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    » 08/02/2010, 00.00

    RUSSIA

    A new "army" of young people for the Russian Orthodox Church

    Nina Achmatova

    The Patriarchate finance formation courses for youth leaders for mission "on the streets among the young people, promoting Christian values against the" Western philosophy "of drugs, egotism and moral relativism”. Kirill’s project to modernize the Russian Church or a political move to give the Kremlin a softer version of politicized young Nashi?

    Moscow (AsiaNews) - An "army" of missionary specialists are ready to reconnect young people to religion.  It is a project launched by the Moscow Patriarchate. The aim is to "distance young people from drugs, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity” and organise events to communicate to society the Church's position on contemporary issues, explains Vladimir Batrakov, a former soldier now "enrolled" in the Patriarchate course which since May has involved 100 young members. The campaign promoted by Patriarch Kirill provides training for young adults who will then create youth groups throughout the Russian Federation.

    Since 1991 there has been the "Orthodox Youth” movement in the Russian Orthodox Church, an organization that works primarily with children and adolescents. What differentiates the new youth group is that it is intended to promote, together with religious values, an "anti-Western philosophy”, politics and patriotism.

    Some say the project is linked to Kirill’s "temporal" ambitions, who wants to join the Putin-Medvedev tandem as an ideological leader, while others forecast the failure of the plan due to lack of funds and the difficulty of coordinating the work. Meanwhile, a new group of youth leaders has already made its first appearance at summer camps held in June by the openly pro-Kremlin Nashi youth movement.

    In December Kirill stressed, for the first time, the need to train leaders for the youth groups at a meeting with the leaders of the clergy. On that occasion he spoke of the importance of addressing young people in a society full of "moral relativism", "permeated by the cult of hedonism and personal success." The first step was the organisation of classes by the Synodal Department for Youth Affairs and the Patriarch's Center for Spiritual Growth of Children and Youth.

    The courses, says Yulia Pavlyuchenkova - Deputy Head of the Synodal Department for Religious Affairs - give future leaders the ability to divert young people from "so-called European values” promoted by the mass media such as, free love, irresponsibility and egoism, which she said lead young people to drug abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity, early pregnancy and even imprisonment.

    The future youth leaders are trained to " street missionary activity" by Boris Yakemenko, leader of the Orthodox wing of the Nashi youth group. Yakemenko said the youth leaders needed to understand that they had to “go out onto the streets to find young people, rather than waiting for them to come to church”.

    The Church is funding the course and the work of youth leaders with money from the parishes and sponsors. The cost of a group of 30 to 70 people is about 300 thousand rubbles (7,600 Euros). There are more than 14,000 Orthodox churches in the country, but Pavlyuchenkova could not say whether every one of them will ever get its own youth leader.

    Nikolai Mitrokhin, a researcher at the University of Bremen and financial expert of the Russian Orthodox Church, believes the effort economically unsustainable for the Patriarchate. He also notes that the Church is divided on an ideological level and this makes it impossible to standardize the ideals to be promoted among young people nationwide. However, he is not convinced that this is just an image boosting campaign for the Patriarchate, "Kirill is a mass media person who voices ideas for the church's modernization that are in tune with the times," Mitrokhin concludes. "The state needs less aggressive variants of Nashi".

     

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    See also

    09/10/2009 RUSSIA
    Journalist criticises those who miss the end of the USSR, they call for his expulsion from Russia
    Alexsandr Podrabinek is threatened by pro-Putin youth movement Nashi. His is one of the many cases showing an attempt to rehabilitate the figure of Stalin and the Soviet regime. The operation involves the Kremlin and concerns the Russian Orthodox Church.

    07/02/2011 RUSSIA
    Media accuse Patriarch Kirill of being state official
    President Medvedev addresses close of the Council of Russian Orthodox bishops. Debate continues in the media about the growing cooperation between church and state in Russia. Priests invited to stand for election in "exceptional cases".

    07/01/2011 RUSSIA
    Russian Orthodox Christmas: silence on martyrdom, a call to patriotic values
    In his homily the Patriarch makes no reference to the persecution of Christians, the call to prayer for "national unity" and the "homeland". President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin present.

    05/08/2010 RUSSIA
    Russian Orthodox Church to help fight against forest fires as Putin’s responsibilities emerge
    Patriarch Kirill urges the faithful to pray for rain and provide help to victims. At least 40 people have died so far and 650,000 hectares have been devastated. Moscow is wrapped by a thick cloud of smoke. Peat bogs are complicating the situation. Drained in Soviet times, they now burn easily. Forest guards cut by 75 per cent under Putin.

    18/01/2012 RUSSIA
    Former oligarch appeals to the Patriarch for regime change in Russia
    From London, Berezovsky Kirill writes, but the Orthodox Church sarcastically rejects the proposal of a sworn enemy of Putin.



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