The sacred bishops ‘ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted a resolution governing standards for permissible statements for priests in the media and on social networks.
The Council of bishops draws the attention of the diocesan bishops to the need for active and responsible interaction with the media, and much of the congregation uses social media, according to the ruling.
It is important that the clergy testified of Christ, “by supporting and explaining the Church’s position on socially significant issues,” according to the ruling. Avoid claims that are “likely to introduce confusion into the midst of believers and to influence the formulation of inadequate perception of the position of the secular society”.
Public statements of the clergy in the information space, “does not correspond to the facts not proved in the case of receiving the complaint” must be seen “within the existing ecclesiastical legal institutions and evaluated in the norms of Canon law”, summarized in the decree.
At present time for priests as the punishment provided for the deprivation of a dignity and a ban or suspension from service.
The clergy in social networks
The best-known clergy in social networks and media outlets speaking out against the official position of the ROC, are Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev and former head of the Synodal Department for Church and society Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin.
Chaplin after the removal in 2015, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and society gave several interviews in which he explained his resignation by disagreement with the official position of the Patriarch. Later, he made accusations against first Deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin, stating that “Volodin and Solodinina — dangerous for Russia things” and that the official “is not able to respond to moral charges, which are say on the Internet”. In January, Chaplin has published a petition on Change.org for the right of communities to choose clerics.
Kuraev writes a blog in “LiveJournal”. In 2012 he acted in defense of the band Pussy Riot, whose members were convicted for the dance in the Temple of Christ the Savior. In 2013, after the dismissal of the Moscow theological Academy, he wrote the text under the heading “the Triumph of the gay lobby” and devoted a series of publications on the problem of homosexuality and pedophilia in the ROC.
Known for his sayings and Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, who called homosexuality “a manifestation of Satanism” and artificial insemination — “interference in the Affairs of God.” Famous priest and his sermons, many of which are available on YouTube.
“I wouldn’t want to talk about specific names that are on everyone’s lips and naturally raise the question, due to its loud statements, — said the press Secretary of Patriarch, priest Alexander Volkov. — This regulation is aimed at preserving the purity and integrity of the Church. But if necessary it can be applied against those specific people.”
Chaplin in conversation with has expressed the hope that the ROC will not punish the clergy for criticism. “I hope we will not have amplified the trend, according to which the clergy are less and less able to Express their opinion. I don’t mean not some unproven allegations or rumors. But calls for change and criticism should take place, including criticism of wrong things in Church management,” said Chaplin.