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The Kremlin’s influence on the Orthodox world is increasing. The ideological component, which, through the adepts of the Russian world, has penetrated religious educational facilities in Eastern Europe has grown.
That’s according to gazeta.ua citing the Czech-based Gojda outlet.
As an example, Prešov University of Slovakia is mentioned, which is the third largest higher educational facility in the Czech Republic in terms of the number of faculties and the only theological facility in the country where part of the teaching is done in a seminary.
The University has Greek-Catholic and Orthodox theological faculties, both in demand among citizens of neighboring countries. The university also hosts the Preachers’ Center and the Orthodox Theological Seminary.
“It’s the Orthodox Seminary that Moscow uses to ideologically mold young students in the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church the ‘Russian World’,” the Czech newspaper reports.
The seminary’s rector is Milan Gerka, who is also a Professor with the Faculty of Orthodox Theology. He is the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Doctor of Theology, and Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
According to Gojda, Milan Gerka and faculty staff “carry out agitation work among students in order to spread the ideas of the so-called “Russian World”, imposing the narrative of a ”Transcarpathian nation”, refuting the fact of existence of Ukraine as an independent state in historical and modern context, denying the existence of the state language and an autocephalous church.”
It is also noted that Rector Gerka is a graduate of the ROC Church Seminary in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg), who studied there in the times of the USSR. He is an active supporter of policies pursued by Russian President Vladimir Putin, preaching in the Orthodox seminary the idea of restoring Russia’s status of an “elder brother” for all Slavic peoples, voices negative comments regarding Constantinople’s support for the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Students who date debate or disagree with this position are threatened with expulsion, as well as religious excommunication.
The publication also mentions other “pro-Russian” preachers working at the seminary.
“For example, Hieromonk Agafangel also promotes the ideas of the “Russian World”, being engaged in setting up Orthodox marches of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, and periodically visiting Moscow.
Priest Marek Zitsu, vice-president of the Brotherhood of Orthodox Youth of Slovakia, operating as part of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, holds services in one of the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Zakarpattia region of Ukraine (Transcarpathia), also voicing in pro-Russian views,” the statement said.
Leaders of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia are planning to visit Jordan in the near future to take part in a so-called “meeting of representatives of the Local Churches” where Moscow seeks to condemn the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and to question the primacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.