I can’t really give any perspective on this article, but taken at face value it’s a sad reflection on the state of Orthodoxy in Russia. The effects of communism and secularism seem harder to overcome then merely opening lots of churches and adding more priests. This news article may also have shaken the view of many Orthodox Americans (converts primarily) who tend to romanticize the mother countries of Orthodoxy and believe they hold a more pure, more vibrant expression of the faith then America. When you hear the words “Holy Russia” come out of someone’s mouth, you can bet it’s a zealous convert (and before anyone gets in a huff, I was a zealous convert once too!)
What these religious romantics don’t see from 4,000 miles away, is that Russia, Greece, Serbia, aren’t filled with godly peasants saying the Jesus Prayer while they work the fields. They love the idea of virtuous, saintly poverty, but it’s a snapshot of history long gone, or maybe never entirely true. In either case, these happy Orthodox peasants are now 21st century peoples with all the same problems, temptations and failures that Americans think are exclusively theirs.
I’m going to look at this article hopefully, not as some kind of doom and gloom prediction of where the Russian Church is headed. At least someone is saying “hey, we’ve got a problem that needs fixing”. I truly believe Russia is, at it’s very heart, a deeply, organically Orthodox country. That flame just need some proper fanning, some careful tending. In the meantime, American Orthodoxy can’t forget its own problems – let’s get on with our business and let the Russians do what they need to do to reclaim the title of “Holy Russia”.