Russian Church is positive about “Orthodox” parties, but won’t bless them

Moscow, January 12, Interfax – Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin urges to think over whether it is possible to set up an “Orthodox” political party in Russia.

“The Church is positive about the prospect of setting up Christian or Orthodox parties or in-party groups, but it won’t provide them with exclusive support or bless them. Church is for all, not for allies of a certain political force,” Father Vsevolod writes in the recently opened collective blog Orthodox politics as he is one of its authors.

Under the post “Is it possible to set up an “Orthodox/Christian” political party?” he concludes that “the time of active political parties building is likely to start.”

“The law does not allow to create parties based on religion, but no one will ban the formation of an Orthodox or Christian party without formal mentioning of it in the title – let us recall that Christian Democrats in the European Parliament refer to themselves as the European People’s Party, and the moderate political Muslims in Turkey as the Justice and Development Party,” the author reminds.

According to him, the Church does not put any obstacles to setting up such parties. The Bases of Social Concept mentions that the Church considers such political organizations “a positive phenomenon that helps laity to jointly carry out political and state activities basing on Christian spiritual and moral principles.” However, organizations participating in the political process “cannot have blessing of church hierarchs or speak on behalf of the Church.”

However the main question, the priest asks as he does not know the answer is whether an “Orthodox” or a “Christian” political party can exist in modern Russia? According to him, when such parties were established in the 1990s, the main problems they faced were “factionalism, petty autocracy and mutual alienation, if not hostility.”

Father Vsevolod states that today some organizations strive to voice Orthodox and Christian ideas and “it seems they are ready to make a try and become political parties.”