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The Orthodox Nationalist: Metropolitan John (Snychev) of St. Petersburg – TON 021021


Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson looks at the importance of religion within national identity, as developed in the post-Soviet era.

Many years ago, this program dealt with the religious and political ideology of the great Metropolitan John (Snychev) of St. Petersburg (1927-1995). Since his work is so expansive, this broadcast will deal with his conception of “democracy” in a post-Soviet context.

Mocking the revolutionary doctrines of “the people,” he follows the tradition of Konstantin Pobedonostsev in his denunciations of the Enlightenment errors.

Despite being in the Red Army in World War II, John turned out to be one of the great royalist, anti-communist voices in the Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate. Starting in August 1965, he was the bishop of Syzran (on the Volga River), then in 1976, that see was made into an Archdiocese. While not nearly as political then, this changed when he was elected as metropolitan of St. Petersburg in 1990 until his death in 1996.

He was a politically minded bishop and the Russian Idea as a religious identity was his main concern. He writes in 1994 “The mystery of nationality is rooted in the mystical depths of people's life, being one of the most important fundamental principles of human existence, a guarantee of that spiritual unity, without which the very existence of a people, society, and state is inconceivable.” From this, he concludes that any secular definition of nationalism is doomed to fail.

“Holy Russia” is based on “an insatiable striving for holiness, righteousness and purity.” The “ideology” of the Russian nation is Orthodoxy, while the “Russian order” is the life of the Christian state itself. Patriotism is the religious duty of every pious Christian, and he defended this idea under harsh circumstances throughout his religious life.


Presented by Matt Johnson

The Orthodox Nationalist: Metropolitan John (Snychev) of St. Petersburg – TON 021021




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