Political actions by Orthodox priests lead to controversy


Interfax-Religiia, 23 September 2019


The head of the synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Ilarion, reminded priests who signed an open letter in defense of defendants in the "Moscow Affair" of the necessity of clearing their actions in the public sphere with their ruling bishop.


"The official position of the church is expressed by official persons: the patriarch has the right to speak out on all matters, and the chairman of the Department for Eternal Church Relations voices the official position of the church regarding the spheres of his competence. I do not think that each one of the almost 40,000 priests can clear his opinion with the patriarch, but priests are required to clear their opinion with the ruling bishop of the diocese to which they belong," the metropolitan said on the broadcast of "Church and World" on the Rossiia-24 television channel.


He acknowledged that it is impossible in all cases, and also that a priest has a certain degree of freedom, and each clergyman is called to act according to conscience and has the right to intercede for one or another person and defend him and to act publicly. Priests also may create a group for defense of one or another person, which happened in this case.


In addition, the hierarch thinks that recent events, when various groups of people came to the defense of convicted persons, show that "not everything in our country is satisfactory in the legal sphere, especially when we see how under the influence of public protests sentences are being reconsidered." "Such incidents give evidence that a feeling of responsibility of people for one another is growing in our society," Metropolitan Ilarion noted.


On 17 September, several dozen priests of the RPTs [Russian Orthodox Church] sent to authorities a request to reconsider the judicial verdicts to imprison several participants in the summer's unsanctioned demonstrations by the opposition in Moscow. In the synodal Department for Relations of Church with Society and News Media, this appeal was regarded as an "attempt to participate in protection of rights which de facto turned into a political declaration." At the same time, the church declared its intention to clarify whether violations of the rights of detainees occurred during the summer's demonstrations of protest in Moscow, and whether it will be necessary to help them. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 September 2019)



Interfax-Religiia, 20 September 2019


The head of the synodal Department for Relations of Church with Society and News Media, Vladimir Legoida, declared that no threat of punishment of priests who signed a letter in support of participants in disorders in Moscow exists.


"I do not have any basis to suppose that any punishment whatever will be imposed on priests who signed the letter," the representative of the church emphasized on Friday on a broadcast of radio Vera.


Legoida added that he does not know whether some of these clerics were subjected to pressure on the part of bishops.


"Even though the assessments expressed in the letter are not shared by all in the church, as well as the very possibility for priests to speak out with such statements, I do not think that they are threatened with anything," he explained.


The head of the synodal department recalled that the church deals with much sadness, most of which is in the private sphere. "This is systematic work, not connected with high profile cases. For example, last week I signed a letter to a court where I requested help for and early release for one prisoner who is known for his help in church educational projects," the representative of the church explained.


The interviewer's question was connected with the fact that earlier articles had appeared in news media that claimed that possible discipline (punishment—IF) against priests who signed the letter may be used for propagandistic goals in complicating the process of the unification with the Moscow patriarchate of the archdiocesan parishes of the Russian tradition in western Europe. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 September 2019)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Editorial disclaimer: RRN does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the articles as they appeared in news media of countries of the former USSR.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,