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The Russian Orthodox Church and Interreligious Dialogue

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This article reflects on the practice of inter-religious dialogue within the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church, or the Russian Patriarchate, as it is otherwise called, is currently the largest (with respect to the number of faithful) autocephalous church within the Orthodox world. Within the Russian Federation, the Orthodox faithful form a majority. However, the Muslim population has increased steadily in recent years and now forms a significant minority. Indeed, in certain regions the Muslim population has, in fact, become the demographic majority. Therefore, inter-religious contact is a lived reality within the Russian context. This article examines Russian Orthodox attempts to come to terms with this reality. It does so by examining official statements (i.e., theory), and by reflecting on the Church’s approach to the issues (i.e., practice) which arise from the attempt to implement the official approach within the Russian Federation (e.g., ‘orthodoxization’, lackluster education, proselytism). Furthermore, this article reflects on the repercussions for the entire Orthodox World which result from the events unfolding in the Russian Church.

Affiliations: 1: Catholic University of Louvain, PhD Fellowship, Research Foundation FlandersBelgium


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