Theology and Human Conflicts
Cardinal Manning – a contemporary and follower of Cardinal Newman – once remarked that “All human conflict is ultimately theological.” (You could even say all things human inevitably involve theology, but that’s a complex subject for another day.) In Russia’s current war against Ukraine, the theology is not an ultimate consideration. It’s near the surface. Even if the war ends in some tolerable outcome, the theological divisions are going to be with us for a long time.
Because it’s not only Vladimir Putin who has declared Ukraine a “holy war,” but also religious leaders such as Moscow Patriarch Kirill. Putin is cynically using the Orthodox as moral cover for his ambitions. But he’s also intuited that to “make Russia great again,” Russian Orthodoxy – the bearer of many deep elements in the myth of Holy Mother Russia and its secular projection, “Russian world” – is crucial to the political plan.
The Russian Orthodox leaders have no such political excuse.