New Book: The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights

In one of my earlier posts  I have discussed the issue of human rights concerning the Romanian Orthodox Church. Today I would like to draw your attention on the new book of the Austrian political scientist and sociologist Kristina Stoeckl on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to human rights. “The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights” was recently published by Routledge.


I consider this book as a major contribution to the subject. The author is very well informed and approaches almost all the determining issues of the debate. Her discussion of the crucial pattern of modernization in the Eastern Churches (see my contribution), their relation to post secular globalized and plural world includes subtle analysis from the perspective of sociology, political sciences, politics, international law and even theology. The interdisciplinary approach opens a multitude of perspectives, but bears also some difficulties.

As she frankly acknowledges on page 130, Kristina Stoeckl is “a political scientist” and “has opted for a political-sociological analysis of the Russian Orthodox human rights debate”, but “as an outside observer [she has] not failed to notice the theological dynamic at play”. This is partially true, she notices indeed the theological dynamics, but misinterprets it. A religious scholar familiar with the theological and ecclesiological discourses within Eastern Christianity (the main issues when you have to speak about a ‘Church’) would criticize the lack of religious expertise. Therefor I would like to discuss following three aspects from a theological point of view: Continue reading

Human Rights in the Romanian Orthodox Church After 2008

The human rights issue is meanwhile a familiar theme for the Western Christian Churches such as the Roman-Catholic and the Protestant Churches. After the problematic relation during the 18th and 19th century concerning the human rights affirmations of the American ‘Declaration of Independence’ (1776) and the French Revolution (1789 or 1791) the Roman Catholic Church succeeded to relax its attitude towards human rights and to assimilate the pattern in its own social ethics, of course underpinning it with theological and biblical argumentations in its attempt to de-secularize this discourse. The Protestant Churches demonstrate a broad and differential approach to the social, political and ethical function of human rights, despite their apparent congruity exhibited by the statements of the Lutheran or Reformed World Federations (1970) (as shown by Christopher Voigt-Goy in his previous post). Continue reading