In recent weeks a number of conflicting news items related to Ukraine have appeared in various sources which combine to demonstrate the scope of “Byzantine symphonia” in its 21st-century Russian reincarnation.

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Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin

As I noted previously on these pages, the expression denotes a religio-political ideology from Orthodox Byzantium according to which church and state were said to speak with a single voice. This produced mixed outcomes in the Byzantine Empire, and later in Tsarist Russia, resulting in some of the most shameful pages in the history of the Orthodox Church. In Russia’s case we have only to recall the brutal persecution of its Old Believers from the middle of the 17th century over how to make the sign of the cross and which prayer books to use.

This made it all the more ominous when, at the state-sponsored banquet in honour of his enthronement as Patriarch of Moscow in February 2009, former KGB agent Kirill Gundyaev expatiated on the restoration of Byzantine symphonia as his vision for the Russian Orthodox Church’s relations with the Kremlin in the Putin era. The ensuing ten years have shown how this plays out in the lives of real human beings in Russia and its ever-widening sphere of influence. Implicitly or explicitly, the Russian Church has supported the draconian response to Pussy Riot’s 2012 protest in Christ the Saviour Cathedral; repressive LGBT laws and the wilful blindness of law enforcement and the judiciary to incidents of homophobic violence on Russia’s streets; the weakening of legal redress for children and women subjected to domestic violence; the Kremlin’s geopolitical aggressions near and far, including the unlawful annexation of Crimea, election meddling in the US and elsewhere, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the acceleration of hostilities in the wake of the Ukrainian Church’s autocephaly. The list goes on and on.   Read More


Chilling Study Sums up Link between Religion and Suicide for Queer Youth

“Religious groups who stigmatize LGBT people should be aware of the potential damage they can do.”

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Faith is supposed to be a source of strength for believers, especially during times of struggle and sorrow. However, a new study suggests that religiosity may be linked to negative feelings among queer individuals ― including increases in suicidal behaviors.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine last month, is a chilling revelation of the ties between suicide and theology that doesn’t affirm queer identity. Read More

LENTEN MEDITATION: FORGIVENESS by Protodeacon Theodore Feldman

This is the second article in our Lenten Meditations 2019 series.


Brothers and sisters,

God has forgiven us.

Before the foundation of the world, God knew we would turn our backs on Him, grasp the fruit of knowledge and power, and crucify His Son. And yet God created us. Our very creation is forgiveness. Since the beginning, God has continued to forgive us. At the moment when we stood accursed before him, frightened, ashamed, and about to be driven from Paradise, God sewed skins to clothe us in our need, as a mother comforts her children—having already promised us salvation.

Over all of history He has accepted our sacrifices: “the gifts of Abel, the sacrifices of Noah, the whole burnt offerings of Abraham, the priestly offerings of Moses and Aaron, and the peace-offerings of Samuel”—so we recall at Divine Liturgy during Lent. And finally, He accepts even today our Eucharistic service for the forgiveness of our sins. Read More


Vladimir Putin, Patriarch Kirill

Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

When Vladimir Putin rose to the presidency of Russia in 2000, he inherited the remains of a once-fearsome communist-atheist imperial state.

In the intervening 19 years, he has transformed Russia back into an imperial power with global ambitions. One of his key tools in that transformation has been the Russian Orthodox Church.

Putin often invokes the Russian Orthodox Church in his public speeches, giving the church a much more prominent place in Russian political life than under his predecessors. But these invocations hardly seem sincere in the religious sense. Rather, he has used the church to justify Russian expansion and to try to discredit the West’s influence in Eastern Europe.

Many conservative figures in America, including Pat Buchanan and Franklin Graham, have been attracted to Putin’s rhetoric, with its heavy emphasis on traditional Western-Christian values and its seeming rejection of the culture of “degradation and primitivism,” which Putin says has produced “a moral crisis in the West. Read More


Our decision to publish the present article does not imply our endorsement of the church referenced therein or its episcopate. Orthodoxy in Dialogue reiterates its commitment to the canonical Orthodox Church as currently represented in the diptychs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The author and her conference co-presenter are known to our readers through On Being Orthodox & Genderqueer: An Interview with “Lindsey”.

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I first learned about the Queer & Transgender Studies in Religion Conference at UC Riverside thanks to Orthodoxy in Dialogue. I’m so glad I attended. I co-presented some preliminary research with Lindsey about Mother Maeve Leroux, a transgendered nun, bishop, and founder of the Universalist Orthodox Church.

As a cisgendered, heterosexual woman myself, I came to this conference primarily to learn about the theories and literature that other folks were using in the burgeoning fields of Queer Theory and Transgender Studies. I was surprised to meet people from a wide range of fields, including biblical studies, theology, anthropology, sociology, Jewish studies, Buddhist studies, Catholic studies, Islamic studies, and art history, to name a few. Also in attendance were clergy from a variety of faith traditions. I met people all along the spectrum of gender expression. Read More