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The Visible Religion

The Russian Orthodox Church and her Relations with State and Society in Post-Soviet Canon Law (1992–2015)


Alexander Ponomariov

«The Visible Religion» is an antithesis to Thomas Luckmann’s concept. The Russian Orthodox Church in post-Soviet canon law suggests a comprehensive cultural program of modernity. Researched through the paradigms of multiple modernities and post-secularity, the ROC appears to be quite modern: she reflects on herself and the secular environment, employs secular language, appeals to public reason, the human rights discourse, and achievements of modern science. The fact that the ROC rejects some liberal Western developments should not be understood in the way that the ROC rejects modernity in general. As a legitimate player in the public sphere, the ROC puts forward her own – Russian Orthodox – model of modernity, which combines transcendence and immanence, theological and social reasoning, an afterlife strategy and cooperation with secular actors, whereby eschatology and the human rights discourse become two sides of the same coin.

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5. The Canon Law on Relations with State and Society


In this section, I analyze the documents on external relations, adopted by the ROC after 1991. It is not always clear, however, who exactly stands behind concrete texts. The documents, at least, provide an initial approach to the problem, since they always indicate the year (and often month and date) of adoption and the Church authority that passed this or that provision. This is helpful. Nonetheless, it is often problematic to get to the second level of the approach and identify the persons who initiated, wrote down, and/or pushed through the respective provisions. For instance, in the case of the Concept, the background is clear, as we have a direct statement of Metropolitan Kirill (2007: 17–18), revealing some details of its preparation and publication. According to him, the work on the Concept began in 1994, when a working group consisting of 26 persons was organized, and it continued in cooperation with additional experts and public fora. Furthermore, I identified one of the authors of the canonical parts of the Concept by means of intertextuality: the latter were written by Vladislav Tsypin, a leading ROC canon law specialist. This conclusion is based on verbatim texts in the Concept and in Tsypin’s monograph on canon law (Tsypin 2012). For instance, Concept 2008: III.4 and Tsypin 2012: 771–791 are in many respects identical. In turn, the Concept borrowed some information from the relevant Roman Catholic social teaching (Agadjanian 2014: 123)226 and works of some Protestant authors (Afanas’ev 2007:...

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