Russian Prayers

The Struggle for Orthodox Christianity

An Orthodox church in Volgograd, Russia, January 2014.  Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

This June, the leaders of the world’s 262 million Orthodox Christians met in Crete at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (sometimes referred to as the Pan-Orthodox Council) to discuss the challenges facing their religious community. The council was the first of its kind in 1,229 years—the last was the Second Council of Nicaea in 787—and in an echo of the councils of antiquity, leaders addressed a church surrounded by conflict and riven by political and ideological disputes. Only a few hundred miles to the east of Crete, the Orthodox Christians of Syria and Iraq face extermination, just as their ancient communities were devastated by war and persecution. To the north, Orthodox believers are on both sides of the firing line in Ukraine. In Africa, Orthodox communities in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan face constant threats from militant Islamists. As it faces external enemies, moreover, Orthodoxy is

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