As far back as 1996, in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel P. Huntington predicted the rise of “political Orthodoxy” in Russia as a global geopolitical threat no less powerful and nefarious than political Islam. Some fifteen or so years later, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church and Vladimir Putin announced the transplantation of “Byzantine symphonia” — a model of church-state “co-voice” — from 14th-century Byzantium to 21st-century Russia. The current escalation of Russian military aggression against Ukraine on the eve of the Ukrainian Church’s reception of autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate leaves us no choice but to take them at their word: Church and Kremlin indeed speak with one voice in Russia. 


Russia’s New Military Cathedral Will Train War Priests — Reports

A Russian Orthodox cathedral set to be built for the country’s armed forces will reportedly train military priests, the head of a foundation in charge of collecting donations for its  construction has said.

Blueprints for the Armed Forces cathedral were reportedly unveiled at the Venice Bienalle on Thursday, two months after the Russian Defense Ministry began collecting donations to build the megastructure. Reports this year disclosed plans to train priests embedded with the Airborne Troops to drive combat vehicles and operate communication equipment.

“A school for military priests is being built and the institute of Sisters of Charity [nurses] will be revived at the main church of the Russian Armed Forces,” Vladimir Bogatyryov, the head of the Voskreseniye [Resurrection] foundation, which is collecting donations for the war church, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday.

Bogatyryov said the priests will present the military cathedral as “a symbol of people’s diplomacy in Europe” in light of geopolitical strain between Russia and the West.

“It’s very important for us in light of global military, political and social tensions, when military and political provocations are becoming the norm, and information warfare is governing rules of conduct, not only for politicians but also for states,” he said.

The foundation has gathered 1.6 billion rubles ($25 million) from more than 37,000 donors as of Friday, according to its website.

A sleek animation on the cathedral’s homepage [link below] depicts an army green structure with glass panels and six shimmering golden domes dedicated to the patron saint of each military branch. At almost 2,000 square kilometers, the church will overlook expansive grounds that include monuments to military-related patron saints.

According to Bogayryov, the church’s parameters, including the height and width of its domes, will reflect key dates of World War II and the structure will feature multimedia stands dedicated to 33 million soldiers who fought in the war.

The Armed Forces cathedral is scheduled to be built by 2020, in time for the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

This report appeared earlier today at The Moscow Times.

Click here for animation of the planned military cathedral.

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