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Angry priests damn church's relationship with the state

Onion Domes of Orthodox Church Topped by Crosses Against Blue Sky A turbulent troika of priests has abandoned the Russian Orthodox Church over its supposedly heretical dealings with earthly powers.

Fraternising with the government is heresy and sin, they claim, and this holy trinity wants no part of it.

Anger over hob-nobbing with officials and making accommodating gestures towards other faiths has prompted the trio to abandon Patriarch Kirill and strike their own path through the wilderness.

Archpriest Sergei Kondakov, Archpriest Mikhail Karpeyev and Priest Alexander Malykh of the Udmurtsky diocese have said there is no place for them in a church and behind a patriarch that are "soiled by the sin of ecumenicalism," they said in a letter announcing their intentions, Moskovsky Novosty reported.

They are consequently leaving them for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the result of another split. They had already voiced their disapproval of Kirill's relations with Russia's rulers in March.

Free from heresy

The gesture is reminiscent of the turbulent religious upheaval in Europe through the 16th and 17th centuries, and the faiths that survived or emerged on the other side of the generally bloody reformations provide a poor consort for the church of Holy Russia, the priests claim.

The dissatisfied trinity and their congregations will now "continue their religious life free from the heretical leadership".

And their move to the Orthodox Church Outside Russia reflects the rift which beset the church in Communist times.

Those clergy who remained in Russia and reached a compromise with the atheist authorities to keep their churches open faced cries of betrayal from their exiled colleagues ­ a schism which was only officially patched up in 2007 and which still lingers.

Consorting with Catholics

This heresy is embroiling the Russian Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches, an act ripe with "the sin of ecumenicalism" and friendly relations with Catholics, they say.

Both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church have come under fire before for illiberal doctrines that many say are out of touch with modern society, and this blast from the right might take liberal critics aback.

Meddling in affairs of state

The Russian Orthodox Church enjoys a legally defined "special role" in building the Russian nation and enjoys a visibly favoured status with many officials, something the troublesome trio join secular critics in objecting to.

Part of the age old dispute about the church, the state and society is being played out as Fathers Sergei, Mikhail and Alexander reject ties between the secular government and the church.

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