• Sergei Chapnin

    Director of Communications at the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University and chief editor of The Gifts (Дары), an almanac on contemporary Christian culture

    Sergei Chapnin is a former Moscow Patriarchate employee with over 15 years of experience. He has deep knowledge of Russian Orthodox traditions, Church administration, and Church-state relations in modern Russia.
    Born in 1968, he graduated from Moscow State University, Journalism faculty in 1992. In the 1990s, he worked for the leading independent newspapers in Moscow – Kommersant and Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He became one of the first journalists in Russia to cover religious life in the post-Soviet space professionally. In 2001, at the invitation of Patriarch Alexey II, Mr. Chapnin was appointed Executive Editor of the Church Herald newspaper. Later, he was the Executive Editor of the leading official publication of the Russian Orthodox Church - The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Deputy Chief Editor of the Moscow Patriarchate Publishing House (2009-2015). In 2010-2013, he was a Secretary of the Church, State, and Society Commission of the Inter-Conciliar Board of the Russian Orthodox Church and a senior lecturer at Saint Tikhon Orthodox Humanitarian University, Faculty of Theology.
    To describe the religiosity of contemporary Russian society, he introduced the concept of post-Soviet civil religion. In December 2015, after his lecture at Carnegie Center in Moscow (where he made a prognosis that a war in Ukraine would be given a religious justification), he was fired from all his positions personally by Patriarch Kirill.
    Since 2022, he has been a Director of Communications at the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University and Chief Editor of «Дары» (The Gifts), an almanac of contemporary Christian culture, and a curator of exhibitions on contemporary Christian art.
    Mr. Chapnin is the author of numerous articles and commentary in national and international media, including Bloomberg, WSJ, NYT, CBS, NPR, The First Things (USA); BBC, The Economist (UK), Le Monde (France); Wiez, KAI (Poland) and many others.
    He is the author of the books The Church in Post-Soviet Russia. Revival, ‘Quality of Faith’, and Dialog with the Society (2013) and The Church Revival. A Summary (2018), both in Russian.

Latest by author

Public Life

The Illusion of Unity: Patriarch Kirill’s Ideological Ultimatum to the ChurchHow and Why the Russian Orthodox Church Copies the Repressive Apparatus of the State

As we step into the 21st century, the unthinkable unfolds within the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC): a systematic trend of political repressions. Priests voicing an anti-war stance, not politically but pastorally—liturgically—face bans from ministry or even defrocking, marking a stark departure from the gospel tradition. This shift has parallels with the comparatively milder means employed...
Also available in: Русский | Ελληνικά

More posts by the author

Inter-Orthodox Relations

Bishops’ Conference – The Major Outcome: Resentment against the Ecumenical Patriarchate

What problems are of concern to Patriarch Kirill and the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church? This question, in particular, is answered by the documents of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, one of the highest authorities of Church governance. However, the difficulty is t... Read more.
Also available in: Ελληνικά | Русский

The Weaponization of PrayerWhat Does It Mean for the Architect, for the Community, for the Church?

Lecture by Sergei Chapnin of Fordham University. Part of the conference “The Shape of the Sacred: Eastern Christianity and Architectural Modernity,” held at Fordham University May 30 – June 1, 2023. Panel Session #4 (Tradition Today and Tomorrow), moderated by Fr. Geoffrey Ready... Read more.
Church Life and Pastoral Care, Religion and Conflict

An Act of Lighthearted BetrayalHow Moscow's Official Church Hunts Down Her Anti-War Priests

There were relatively few people in Moscow who knew Fr. John Koval before February 2023. Native to Luhansk, Ukraine, he moved to Moscow and graduated from the famous Central Music School of the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory. He received theological training at St. Thikhon Orthodox University... Read more.
Also available in: Русский | Ελληνικά
Documents, Ethics, Religion and Conflict

Why Have You Forgotten the Truth of God?An open letter to the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church

  Your Eminences! My letter is addressed to the Orthodox bishops in Russia. I have intentionally not collected signatures or involved any Church structures or public organizations, because I am addressing not the episcopal body, not the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchy, but each of you personal... Read more.
Also available in: Русский | Ελληνικά
Religion and Conflict, Religion and Politics

Kremlin Notes in the Patriarch’s Christmas Appeal

This year, on Christmas Eve, Patriarch Kirill wrote the shortest text in the fourteen years of his patriarchate: the appeal for a Christmas truce. This document might well have become a masterpiece of the anti-war, peacemaking stance of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, it turned out quite diffe... Read more.
Inter-Orthodox Relations

The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: War and “Another Autocephaly”

War changes many things, primarily people’s minds, but also the usual flow of time. What takes years or even decades in peacetime takes a few months, or sometimes even days, during war.  On May 27, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), the highest governing body of the church, a... Read more.
Also available in: Русский
Ethics, Religion and Conflict

Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin’s Two Wars

by Sergei Chapnin | български | ქართული | ελληνικά | Română | Русский | Српски It’s hard to talk. It’s hard to think. It’s very hard to pray. It’s a shock. And it’s scary to realize that I was wrong not to believe there would be a war. No, I di... Read more.
Also available in: Русский | Română | Ελληνικά | Српски | ქართული | български
Public Life, Religion and Politics

Russian Orthodox Clergy Support Justice and Respect for the Law

The reform of the judicial system, which practically never acquits and is fully subordinate to law enforcement agencies, has long been discussed in Russia. However, only civil activists are involved in the debates. The government keeps evading any participation in the discussion, and the courts cont... Read more.
Also available in: Ελληνικά | Русский
Religion and Politics

The Russian Church: Profiting by Silence

Last Sunday Russia saw a wave of protests against corruption in the upper echelons of power. Masses took to the streets ignited by the investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation titled “He is Not Dimon for You,” which focused on the alleged corrupt affairs of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry M... Read more.