Archpriest loses powerful position


RIA Novosti, 29 December 2015


The presidium of the World Russian People's Council (Vsemirnyi Russkii Narodnyi Sobor—VRNS), at its session on Tuesday, unanimously adopted the decision to remove Archpriest Vsevlod Chaplin from the position of deputy head of this organization, while at the same time urging on the priest "restraint and Christian humility," an official statement of the bureau of the presidium of the VRNS that reached RIA Novosti says.


Last week the Holy Synod of the RPTs adopted a decision to merge two synodal departments of the Moscow patriarchate—on relations of church and society and the Information Department—and appointed Vladimir Legoida the head of the new department. Archpriest Vsevolod Chablin, who had headed the Department for Relations of Church and Society, left his position while the synod expressed thanks to him for his many years of work in the synodal institution. On his part, Chaplin has responded in news media quite critically concerning the current system of church administration and has subjected the patriarch, in particular, to criticism.


During the last session of the presidium of the organization, Chaplin rejected the suggestion to voluntarily divest himself of the authority of deputy head of VRNS. "In accordance with the charter, all members of the presidium of the VRNS in attendance voted to terminate the authority of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin as the deputy head of VRNS," the statement says.


In addition, the statement by the bureau of the presidium of VRNS says that it views the criticism on Chaplin's part with disappointment. "The bureau of the presidium of the World Russian People's Council views with dismay and disappointment the words of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin that contain unjustified accusations against the head of VRNS, His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill. The many years of experience of the activity of the VRNS testify that all decisions have been made collegially, after lengthy discussion within the bureau and the presidium, taking into account consultations with a wide range of specialists and experts, while the discussion always bore a character of equality of rights," the statement says.


Members of the bureau said that in the sessions of the Inter-Council Presence of the RPTs, in which the patriarch participated, there also "reigned a spirit of unity of brotherhood in Christ of all members of the church," where "everyone could freely express his point of view in order of general priority, without any differences between a bishop and an ordinary layman." At the same time, the statement noted, the initiator of the collegial adoption of decisions always was Patriarch Kirill, who "was distinguished by an attentive and respectful attitude toward everyone who might wish to present his point of view."


"No less absurd are accusations against the head of VRNS of 'servility' to power elites and to public attitudes and of a reluctance to conduct a polemic on questions of principle. For example, in VRNS we have seen that under the patriarch's leadership the council has for many years decisively and consistently defended the Orthodox and Russian people and their ideals and values. The head of VRNS has openly raised critical topics in the public space while often meeting in response tendentious criticism and accusations on the part of prominent news media and a negative reaction by political circles. Nevertheless, thanks to His Holiness the patriarch, in the almost 20 years of its activity the council has never abandoned its fundamental positions," the statement notes.


Members of the bureau of the presidium of the VRNS also called attention to the fact that Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who has been a member of the leadership of the VRNS for many years, never expressed any critical words against the head of the council. "Members of the bureau of the presidium have suggested to Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to refrain from biased statements and they have urged him to show restraint and Christian humility, and they appeal to him with a fraternal exhortation: our people have too many pressing concerns and they should not be burdened with personal grievances," the VRNS declared.


In his turn, Chaplin himself told RIA Novosti that he expected such a decision from VRNS, "although just a few days ago there were no signs of anything." "Naturally I was not able to prevent this decision in any way, but I considered that I had the right to attend the session and explain my position, in which I was fully successful," the priest said.


Chaplin said that his "criticism of His Holiness the patriarch is the result of considerations of all the past years." "I wish my recent colleagues success, I wish for a clear position, and I wish for the ability to dispute with both business and government, but the most important thing is genuine diversity of opinions," the news agency's interlocutor added.


The World Russian People's Council is an international public organization established in 1993. The head of the VRNS is the patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus. In 2005 the council was granted special consultation status in the United National Organization. Plenary sessions of the VRNS, headed by the patriarch, are conducted annually. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 December 2015)

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