Patriarch Kirill Urges Christian Bloggers to Stop Insulting Each Other

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has said that the diversity of ideas inherent in church circles sometimes assumes absurd forms in the Internet environment.

“In the web space groups of church liberals and conservatives are appearing that are not looking for the truth, divine truth but a means of finding fault, stinging each other. This is a very sad tendency,” he said at a diocesan assembly in Moscow ahead of New Year.

He said that divisions and feuds within the church “are evidence of infantility, childishness in faith which sometimes assumes ruffian forms.”

“But if for the media format of contacts such phenomena are quite natural as they comply with modern ideas of the freedom of though, they are deeply alien to our centuries-old church tradition, as they are alien to the very spirit of Evangelical teaching,” the Patriarch said.




32 thoughts on “Patriarch Kirill Urges Christian Bloggers to Stop Insulting Each Other

  1. Making people stop posting nasty comments on the Internet is like permanently stopping all global conflicts. Not possible in this world.

    The anonymity the Internet provides makes it a lot like the Ring of Gyges or the Ring of Power. We are made invisible, so the normal everyday people we meet are reduced to words and signals of electricity and data; people are dehumanized into abstraction. You can’t seriously think I’m the person that my IP address, my user name, my picture says I am, can you? One can forge a new identity, or steal it from some unsuspecting victim. And it seems as if no one can really control this behavior, despite well-behaved netizens. You ban a person, they will go elsewhere, assume new identities, and some derive pleasure from this- they’re happy without friends, and happy to not trust that anyone is who they say they are on the internet, or even in their daily lives. One can easily accuse me of being that way, and that’s reasonable, but many people are like that. We say we can use it for good, but if we combine this thought with a loss of belief in a God that will hold us accountable, “Using it for good” is code for “Using it for myself.”

    Maybe if the Internet, like the Ring of Power, is destroyed, there may be something positive about setting back communication technology. For example, the art of conversation will be revived. People will be more thoughtful with the letters they write using the postal service. People will also see the immediate consequences of their actions. But truth is, human nature desires knowledge and information. It’s hard-wired into us. We are gluttonous about it and feel entitled to it. Why do you suppose Reality T.V. is popular, or people gossip, or the “Bystander/Rubbernecking” effect happens whenever something interesting happens? Why do you think, if you set a price for an object, people will find some way to “steal” it- as in the case with downloading files illegally, or even the more ancient act of counterfeiting. People, in their fallen, human nature, feel entitled to own things, even with the least malicious intentions.

  2. The Patriarch’s comments might be more…well received…if he first started treating his fellow brother Orthodox Churches with more respect and dignity. Say starting in the Ukraine. And the Baltic States. As well as all the Patriarchs working with their disaspora to create unified Orthodox bodies in places like USA, Canada, Australia, UK, France, etc.Their actions and inactions are a huge component to the jurisdictional disunion and bickering that besets so many countries with various Orthodox jurisdictions.

    There is an element of irony and comedy here as well. No one with ties to the old Soviet Union and its KGB should be talking to loudly about squelching free expression. The Soviets wanted to prevent free expression. The KGB monitored expression to find and silence dissent. Too bad Putin hasn’t fallen far from this poisonous tree. Would be far more appropriate for the Patriarch to be advocating free expression in Russia, rule of law, free speech, free press, free assembly, etc. And working hard to liberate the Church from the influence of the State! And stop using the State to prevent mission & evangelism by outside groups.

    1. For once I agree with you. Still today, Christian minorities in Russia (Catholics, Lutherans and Baptists/Methodists are the three main) are seen as enemies by a ROC that doesn’t hesitate to ask the State to ban from the country a Catholic Bishop or Lutheran minister deemed to “proselytize” Russian people whose souls, of course, are to belong (as the villains used to belong to the their boyar) to the ROC.

      + Pax et Bonum

      1. I will second this, both Michael and Don Henri are correct. The fact that the established Russian Church is far more interested in regaining its former position as the state church is troublesome. Their actions against the Ukrainian Kievian Patriarchate and their unfounded fear of the Old Believers is problematic. This is especially true when so called “Orthodox” nations such as Greece and Russia have not even bothered to address their open and continued support for such things as abortion on demand,whilst wasting time in futile and embarrassing attacks against “western” religions.

      2. Dale, Keep in mind that there are NO Christian nations in EU, NATO, or rest of Europe &. Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain are no more RC than Sweden is Lutheran, England is Anglican, Scotland is Reformed, or Greece is Orthodox. These have been secular governments for most of 20th Century (e.g., Swedish and Greek Socialists, English Labour, German Social Democrats; even the Christian Democrats in places like Italy and Germany are mostly secular in outlook). Was Victorian England truly a fully Christian Anglican nation and Empire? Russia’s Putin is just an ex-KGB thug running a mob-like oligarchy in a pretend democratic republic.

      3. I respectfully disagree with Michael. There are huge differences inside Europe about rate of religious practice. How is it possible to compare Poland where about 70% of the population attend Mass every Sunday, and Sweden, the one of the most secular countries in the world? Eastern Europe has seen a boom in religion since the fall of communism, benefiting both the Catholic and orthodox Churches. In facts, if the total number of Priests (for example) in the whole Europe is still growing, it’s thanks to those new fields of very successful missionary work that Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, the Baltic States (etc…) are. Poland has more seminarians than ever. Ukrainian seminaries are actually refusing 2 out of 3 candidates because there are too much vocations (and too few money also)! Catholic mission in traditionally protestant countries such as Norway is rather successful too.
        Italy is still a very Christian country. The rate of religious practice is not significantly declining, and the actual government is much Church-influenced (Mario Monti is a man of Faith and was associated for a long time with the Sant’Egidio movement). Even in my native and very secularized France, there are real signs of renewal and hope. And the Catholic strongholds of Portugal and Spain, even when they had/have very atheistic governments, are not eroding. The fact that the cardinal of Madrid was able to get 1 millions peoples at a family open-air Mass and rally a few months ago is significant. The “sick men” are few, I’d say Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (the Church in Belgium is actually in palliative care and very close to dying). Interestingly they are all countries of Germanic culture. A 50-years late backlash of Nazism perhaps?
        All is not lost in Europe. In many areas, Christians are losing the battle, but in many others, much less publicized, they are strengthening their positions and making an actual difference.
        And I quite like Putin! 😉

        + pax et bonum

      4. Don, Poland has been an independent republic now for a bit over 20 years. And it took them a few years to get the democratic part up and running. Then came the rise of consumerism, materialism, and the impact of the developed West/EU on Poland. Look at the declines in religious practice and intensity in just that time period. Now Sweden has been a working modern Western democratic monarchy for a long, long time. Where do you think Poland will be by say 2025 or 2050?

        Just look what happened to Greece since WW II and what Russia is experiencing. Or take Ireland. The modern poster child for what happens to faith when wealth and materialism are achieved in a modern Western democratic republic. Anyone visiting today would be amazed at what happened there over the past 50 years let alone the past 25 years.

        I don’t think the sociological research within the EU/NATO nations shows too much statistically significant difference in areas like abortion, divorce, re- & initial marriage, contraception, family size, church attendance, religious intensity, etc. across these various countries. (Nor does it show it here in America between RCs and Protestants.) And in most cases the long-term trend is downward not upward.

        I agree that there are always exceptions to the rule within each nation, but these are outliers and not reflective of the trend line or majority of the people. Of course, we should all pray for them and for the revival, great aawakening Europe so desperately needs! Where is John Wesley today for the UK?

      5. Don, As for Putin…What is the saying, Better the Devil you know than….? I suspect most Copts wish for Sadat and Mubarek, and rightly so? And why Christians don’t seem too opposed to Assad? And rightly so? Too bad all nations can’t be more like Switzerland! 😉

      6. Don, Since you brought up Poland and E. Europe. Here is a snippet of info from Wiki on Poland and comparing to Czechs:

        “Currently most Poles, by far, adhere to the Christian faith, with approximately 88% belonging to the Roman Catholic Church and 58% practicing, according to survey by the Centre for Public Opinion Research. … The rates of religious observance are steadily decreasing, although Poland still remains one of the most devoutly religious countries in Europe. … Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of Poles continue to declare themselves Roman Catholic. This is in stark contrast to the otherwise similar neighbouring Czech Republic, which is one of the least religious areas on Earth, with only 19% declaring “they believe there is a God” of any kind.”

      7. Then, Wikipedia is not accurate, I can tell you I have seen other statistics much more in serious Polish newspaper comforting my opinion that still today 70% of Polish people attend Mass regularly on Sunday (to the great dismay of Januzs Palikot, the local anti-clerical figurehead). And “religious observance steadily decreasing” is only wishful thinking from whoever wrote that. Don’t forget that Wikipedia (someone calls it “Conpedia”) is actually written by whoever wishes to!
        I suppose you live in the US. I usually retain from judging US issues (and never base my reflection on what I have read on Wikipedia!) from this side of the pond, because our cultures are not so similar, and it isn’t easy to know what’s really happening on the other side. I suggest you to do the same 🙂

        + pax et bonum

      8. Don, I agree, neither of us lives in Poland. So we are forced to rely on the observations, investigations, research, surveys, and data of others. If you live in UK, is hard to judge continental Europe. As the French, Germans, and others have pointed out over the centuries, it is always hard to tell if Brits are really even Europeans. They live in a mind and state of their own. 😉

      9. I agree with you. But as a Frenchman, living in Paris and traveling all around Europe often, I feel rather able to comment on matters continental!

        + pax et bonum

      10. Don, In today’s Wall Street Journal (USA ed.) there is a story about European demographic figures, as per Vienna Institute of Demography (“Slowing Birthrates Weigh on Europe’s Weak Economies” by P. Kowsmann). The bottom 3 in live births per woman in EU are Grece (1.43), Spain (1.36) and Portugal (1.35). At other end in EU are Dutch (1.76), Finland (1.83) and Ireland (2.05). Replacement rate is 2.1. Interesting data points for this eclectic group of RC, RC/Reformed, Lutheran, and Orthodox nations. Sadly, we all know the general reasons why these figures have declined so dramatically over past century: fewer marriages, later marriages, preference for smaller families, birth control, and abortion.

  3. Don, While my initial thoughts are tied more within Orthodoxy (to the Old Believers and Ukranians), it is sad that the Russian State and ROC act as if they were still in the 17th Century, where the faith of the State/ruler is to be the faith of the people. But I do have some sympathy in light of the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist persecution, decimation, and subordination of the Church. Given time, they’ll eventually make it to the…20th Century? 😉

    1. Michael, I almost believe that this is simply perhaps a byzantine pathology (to grovel before state authorities). The youtube presentation of the Greek Archbishop of the United States, Demetrios, groveling before President Obama and calling the world’s foremost supporter of abortion on demand up to the moment of birth the “New Alexander” was, well, sickening.

      1. Dale, The relationship between the Church/Religion and the State has been problematic in both Christianity and Islam for a very, very long time and across the spectrum of faith groups and denominations. (Assad’s Syrian Alawite Islamic minority has been State dominated and vis-versa for how many decades now? See even pre-Islamic Persia and its Zoroastrian State religion.)

        Orthodoxy isn’t alone in having a powerful State want to use us for its purposes. Thankfully even though we often are the State’s ally, we have yet to succumb to state intervention in matters of faith and dogma. You could compare us to Lutherans in Germany and Scandanavia. (I’m thankful that the Swedish Church disestablished a while back and the Norwegian Church is in the process. And we all know about the CofE’s history.) Sadly, in those State Churches, the State has had significant direct control of faith, dogma, and worship. And dictators like Francisco Franco and Mussolini were more than willing to use the RC Church and vice versa, though not for dogmatic purposes.

        I think the pathology (which is both western & eastern and Christian & non-Christian) is always initially from the State, which wants to use people and institutions for its purposes, toward the Church.

      2. Michael, the Russian state (under the Tzars) actually destroyed the Russian Patriarchate so that it would not present a rival to the power of the state. The Russian state also changed the marriage ceremony as well; in the traditional ceremony crowns are placed upon the heads of the couple being married,this was forbidden by the Russian Tzar, because only the Tzar may wear a crown; and even today in the Russian tradition the crowns are held above the heads of the couple, but not placed upon their heads. I would posit that the state, especially during the Byzantine times, did indeed have a direct affect upon church tradition…especially liturgical.

      3. Dale, As the Lutherans say, you’re focusing on non-essentials, adiaphora. These are non-dogmatic things. The specifics of crowns vis-a-vis weddings. And tradition is not Tradition. Compare what the German princes and Scandanavian kings did to Lutheranism in their lands. Or various kings, queens, and parliaments and the CofE. Or even look at what the secular French state says about marriage; thinking everyone has to get a civil wedding.

        The final destruction of the Czars, their royal lines, and even the idea of monarchy in Russia is probably…punishment enough for their foolishness in regard to the Church? The Czars knew that the Church prayed for them and they were in need of prayer!

      4. Dale, Do keep in mind that it didn’t lead to the end of the ROC, there was no issue with various candidates presuming to be Patriarch (compare to late Middle Ages when upwards of 3 popes battled simultaneously to be seen as the one true pope and a council had to decide the question), and the ROC has a Patriarch today. I think it reminds us all how conciliar the Orthodox Church is and is mean to be. Patriarchs do not make dogma and are clearly not superior to an Ecumenical Council. Sure, it was a sad situation and one the Church should’ve worked harder both to prevent and end, but no matters of faith integral to Christian Orthodoxy were changed.

      5. Michael, I think that this is not really viable; plus, there are indeed at least two Patriarchs of Moscow, one is Russian novus ordo, supported by the state, and there is also an old rite one, not supported by the state.

        I would venture to say that when a government can tell people how to make the sign of the cross…need one say more?

      6. Dale, How or if someone makes the sign of the cross is not a dogmatic issue. Western & Eastern Christians already do this differently. Doesn’t make either better or wrong. I know sincere Christians who rarely make the sign and others who don’t at all. Is entirely up to the individual conscience. So like wedding crowns, it isn’t dogma or a matter of faith.

      7. Actually, eastern and western Christian both make the sign of the cross in the same manner, from left to right; only the Byzantines use a right to left sign of the cross.

        And if you think that the Byzantines do not believe that how one makes the sign of the cross does not matter, you obviously have not been around too much.

        One of the demands even of the very small, bait and switch western rite of your denomination demands the modern byzantine form. Pretending that it is the ancient manner!

      8. Oh, yes, I’ve noticed this: in Armenian (Oriental Orthodox) churches, they usually cross from left to right. Sometimes they’d have an extra return to the left, or to the chest.

  4. Michel Frost writes:-

    ” If you live in UK, is hard to judge continental Europe. As the French, Germans, and others have pointed out over the centuries, it is always hard to tell if Brits are really even Europeans. They live in a mind and state of their own”

    Well, we have certaily been forming our ideas about other European Nations (and vice versa) for a considerable time and over the last 1,000 years or so the pace of learning has quckened as the Grand Tour (from about 1600 onwards) gave way to the railways and the Cook’s tour and then from the 1950’s onwards we’ve had the package tour.- and now we have Easyjet, Ryanair and the like making it possible to go from London to somewhere like Athens for about £50 each way.

    Of course there are stereotype views: one is that Heaven in Europe is where the English are the policemen, the French are the cooks, the German are the mechanics, the Italians are the lovers and the Swiss organize everything.

    Wihin the EU all EU citizens can vote in the municipal elections for the place where they live and I know one small Spanish town on the Costa del Sol where the municipal Junta is truly multinational. A German oversees the municipal bus service, a Swede looks after the day nurseries and other social services, a Brit does someithing useful and the two Spanish members organise the fiestas – that’s getting pretty near to municipal heaven.

    Personally, I find it far harder to understand North Americans – or at least the US variety. For a start, they have no history worth talking about to guide one. Then, of course, its hard to understand the US attachment to its disfunctional constitution, its disfunctional legislature, its disfunctional judiciary and its disfunctional executive, its disfunctiional gun culture and, indeed its 57+ varieties of Christianity. Not to mention Americal Football which as a sport seeks rather akin to watching paint dry.

    Perhaps it’s the consequence of being a “melting pot” – that all the worst traits of every country which has sent emigrants to the USA have melded into that strange being, the US citizen who speaks Murkin rather than English and seeks to make up for being late for World Wars I and II by being rather overkeen to start World War III.

    But of course, that’s a caricature too!

    1. I am an American citizen, and I agree. We like to make the excuse that “It’s a Grand Experiment” but when the government is promising us all sorts of things with a $16,000,0000,000,000.00 debt, and my generation and future generations can’t do a thing about it…. The experiment’s about over.

      I may say that legally, I am an American citizen, but I certainly don’t feel patriotic. I feel like a foreigner. There’s no such thing as an “American race” or “Ethnic American.” Waving those tiny American flags and wearing those U.S. Flag lapel pins don’t make you a patriot. So what does it mean for a foreigner to assimilate into “American Culture”? Watching football? The amount of excitement over football is absurd. What’s the difference between one group of people doing something with a ball and another group of people doing something with a slightly different-shaped ball? And the salaries of those players are ABSURD. SO I don’t think those qualify in making one “American”; so is it the “Can-do” attitude? Paying taxes? Voting?

      What’s there to be patriotic about in America? A lot of the “American Historical Sites” are in the East Coast. I live in Los Angeles, and prior to that, Manila; Both cities have been associated more with Hispanic History, Culture and Religion- am I to say that I left Manila, so I can be an American Patriot in Los Angeles? I’d like to be honest. My family went to the United States because the Philippines is a sewer. Nevermind the obnoxious, bombastic proclamations of “Pinoy Pride”- it’s mostly hot air we use to inflate ourselves from the 3rd-rate nation that we are. It’s a cesspool in almost everything, even in religion, except the honest, sincere good will of its people and their willingness to be hospitable until it hurts. (When they aren’t trying to steal or kidnap you for ransom, I guess?) And as far as I could tell, Americans can be good-natured and large-hearted as well but that’s only true as far as people could -afford- to be large-hearted. The dark side of freedom and individualism is the brutality an individual has to exercise to be both free and individual. It’s like Ayn Rand’s utopia.

      We didn’t come to the United States because we “love” the U.S.- we came to the U.S. for self-serving reasons. I imagine, many immigrants did so as well. Hence, the irritation of “Native Americans” towards immigrants. But it’s pointless now. So many people had hopes for the United States, and what we have now is some sort of… thing…. that apparently, half the country doesn’t like.

      I have no roots here. My family branch would probably die out here; I am unwed, and I have no prospect of being able to buy a home. America, if Los Angeles is a proper microcosm of the United States, is not a single country, but enclaves of different insulated cultures, ethnic groups, ideologies, world views, religion, and so forth. I live in an area where people can speak Korean and not have to utter a word of English for the rest of their lives; I live in an area where families of Mexican-Americans have the Mexican flag outside their houses, and can boldly talk about “reconquering” Los Angeles and a large part of the western United States. We can excuse this as being “Cosmopolitan” but the truth is, there is nothing that unites people by the things which make them different from one another. We can try to get along despite our differences, like how it ends with many movies, but usually, these efforts will decay into conflict, because that’s fallen human nature. If there’s anything in history worth comparing the United States with, it would probably be The Tower of Babel.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. A very good friend of mine, French, stated that America is akin to the Titanic, it is sinking slow enough that no one notices…the only difference is that the final music on the Titanic was most likely worth listening to.

    2. Mourad, I do hope you noticed the winking smiley face that was immediately after the sentence: “…it is always hard to tell if Brits are really even Europeans. They live in a mind and state of their own. 😉 ” It was said very tongue in cheek! I love the UK and the Brits, I love to study their history, religion, and culture. My daughter is there right now, spending a month with her fiancee who is attending the University of Essex. 🙂

      1. When I was younger and more ignorant, I would have been joyful and optimistic about “Melting pots” and now that I’m older and wiser… I figured that too much ingredients to any food makes it inedible.

        Now, some interactions between two different peoples can be good. But if human history is reliable, interaction between different peoples are usually filled with conflict. So when it’s 500 different cultures simultaneously crammed together running on the assumption that “We’re all the same.”- that’s how you get societal disintegration at many levels. Even genocide. Usually, when two or three peoples get along together successfully, it would give birth to a new people, a sort of “Ethnogenesis” but that phenomenon takes place over thousands of years, when cultures start to mingle, usually out of necessity.

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