In the Latin Church, the Liturgical Movement and the Second Vatican Council resulted in broad liturgical changes.

To what extent has liturgy changed in the Eastern churches during the past 50 to 100 years? I am interested in any or all of Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Eastern Catholic.

  • This is likely to be too broad, but maybe someone can give a brief summary.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 28, 2020 at 0:45
  • Would you include Russian Orthodoxy under the Eastern umbrella?
    – Codosaur
    Jul 28, 2020 at 12:27
  • @Codosaur, yes.
    – remline
    Jul 28, 2020 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


If we take liturgy, the customary public worship performed by a religious group, to include public worship practices originating in the laity in stead of the clergy, then in Russian Orthodoxy the most similarly obvious and controversial change in liturgy would be the popular worship and iconography of Stalin.

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The Bolsheviks oppressed the Orthodox Church after seizing power in Russia in 1917. In 1943, during WWII, Stalin met with three chief hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, allowed the clergy to perform religious services, celebrate Easter and Christmas, and even promised to give the church back some of its monasteries (confiscated after 1917) and release imprisoned priests.

The three hierarchs, led by Sergius Stragorodsky, thanked Stalin after their meeting in a letter:

“In each of your words… we felt the heart that burns with paternal love for all his children... The Russian Orthodox Church venerates you feeling with your heart that it lives together with all Russian people, by the will to victory and sacred duty to sacrifice anything for the sake of the Motherland. God save you for years to come, dear Iosif Vissaronovich.”

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The reason underlying Stalin's actions was the invading Nazi army, who in an attempt to gain support with the population, re-opened churches that were closed by the Bolsheviks, is obvious: the only way to keep the nation united against the Nazis was to do the same.

This act of "re-legalization" made the dictator immensely popular with the laity, resulting in religious iconography, calendars and hero worship that permeates to this day. The last petition to declare Stalin a saint dates from 2015. It was rejected by the church patriarchs. Since the fall of the USSR, the Russian Orthodox leaders have vehemently denounced Stalin and other Bolsheviks, but the laity to this day retains the practice of iconic veneration of Stalin and Putin.

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The Kremlin has been using the politics of memory regarding Soviet times (in particular the victory over fascism) as a fundamental instrument of legitimization of its power and control over society, thus ensuring continued social support and the preservation of the present model of power. You can find similar iconography for Putin throughout modern Russia.

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  • 1
    This looks more like popular pious practices or devotions than actual liturgical practices!
    – Ken Graham
    Jul 29, 2020 at 19:57
  • Yes, it is. And liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group.
    – Codosaur
    Jul 30, 2020 at 8:26

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