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Moghila, Peter

MOGHILA, PETER

Russian ecclesiastic and theologian, metropolitan of Kiev from 1633 to 1646; b. Moldavia, Dec. 21, 1596; d. Kiev, Dec. 22, 1646. The Moghila family (in Rumanian, Movila) originated in Moldavia. Moghila was ten years old when his father died, and his mother took him to Poland, where he was educated in a strictly Orthodox spirit. It is also possible that he studied abroad, perhaps in Paris. In 1622 an expedition organized to recover his possessions in Moldavia failed, and Moghila changed the orientation of his life and studied for the priesthood. In August of 1627 he became a monk in the most famous monastery of the Slavic world, the Pecherskaya Laura (Monastery of the Caves) in Kiev. Three months later Polish King Sigismond III had him appointed grand archimandrite of the monastery. He was at times too authoritarian, but under his energetic guidance the Laura became a center of spiritual and intellectual vitality in the Eastern Orthodox world at a time when opposition among the Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants was particularly bitter.

The printing press of the Laura turned out many new liturgical and ascetical books. At the same time Moghila opened a school of theology that became a nursery of theologians and learned bishops. In 1632 he took part in the election of the new king of Poland, Ladislas IV. He secured the king's favor for the Orthodox and in 1633 was appointed metropolitan of Kiev. His election was confirmed by Cyril lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople. Under Moghila's administration new confraternities were erected, and many new schools, hospitals, monasteries, and printing shops were founded. Moghila adopted the best methods of his adversaries in order to contend with them more successfully. In Kiev, theology was taught in Latin, according to the scholastic tradition. Two letters of Pope urban viii indicate that in the years 1636 and 1643 hopes for a reunion of Peter Moghila with the See of Rome were nurtured, but they did not lead to concrete results. He died seemingly prematurely, but in the life of the Slav Orthodox Churches he had opened a new era.

The pro-Calvinist attitude of the patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucaris, and the preaching of the Catholics of both Latin and Byzantine rites had left much confusion in the minds of the Orthodox faithful. Moghila became convinced that there was great need for a clear formulation of Orthodox doctrine, so he composed his principal work, The Orthodox Confession of Faith. He submitted it to the members of the church of Kiev in an encyclical letter (June 24, 1640) and had it studied by a synod of theologians. Some points did not obtain universal approval, and the synod decided to submit the Confessio to the patriarch of Constantinople. The patriarch appointed two of his theologians, one of whom was the noteworthy Meletius Syrigos, to meet in Iasy with three Kievan theologians to study the Confession. Some doctrinal points were modified to bring them into conformity with the Greek tradition, and it was finally approved by the four Eastern patriarchs.

The Confession, presented in Latin by the Kievan theologians, was translated into modern Greek by Syrigos and printed for the first time in Amsterdam in 1667, after Moghila's death.

For reasons that cannot be established with certitude, but probably because the revised Confession did not fully express his beliefs, in 1645 Moghila published a short catechism that is at variance with the Confession on certain important points. The most striking of these points concerns the precise moment of consecration in the Mass. Though the Confession sees that moment in the Epiclesis, the Catechism places it at the singing of the words of institution. On some other points the Catechism is more explicit than the Confession, for example, about the Assumption of Our Lady.

To answer the Catholic theologian Cassian Sakovich, who had violently criticized the practices of the Orthodox under the pseudonym of a "Devoted Shepherd," Moghila also published an apologetical work, A Stone Cast , written in part by his theologians.

Peter Moghila directed his polemics mostly against the Catholics. Nevertheless his theological doctrine is close to Catholic Doctrine, with the exception of his attitude toward the primacy of the pope. In his books he followed the general scheme of the Catholic catechisms, mostly that of Peter canisius. In his liturgical publications he let himself be guided by Catholic practices, thus bringing the Kievan church closer to the Catholic than the Greek. In his Trebnik, or ritual, for the Sacrament of Penance, for example, he introduced a formula of absolution that is declaratory as in the Roman rite, while the Greek formula of absolution is deprecatory.

For two centuries the Confession was considered by the Orthodox as one of the symbolic books of their Church, having the same authority as the decrees of the first seven ecumenical councils (see orthodox symbolic books). The Russian theologians of the twentieth century, however, were much less committed to it. They were trying to develop a more independent and more creative Orthodox theology by what one of them, J. Meyendorff, called a "return to the sources."

Bibliography: a. malvy and m. viller, eds., La Confession orthodoxe de Pierre Moghila (Paris 1927). m. jugie and m. gordillo, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 190350) 10.2:207076; 14.1:345346. t. ionesco, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Pierre Moghila (Paris 1944).

[p. mailleux]

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