Today we are witnessing powerful anti-Church rhetoric, which, unfortunately, coincides with Lent. We hear many attacks on the Church, starting with the notorious incident in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior (the so-called “punk prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, 2012 - ed.). This was followed by the horrific desecration of three temples, all concentrated in time, over a week to ten days. After that, as you know, my modest person was also subjected to the spread of false information. Therefore, we are dealing with some kind of information strategy directed against the Church.
Our reaction to all these attacks must be Christian. We should not be like those who lie, slander, and blaze with anger. We do not have to answer in the same way, otherwise, the uniqueness of our message to the world, including through the media, is lost.
On the other hand, in no way should we lose our spiritual sight, not understand what is happening, or accept at face value the stream of lies and slander that is befalling the Church today. We need to think through reasonable answers of which we would never be ashamed. The answers that would not liken us to slanderers, liars, and detractors of the name of God, but clearly testify our calm, firm, thoughtful Christian position and adamant adherence to principles.
No one should confuse the ability of a Christian to use the proper language when entering into polemics with one or another opponent, with an assessment of the strength or weakness of a person defending the Church. That is why we must be spiritually strong and intellectually prepared, especially for open debates. We must remember that very often, by what we say and how we say it, they not only judge the Church, but also use the weak moments of our speeches in order to strike repeatedly at the cause we serve.
Nothing new is happening, especially for the older generation. Maybe young people perceive what is happening as a kind of innovation, but older people remember all this. We remember atheistic articles in which truth was mixed with lies, the name of God was blasphemed, and the clergy were insulted in such a way that many were sometimes surprised: Why, after all that has been said, are clergymen still not imprisoned? This has been very recent, and the fact that this trend continues today testifies that there are no calm times for the Church and those who preach Christ will always be attacked.
Of course, the presence of a wide information channel on the Internet today exacerbates the situation. On the other hand, there is a challenge for us in this, which should give new strength and new impetus to our missionary service, including in the media.
Speech at the meeting of the Supreme Church Council in Moscow, April 3, 2012
Recently, the Church has received many attacks, most often unjust ones. Many people ask the question: how should one react? This is how everyone needs to react: together! If there is the right response at the local level, including involvement of local intelligentsia, the Internet will be filled with positive evidence.
Today, the number of negative materials about the Church on the Internet exceeds the number of positive ones by dozens, maybe even by hundreds of times. Of course, everything is not so simple, because this does not correspond to the general statistics of the ratio of the number of believers to the number of people who are anti-Church. We must; however, oppose the negative in the Internet with a positive and, first of all, a positive that is not artificial, not vulgar, not offensive, but intellectual, creative, constructive, and spiritual. This is the task of our media today.
...Our Orthodox media community at the central and at the local level must clearly understand what the priority is. It must have a taste for news. We do not need to spread some hot news, which is sometimes thrown on purpose, especially in the Internet space, in order to offend someone. I do not know how correct it is to conduct a discussion with those who are not convinced by any arguments. Do not cast your pearls before swine”, says the Lord (Matt. 7:6). This does not mean that we should not respond at a sufficiently high intellectual and cultural level.
Our presence in the life of society and in the media often provokes unfounded criticism. In this case, it is not about ignorance, but about the deliberate denial of the right of believers to defend their position in the public space. This struggle with the Church is not unexpected for Christians. So, we must be spiritually and profession-ally ready to defend the Mother Church, remembering that both in the world and in the media, our enemy is not man, but the enemy of the human race. Fighting with sin by all available means, we should strive not to humiliate, but to correct our opponents. By God’s providence, the enemies of the Church often became preachers of the truth, and we believe that this is also possible in our days. That is why an Orthodox person should speak with dignity in the discussion, realizing that by what he says and how he says it, they will judge his convictions and his religiosity.
I want to say once again: this does not mean avoiding challenges, but our response must be intellectually, spiritually, and culturally an order of magnitude higher than the attacks. Then we will at least be honest before God and before the Church, and then we will leave everything in the hands of God. We must do everything in our power so that the word of God today reaches human hearts, including our ill-wishers.
Speech at the closing ceremony of the 5th International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word”. Moscow, October 31, 2012
If you look more closely at what is being written about the Church today, all the main attacks are based on myths. One myth is about the “fusion” of the Church with the state, the myth of the “clericalization” of our society. The second myth is the “untold riches” of the Church. By the way, both myths were used in the revolutionary struggle at the beginning of the 20th century. This is nothing new. In this respect, our opponents somehow do not think very well - they repeat the same lessons.
Meeting with participants of the 5th International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word” Moscow, October 31, 2012
Today, various sages, philosophers, and politicians appear just as in the old days. Political thought often receives strong financial support today. People, combining political and philosophical views, form the face of modern civilization. We believers see how much in this civilization is dangerous, sinful, and destructive for man.
It’s not our business to criticize secular people, but we can and must compare what they say with the Word of God.
Like Christ, we, the Church, do not speak our own words out of our own wisdom. The Patriarch speaks to you not from himself and does not refer to himself, but to the Lord, to the Word of God kept in the Church. This preservation of the Divine Word we call the Tradition of the Church. This Tradition is the criterion of truth. We impose it on everything that happens to society and man today, and say where truth is, where falsehood is, where sin is, and where holiness is.
In addition, no matter how sin is justified by references to human freedom, to the “correct” forms of political structure, we still say and will say that a sin is a sin. We will speak, bringing an airstrike and criticism on ourselves, challenging powerful people who have money and are able to influence the media to fight us. We speak God’s truth, because we have nothing else. If we begin to speak from ourselves, to adapt to personal tastes, to fashion, to the words of the mighty of this world - no one will need such a Church. People need the Church only because, according to the word of the Apostle, it is a pillar and a confirmation of truth (1 Tim. 3, 15).
Speech after the Divine Liturgy in the Pukhtitsa Stauropigial Monastery, June 15, 2013
Now there is a lot of talk about information wars, in which they often try to involve the Church. For us, this is the same as participating in the struggle for political power, which we have never claimed. Non-participation in these wars however, does not relieve us of the responsibility to uphold the truth, to protect the unfairly offended, to be always ready to give an answer to anyone who requires you to account for our hope (1 Pet., 3, 15). This is what we need to keep in mind when we enter into discussions in the media.
Most importantly, I urge you to remember that society expects us to be an example for the faithful (1 Tim., 4, 12), witnessing the Truth of Christ with our life and personal example. People rightly want us to be examples of virtue, love, and compassion. This gives us a responsibility that we are called to humbly bear. Without faithful-ness to the Christian and to pastoral duty, no media, even the most thoughtful, will bear any fruit.
Report at the Council of Bishops 2013, Moscow, February 2, 2013
Believers today face many challenges. We live in a world where truth is intertwined with lies, where honest and decent slogans are sometimes used to justify evil. Recently, we have witnessed the tragic events in France, where innocent people were killed (the terrorist attack in the editorial office of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, which killed 12 people; the publication previously published cartoons of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad - ed.).
Who does not feel pain in his heart from the killing of these innocent people? At the same time, we cannot help but sympathize with the suffering in other places, where many more innocent people die. First of all, I mean the land of Donetsk and Lugansk, where blood is being shed today. Therefore, the natural feeling that comes to a normal person is the desire to resist what leads to the death of these innocent victims.
However, in the intricacies of this world, even such obvious human feelings as solidarity with innocent victims are woven into a kind of terrible and sinful canvas. How could it be possible to combine in one protest people who sympathize with the victims of terrorism with the protection and justification of terrible sacrileges! I think that almost no one standing in this temple has seen the blasphemous cartoons of the Lord God and the Holy Trinity published in the same edition. These cartoons are even more disgusting and obscene than those that sparked protests among Muslims. So today, when saying “no” to terrorism, murder, and violence, we also say “no” to the desire of certain groups to mock the religious feelings of believers.
I thank God that our people were not tempted by dangerous ideas, allegedly connected with the fact that any disgrace can be done in the name of freedom of human choice. No, because freedom ends where human ugliness, vulgarity, debauchery, destruction of the moral nature of man begins. Talking today about heroism, we are talking, among other things, about the ability of people to live by their own mind, to feed on the sources of moral feeling, and to be able to keep their faith, protecting their neighbors from threats, including those related to terrorism.
Speech on the day of memory of the Martyr Tatiana after the Liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, January 25, 2015