thinker” demonstrated. He used primary sources and he quoted documents of the age about which he wrote.

        “THE GREEK EMPIRE TOTTERED ON THE VERGE OF DESTRUCTION.”
        “The AMBASSADORS of the GREEK EMPEROR ALEXIOS COMNENUS were introduced to PLEAD THE DISTRESS OF THEIR SOVEREIGN AND THE DANGER OF CONSTANTINOPLE, which was divided only by a narrow sea from the VICTORIOUS TURKS, the COMMON ENEMIES of the Christian name. In their SUPPLIANT ADDRESS they flattered the pride of the Latin princes; and APPEALING at once to their policy and their religion, EXHORTED THEM TO REPEL THE BARBARIANS TO THE CONFINES OF ASIA, rather than to expect them in the heart of Europe. At the sad tale of THE MISERY AND PERILS OF THEIR EASTERN BRETHREN the assembly burst into tears: the most eager champions declared their readiness to march; and THE GREEK AMBASSADORS were dismissed with the assurance of a speedy and powerful SUCCOUR.”

        However, the gratitude of the Greeks for the help they themselves asked manifested in rather curious ways:
        “Alexius Comnenus contrived the absence at least of the formidable pilgrims: his successors, Manuel and Isaac Angelus, conspired with the Moslems for the ruin of the greatest princes of the Franks; and their crooked and malignant policy was seconded by the active and voluntary obedience of every order of their subjects.”
        “…the hatred of the pusillanimous Greeks was sharpened by secret envy of the bold and pious enterprises of the Franks. But these profane causes of national enmity were fortified and inflamed by the venom of religious zeal. Instead of a kind embrace, an hospitable reception from their Christian brethren of the East, every tongue was taught to repeat the names of schismatic and heretic, MORE ODIOUS TO AN ORTHODOX EAR THAN THOSE OF PAGAN AND INFIDEL: instead of being loved for the general conformity of faith and worship, they were abhorred for some rules of discipline, some questions of theology, in which themselves or their teachers might differ from the Oriental church. In the crusade of Louis the seventh, the Greek clergy washed and purified the altars which had been defiled by the sacrifice of a French priest. The companions of Frederic Barbarossa deplore the injuries which they endured, BOTH IN WORD AND DEED, from the PECULIAR RANCOUR OF THE BISHOPS AND MONKS. Their prayers and sermons excited the people against the ‘impious Barbarians’; and THE PATRIARCH is accused of declaring that the faithful might obtain the redemption of all their sins by the extirpation of the ‘schismatics’.”

        This kind of behaviour and reneging of their previous agreements led partly to the sack of Constantinople in 1204, which the Orthodox continually lament. It was done mostly by the Venetians and Genoans, who also had a grudge against the Byzantines for the massacre of their own people in Constantinople in 1183:

        “The wealth and luxury of Constantinople demanded the productions of every climate”
        “..commerce has been in the hands of the foreigners.”
        “..the Venetians, Pisans and Genoese introduced their factories and settlements into the capital of the empire: their services were rewarded with honours and immunities; they aquired the possession of lands and houses; their families were multiplied by marriages with the natives; and, after the toleration of a Mahometan mosch, it was impossible to interdict the churches of the Roman rite. The two wives of Manuel Comnenus were of the race of the Franks; …he obtained for his son Alexius a daughter of Philip Augustus king of France; …the policy of Manuel had sollicited the alliance of the pope; and the popular voice accused him of a partial bias to the nation and religion of the Latins.”
        So “the people rose in arms” and united with the troops of the tyrant Andronicus to attack the Latins.

        “…the hopeless resistance of the strangers served only to justify the rage, and sharpen the daggers of the assassins. Neither age, nor sex, nor the ties of friendship or kindred, could save the victims of national hatred, and avarice, and religious zeal: the Latins were slaughtered in their houses and in the streets; their quarter was reduced to ashes; their clergy was burnt in their churches, and the sick in their hospitals; and some estimate may be formed of the slain from the ‘clemency’ which sold above four thousand Christians in perpetual slavery to the Turks. THE PRIESTS AND MONKS WERE THE LOUDEST AND MOST ACTIVE IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ‘SCHISMATICS’; AND THEY CHAUNTED A THANKSGIVING TO THE LORD WHEN THE HEAD OF A ROMAN CARDINAL, THE POPE’S LEGATE, WAS SEVERED FROM HIS BODY, FASTENED TO THE TAIL OF A DOG, AND DRAGGED WITH SAVAGE MOCKERY THROUGH THE CITY.”
        Edward Gibbon – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

        And indeed in Gibbon’s work, Alex Yatsenko, like you yourself said “you cannot find unsubstantiated claims and unverified facts”.

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      6. FLOR Solitaria, you seem to have spent a lot of time finding appropriate quotes to support your idea. Our discussion is getting needlessly lengthy and, I am afraid, pointless. If you believe in what you are saying, then you are right. I don’t really want to prove you wrong, this would be futile, you are too sure in the absolute truth you seem to have found.
        I suppose, if I suggested that you should also consider other sources on such sensitive subject, like, omg, the Greek sources (they have a lot to say about persecution of Byzantine lands and territories in Italy at the hands of Venetians, Genoans and their allies Franks) or Russian sources, you will probably say that that’s a lie anyway.
        I could refer you to works of such great Russian historians as Soloviev, or from more recent times, Lev Gumilev. I may also suggest reading articles by Patriarch Alexii II or Patriarch Kirill. True, they are all KGB agents, but hey, you should study first hand what your enemies think. And I will devote some of my time to reading a couple of Yuri Tabak’s books and articles. I am not familiar with his work, so I can’t really comment apart from the single article from him. Thank you for pointing me to a new and, hopefully, interesting source.
        Also, if you are quoting someone like the Iron Felix, then please give the full text and, as in this case, the context when this particular speech/text was given. I am sure you will find it in the internet. May I suggest though, that in this case you should use sources originating from Russia?

        As for the question of Nazi’s genocidal war against “Uentermenschen” and Catholic Church, the latter never officially condemned Germany for it. But there were reasons for it. No doubt the Pope hated Nazis, and it is a fact that the Church did a lot to save as many Jews as it could. Many other nations and organizations did nothing at all. I never said that the Catholic Church should be blamed for what was happening to European Jews. I mentioned this highly controversial issue when I tried to explain to you why the Russian Orthodox Church did not “reach out” to the Jewish people. It didn’t have to.

        It is very hard to argue with someone who gives so many quotes from reputable and less reputable sources. It is always possible to find a quote to support anything. I don’t want to be drawn into this childish game of who gets to quote the “coolest” source in order to support my words.
        So FLOR Solitaria, YOU ARE RIGHT as long as you believe in your righteousness. I can’t win in this, you know, because I keep having doubts about my beliefs and feel that I must somehow keep doubting them to keep my sanity.

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      7. @ Alex Yatsenko
        I’m afraid you are contradicting yourself. First you told me to read some history books, and to find proofs for my assertions, and when I did you complained. I did not have to spend a lot of time to look for the appropriate quotes, as I already knew where to find them. I also have a lot of books about the Russian Empire, the Soviet gulags, and religion in general. Moreover I happen to know a little that part of the world, and I speak several languages, including some obscure ones, which gives me access to more information than the English-only speakers usually obtain.

        From my experience, all the Orthodox writers, regardless of where they live or the subjects they treat (be it history, religion, geography, sociology, etc.) are almost all biased against everything Western. And when writing about religion, they are especially obsessed with proving the Catholics wrong; obsession which goes from the actual expression of hatred, like hurling anathemas against them – to the downright ridiculous, like the recent letter of the Archbishop of Piraeus to the pope, in which he chides him (the Pope) about the doctrine. Nevermind that the first “doctrinal” point to which the poor Archbishop objects is the organization of the Vatican as an institution; and as if the Orthodox and Protestant Churches weren’t similarly organized. Which proves once again what Gibbon wrote, that the Orthodox hate the Catholics for “some rules of discipline”. (Yes, I know all their other objections).

        As for what my enemies think, believe me, I know it first hand from everything they did and still do. Personally I think they are on the wrong warpath, because most of the people whom they consider their enemies are not; and, conversely, some of those whom they consider friends also are not. But time will tell.

        I appreciate that you will not try anymore to prove me wrong. For myself, I am not so much convinced of my own righteousness, as of the wrongness of others; which makes it easier for me to argue a point until the cows come home.
        So indeed it is better if we both give up this discussion, because I feel we have abused Professor Robinson’s blog, for which I must apologize.

        For a moment, when you mentioned the name of Soloviev, I hoped you meant the philosopher and theologian Vladimir Soloviev (or Solovyov), as he is one of my most beloved authors, and I have everything I could get my hands on from his writings, including “La Russie et l’eglise universelle” in both the original French and the abridged English version, a most fascinating book.
        I read somewhere that President Putin’s favourite philosophers are Soloviev, Ilyin and Aleksandr Dugin. It seems to me an odd choice of worldviews to combine, because if you like one of them – you cannot like the others.

        I didn’t read much of Ilyin, just enough to give me the impression that he too misjudged the Western world, although he lived in it for so long, just like his more illustrious compatriot Dostoievsky did before him. I believe some of their mistrust and lack of understanding are due to some strange impossibility of the Russian soul to really transcend the barriers which the mind can transcend.
        Dugin seems to be different: he is all over the place. He takes different things from different people and from different places, and blends them together into a “philosophy” of his own, very pliable and opportunistic, and rather ambiguous.

        Which leaves only Soloviev as a thinker whose ideas are at the same time sincere towards the Russian people and open to the rest of the world to be of benefit to his readers.
        Because, as he says in “L’idee russe”:
        “l’idee d’une nation n’est pas ce qu’elle pense d’elle-meme dans le temps, mais ce que Dieu pense sur elle dans l’eternite”.

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  2. Actually, its “Sacred war”.

    Russia, in my opinion, certainly fought “sacred wars” in the past.
    Some of the struggles against the Mongols, and arguably the uprising in Moscow against the Poles, had very strong religious aspects.

    As had WW2, more so if you view Soviet Communism as a non-theistic missionary religion.

    As for “crusades”, Russia, via historical heritage from Velikij Novgorod, and via claimed heritage from East Rome/Byzantium, considers herself as having been on the receiving end of Crusades and thus doesnt like that word very much.

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  3. Also the Orthodox Church is openly antisemite, declaring that the Jews control everything in the world, banks and governments; and that the Antichrist will be born from them and rule the world from the restored Temple in Jerusalem.

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    1. FLOR solitaria, again, could you please prodive quotes from official Orthodox Dogma (here, let me help you, start with the Bible!)? How do you arrive at conclusions that Orthodox Church is openly antisemitic?

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      1. Alex Yatsenko, with pleasure.
        This is from an article by Yuri Tabak, entitled “Relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and Judaism: Past and Present” at:
        http://www.jcrelations.net

        “…the Western churches had the opportunity in the second half of the twentieth century to develop a new position in relation to Judaism. Unlike them, the Russian Orthodox Church has not taken such steps, being wholly governed by the writings of the holy fathers about the Jews who “crucified Christ”. Russian Orthodox teaching still rests on medieval preconceptions; thus the most extreme Orthodox antisemites can logically claim that their monstruous anti-Jewish invective is based upon “Church teaching”.

        “…in the last few years, the antisemitic sermons, articles and speeches by the now deceased Metropolitan of St.Petersburg and Ladoga Ioann (Snychev) have been actively circulated.”

        “The Moscow Patriarchate has not reacted in any way to the dozens of openly antisemitic books which have been published by Orthodox authors, nor to the articles in the fascist and neo-fascist press, calling itself ‘Orthodox’. In cathedrals and Orthodox bookstalls it is perfectly possible to buy a copy of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.”

        “In addition openly antisemitic books have been published from time to time by the church itself.”

        “The small group of priests who ‘advocate ecumenical dialogue with members of other Christian denominations, strongly condemning antisemitism’ ‘are constantly subjected to the furious attacks of conservative factions in the Moscovite clergy’ and are ‘usually sharply criticized by the official Church.”

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      2. @ Alex Yatsenko

        Paul Goble writes in Talinn, Estonia, in 2005 in the article “Black Hundreds Live Again”:
        “A group of extreme right Russian nationalists plans to re-establish the notoriously antisemitic Union of the Russian People next week on the 100th anniversary of a movement by both its supporters and opponents.”
        “The meeting of the new Union of the Russian people next week is thus likely to provide the clearest indication yet of just how influentioal this odious trend in Russia has yet again become.”

        And according to Wikipedia it seems that they are established:
        “URP’s chief newspaper was Russkoe znamya (Russian banner), a newspaper which first published notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.
        “This organization has seen a revival around 2005 in Russia now and has many followers and 17 offices in large cities.”
        “The Union’s main activities can be described as national patriotic with strong emphasis on the Russian Orthodox Church”.

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  4. @ Alex Yatsenko

    Yuri Tabak, the writer of the “stupid article”, as you call it, is a researcher and author of several books and articles on historical and biblical themes, on early Jewish-Christian relations, and interconfessional relations within Christianity. He has been a speaker at the Jewish Cultural Centre in Moscow in 2014, and most recently at the Limmud Keshet Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, in February 2015.

    Re the Catholic Church: it officially condemned nazism in the well-known papal encyclical “Mit Brennender Sorge” in 1937, two years before the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact between the Soviets and the Nazis, and one year before the agreement of England, France and Italy with the Nazi regime.
    http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/the-encyclical-that-infuriated-hitler
    The article quotes “..the report that appeared in La Repubblica last week, according to which archive documents from former East Germany reveal that Pacelli [Pope Pius XII] was the Nazis’ enemy and that the Soviet Union was behind the campaign to calumniate Pius XII.”
    “Now there are documents that show how many false statements have been made about Pius XII. The responsibility of the Soviets is also evident in the campaign to calumniate Pius XII.”

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  5. @ Alex Yatsenko

    I sided with Mr. Schindler’s CHARACTERIZATION of the Orthodox crusade, and I explained why. Twice. I will endeavour to explain for the third time. All the evidence I will quote is freely available on the internet, and I am sure that Mr. Schindler, in his official capacity, had enough access to information that could justify his stance.

    Re: Chekism and Orthodoxy. The following quote is from Feliks Dzerzhinsky, founder of the original Soviet secret police:
    “Leave the church to the chekisty. Only they, with their specific chekist methods, can control the clerics and undermine the church from within.”
    And it seems they were pretty succesfull.
    Keith Armes, associate director of the Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy, Boston University, writes in his well-documented essay “Chekists in Cassocks: The Orthodox Church and the KGB”, that there was uncovered “clear evidence of the subordination of the Orthodox hierarchy to the Soviet government” at the opening of some KGB archives after August 1991.
    Some quotes from the essay:
    “one-half of the clergy were overt or covert KGB employees through the end of the Gorbachev era”
    “the hierarchy took large bribes from priests seeking transfers to rich parishes and from candidates for bishoprics”
    “within the top church hierarchy, nine out of ten were KGB agents”
    “That the Kremlin managed to handcuff the largest predominantly Protestant organization in the world is one of its greatest achievements since WWII.”

    Regarding the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state at the present time, Peter Pomerantsev has a good article here:
    http://www.newsweek.com/putins-god-squad-orthodox-church-and-russian-politics-64649

    Re the Orthodox crusade, some early evidence of this intent exists in Alexander Yanov’s book – The Russian Challenge and the Year 2000, published in 1987:
    “Only the Soviet system, having adopted Russian Orthodoxy… is capable of beginning THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.” (Russian nationalist G.M. Shimanov, quoted at p.236)
    “If we presume the COMING transformation of the Communist Party into the Russian Orthodox Party of the Soviet Union, we would obtain truly THE IDEAL STATE, one which would fulfill the historical destiny of the Russian people. It is a question of THE ORTHODOXIZATION OF THE ENTIRE WORLD.”

    The confirmation of this intent can be found in the book “New Trojan Horse: Americans of Russian Descent”, written by the KGB defector Konstantin Preobrazhensky.
    http://www.rightsidenews.com/2009062125493/us/homeland-security/putins-spies-in-america.html
    From the editorial review of the book:
    “This book is an extremely valuable contribution to the efforts of investigation of treasonous activities among the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (R.O.C.O.R.) now attached to the Moscow Patriarchate” — Eugene L. Magerovsky, Ph.D., Colonel., Strategic Intelligence, U.S. Army, Retired Professor of Russian History
    “This book addresses one of the unforeseen developments of the consolidation within the Russian Orthodox Churches that can have significant counter-intelligence implications for the U.S. and the Western world. …Russian intelligence can very cynically use even Russian priests to implement its intelligence agenda.”– Paul M. Joyal, Director PSS at National Strategies Inc., Former Director of Security for U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence
    “Now the Kremlin’s hope is that the parishioners of R.O.C.O.R. could carry out the function of a fifth column, driven by nostalgic and religious feeling. And there are millions of them, all immigrants from Russia.”– Novoe Russkoe Slovo, Russian Language Daily in New York

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