Monday, September 7, 2020

French Actor Gerard Depardieu Sort of Converts to Orthodox Christianity

Famous French actor Gerard Depardieu, who has had multiple religious conversions in his life, has now been baptized an Orthodox Christian.

The 71-year-old star was baptized in a ceremony last Friday, 4 September, at the Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris. There were 30 people present at the ceremony. Media reports also state that he became godparent of a girl baptized on the same day as himself.

“Under the solemn chants of the choir and the prayers of the officiants, Gerard Depardieu had his body and head sprayed abundantly with water, failing however to be fully submerged, as is the custom,” Valeurs Actuelles reported. From photos taken during the ceremony, it looks like the actor had to sit for most of the service.

The stars ties with Russia are close, and he was granted honorary Russian citizenship in 2013 and owns property in Minsk. In his autobiographical book, Such Things, the actor included a chapter on getting to know Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he stated that he immediately felt “his man” in the president. Now, the bonds have tightened with Mr Depardieu’s conversion to the Orthodox faith.

According to sources, his spiritual father is Father Tikhon Shevkunov, who is also the spiritual father of Vladimir Putin.

Depardieu said he was driven to convert to Russian Orthodoxy by his “links” with the Orthodox clergy and taste for the “Orthodox Divine Liturgy.”

When the Russian priest who officiated was asked by a reporter what Gerard's baptismal name was, he said that he was unable to reveal it, but was very pleased with his decision to convert.

Valeurs Actuelles reports how Depardieu converted to Islam in 1967, before moving on to Buddhism and Hinduism. Now the newly-illumined convert says he wants to convert to Judaism soon, particularly because of the proximity between Judaism and Islam. We know that he is an avid fighter for Jewish rights and has studied the Talmud since at least 2013. On the other hand, he shows some reluctance towards Catholicism: "I have a lot of admiration for Benedict XVI and John Paul II, but I don't like the Catholic liturgy, it makes me ****."

One wonders by this statement if his conversion to Orthodoxy is nothing but just part of a series of conversions that he seeks to embrace to form a part of his multi-religious identity. If so, then we should at least say he was just "sort of" converted to Orthodoxy.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk,  a representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow, who wishes all the best to the actor upon his conversion, has commented as follows: "I wanted to wish for Gerard Depardieu that Orthodoxy will be his final choice. Orthodoxy is a treasure in which one can find everything needed for one's life. I would be very glad if Gerard's path ended precisely in the Orthodox Church. I hope he approaches the Orthodox faith with the same depth and same thoughtfulness as he did his roles. His faith will open many aspects which he has yet to uncover."