A holy war? The Russian Orthodox Church and the conflict in Ukraine
Patriarch Kirill, the controversial head of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared last month that Russian soldiers conscripted into battle in Ukraine who died would have their sins washed away automatically. Despite the mounting evidence of war crimes committed by Russia during their unprovoked invasion and the fact that millions of Ukrainians worship in churches affiliated to the Moscow Patriarchate, the church has remained in lockstep with the Kremlin throughout, defending the war as righteous and just, perhaps even holy. Why has it stuck so close to Putin and his vicious and dirty war? What is the complex relationship between Russian Orthodoxy and Russian nationalism? And is there any hope for other world churches trying to engage with the Russian church in an effort to bring the fighting to an end?