Ecumenical Patriarch Says Russian Orthodox Church Guilty Of ‘Ethno-Tribalism’ – OpEd


In one of his sharpest attacks ever on Moscow, Bartholemew, the Universal Patriarch of Constantinople, says that the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is guilty of the heresy of “ethno-tribalism” and has allowed itself to become little more than an instrument of Russian government policy.

Orthodox churches have long denounced those who hold their nation as superior to others and having special rights with regard to the latter as ethno-tribalism and, despite their tradition of cooperating closely with the governments of the countries in which they are centered, to prize independence as religious communities.

In reporting this development, the editors of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta say that “Constantinople has declared the fall of the Third Rome” and argued that the Ecumenical Patriarch is guilty of the same sin he is accusing his Muscovite counterpart (

That is because, the editors say, Bartholemew has put himself in the service of Western governments who want to weaken Russia by promoting autocephaly in Ukraine and elsewhere just as the ROC MP has put itself in the service of the Kremlin to defend Moscow’s influence beyond the borders of the Russian Federation.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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