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Photo: TASS

By Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing, March 28, 2022

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent books are Columbus and the Crisis of the West and A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.


Robert RoyalCardinal Manning – a contemporary and follower of Cardinal Newman – once remarked that “All human conflict is ultimately theological.” (All things human inevitably involve theology, but that’s a complex subject for another day.) In Russia’s current war against Ukraine, the theology is not an ultimate consideration. It’s near the surface. Even if the war ends in some tolerable outcome, the theological divisions are going to be with us for a long time.

Because it’s not only Vladimir Putin who has declared Ukraine a “holy war,” but also religious leaders such as Moscow Patriarch Kirill. Putin is cynically using the Orthodox as moral cover for his ambitions.  But he’s also intuited that to “make Russia great again,” Russian Orthodoxy – the bearer of many deep elements in the myth of Holy Mother Russia and its secular projection, “Russian world” – is crucial to the political plan. …

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