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Patriarc Kirill "silences" critical voices within the ROC

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
      http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Patriarch-Kirill-silences-critical-voices-within-the-Russian-Church-26962.html 01/25/2013 11:20 RUSSIA Patriarch Kirill
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2013
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      http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Patriarch-Kirill-silences-critical-voices-within-the-Russian-Church-26962.html

      01/25/2013 11:20

      RUSSIA

      Patriarch Kirill
      "silences" critical voices within the Russian Church

      Nina Achmatova

      Ban on talking to
      the press and blogs for priests who "are unable to serve the interests of the
      Church." Kirill asks one of the priests who were in favor of forgiveness to
      Pussy Riot to "avoid giving interviews".


      Moscow (AsiaNews) - A campaign of "targeted silencing" is underway in the
      Russian Orthodox Church against priests who publicly criticize positions taken
      by the Patriarchate. The news has been reported by Russian media, such as Novaya Izvestia newspaper and the Interfax-Religia newsagency,
      who have spoken to the priest Georgi Mitrofanov (see photo), professor at the
      Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Petersburg. Last year, the priest had taken a
      dirfferent stance, compared with Church leaders, to the Pussy Riot case. In
      February, the feminist punk band had staged an anti-Putin performance in the
      Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, attracting the ire of Patriarch Kirill
      who has never been in favor of their release, even though they are both mothers
      of young children. Thanks to that exhibition, two of the five girls are serving
      two years in a labor camp.
       
      As reported by Mitrofanov, the church hierarchy did not like his comments to
      the press, and in November he was asked not to speak with reporters. "Maybe the
      situation will change after Easter," he said. Last spring, the priest had termed
      the Church's reaction to the performance of Pussy Riot "political" and had
      called for their release on bail. At the time the girls were in custody pending
      trial, which in August led to charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious
      hatred." Mitrofanov had suggested, talking to a radio station in St. Petersburg,
      it the Patriarchate set up bail "so that these feminists who have forgotten how
      to be mothers, can return to their children." The priest went further,
      denouncing a widespread "Soviet-style" behavior among the representatives of the
      Russian clergy and had questioned whether, with such uncompromising positions
      towards society, it could raise the authority of the Church in the country.
       
      The press service of the Moscow Patriarchate said that there was no official
      provision against Mitrofanov and that it was only a " private recommendation
      made to him by the Patriarch."

      As Archpriest Vladimir Vigilianskii,
      pastor of St. Basil the Great in the village of Zaitsevo, Moscow region, told Novaya Izvestia in a recent diocesan meeting the Patriarch repeatedly
      stressed that some priests "are incapable" of making statements to the press, so
      it is better to abstain in order to avoid misunderstandings and damage to the
      Church.
       
      Even father Vigilianskii confirmed that an official ban has not been issued,
      but that there are "individual cases". "Priests who blogged too openly about
      Church issues - he said - were asked to close them down."

      In mid-January,
      also, the Diocese of Moscow suspended Father Dmitry Sverdlov, who had defended
      Pussy Riot asking for forgiveness for them. According to the Ria
      Novosti newsagency, the Church has stated that the decision according to
      which Fr. Dmitry can not celebrate mass for at least five years, is not related
      to his position in the case, but an ''absence'' without permission from his
      church.
       
      The Patriarchate's concerns about its image in the media and public opinion
      are mainly related to the thesis of an alleged press campaign underway against
      the Russian Church. On January 20 the controversial documentary "No way" aired,
      broadcast on NTV network, already known for several documentary films made on
      purpose to discredit the political opposition in Russia. The film attempts to
      prove, with hidden cameras and suspect editing, that the attacks on the
      Patriarch - who was the target of press last year over scandals that denounced a
      lavish lifestyle - are the work of forces hostile to the Church, which are
      concentrated in Ukraine.
       
      The documentary, of dubious quality, has attracted critical comments, even
      from many of the faithful. But it is also critical to the reactions of the
      Patriarchate. The journalist Konstantin von Eggert, of radio Kommersant, said responses such as these to alleged attacks on the
      Patriarchate are counterproductive.

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