Petr Moghila

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PETR MOGHILA (15961646), also known as Petr Mohyla, or Movila, was an Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev. As head of the Orthodox church in the Ukraine, at that time under Polish rule, Petr Moghila was chiefly responsible for the revival of Orthodoxy in southwestern Russia following the Union of Brest-Litovsk (1596), at which a large part of the Orthodox population submitted to Rome. Although willing to consider possible schemes for union with Rome, Moghila devoted his energies to strengthening the position of the Orthodox who chose to remain independent of the papacy.

Of Romanian princely descent, Moghila was born in Moldavia and educated at the Orthodox school in Lwów. He may have continued his studies in the West, possibly at the University of Paris. Widely read in classical Latin literature and scholastic theology, dynamic and authoritarian by nature, Moghila became abbot of the important Monastery of the Caves at Kiev in 1627 and was made metropolitan of Kiev in 1633, a position he held until his death.

The thirteen years of Moghila's episcopate constitute a decisive cultural turning point for Orthodoxy in southwestern Russia. In the schools that he opened for Orthodox clergy and laity, the teaching was based on Western models and was given predominantly in Latin, not in Greek or Slavonic. Western secular and religious writings were studied together with modern science. The college that Moghila established at Kiev reached a standard of excellence unequaled elsewhere in the Orthodox world of the time and continued to play a formative role throughout the seventeenth century; many of the Russians who collaborated closely with Peter the Great had been educated there. Seeking to create an "Occidental Orthodoxy," Moghila opened Little Russia to Western influences half a century before this happened in Great Russia.

Moghila's latinizing approach is evident in the wide-ranging liturgical reforms that he imposed, for example in the Sacrament of Confession, where he replaced the deprecative formula used at absolution in the Greek manuals ("May God forgive you ") with an indicative formula taken directly from the Roman Catholic ritual ("I absolve you "). The Orthodox Confession of Faith that he composed in 16391640 was based on Latin catechisms by Peter Canisius and others. Here Moghila not only employed the term transubstantiation but taught explicitly that the moment of consecration in the Eucharist occurs at the Words of Institution, not at the Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit; and when discussing the state of the departed he virtually adopted the Latin doctrine of purgatory. After extensive alterations had been made in the Orthodox Confession by the Greek theologian Meletios Syrigos, it was approved by the Council of Jassy (1642) and by the four Eastern patriarchs (1643). Moghila himself was displeased by these changes. In his Little Catechism (1645) he continued to affirm consecration by Words of Institution, although he was more guarded on the question of purgatory.

The Orthodox Confession represents the high-water mark of Roman Catholic theological influence upon the Christian East. But the extent of Moghila's Latinisms should not be exaggerated, for on questions such as the filioque and the papal claims, he adheres to the traditional Orthodox viewpoint, although he expresses this viewpoint in a moderate form.


Works by Petr Moghila

The original Latin version of the Orthodox Confession, as drawn up by Moghila in 1640, is now lost; an intermediate Latin version, embodying many of the changes made by Meletios Syrigos in 1642 but sometimes adhering to the 1640 text, has been edited by Antoine Malvy and Marcel Viller, La Confession Orthodoxe de Pierre Moghila métro-polite de Kiev, 16331646, "Orientalia Christiana," vol. 10 (Rome, 1927). For the Greek text, as revised by Syrigos and adopted at Jassy, see part 1 of Ernest Julius Kimmel's Monumental Fidei Ecclesiae Orientalis (Jena, 1850), pp. 56324; see also Ioannis N. Karmiris's Ta dogmatika kai sumbolika mnemeia tes Orthodoxou Katholikes Ekklesias, vol. 2 (Athens, 1953), pp. 593686, translated into English as The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church (London, 1762); see also the new edition by J. J. Overbeck and James N. W. B. Robertson (London, 1898).

Works about Petr Moghila

On the cultural and educational aspects of his career, see William K. Medlin and Christos G. Patrinelis's Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia: Western and Post-Byzantine Impacts on Culture and Education, Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries (Geneva, 1971), pp. 124149; on his theological position, see part 1 of Georges Florovsky's Ways of Russian Theology, volume 5 of his Collected Works, edited by Richard S. Haugh (Belmont, Mass., 1979), pp. 6478. Earlier studies include S. I. Golubev's classic work, Kievskii Mitropolit Petr Mogila i ego spodvizhniki (Kiev, 18831898); Émile Picot's "Pierre Movila (Mogila)," in Bibliographie hellénique, ou Description raisonnée des ouvrages publiés par des Grecs au dix-septième siècle, vol. 4, edited by Émile Legrand (Paris, 1896), pp. 104159; and Téofil Ionesco's La vie et l'œuvre de Pierre Movila, métropolite de Kiev (Paris, 1944).

Kallistos Ware (1987)