This seminar presents my study that explores the encounter of Orthodoxy and democracy from a new perspective. Most importantly, the focus on the interwar Russian diaspora allows a break with the traditional emphasis on the role of the state in this process. In addition, the temporal scope of this study creates an opportunity for seeing Orthodoxy and democracy not as static, but as dynamic phenomena that are subjects to change when occurring in new environments. This approach opens space for comparisons between the attitudes to democracy developed by the different Russian émigré churches between the two world wars. In this regard, special attention will be paid to the two major Russian theological centers in the interwar Europe: the well-known St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, associated with the so-called Western European Russian Exarchate, and the less studied Russian Synod Abroad, established in Sremski Karlovci (Yugoslavia) in 1921.
Although both denounced the Bolshevik regime and the persecution of religion in Russia, they ended up with different visions of democracy. Allowing an expanded participation of laymen and clergy in church affairs, the Western European Exarchate adopted some key principles of representative democracy. Meanwhile, the Synod Abroad chose to enhance the role of episcopate. Furthermore, if St Sergius Theological Institute gave preference to theological responses to the trial experienced by their country, people and church (e.g., Nicholas Afanasiev’s eucharistic theology), the émigré hierarchs in Sremski Karlovci tended to mix up religion and politics and endorsed monarchy as the most suitable mode of governance for a future Russia, liberated from the Bolshevik menace. In addition, the two émigré church centers differed in their attitudes to the religious other. While the Western European Exarchate established close contacts with Western Christianity and the ecumenical movement, the Synod Abroad adopted an isolationist stand against those who did not share their devotion to Orthodoxy.
Dr. Daniela Kalkandjieva will present her work at the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Fellows Research Seminar on Thursday 13 th September, 2018 at 14:15 in the Aleksanteri Institute 2nd floor meeting room, Unioninkatu 33, Helsinki). The event will be chaired by Dr. Elina Kahla