"Russian priests should stop blessing nukes: church proposal"
February 4, 2020 1:12 PM   Subscribe

"Russian priests should refrain from the practice of blessing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that can inflict indiscriminate loss of life ..."

A bit of backstory from last summer: "... Weapons systems, including Topol-class intercontinental ballistic missiles, are frequently blessed by members of the Russian Orthodox clergy during military parades and other events. These blessings are seen as a way of spiritually protecting the country.

In 2007, Russia’s nuclear weapons were consecrated in a service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. In Russian Orthodoxy, the patron saint of Russia’s nuclear weapons is St. Seraphim.

(Bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate Savva) Tutunov’s view is not universally held in the Orthodox Church. According to the piece published by Religion News Service, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplain, a former spokesman for the Patriarch of Moscow, said that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is akin to the “guardian angels” of the country and are needed to protect Orthodoxy.

“Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin said to a Russian newspaper.

Patriarch Kirill is rumored to have been a KGB agent prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. His predecessor, Patriarch Alexy II is also believed to have been a KGB agent. The Moscow Patriarchate denies this ..."

More here from the church itself if you can read Russian.
posted by milnews.ca (13 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Not that it makes any difference, but maybe they should view a blessing as a prayer that the weapon doesn’t get used. But it seems there’s a more problematic underlying issue with Putin and the Russian Orthodox church cozying up.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:42 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]

We're probably about to see how strong Caesaropapism is in Russia today, by whether this is quickly walked back (and the officials pushing this find themselves pushed away from power in the church) or whether it opens the doors for church officials to criticise government policies directly, if not for a rival power base to Putin to arise in anticipation of his “retirement” from the presidency.
posted by acb at 1:57 PM on February 4

In the grim future of the XXIst century...
May your weapon be guarded against malfunction,
As your soul is guarded from impurity.
The Machine God watches over you.
Unleash the weapons of war.
Unleash the Deathdealer.
- Chant for the prevention of malfunction
The soul of the Machine God surrounds thee.
The power of the Machine God invests thee.
The hate of the Machine God drives thee.
The Machine God endows thee with life.
- The Litany of Ignition
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:19 PM on February 4 [14 favorites]

Wait, they're going to send these weapons in to battle unblessed?
That's just crazy!

No. Wait.
The other thing. I meant the other thing.
posted by Floydd at 6:24 PM on February 4

The R-36 ICBM (NATO designation: Satan) is still in service, and perhaps has been blessed on this way.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:50 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]

And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy." And the Lord did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats

- The Book of Armaments, Chapter 2, Verse 9

posted by Segundus at 10:33 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]

The Russian Orthodox Church had the notion of independence beaten out of it by first the tsars, then the Soviets and now remains faithful servant of the empire.
posted by hat_eater at 3:17 AM on February 5

I'm surprised they're even considering stopping! That's pretty good.
posted by timdiggerm at 5:46 AM on February 5

For me the kicker was this:
In a striking symbol of close defense-church ties in Russia, the armed forces are building their own sprawling cathedral at a military themed park outside Moscow. It is set to be one of the tallest Orthodox churches in the world.
I was raised in the Russian Orthodox church in the US, and so much of it defined itself in opposition to the USSR. It was astonishing to see this transformation after its fall, like an arm-wrestler whose opponent suddenly pulls back instead of pushing, causing them to swing their arm around and punch themselves in the groin.

I vowed when I left the religion not to define myself in opposition to it in such a tedious and exploitable way.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 6:04 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

Having read recently of yet another Catholic diocese declaring bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits brought by abused youth, I am unsurprised to learn that a church would bless weapons. Religion in general is feeling more and more scammy these days.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:18 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

Lots of religions bless weapons, and the idea of holy war is a widespread theological argument across multiple faiths.

The Russian Orthodox Church tries to appear as one voice, but there are and historically have been multiple dissenting and conflicting voices within the different patriarchies. Not just Old Believers but the LGBT affirming, the splinter groups that appeared just before Stalin, the ongoing weirdness with the Ukrainian and Russian Churches that everyone irl quietly refuses to discuss because we have both attending a third geopolitical church. The Russian Orthodox Church history is difficult to study post revolution because of the deliberate destruction or sealing of records and suppression.

This kind of debate and inviting discussion from the public rather than behind closed doors seems pretty new. I’m also surprised by the refusal given the state’s militarization - it might be to get in accord with other patriarchies‘ practices?
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:39 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

Yes, what dorothyisunderwood says is absolutely true. Even within a single Seattle neighbourhood, there were two different factions of the Russian Orthodox church. One recognised (or was at least willing to ignore) the Patriarch of Moscow, while the other was dead certain that he was a KGB agent. These groups didn't exactly integrate after the fall of communism, because they had diverged on all sorts of things.

For one thing, the exile-synod (are they the same as ROCOR?) folks still kept to the Julian calendar, and not just for Easter dates the way most Orthodox churches do. And you'd have these baffling conversations with them when they'd say things like "But no! Christmas is in January!"

Er, your calendar puts 25 December on what I'd call 7 January, but by saying it's in January you're switching back to the Gregorian calendar!

And these sorts of things became really strong sources of identity for them. They eventually refused to accept any priest who could speak English. This is in the US, mind, and most of the parishioners spoke English. They were just so worried about any outside influence changing what they'd preserved, that they tended to out-do themselves for conservation of tradition.

I heard that at choir practice in one other church in their continuum, a director had used a pitch pipe. Some priest or bishop then declared that the use of a musical instrument in the church had desecrated the site. It had to be re-consecrated completely.

And all of this had been worked through in different ways in the other church, with a lot more participation from converts and other ethnic branches of the Orthodox church. I'm curious how much of that is still going on, and if the other patriarchates are having an effect on this issue here.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:24 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]

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