Vladimir Putin Buries His “Orthodox Vatican” Project

Source: FSSPX News

The colossal project to build a new headquarters for the Moscow Patriarchate was definitively rejected on November 11, 2020. This decision was to hide a certain disagreement between the president of the Russian Federation and the leader of the autocephalous church called “orthodox.”

The project to relocate the administrative offices of the Moscow Patriarchate to Sergiev Posad, located 70 km from the capital, had been under debate since 2019. This city of 100,000 inhabitants is already home to the famous Lavra of the Holy Trinity of St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad, a vast ensemble of nearly 23 hectares, containing 11 churches, and classified as a UNESCO heritage site.

Scheduled to be completed by 2025, the project provided for the restructuring of about a third of the city’s territory by civil administrative buildings and religious buildings, which would have made it possible to regroup the ecclesial services dispersed in the capital, an Orthodox museum, a congress center, and representations of the Autocephalous Churches.

The total cost was estimated at around 140 billion rubles, or one and a half billion euros. Protoierej Leonid Kalinin, who supported this imposing achievement on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate, already called the future spiritual center the “capital of orthodoxy.”

Dramatic change happened on November 5: the new General Plan for the district of the city of Sergiev Posad was approved, but all mention of the construction of buildings for the patriarchate had disappeared.

The official reason for the cancellation has not been made public. The high cost of the project is certainly not for nothing, given the state of public finances since the start of the pandemic.

Vladimir Putin Tired of Intra-Orthodox Disputes

But some commentators - including ones Asianews echoed – “speculate that President Putin has tired of covering the foreign policy defeats of Patriarch Kirill with state money. In the last two years these defeats include the rupture of relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, due to the recognition of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church.”

In fact, in the “Orthodox Vatican” project, envisaged 13 institutional seats reserved for the various autocephalous Orthodox Churches, starting with that of Constantinople. But the end of relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople resulted in a chain break with the churches of Athens, Cyprus, and Alexandria.

Most of the seats would therefore have remained empty: ridicule does not kill, but it nevertheless inclines the Russian president to be cautious, avoiding installing with great pomp a “Moscow papacy,” devoid of any credibility.