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    » 07/08/2013, 00.00

    RUSSIA

    For Moscow Patriarchate, living in poverty is a danger for clergy

    Nina Achmatova

    Archpriest Chaplin calls on believers to avoid the trap of secular forces who want to lower the social status of the priests through appeals to poverty in order to turn them into social outcasts, something that is happening "among Catholics".

    Moscow (AsiaNews) - Excess wealth, as well as the extreme poverty among the clergy should be viewed as both bad for the Russian Orthodox Church, this according to Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Coordinating Church and Society. He spoke as the controversy over the lifestyle of Russia's Church hierarchy heated up following a series of accidents involving clergymen driving luxury cars.

    "Of course, most emphatically, the clergy mustn't succumb to the consumerist notion that we see today," Chaplin said at a public meeting on the public perception of the Russian Orthodox Church's image in society.

    "Affluence and access to material goods can cause stratification within the clergy, dividing them into rich and poor. This is very bad," he warned. Indeed, ordinary people "internally rebel when they see an affluent clergyman", he added.

    At the same time, however, Chaplin doesn't believe that "it's beneficial to the Church if the clergy become marginalised outcasts". This might lead to the "diminution of the clergy's status" as is the case among Catholics and Protestants, due to the fact that "secular forces squeezed them out and made them social outcasts."

    "The same thing could happen with us... . It'll drive priests crazy or force them into the labour market if we allow the notion that clergy should live in miserable poverty to settle amongst us."

    "In Russia, Greece and all Orthodox territory," he explained, "priests had a standard of living usually slightly higher than the average of the working class."

    According to Chaplin, a priest living in need constantly forced to beg brings "shame to his flock and to the community of the faithful."

    The meeting, held last Friday, also saw the presentation of survey results from the independent 'Sreda' centre indicating that most Russians believe that the Orthodox clergy lives in luxury and that they would prefer to see their priests more open to their fellow man, and less attached to material things.

    On Saturday, a day after Chaplin spoke, Pope Francis told a meeting of thousands of seminarians from around the world that "It really hurts, I tell you, when I see a priest or a nun in the latest model car. That cannot be!"

    There are, within the Orthodox Church hierarchy, growing fears that the 'lifestyle' of the clergy might be to the Patriarchate what the paedophile clergy issue is to the Vatican, anonymous sources told AsiaNews.

    Still, Pope Francis's calls for a more sober lifestyle have appeal in Russia.  After he was elected many in media wondered when Patriarch Kirill might pronounce similar words.

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    See also

    13/01/2016 RUSSIA
    Archpriest Chaplin censored by Russian media since dismissal
    The former head of the Synodal Department for Relations between the Orthodox Church and Society, dismissed in December over alleged disagreements with the Patriarch, denounces he no longer finds space in the press; for years he was the spokesman of the most intransigent positions taken by the Patriarchate.

    31/07/2014 RUSSIA - UNITED STATES
    For Orthodox Church, Moscow can do what it wants in state-religion relations
    Speaking about the US State Department report on international religious freedom, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, said "We have the right to create our model."

    28/03/2008 RUSSIA
    Moscow Patriarchate to “monitor” Catholic orphanages
    The decision comes at the end of a meeting by a joint working group on problems between the two Churches. The Patriarchate wants to keep an eye on Orthodox children who live in Catholic institutions. This however has been the rule for years. Once again silence prevails on other, more important issues.

    09/06/2012 RUSSIA
    Moscow Patriarchate accused of turning cathedral into shopping mall
    The accusation comes from an NGO, the Consumer Rights Protection Society, which claims that the Patriarchate is running businesses from inside Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

    19/04/2006 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    High-level Vatican delegation in Moscow for religious summit, Catholics free, says nuncio
    In an interview with Russian-state news agency Interfax, Mgr Mennini, nuncio in Russia, talks about cooperation with the Orthodox Church. Catholics face no external obstructions in the country.



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