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The Orthodox Church and the Power: Martin Schulze Wessel in ARD-alpha Interview

Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe on the occasion of the formation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine


On Monday, 11 February 2019, Professor Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel, Munich spokesman for the Graduate School, was a studio guest of the nationwide German television program ARD-alpha. On the occasion of the formation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, he talked with editor Imke Köhler in the interview  series "alpha-demokratie" about "The Orthodox Church and the Power".

Is the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its secession from the Russian Patriarchate about religion or politics – or both? With this question, editor Imke Köhler opened the broadcast on Monday night, in which Professor Schulze Wessel was invited as an interviewee. For him, the answer to this question is clear: "The initiative is certainly a political one." Thus, it is for the incumbent Ukrainian President Poroshenko, who is due for election on 31 March 2019, a great support to have an autocephalous church at his side.

Surveys from Ukraine paint a positive image for this step from the population. A woman feels after formation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church "as if we had been given our passport," and an elderly man tells how his grandfathers had been waiting for this moment: "For us, this is a historic moment, a happy moment."

Russia, on the other hand, is annoyed from the secession and recognition of the Ukrainian church by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the most venerable of the Orthodox patriarchs. In his last Christmas service interview, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow criticized the confusion of state and church in Ukraine - an absurd allegation in the face of the close relationship between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, says Martin Schulze Wessel. He added: "The church is important as a pacifier for a society in transition, so both Poroshenko and Putin like to refer to the church." Meanwhile, according to Schulze Wessel, a schism – a church split – could emerge from the "great rift" between the two important patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow.

Link to the Video (in German only):

Die orthodoxe Kirche und die Macht, ARD-alpha, "alpha-demokratie", 11. Februar 2019.

Responsible for content: GS OSES/Hilgert