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Russian Church does not condemn communism as a political doctrine

2 August 2008
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The Moscow Patriarchate finds no sense in condemning communism as an ideology.
“Church doesn’t give estimations to political philosophy and political doctrines. When they say Church should condemn communism as philosophy I don’t think it’s correct,” deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on air of Russian News Service.
He noted there were believers among the Communists and “many people once urged Church to condemn Communism.”

According to Fr. Vsevolod, “it’s difficult” to say what communism is today as “some left political movements speak about ideals of justice. And these ideals are also important for an Orthodox Christian.”

It is quite a different matter (and according to him, “many priests have positively stated it”) that “society and state should condemn crimes of the Bolshevist regime
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I find myself in two minds about this.

Yes, there is a sense in which Christians are neutral in relation to worldly political ideologies — at least in the sense that we should not be wedded to any of them. But it is difficult to see that all political ideologies are equal from a Christian point of view. Some political ideologies are manifestly unjust, and promote injustice.

When, in 1968, South African Christians condemned apartheid as not merely a heresy, but a pseudogospel, they were saying that belief in the ideology of apartheid was not merely incompatible with the Christian faith, but antithetical to it.

“Communism” is a somwwhat wider term, though in the form in which Russian Christians faced it under the Bolsheviks it was not simply an abstract economic ideal of sharing material goods, but in the form of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism it included several other things as well, such as the enforcement of atheism, and the deliberate starvation of large numbers of people. While one can say, as a general principle, that no state system or political doctrine can be preferable to the church, there are also features of some state systems and political doctrines that can be decidedly unacceptable to the church. While the Church should not endorse political parties, or their policies and programmes, it can, and sometimes should, point out policies or aspects of policies that are unacceptable to Christians.

One Comment leave one →
  1. sol permalink
    4 August 2008 7:55 pm

    Perhaps Comrade Ridiger thinks it would be too hypocritical to condemn his former employers.

    Communism in any form that has achieved political ascendancy in any nation-state has been atheistic and repressive. It is not just the left that speaks about ideals of justice. In fact, I would suggest that it is a common theme of almost any political view or movement.

    This would not be unlike accepting any expression of sexuality, just because they speak of love. After all, love is important for an Orthodox Christian. The Patriarchate doesn’t seem to have any trouble seeing through that.

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