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PTN Event: Political Protest, Theological Dissent, and the Orthodox Church

Please join the PTN event on “Religion and Freedom in the Post-Communist Orthodox World” co-sponsored with Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center

Religion and Freedom in the Post-Communist Orthodox World

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 
11 a.m. ET
Online webinar via Zoom / Register here

This event is co-sponsored by Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center and Political Theology Network. Orthodox Studies Center events are free and open to the public.

Recent events, such as the political protests in Belarus, the imprisonment and hunger strike of Alexei Navalny, the arrests of intellectuals in Russia, illustrate the shrinking spaces of a free society in the post-communist era. The role of the Orthodox Churches in this region remains ambivalent, ranging from public support of authoritarian rule, an emphasis on political neutrality, and even solidarity with civil society. Additionally, conflicts within the institutions of theological higher education point to the growing dissent within the churches. This panel of experts will discuss the evolving contours shaping this dynamic, as well as the role of the Orthodox Churches as political actors.


Sergei Chapnin (born 1968) is a chief editor of ‘Dary’ (The Gifts) almanac, chairman of ‘Artos’ Fellowship for promoting contemporary Christian Art and Culture. In 2009-2015 he was a chief editor of the official magazine of the Russian Orthodox Church the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate and served as a senior lecturer at the Theological faculty of the St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University, as a secretary of the Commission on Church, state and society of the Inter-Conciliar Board of the Russian Orthodox Church and a deputy chief editor of the Publishing house of the Moscow Patriarchate. He organized many national and international events for the Church, including a biannual Festival of Orthodox Media and exhibitions of contemporary Christian art and architecture.

Regina Elsner is a theologian and, since September 2017, a researcher at the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS). From 2005 until 2010 she worked as a project coordinator for Caritas Russia in St Petersburg. From 2010 to 2013, she was a research associate at the Ecumenical Institute of the University of Münster, within the research stream ‘Institutions and institutional change in post-Socialism’. In this framework, she focused on the historical and theological aspects of the Russian Orthodox Church’s confrontation with modernity. In 2016, she completed her PhD on this topic. At ZOiS, Regina Elsner is investigating the dynamics of Orthodox social ethics in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun is a Professor in Ecclesiology, International Relations and Ecumenism at Sankt Ignatios College, Stockholm School of Theology. A graduate of the Theological Academy in Kyiv and National University in Athens, he accomplished his doctoral studies at Durham University under the supervision of Fr Andrew Louth. He was a chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, first deputy chairman of the Educational Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church, and later research fellow at Yale and Columbia Universities, visiting professor at the University of Münster in Germany, international fellow at Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life at the University of Alberta in Canada, director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Assistant Professor at the same university.

Kristina Stoeckl is professor of sociology at the University of Innsbruck (Austria). She has worked on Russian Orthodoxy, church-state relations and the public role of the Church in Russia for many years. Her recent research, supported by the European Research Council, focuses on Russian Orthodoxy and transnational moral conservatism. She has recently published the volume Postsecular Conflicts. Debating tradition in Russia and the United States: https://www.uibk.ac.at/iup/buecher/9783903187993.html

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