So what is orthodox about this teaching from an Orthodox patriarch?
Church debate in Russia continues to simmer over the role of dictator Josef Stalin, but Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church has said in a Moscow sermon that the Second World War was redemptive for his country, while making no mention of the former Soviet ruler's name in his address.
“The church does not look at the war as historians or politicians do,” said Kirill on 9 May at the Church of Christ the Saviour. “The church has a particular stance, a particular spiritual point of view.” The Patriarch said he believed the war had redeemed Russia from its sins.
“We know what took place among our people after the bloody events of the beginning of the 20th century,” said Kirill. “How many lies, how much evil and human suffering there was. But God washed away these lies and this evil with our blood, with the blood of our fathers, as has happened more than once in human history.”
“And that is why we must come to a special understanding of the redemptive meaning of the Great Patriotic War,” Kirill added.
The patriarch did not mention by name Stalin, who led the Soviet Union during the Second World War, but the church leader did take issue with historians who equate Nazi Germany with Stalin-era Russia.
“When some homegrown historians tell us that the evil here was no less than there, they are not seeing beyond their own noses, and fail to see the divine horizon beyond their extremely primitive and sinful analysis,” said Kirill. “The Great Patriotic War [as Russians call the Second World War] revealed to us God's truth about ourselves. It punished us for our sins but revealed to us the great glory and strength of our people.”
You get that in Dostoevsky too, the notion that OUR sufferings are what redeem us.