The International Religious Freedom Summit, 2021, “The Rising Tide of Religious Nationalism”, was attended by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. He told about “the relations of the Russian Church with the Russian state”, but also to the transformation of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque in Constantinople.
In his speech, he referred to “religious nationalism” and “nationalistic religion”.
Archbishop underlined the case of the Russian Federation and the post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church. As the Phanar`s hierarch said, “even as the Russian Federation morphed into its present form, the newly freed Russian Orthodox Church struggled to rebuild its place in society. Its cooperation and support of the State have been a way to regain its former glories.
Yet, it is the state itself that has benefited from the “Religious Nationalism” created by the reborn Orthodox Church within its borders. Precisely because the Moscow Patriarchate maintains much of the contours of the old Soviet Union.
The close relationship between the state Foreign Ministry and the Church Department of External Relations is well known.
Through the networks of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Federation is able to exert influence in the new nation-states that emerged after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Ukraine is a case in point, where a local Orthodox Church was established, legally and canonically, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, yet the Moscow Patriarchate continues to maintain its own entity.
This is clearly in the interests of the Russian Federation which benefits as much, if not more, from its religious nationalism as the Church does from its nationalistic religion.”
It should be noted that Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, also participated in the same conference.