The “Induced” Reformation: the Inner Processes in the Orthodox Church in the Polish-Lithuanian State (late 16th – early 17th century)
Abstract: The article is dedicated to the inner problems and processes in Orthodox Church of Kiev Metropolitanate at the end of the XVIth century at Reczpospolita. The author overviews the processes of conciliar stagnation and renovation of the Kiev Metropolitanate of this period, the Orthodox lay associations movement development and their activity, the outside inductions and influences on the Orthodoxy as a result of Western European Reformation and Counterreformation processes (confessionalisation). The main conclusions are the following: the inner forces of the Orthodox Church were mobilized and it succeeded in renewing the church life in Reczpospolita during the described period. These processes doesn’t fit into the frames of the West-European confessionalisation theory, although some signs of it in the Eastern Christianity at Reczpospolita can be observed. On the one hand, similarity in the processes and events doesn’t automatically uphold an adoption of the confessionalisation concept for the Ukrainian and Belarusian lands. On the other hand, all the processes described above could be named as “the inner confessionalisation”.
Анатацыя: Артыкул прысвечаны аналізу ўнутраных працэсаў і праблем праваслаўнай царквы Кіеўскай мітраполіі ў Рэчы Паспалітай у канцы XVI стагоддзя. Аўтар паказвае стагнацыю і аднаўленне саборнага жыцця ў Кіеўскай мітраполіі азначанага перыяду, дзейнасць праваслаўнага брацкага руху, знешнія і ўнутраныя ўплывы на праваслаўе ў выніку развіцця Рэфармацыі і Контррэфармацыі, а таксама працэсаў канфесіяналізацыі ў Заходняй Еўропе. Асноўныя высновы: унутраныя рэсурсы праваслаўнай царквы былі мабілізаваны і адбылося аднаўленне яе ўнутранага жыцця на розных узроўнях. Немагчыма гэтыя працэсы змясціць у «заходнееўрапейскія» рамкі тэорыі канфесіяналізацыі, можна толькі вылучыць яе прыметы ва ўсходнім хрысціянстве Рэчы Паспалітай. З аднаго боку, падобныя знешне працэсы і факты немагчыма аўтаматычна дастасаваць да тэорыі канфесіяналізму адносна тэрыторый сучасных Украіны і Беларусі, з іншага боку вышэй апісаныя працэсы могуць быць названымі «унутранай канфесіяналізацыяй».
Key words: Kiev Metropolitanate, Orthodox Church at Rzeczpospolita, Orthodox church confraternities, century, Local Councils at Kiev Metropolitanate of the 16th century, Reformation, Counterreformation, confessionalisation.
Ключавыя словы: Кіеўская мітраполія, праваслаўная царква ў Рэчы Паспалітай, праваслаўныя царкоўныя брацтвы, памесныя саборы Кіеўскай мітраполіі 16 стагоддзя, Рэфармацыя, Контррэфармацыя, канфессіяналізацыя.
The sixteenth century in Europe was stirred by religious polemics, wars, and cultural and political changes. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita) welcomed all the European trends as well, however delayed. 2 This state was distinguished from the other European countries by the large number of Orthodox Christians among its citizens.
It is not a secret that the Reformation and the Counterreformation influenced the Orthodox Church in Rzeczpospolita in the 16th century, but the degree and the particularities of these processes are not well explored and are presented in the historiography with poor factual support. It creates a perception of the Orthodox lay associations as Protestant in their essence. 3 The more contentious issue is whether the theory of confessionalisation 4 can be applied to the Orthodox Church in the East-European context 5 as far as it became a “universal historiographical research tool”. 6
This essay will focus on the processes taking place inside the Orthodox Church in the 16th century – mostly at the local councils as one of the factors of its normal function. What can be useful for the analyzing and conclusions about confessionalisation in the Orthodox Church on the Slavic lands of Rzeczpospolita. 7 In this contest the most important aspects are the following: the functioning of the canon law principles in the Orthodox Church; the church lay associations (confraternities) role and influence along with the role and influence of Reformation/ Counterreformation on the inner life of the Orthodox Church and on the confessional and political life of the Western European region.
The most important inner developments of the Kiev Metropolitanate of the Orthodox Church in the late 16th century include:
• the start of the revival process,
• the evolution of lay associations,
• their cooperation with the highest Church authorities and the
• the power struggle and the bishop’s election issue,
• bishop’s refusal to take part in the Orthodox Church revival,
• as well as their resulting countermeasures.
There was a general increase of interest in the ecclesial among citizens of all faiths at Rzeczpospolita of this period. 8 Before the onset of the Reformation as well as the Counterreformation, Roman Catholicism prevailed in the Polish part of this state. 9 As far as we speak about the influences and about the middle of the 16th century considering the Rzeczpospolita, 10 the following things have to be mentioned: 11
• There were about 300 Roman Catholic parishes (if we only consider ethnic Lithuanian lands), and about 3,600 parishes in the whole Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
• The joint number of Protestant communities (of all denominations) amounted to 600–1000 in Lithuania. The farther to the East, the fewer protestant communities could be found. After the Reformation movement spread over Europe causing religious wars, the main streams of the Reformation became largely represented in Rzeczpospolita (Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Antitrinitarianism in various forms). 12 Lutheranism arrived here in 1522 when Luther taught among German citizens (e.g. in Gdańsk). The Lutheran teaching spread mainly on territories next to the Baltic Sea, due to economic and educational ties. 13 Lutheran Churches emerged here in the 1550s, and there were 5–8 ‘Kirche’ in Lithuania. 14 The first session of Calvinist synod took place in 1554. 15
• We also know that Antitrinitarian teaching was present in Rzeczpospolita since 1558. 16 The Antitrinitarian movement organized its first community on these lands in 1562–1565. 17 By 1591, the Antitrinitarians with their 22 parishes amounted for only 25% of all Reformed communities here. 18
• There were about 11,000 Orthodox communities which were divided into eight dioceses in Rzeczpospolita. The centers of the Orthodox dioceses in the 16th century were: Vilnia, Smolensk, Polotsk, Vladimir, Lutsk, Turov, Przemyśl, Chełm; there were 12 parishes, 1 cathedral and 1 monastery in Vilnia. 19 It should be noted that Orthodox Christianity came to these lands with the mission of Prince Vladimir the Great (in the 9th century) which had its center at Kiev. After the Tatar invasion of 14th-15th centuries, the Kiev Metropolitanate was divided into two parts with centers in the Moscow state and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Both of these parts were subordinate to the Mother Church of Constantinople. 20
One of the specific aspects of the governing of the Reformed churches in Rzeczpospolita was their conciliar character, 21 while the Catholic Church had abandoned this practice. 22 From the very beginning of its existence on Ruthenian lands of Rzeczpospolita and on the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Orthodox Church created structures and organs indispensable for the normal functioning of the Church institution, basing on the praxis of the Byzantine Church as well as on the canon law. 23 Although the Orthodox Church is hierarchical, it does not exclude democratic principles from its governance. The local councils of the Orthodox Church founded on the ancient principle of conciliarity of the Eastern Church, formed collegial organs deciding not only on the issues of theological and disciplinary nature but on administrative and judicial matters as well. 24
Until the early 14th century, the councils at the Kiev Metropolitanate were assembled very rarely and did not play an important role, as the Metropolitans’ power was not limited to religious issues only. 25 Though the conciliar nature of the Orthodox Church on Ruthenian lands and on the territory of Grand Duchy of Lithuania was developing until late 15thcentury only became dynamic in the following century. 26
We know about 12 local councils of the Kiev Metropolitanate between the early 16th century and 1596. The most important ones were the two at the beginning of the century as well as the councils at its end. Here is the list of the local councils of the 16th century that we know about and the key decisions of all the 12 local councils:
1. 1509, Vilnia: 27
• General decision to prevent canon law crimes and to resist the secular influence;
• Civil patrons (feudal lords who had a right to choose priests for their churches) were not allowed to take away parishes from “metropolitan’s” priests on their private lands; 28
• If any priest was guilty in any way, he had to be presented to the judgment of Metropolitan but not to be judged according to civil laws; 29
• The Metropolitan had right to send a priest to a parish without its patron’s consent especially if this parish was left without a priest for more than 3 months. 30
2. 1514, Vilnia.
Аmong its members were Metropolitan of Kiev Joseph II (Soltan), 3 bishops, archimandrites and “kliros”. 31
The main issue considered by this council was the canonical status of the Suprasl’ Monastery. Due to the pressure of the civil magnate Chodkiewicz, the monastery was taken out of the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Kiev. The only right he kept was to judge its abbot and to monitor the general compliance with the Statutes. Monks of the monastery could choose their head (the abbot) on their own.
3. 1540, Novogrudok.
Among the members of this council were the Metropolitan, 7 bishops, and 4 laymen. 32 The main subject for this council was the re-establishment of the Lvov Diocese (1539) and acceptance of the oath of loyalty to the Metropolitan by the bishop of Lvov 33
4. Circa 1541. 34
This council gathered as an ecclesiastic court to resolve the conflict between the bishops of Polotsk and Vladimir. 35 There is no information available as to its results.
5. 13 February 1546.
This council must have taken place after the inspirational letter from the Great Duke of Lithuania Sigismund I to the Metropolitan of Kiev. The letter contained an appeal to convene the local council (sic!) and to end discords in the Orthodox Church. There is no information if the council ever took place. 36
6. 1558, Vilnia.
This local council was convened with the assistance of Sigismund II August, a layman and a Catholic. 37 Possibly the council was focused on the challenge of the spreading of the Reformation. 38
In sum, the problems those councils addressed were the following: secular influence, relationships between parishes, patrons and church authorities, judgments according to civil laws vs canon law, the Reformation, and discords within the Orthodox Church.
There is no information available on any other local councils in Kiev Metropolitanate after 1558, so we can suppose that this was the last of them on this territory for the next 30 years. Absence of conciliar activity can be seen as one of the factors of a crisis in the Orthodox Church of Kiev Metropolitanate, a similar process to the one that took place in the Catholic Church before the Reformation. This crisis in the Kiev Metropolitanate was caused by a great impact and interference into the church affairs by secular matters, in the administrative, judicial, and financial spheres. 39 The main reason for this crisis lay in the interruption of the tradition of the election of bishops, metropolitans and priests in the 16th century. It is in this period that conciliar and popular elections were abolished and the right to select the Church ministers was vested in the head of the state, who himself was a Roman Catholic, and in feudal lords (magnates). 40
It is reliably known that in the 15th century metropolitans were elected by lords, bishops, clergy, and laity. 41 There was a practice established that any candidate for any church position put forward as a protégé by a prince had to obtain the approval of the nobility, abbots, and laity. 42 Although there was also another ancient tradition among the Orthodox communities, which still existed in parishes operating on self-governing economic terms: to choose a priest that would be then hired 43 . If he did not perform his duties, the community could remove him without even sending a notice to the bishop. The condition that the bishop should approve such decisions was introduced only in the 2nd half of the 17th century. 44
However, the real problem which obstructed the life of the Orthodox Church in the 16th century and contributed to the church crisis was the institution of the rights of patrons and ktetors («τοκτητορηκό δίκειο»), which differed from the Roman jus patronatus. The application of jus patronatus (to put it more accurately – jus donatias a part of the jus patronatus in this historical context, which means the right of a civil patron to present a person as a candidate for a certain church position) in Rzeczpospolita encumbered the whole functioning of the Orthodox Church, as well as the Roman Catholic. 45
Over time, according to the civil legislation, only the state remained the sole ktetor, building its relations with the Western Church since the 12th century on the basis of jus patronatus. Meanwhile, in the 13th century, there was already a big difference between Western and Eastern Europe. 46
These circumstances allowed princes to appoint Orthodox bishops, abbots and priests as they liked: selecting them from secular circles and rewarding them for their civil service. 47 In the majority of cases, they were not Orthodox Church believers, sometimes they were even Jews. 48 This factor played a great role in the disruptive processes inside the Orthodox Church and in the organisational processes 49 that resulted in the local Brest Church Union between local Orthodox bishops and the Catholic Church (1596, Brest).
Yet, these circumstances were not the only ones that contributed to the formation of conditions and processes taking place in the Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe.
Since the 1550s, the Reformation began to have a great impact on intelligentsia and nobility of Ruthenian lands and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. 50 It is known that the Patriarch of Constantinople started sending his representatives to these lands to stop such processes and to revive the church life among Orthodox believers. 51
There are evidences of eleven of such representatives (deputies) being sent between 1550–1601, with some of them coming from abroad and some being selected from the local people, including some laymen. 52 This turned out to be an essential factor for further developments. In the situation of a deep church crisis, which the local bishops did not even try to overcome, there emerged a form of cooperation of orthodox laity (including the magnates and other nobility etc.). By such cooperation form, we mean contacts between the confraternities, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch and their exarchs and representatives. The confraternities as associations of laymen were unique in the form they developed in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Catholic confraternities in the West differed in governance forms, and there was no chance of their existence in the East because of a different political and social system and tendencies in the Moscow State.
We should specifically mention the great wave of development of the Orthodox Church revival, which was started by the visits of Patriarchs of Antioch (1586) and Constantinople (1591) on their way to Moscow. If to suppose that the confessionalisation can be -applied to the Orthodox Church at Rzeczpospolita, it can be suggested as one of the points of the Orthodox Church’s active development.
The Constantinople Patriarch Jeremy II (Tranos) is known for corresponding with Lutherans (without much success). He was a person who knew and understood the problems of the local Metropolitanate, as well as the internal confessional tensions. 53 The Patriarch supported the initiatives which proposed church confraternities.
We know that the two biggest associations of Orthodox laymen were founded in Lvov and Vilnia in late 16th century. They received the right to pull out from under the control of the local bishops and to move under the direct jurisdiction of Constantinople under the stauropēgio (σταυροπήγιο) canonical status.
These brotherhoods had their statute approved first by the Patriarch of Antioch and later by the Patriarch of Constantinople. 54 This foundational document outlined the rights of the Church brotherhoods and the canonical regulations between them and local Orthodox bishops as well as various organizational matters. It was very important moment for the life of the Orthodox Church at this region which shows changes and tendencies as well as the essence of those changes. The authors of the statute used a Holy Scripture quotation to highlight the role of laymen in the Church and ecclesial life. “According to the law of the Eastern Church of Christ, teaching of the Apostles and the Holy Fathers’ tradition” they had the right to reward good people and to expose and edify 55 those, who “did not obey the Truth»: “that people who don’t want to repent should be excommunicated, as the Law says: expose your close and don’t impose sin upon him”. 56
This provision of the Statute of the Confraternity ignited many discussions about the essence of brotherhoods, their incline towards protestant ideas, all of this in the context of the complicated situation of the Orthodox Church in this region. However, the documents proves that the right to expose, teach, and excommunicate in reality meant to present all the disobedient persons (“according to the Law of Christ and the Church”) to the court of bishops. 57 This fact testifies to the canon law legitimacy of the brotherhoods and explains their insisting on the ancient practice of church guidance. 58
The confraternities subjected themselves to the power of the Metropolitan and the bishops, and all information about tensions between the brotherhoods and the bishops were sent to the Patriarch asking him to act as an arbiter. Their letters to the Patriarch confirm this. 59 Yet, the Orthodox confraternities of the Kiev Metropolitanate did not have tensions with the bishops(among them is also the Patriarch) on the canon law level. The contradictions laid in the sphere of political and financial power and interests.
In this context, it is very important to mention that one of the main concerns of the Reformation was the role of lay people in the Church. It is well known that there was a wide debate between Roman Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox believers on the whole spectrum of issues at that time. One of the points that Orthodox writers fought for was the practice of election (choice) of bishops and priests which had its roots in the Apostles’ times. 60 This common practice in its local form existed in the Orthodox Church of this region in the 15th century. Thus, it can be claimed that the Reformation influenced the Orthodox Church, but at the same time, it brought nothing new to the Orthodox Church except for the real example of such election practice.
From the very beginning, the local Orthodox bishops and lay associations gave their full support to the initiatives of the Patriarch. The decisions of the local councils of the 1590s can serve as an illustration of this approach. 61 After 30 years of their absence, local councils were convened again with support of both bishops and laity. Below is the list of conciliar resolutions:
1. June 1590, Lvov. 62 Both clergy and lay Orthodox nobility were present at this council. The main decisions taken there included:
• Decision to convene local councils more regularly;
• Prohibition for monasteries to be led by lay persons;
• Prohibition for bishops to interfere with the church life beyond
their dioceses and to consecrate priests for money; 63
• Decision to solve the problems of schools and further education (problems of confraternities);
• Decision to excommunicate 21 citizens of Lvov and its suburbs for hindering the activities of the confraternities. 64
• These provisions help us to grasp the impact of this council not only for the confraternities but also for the whole local church. The local orthodox bishops (formally for the moment) were embraced the idea of the inner life renewal of the Orthodox Church. Their rejection arrived later.
2. October 1591, Brest. It is the most important local council for that period. There was a large representation of all levels of Church structure: bishops, clergy, abbots, laity, representatives of brotherhoods. 65 The bishops declared that not only they themselves as hierarchs made all the decisions, but, as they proclaimed,“all what was at our common spiritual council decided”, “all our common spiritual assembly decided”. 66 It is very important to underline, that bishops and all the assembly admitted the problem and the text of the decision contains the statement of the fact that laymen used to ask the King to give them the hierarchical titulars even before the vacant place appeared and it was out of church order and holy Fathers regulations. 67 The main decisions of the council were:
• Restriction imposed on the King’s patronage practice: selection of candidates for bishops’ ministry was removed from the list of royal privileges;
• Restriction on the private patronage institute (forbidding the practice of buying parishes and ordaining worthy priests without payments);
• Prohibition for bishops to change their dioceses;
• Prohibition for bishops to rule over monasteries;
• Restriction over the possible interference of lay patrons into monastic life. If such persons came to monasteries for guidance, they had to become monks;
• Instruction to avoid excessive drinking and fights at monasteries;
• Command for the lower ranks to be obedient to higher ranks;
• Provision establishing that complaints against bishops had to be considered by the Metropolitan;
• Provision establishing that complaints against the Metropolitan had to be considered by a local council;
• Instruction for all the books to be printed with notifying the bishops (including that which produced brotherhoods printing houses), which illustrates the cooperative character of the relationship between the bishops and the confraternities;
• Decision to open schools in all dioceses.
3. 1593. This council was held in the presence of a Patriarch’s exarch (representative) and had, in fact, the form of a court hearing which condemned unworthy bishops.
It is important to mention that in the autumn of 1592 the Confraternity of Lvov wrote a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople requesting him to convene a local council with his representative present at the council sessions to judge unworthy bishops. This confirms that the decisions of the previous council had not been put into effect. The available documents recount the judgment of the Bishop of Lvov and his removal from office. 68
4. 1594, Brest. This council was a large-scale one with a significant presence of laity. Among them were ambassadors of Vilnia, Lvov, Brest, and Holshany brotherhoods with instructions signed by orthodox senators and nobility. These instructions insisted on:
• Introducing a permanent representative of the Patriarch of Constantinople who would have had to control the bishops and their compliance with the decisions of the councils;
• Directing the whole income of dioceses to schools, building churches, and hospitals;
• Restoring monastic life in monasteries that had been closed due to economic reasons;
• Court prosecution of people hindering the brotherhoods’ activity;
• Removing priests serving at brotherhoods’ churches from the jurisdiction of local bishops and moving them under the protection of the Metropolitan;
• Giving the monopoly over school opening and typography to the confraternities;
• Compulsory opening of new schools in every region. 69
The most important proposal concerned unworthy bishops. The delegation insisted on their election by believers with subsequent announcement of the selection results to the ‘secular people’ and not vice versa as it was in common practice of that period.
This manifest was not accepted, even though the activity of brotherhoods was re-approved. 70 According to the civil law, this local council was invalid: the King of Rzeczpospolita was in Sweden, and in his absence, any convocations were forbidden. 71
From that moment on, a certain regress of activities aimed at the revival of the Orthodox Church can be observed. Moreover, beginning with December 1594, bishops of the Kiev Metropolitanate set on the journey to change their jurisdiction from the Orthodox Church to the Roman Catholic one. 72
5. 25–27 January 1596, Novogrudok (present-day Belarus). The synod of bishops condemned active members of brotherhoods. History has preserved records of a protest against this decision. The protest of those condemned contained the following message: “According to rules of the Holy Fathers, it was not a council but a commotion, because neither we nor many other Church members knew about it and there were no Church people from Vilnia present”. 73
6. October 1596, Brest. We have knowledge of two controversial councils: 74
A. The Orthodox bishops with the support of civil authorities joined the jurisdiction of Rome; 75
B. Two Orthodox bishops and a representative of the Patriarch ondemned them and their union with Rome. They also overturned the previous decision condemning the members of Orthodox brotherhoods. 76
There are some interesting and intriguing facts about the Confraternity of The Holy Trinity (Vilnia) in 1591–1592: it tried to insert some new elements into the Orthodox marriage rite and the tradition of preparations for marriage. 77 However, in reality, those were limited to introducing fasting before the wedding. They also suggested some alterations for the children’s baptism rite, of which we have no precise knowledge. 78
It is known that both the Reformation and the Counterreformation held education as one of its top priorities. This cannot be neglected when considering the influence of the Reformation on the Orthodox Church and embedding the processes of confessionalisation with Orthodox confraternities 79 .
The brotherhoods opened numerous schools. They aspired to be granted the monopoly on new schools’ opening by abovementioned councils. They also printed copious educational and didactic literature: Slavonic Grammar books, Church Slavonic liturgical books for Orthodox services, sermons of saints and teachers of the Church in the local language, prayer books, polemic works, and lexicons. 80 All the activities of the Orthodox brotherhoods where focused on developing the local Eastern-Slavic culture as opposed to the preaching and ministry of Protestants and Catholics in Rzeczpospolita that where almost 100% Polish and Latin-oriented. Unfortunately, neither the Reformation nor the Counterreformation did give the Eastern-Slavic culture all these intellectual treasures. All they brought was ‘polonisation’ of Ruthenian lands. 81
It can be said with confidence that the brotherhoods and their intellectual ‘laboratory’ worked on theological terminology 82 in the local ‘Ruthenian’ language in order to be able to fully take part in the theological polemics of their times. 83 Speaking about signs of confessionalisation it is difficult to agree to the opinion that there was no summa doctrinae at Orthodox Church. 84
One of the greatest results of intellectual inventing work was the publication by Stefan Ziznij of the first Slavonic Orthodox Church Catechism (1595). 85 The Orthodox Church had not seen such form of intellectual creation in Slavonic before. 86 In its nature, the Catechism was entirely polemic with the Catholics and Protestants, quite different from the Protestants and completely in line with the Orthodox. It was the demonstration of the theological grounds of the Orthodox Church showing the difference with other religious groups.
The Orthodox intellectuals creatively processed the dispute between the Catholic and the Reformed churches, including its academic dimension. 87 Another example of such war is the famous work of Stefan Zizanij (1550–1600) «Казанье святого Кирилла патриархи Иерусалимского о антихристе и знаках его, з росширеньем науки против ересей рoзных» («The Homily of St Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, on the antichrist and his omens, with an extensive teaching against various heresies») (1596), which was probably inspired by the work of Sibrandus Lubbertus (1555–1625) “De Papa Romano” (1594). “The Homily,” however, contained polemic invectives against both Protestants and Catholics.
Special mention should be made of the cooperation in the political sphere between the Orthodox Church and Protestants. There were two political agreements concluded:
• 28 January 1573, the Warsaw Confederation, a charter that guaranteed absolute religious liberty to all non-Roman Catholics. 88 It was the first European act granting religious freedoms to all citizens of a state. Its text was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme.
• 1599, the Vilnius Confederation.
The influence of the Reformation and the Counterreformation (and/or the processes of confessionalisation) in the described historical context of Rzeczpospolita on the local Orthodox Church and the sociopolitical processes of the Eastern European region, in general, is obvious. All these developments were part of a comprehensive process of revival, or ‘renaissance,’ of the Orthodox Church of this part of Europe.It is difficult to say if that was the process of confessionalisation in full since but all these processes could be accepted as criterias of the confessionalisation.
Thus, it is clear that the Orthodox lay associations were a unique historical phenomenon, as well as one of the most important factors for the inner life of the Orthodox Church in the late 16th century. Their activities made possible a short renaissance period for the Orthodox Church at the end of the 16th century in Eastern Europe (specifically, in Rzeczpospolita). The brotherhoods’ importance diminished due to challenging political circumstances, which resulted in the local Church Union (1596) and stripping of the brotherhoods’ supporters of all rights and state privileges that lasted at least until 1609. It is difficult to confirm its origin thanks to the Reformation influence. Yet, their activities were definitely inspired by the Reformation and the Counterreformation alike and of course definitely were influenced by the processes of confessionalisation. Evidently, numerous questions remain, e.g. what was the nature of the impact of the Reformation on the Orthodox Church in Rzeczpospolita: on the level of theology, methodology of polemics with Catholics, ecclesiological context or social level. However, it can be said with confidence that the inner forces of the Orthodox Church were mobilized and succeeded in renewing the life of the Orthodox Church, actualizing its teaching, generating theological terminology for the local language, popularizing the Eastern Slavic identity and culture in the context of theological polemics with ‘Polish’ Catholics, as well as in strengthening contacts with other Churches of the East and their authorities.
On the one hand, restoration of the conciliar practice of the Orthodox Church came out of that activity and interest in the church life. One can speak of the real influence of all the Reformation and Counterreformation processes on the interior life of the Orthodox Church, including the brotherhoods’ activities. Yet, on the other hand, there are no grounds to imply any direct influence of Reformation on the Orthodox Church or the lay associations and their activity, as there are no facts to substantiate such claims: in “the moments of truth”, these associations strictly adhered to the Orthodox faith. Despite all the accusations against the Orthodox lay associations in allegedly adopting a protestant lifestyle, most of them were unsound.
As for the implementation of the theory of confessionalism for the Orthodox Church at this region, as M. Dmitriev said about the starets Artemij, his ideas and activity 89 , it can be applied as for brotherhoods so for all the inside life of the orthodox Church at the period of Brest councils (1590-1595) -that ideas and activities correspond to the concept of “Orthodox Confessionalisation”. On the one hand the similar processes and facts don’t automatically uphold an adoption of the confessionalisation concept for the Ukrainian and Belarusian lands, 90 for the other hand all the processes described above could be named “the inner confessionalisation”. 91 It matches better for the Ruthenian Orthodox Church at the end of the 16th century at Rzeczpospolita then for any other processes at Russian Orthodox Church of next periods.
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