The Russian Orthodox Church and the Pandemic: Problems, Challenges, Responses
The article discusses the reaction of the Russian Orthodox Church on the pandemic of COVID-19. This research identifies and analyzes major ideological cleavages on this issue, such as the possibility of transmitting viruses via the Eucharist, the religious meaning of the pandemic, and possibilities of digitalizing the rituals. The article pays special attention to the camp of Orthodox fundamentalists, whose reaction to the corona-crisis partially follows the international model of “COVID-dissidence” and partially taps into the domestic Russian sources, such as the mainstream ideology of geopolitical Messianism, entertained by the authoritarian regime. The author argues that the Orthodox take on COVID-19 magnifies major problems of the post-Soviet Church, including the excessive reliance on the state, “magical-fundamentalist” inclinations of the religious believers, and fears of digitalization.