Η Ορθοδοξία και η πρόκληση της νεω-τερικότητας : το παράδειγμα της αυτοκρατορικής Ρωσίας

Αργύριος Κλ. Πισιώτης

Abstract


At least since the Enlightenment, Western European observers have
viewed Christian Orthodox Churches as particularly retrograde and their
clergy as uneducated, obscurantist xénophobes. The socialist movement and
Soviet anticlericalism propagated a view of the Orthodox Church -especially Russia’s- as docile to political authority and inimical to liberalism, modern
democracy, and struggles for social justice. As late as the Yugoslav wars of
the 1990s, some Western analysts spoke of a distinct Orthodox culture that
asserted itself over national identities. However, the assumption of Orthodox
cultural exceptionalism was based on ideological bias rather than scholarly
research. Beginning in the late 1980s and through the 1990s, the opening of
Soviet archives and a realization of the under-researched role of the Orthodox
Church in tsarist Russia, led historians to study new aspects of modern
Russian Orthodoxy that greatly enriched scholarly knowledge and revised
substantially the established stereotypes. New research belied the view of
clerical obscurantism by highlighting Orthodox clergymen’s strong contribution
to Russian Enlightenment. Examination of the lives and career paths
of Orthodox hierarchy uncovered that they did not fit the stereotype of
withdrawn ascetics incapable of appreciating rapid social developments or of
participating in late imperial Russia’s momentous political events. On the
contrary, middle and higher clergy had received an education that was largely secular in content and, from the 1860s on, increasingly oriented towards
meeting the challenges of modernity and the diverse needs of urban and rural
flock. Studies of the Orthodox clergy’s relations to lay intelligentsia showed a
partial overlap of aspirations, focused on the need to reform the autocratic
system and to relax certain social restrictions. Recent studies also demonstrated
the parish clergy’s support for the popular demand of land redistribution
and for the basic freedoms of association and expression. Additionally,
research discovered a substantial number of clergymen political dissidents,
motivated by sympathy for the people’s plight and loathing for the bureaucratic
autocracy. Alienated by the state’s stifling intrusion in Church affairs
and prolonged neglect of clergymen’s material needs, both parish clergy and
the episcopate rejected the social policing role in which the monarchy wanted
to cast them, failing to defend tsarism in its final hour. These findings suggest
a more diversified Orthodox clergy close to lay society’s concerns and a
Church that was not a “handmaiden of the state”, as previously considered.

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