Vsevolod Chaplin: ''The meeting of Patriarch Kirill with philosophers and political experts is a positive fact''
What can ''leaders of public opinion'' advise the head of the Russian Orthodox Church
Patriarch of Moscow Kirill met with famous philosophers and political experts last week. Presuppositions that the Russian Orthodox Church wants to attract political consultants to improve its image appeared in social networks. And information attacks on the Church constantly grow. Famous Orthodox blogger, Realnoe Vremya's columnist Vsevolod Chaplin prepared hard-hitting questions for the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. In today's op-ed column written for our online newspaper, the priest noted that Moscow Patriarchy should not follow the public opinion, it should defend its positions in any stands.
Hard-hitting questions for patriarch
The meeting of Patriarch Kirill with philosophers and political experts is a positive fact, without doubt. Unfortunately, there are few big events now where Most Holy not only talks but also listens. It happens only in the Inter-Council Presence and sometimes during the World Russian People's Council. Questions and live communication were not planned during the Velikoretsky Cross Procession – it is a pity because people who visited this procession were able to ask a lot and say a lot about the state of the church's life and bigger problems of life of Russia and the world.
Many problems have accumulated. And we should not come to notorious discussions about the transition of Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Matilda film, blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky'a action, etc. Although people are waiting for the Church's clear, direct answer, not silence and excuses. Such public misfortunes like corruption, abuse of local functionaries, social unjustice, gap between elites and the people, shamelessness of the ''fifth column'' that conquered the management of the economy, culture and media deserve silence or general phrases less. Moral judgement about it all including the behaviour of certain people is the Church's direct business.
''Many problems have accumulated. And we should not come to notorious discussions about the transition of Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Matilda film, blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky'a action, etc.'' Photo: cathedral.ru
However, people, especially baptised Orthodox Christians, that is to say, members of the Church, are waiting for direct answers to questions inside the Church. Are the accusations of purchase and sale of church posts true? Isn't the church's money spent on holiday, treatment or personal security of hierarchs and pastors to increase their private property? How to exclude unreasonable and unexplainable transfers of priests from one church to another, expulsion or harassment of pastors, monks, nuns, civilians working in the church from their working place? Why are there so few people who would like to enter seminaries and so many people who left the clergy and monastic communities? Why does the ''diplomatic course'' in relations with people of other religions contradict with the conscience of people who are sure that the truth is only in Orthodox Christianity and anywhere else? Any of such questions should be asked, heard and answered – not to remain in the air as it is happening today. I don't know whether the philosophers and political experts asked them (probably they were even advised not to mention them).
The Church can be advised to ''be calmer''
Unfortunately, right self-declared ''leaders of public opinion'' often try to send the religious discourse and statements of priests to the discussion of overblown scandals like Isaac's Cathedral and Matilda film and severely ban religious and moral estimates of what is happening in the ''serious'' politics and economy.
Sometimes functionaries who insistently promote a legally absurd idea that the secularity of the country means that priests and religious activists don't ''interfere'' in social processes are behind such an approach. People who know who is guilty would not like to hear a condemning word said by the power that aspires to God whom they are anyway afraid of even if superstitiously at times.
''Unfortunately, right self-declared ''leaders of public opinion'' often try to send the religious discourse and statements of priests to discussion of overblown scandals like Isaac's Cathedral and Matilda film.'' Photo: rockfilm.ru
I will dare to presuppose that one of part of the secular activists who gathered at the meeting could advise the patriarch and the Church to be ''calmer'', stay clear from non-religious topics, not to interfere in the public discussion. Like, it would be better if you kept silent. I know the High Priest doesn't like such piece of advice, in general. But it can affect him emotionally (the Church has been tamed for the media for almost 30 years for a reason).
However, following such a piece of advice means sentencing the Church to a slow choke. The experience of Vatican that preferred to keep silent, make concessions and adapt to ''social tendencies'' at problematic moments shows that on this way, the religious community loses energy and any ability to actively affect events in the society. Having heard out all the advice of ''smart people'', one, first of all, should follow the road of Jesus and apostles who did not turn back to the reaction of ''influential forces'' and even the crowd. In the end, they attracted many peoples in many generations, though real Christianity was forecasted death and oblivion, sometimes managed to completely destroy it. The apostles won, and we need to learn to win. And it is impossible standing on the sidelines without attacking.
''Perform the role a moral leader of the nation and humankind''
This is why we should not keep silent but talk answering any questions of any people and not to be afraid to quarrel with powerful people of this world, the crowd crying for bread and performance. One should lead the society, not to sadly fall behind it. The society needs to be changed, not to change to satisfy its trends and epidemic ideas. In the current conditions, the Church whose authority is quite high despite ''waves of discontent'' created by critics should not be afraid to perform the role a moral leader of the nation and humankind. In addition, the intelligentsia, the humanities and the political circle who were candidates for this role in the past finally lost it – this is why they don't want to allow the Church to reach the site of public debates.
''In the current conditions, the Church whose authority is quite high despite ''waves of discontent'' created by critics should not be afraid to perform the role a moral leader of the nation and humankind.'' Photo: patriarchia.ru
It should bravely act as the highest moral referee in politics, economy, culture without hesitation and looking back. Giving corresponding estimates every day including to certain people, not ''evil forces'' in general. Let them say what they want. Let them gnash their teeth. Let them sharpen their knives. Let them ask: ''Who are you?'' The Church can answer them ''we are humble people but who got power from God''. Who don't have much money and power (by the way, one should not rush for them) but we have something greater. The right to ''bind and decide'' (look Matthew 18).