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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Patriarch at the crossroads: who’s to blame for the crisis of the Russian Orthodox Church


In moments of crisis, external pressure, military and social threats particular role can play such a public institution as the Church. It is able how to calm and unite the citizens in the country, and to fulfill an important diplomatic mission abroad, bringing their parishioners to believing the rest of the world. With regard to Russia, where the vast majority of citizens are Orthodox Christians by birth, a Russian Orthodox Church. But whether it fulfills this mission or she is experiencing its own internal crisis? This is what we asked the priest and the theologian.


photo: Mikhail Kovalev

From the point of view of the sociology of trust of Russians to the Russian Orthodox Church in recent time, it is not growing, and even falling. According to VTSIOM, only from February to may, it decreased by 2% (from 73 to 71). Today on the public trust of the Russian Orthodox Church is inferior to the President of Russia and its army is only slightly ahead of the media and law enforcement agencies. If at the end of the twentieth century, the parishes were rapidly revived, and even former Communists-atheists aspired to join through the temple to the grace of God, the second decade of the XXI century quite unexpectedly, was marked in Russia by christopoulou and desecration of Holy sites. The Church should unite regardless of political affiliation, however, the Orthodox Church became subject to accusations from the opposition that it turned into a Department of the ruling party. A proliferation of scandals the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. And even if the scandals are far-fetched, sucked from the finger, anyway, they cause a huge unhealthy interest in the blogosphere. From the point of view of formal statistics, the popularity of revelatory articles about the Russian Orthodox Church is disproportionately higher than of the sermons of the Patriarch. From all this we can deduce the assumption that with the mission of the “inner stabilizer” ROC copes worse than they could.

Not the best way and deal with public diplomacy, the Russian Orthodox Church. Our Orthodox delegation decided not to participate in the pan-Orthodox Council, which was held in Crete. But that is where it would be possible to enlist Russia and its faithful support of the foreign Orthodox brothers and sisters. And if the Russian politicians can not fully promote the interests of Russia abroad because of the sanctions, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church made the decision on isolation is completely voluntary. Moreover, our Church and her Patriarch wanted to see the Cathedral for the Russian Orthodox Church, even its venue was moved from uncomfortable at that time for Russians Turkey to Crete, but we still didn’t come. It became a disappointment, and scandal. What kind of public diplomacy…

How do you assess the current state of the Russian Orthodox Church people who know about it firsthand?

— Do you agree that the ROC is experiencing a crisis?

Sergei CHAPNIN, theologian: “Yes, of course. In recent years I have not once had to say that the period we usually called “Church revival” has ended. The periodization here may be different, but I would say that this is the time between the murder of Archpriest Alexander men in September 1990, and the murder of Archpriest Pavel Adelgeim in August 2013. This is a terrible date in the life of the Church, but they quite clearly indicate his age. What will be the new period? Think the title to him, we will find far not at once, but it is obvious that the Orthodox Church has entered a period of prolonged and rather deep crisis.

This crisis is associated with the bureaucratization and centralization that occurred in the Church in recent years and also with the attempt to introduce a common ideology. Of course, there are exceptions, but the Central place it takes the faith in Christ the Saviour, and personal devotion to one or another ecclesiastical superior. In the absence of regular demonstrations of this devotion of the laity, and especially the priests begin to pursue caulk their mouths. The priests prefer to remain silent, knowing that they can use and an extreme measure — the ban in the Ministry.

The deep crisis is the parish life. And this is due to the fact that wards away any independence, and the priests are just slavish subjection to their bishops. On the last convincingly wrote Archpriest Pavel Adelgeim”.

Father Vsevolod CHAPLIN, a Moscow priest, a member of the Public chamber: “the Main cause of the crisis that Churches are too many, including senior management, are going to answer to critical questions of modern life. Leave out of fear, out of love for a peaceful and quiet life, due to the fact that many have what is called “finger in the pie”, and it doesn’t stimulate to engage in serious debate with strong opponents about what is happening in the country, the society and the Church. So many themes on which to appeal to the people, they prefer to discuss behind the scenes with officials. And it’s always a dead end, because the latter is perfectly able to close any problem.

The priest does not need to reassure the people, and right to put before him the key to the problem. Let’s see what cut coupons Okolovrasten radicals, why they are popular? Because I’m not afraid to argue with the powers that be. Another thing is that their “sermons” lead to even worse trouble, they are pushing people into murderous and suicidal behavior. We, as Ministers, to follow is not necessary. But we must challenge those injustices that people don’t like.

By and large, the Church today could offer a plan of social reforms and ask some direct questions. For example: why do we participate in the world of Western Ponzi scheme in which money without end make money and which will inevitably collapse? This system can not fail, so you just need to condemn it and refuse to participate in financial speculation. But we in the Church often quietly on such speculation cashing.

Need to denounce the immorality of officials, and it’s not only about corruption. Now she put the governors, and how much time the Church people licking these inmates ass? In each region know what is the situation around the Governor, therefore, we must condemn or at least distance themselves from dishonest leaders. The Church justifies contact with them the need to build temples, to support the practical component of Church life… But it is better to stay without any construction and without the money than lose credibility, lavishing the praises of thievish officials and obveshivaya their ecclesiastical awards.

I want to say that the social structure should be based on Christian ideals, not Economism and the infinite calm, the lulling of the consciousness of the citizens. On the contrary, you need to uncover the dormant strength of the people. If the Lord sends us difficulties, such as a military threat, sanctions, the hatred of Russia of a number of surrounding States — this gives us the opportunity to finally come to their senses and realize that a life lived only for wealth will end in failure. Take the Ukrainian issue, on which we (ROC. — Ed.) mostly silent. It is necessary to raise the people to fight against pseudo, manipulated Western funds and embassies. Instead, our priests tried to appease them and wagged the tail. There are things more important than your own peace of mind and Church buildings: it — truth, justice, life and human rights. It was impossible to forget. That is not interfering with the Church, the coup d’etat and attempts to lick the hand of the new government has led to what is now the Ukraine radicals Rob Churches, temples, and people that were focused on Russia, made outcasts, political prisoners or forced to leave the country and become immigrants.

The Church needs to be more proactive and not be afraid to argue with the rich and those in positions of power people. The future for those who will to do so. And “peace and quiet” will only end with trouble, and historical shame.”

— How effectively resists existing prior to the ROC calls the Patriarch?

Sergei CHAPNIN: “Effectively is a very appropriate word. All the reforms of Patriarch Kirill was designed to make the Church more effective. And in the first years of his Patriarchate seemed that this goal can be achieved. But everything turned bureaucracy, reports, and, consequently, decrease the efficiency, which sought the Patriarch.

It concerns the internal life of the Church, and its relations with other Orthodox churches, and its relations with state and society.

In my opinion, the decision not to go to the pan-Orthodox Council was the great error of Church diplomacy. This will have serious consequences first of all will reduce the authority of the Russian Church. And not only in relations with the Orthodox, but also other churches and faiths”.

Vsevolod CHAPLIN: “the Patriarch rather boldly spoke and acted four or five years ago, and now he talks almost exclusively rounded, non-committal phrases that will not cause disputes and as if everyone will like it. But at the same time not affect those issues that really concern the people. Modern reasoning there is almost nothing new — only the retelling of things, familiar to all in the school theology, and compliments the regions that they visited. Very few exceptions — just recently in Vorkuta scolded the company “Severstal” for the slow construction of a chapel in memory of the dead miners, and rightly so. But these words are becoming rarer.

The key questions (the same Ukrainian) Patriarch in recent months highlights the utterly carefully. So will not get far.

If the Patriarch and allows himself a bright statement (for example, a recent on the cult of chelovechestva, that is heresy), when in response he gets a shouting — turns and leaves the topic. But the shouting is nothing wrong. If you criticize, then you’re alive, you hear. And to develop public debate, it is very important! But there begins the silence caused by the fear shouts. The fear that someone from the powers that be will be unhappy with you and make you gross. Such silence is the way to samodurovu.

The Church needs to lead a discussion about the future of the ideological values of the Russian Constitution, a new demographic doctrine for the country on the military and foreign policy doctrine, the place of religion in society… If you do not the Patriarch — this will be done by other people.”

— Threat is the crisis of the Russian Orthodox Church to the state?

Vsevolod CHAPLIN: “a Threat to the state would split the backbone of the Church. But I don’t think it will happen. Church leaders, who criticize Patriarch (including a meeting with the Pope and for concessions in the preparation of the Cretan Church), the bulk of the Church is not gone and will not go away.

But there is another, slightly less spicy, but still very serious danger. This — leaving the Church in all sorts of sects and new religious movements a large number of young, active people who are frustrated by the vagueness of the public important judgments of our Church. A lot of people had gone into paganism, some of the youth became interested Okolovrasten radicalism…

Many active Christians go to a natural disbelief in the face of immorality, the priest or injustice in the parish community.

And if to replace Christianity in the minds of people more and more will come sects, neo-paganism and radical interpretations of Islam — this can pose a tremendous threat to Russia. And that this did not happen — it is necessary that the ROC was a living, active, able to respond today and put awkward questions before elite, and before all the people”.

Sergei CHAPNIN: “Threat is the crisis of the Russian Orthodox Church for the country is a very difficult question and a simple answer does not exist. On the one hand, the real number of members of the Russian Orthodox Church is quite small. Little influence on society, alas, they do not have.

On the other hand, all the recent attempts to build a modern Russian identity associated with the Orthodox tradition. But this design is becoming quite secularized form, i.e., is divorced from the Church. Therefore, the crisis of the Orthodox Church can not affect the further formation of the Russian identity.

Paradoxically, it is possible to see something positive. The leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate will not be able to claim a monopoly on the preservation of Orthodox tradition in society.”

— Does sometimes occur around the ROC a negative background on the life and mood of the priests and parishioners?

Sergei CHAPNIN: “Yes. And, unfortunately, it is not just “a negative background”, but rather a mistrust of Orthodoxy in those cultural forms which it takes today. Orthodoxy, in a sense, “sick” modern society. I have not once heard from priests, that in recent years, if they are in cassock, they can dramatically, and even quite evil to turn passers-by. Before such was not. Many of my friends who are in secular work did not conceal his Orthodox faith, repeatedly told me that they had to justify, for example, remarks of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. His remarks cause outrage, but he is far away, and the scapegoat is the one Orthodox, which friends or acquaintances in this perturbed the public.

From different dioceses I write that there is quite a noticeable percentage of those who declines the priesthood. Church statistics at this point. I think the Church authorities are trying to ban in the Ministry, before they will remove the San, but it would be important to explore this issue.

But with all this large, vibrant community in the Orthodox Church persist. I think “center of gravity” in the Church life will be inevitably moved from the Church administration in parish life, on the horizontal relationship. This will allow the Church to survive, whatever problems covered Church leadership”.

Vsevolod CHAPLIN: “the Attacks against the Church, on the one hand, unite. People began to understand that there are forces who hate Russian people, Christians, traditional Church. These forces, which exist in our country, through your antics of trying to subvert our values, to move us to the position of the slaughtered slaves. Another thing is that the more attacks, the more people rally against them and around the Church.

On the other hand, you know about a large amount of publications about the real problems of the parishes, monasteries, dioceses, scandalous stories about the Church. Sometimes these stories are exaggerated. But in any case, you need to following these publications was transparent, collegiate learning facts, discussing problems. Instead, the silence, the attempt to hush up the scandal. If there is an investigation, it does so quietly, without debate. The lack of conversation, the openness spoil the atmosphere. People ask questions, and in response — silence or incoherent babbling that does not concern us.

Of course, the Churches in this regard needs to change, otherwise the crisis of temporary could turn into a protracted”.

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