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Metropolitan Hilarion: The Russian Church cherishe…

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Russian Church cherishes the Divine service in that form, in which it inherited it from ancestors

On the 19th of February, 2022, on The Church and the World TV program shown on Saturdays and Sundays on “Rossiya 24”, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR), answered questions fr om the anchor Ekaterina Gracheva

E. Gracheva: Hello! This is the time of the program “The Church and the World” on the TV channel “Rossia 24”, where we talk weekly with the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Hello, Vladyka!

Metropolitan Hilarion: Hello, Catherine! Hello dear brothers and sisters! 

E. Gracheva: Thank God we are not shooting this program in a bomb shelter. The war with Ukraine, despite the forecasts and the date named by the West (February 16), did not start. This week, Joe Biden made an unusual appeal to the Russians, in which he urged not to be afraid of the United States, NATO or Ukraine, and if there is a war, then blame the Russian leadership for everything: they pulled 150,000 troops to the border with Ukraine. It reminded me a little of the propaganda during the Great Patriotic War, when the Germans first threw off the information campaign “do not be afraid of us”, and then they used holey spoons on which it was written: “Ivan, go home, we will come soon.” What reaction, what feeling did this appeal of Joe Biden evoke in you? What was his true purpose?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I cannot comment on the purposes with which the President of the United States addresses the Russian people, but I think that any dialogue under the current circumstances is useful. Dialogue can take many forms. The most important thing is to maintain peace, first of all, peace between Russia and Ukraine. We remember well how the Americans acted in the Middle East, remember the situation in Iraq after their invasion, remember what happened in Libya. I really would not want this to happen again in our historical space.

For us, the people of the Church, for the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other neighboring states are the states where our flock lives. We root for their fate no less than for the fate of Russia. In this regard, of course, this situation is especially painful for the Russian Orthodox Church, because our people are on both sides. Just like when we talk about the Donbass: we know that part of the Donbass belongs to the unrecognized republics of the DPR and LPR, and part belongs to Ukraine. There is a dividing line between them, and our flock lives on both sides. Our bishops have dioceses that have parishes in both places, that is, a bishop, in order to visit the parishes of his diocese, must constantly move across this dividing line. But the problem concerns not only bishops. The problem also concerns ordinary people, many of whom have separated families: part of the family lives on one side, and part on the other. Therefore, the sooner this confrontation stops, the sooner the accumulated problems are resolved, the better.

We pray that the problems will be solved not by military means, but by peaceful means. I really hope that there will be enough wisdom and courage on both sides of the conflict to enter the negotiation process and solve the accumulated problems through negotiations.

E. Gracheva: In light of this, the State Duma supported the appeal to President Putin to recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR. 351 have deputies supported this initiative. For Ukraine, this, as we see, is the most painful issue, and the West, as we also see, cares a lot for the Ukrainian territorial integrity. But it seems that there is simply no other scenario today. Do you think the West will accept the recognition of the DPR and LPR? How will this affect the fate of the Church in the east of the historical part of Ukraine? Will this affect the fate of the church schism?

Metropolitan Hilarion: Of course, the West does not recognize either the DPR or the LPR. With regard to the State Duma, it was rightly said that it expresses the interests of the Russians and is based on public opinion, and it is such that very many people call for the recognition of these republics.

But the President has a special responsibility. The president is responsible not only for order within the country, but is also the guarantor of Russia's security in the international arena. Therefore, he cannot ignore all the factors, and there are a lot of those factors now. I think that the president was absolutely right when he said that the potential of the Minsk agreements, which were achieved with great difficulty, has not yet been exhausted.

E. Gracheva: Let’s talk about the Olympics. For those who did not want to follow what was happening in Beijing: in addition to competitions, medals and victories of our guys, there were nerves, the Sports Arbitration Court, doping charges, non-admissions, and then admissions. For instance, what happened to the poor 15-year-old Kamila Valieva. Have you followed the events in Beijing? The confessor, who went there on a mission, is called upon to spiritually support our team and athletes in such difficult moments. Do you know if he supported athletes and Kamila Valieva in particular?

Metropolitan Hilarion: Of course, I know this. He supported both our athletes in general and individual athletes, in particular, he talked with Kamila Valieva. But when asked, he said that it was a pastoral talk, the contents of which he refused to make public. I think it would be strange if the confessor talked about what he talks about with the athletes.

But the fact that our athletes need spiritual support is quite obvious. The fact that our athletes are heroically fighting for a worthy place for their homeland in the team standings is also quite obvious. Of course, like all Russians, we sincerely cheer for our athletes, rejoice at their successes and mourn their failures. Russia, as in previous years, showed good results. It showed that our athletes are in excellent physical shape, capable of achieving impressive results, and this, of course, is very pleasing. I think that this pleases me, and many church people, and everyone who followed the Olympics and the successes of our athletes.

E. Gracheva: Vladyka, this week there was an important meeting between German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Vladimir Putin. The focus was on the issue of journalists: RT broadcasting in Germany and the work of the Deutsche Welle in our country. As you know, Russia Mirror reacted to the cessation of RT broadcasting in Germany by canceling the accreditation of Deutsche Welle journalists. We were waiting for some kind of breakthrough on February 15th at these negotiations, but at a high level the point on this issue has not yet been set: they optimistically stated that the negotiations would continue. Do you think we will see the work of German journalists Deutsche Welle in Moscow and the work of the RT TV channel in Germany?

Metropolitan Hilarion: We live in an era when freedom of speech is declared everywhere. It is very important that freedom of speech is not only declared, but actually implemented. When a Russian television channel in one country or another is deprived of its license and is not allowed to broadcast, then this is the most direct and obvious violation of freedom of speech. It is quite natural that Russia makes a symmetrical response.

I would very much like to hope that a decision will be made at the interstate level to resume the broadcasting of the Russian TV channel in Germany, because, as I know, tens and hundreds of thousands of not only Russians, but simply Russian-speaking people watch it. I would like to hope that a political solution will be found that will allow our Russian TV channel to continue broadcasting in Germany, and, accordingly, will not require Russia to make a symmetrical response in relation to Deutsche Welle .

E. Gracheva: Vladyka, this week it became known that the Ministry of Culture had suspended the public discussion of the draft decree “On the Approval of the Fundamentals of State Policy for the Preservation and Strengthening of Russian Spiritual and Moral Values.” Filmmakers vehemently spoke out: more than 30 of them signed an appeal to the Minister of Culture with a request to prevent the adoption of this law, and leading theaters, including the chairman of the Union of Theater Workers Alexander Kalyagin, also opposed it. As a member of closed groups of filmmakers, I can say that at some point there was just a viral mailing with a request to vote against this bill. The main concern of scriptwriters, theater and film directors is that from now on it will be forbidden to write any scripts, create works of art, wh ere, say, LGBT people will be the main characters: the scriptwriters who come up with such scripts will be immediately outlawed. Have you read this document? What do you think of it? How did you react to the fact that the Ministry of Culture has rejected it?

Metropolitan Hilarion: Firstly , I would like to say that I love Alexander Kalyagin very much, but I "love him like a woman." You remember, he played in the film "Hello, I'm your aunt." I think that this is a brilliant role, that he played it brilliantly, and in general this is one of my favorite films since childhood.

If we talk about a project that was rejected at his initiative and at the initiative of other representatives of the world of theater and cinematography, then for my part I got acquainted with this project. I know that representatives of the Church sent their feedback on this project, and on the part of the Church, too, there was not so much dissatisfaction with the project, but there were certain hopes. In particular, the question was asked why, when listing the traditional values of the Russian people, such a fundamental value as faith in God, which is even reflected in our Constitution, was not mentioned? The answer of the drafters was that if such a mention is included, then this will be shared by society. I don't know what was meant here, and how faith in God can divide the society.

I think it would be wrong to write off this project completely, because, firstly, our television and film distribution need not censorship, but certain protection, namely, we must protect our people from the propaganda of those “values” which do not correspond to our Constitution, worldview, way of life. Secondly, to define what traditional values are and to come to some kind of public consensus on this issue would in itself be useful, necessary and timely.

We see what "values" are now being implanted in the West. This is LGBT propaganda, non-traditional sexual relations, which has already led, in fact, to the destruction of the institution of the family. After everything that Russia has experienced in its history, after the very recent losses that we have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic and which we continue to bear, we are not at all interested in the fact that families in our country continue to be destroyed due to the propaganda that comes to us from abroad. Therefore, to protect our television and movie viewers is a moral duty of both the state and people of art.

E. Gracheva: Thank you very much, Vladyka, for answering our questions.

Metropolitan Hilarion : Thank you , Ekaterina.

In the second part of the program, Metropolitan Hilarion answered the questions of viewers, received on the website of the Church and the World.

Question: In the Gospel of Matthew I read the line: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 13.9), which puzzled me. Why say obvious and understandable things to everyone: ears - in order to hear, and not for other purposes. However, realizing that these words were spoken by the Savior, I feel that I am mistaken. Vladyka, please explain the meaning of this verse.

Metropolitan Hilarion: Indeed, you are mistaken, because the words that you quoted are a kind of figure of speech, if you like, a rhetorical device, as when we pronounce a phrase, and an exclamation mark is placed after this phrase in a letter. What can an exclamation point mean? It may mean that the person raised his voice, or it may mean that he emphasized some thought.

The Lord Jesus Christ had a very special speech, it was poetic, aphoristic. He very often spoke in some aphorisms, parables. He accompanied His speech with such expressions as, for example, the one that you quoted: "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 13.9). It indicates that what He says should be treated with special attention, because He also said that there are many people who have souls, but do not hear. Like, for example, the Pharisees, who listened to His sermon, but did not respond to it at all. Likewise, the Lord often spoke the words “Truly, I say to you” or “Truly, truly, I say to you” – this was a form by which He emphasized the significance of what He was saying.

Question: I am interested in the question of modern translation of the liturgical language of the Russian Church. In the book The Mystery of Faith, you briefly touch upon this topic, but I am interested in the following: will this issue be discussed at the upcoming Bishops' Council and is it possible at all in the future to resolve it positively?

Metropolitan Hilarion: As far as I know the program of the Council of Bishops, no special discussion of the theme of the liturgical language is planned at it. The topic of liturgical language has been discussed for a long time. The Russian Orthodox Church does not have any projects of translating the entire Liturgy into Russian, because it cherishes the Liturgy in the form in which it inherited it from our ancestors, and this includes the use of the Church Slavonic liturgical language. At the same time, we fully admit that some parts of the service can be heard in Russian, for example, the Gospel or the Apostle.

The most important thing, from the point of view of the Church, is that people understand the meaning of the service, and understanding of the meaning will not come only through the translation of the service into Russian. In order to understand the meaning of the Liturgy, one must get used to it, listen, ponder, one must study not only the Church Slavonic language, but also the conceptual apparatus used by the creators of liturgical texts.

Question: When we baptized our child, the father asked the godparents if their marriage relations were blessed at a chuch, and when he received the answer that the godparents in their families only had registration in the registry office, he demanded that they would make a promise to get married properly. When the godparents promised to do this, the priest added that this promise was not given to him, but to God. I confess that everyone was greatly embarrassed by such a categorical demand of the priest, who does not want to take into account various life circumstances. After all, the decision to get married is made not only by one of the spouses, it is their mutual desire, which is very rare in real life.

Metropolitan Hilarion: Godparents are people who are called to teach the child the basics of the Orthodox faith and Christian morality. And how can people teach the basics of the Orthodox faith if they do not observe the institutions of the Church, do not live according to Church law, and do not follow the rules commanded by the Church? No one forces you to choose certain people as godparents, but if they are godparents and you trust them to raise your children in the Orthodox faith, then, of course, they must comply with certain standards. In accordance with church doctrine, a full-fledged Christian marriage is one that is crowned in the Church. Therefore, we are not talking about the fact that the priest interferes in his personal life or does not take into account any circumstances. We are talking about the fact that the priest took care of the child and that he was brought up in the Orthodox faith by those people who themselves live according to the Orthodox law.

Question: In the program, you often remind viewers of the need for vaccination, and I fully share and support this position of yours. I would like to hear your opinion on the vaccination of children aged 12-17 with the new vaccine Sputnik M, which has begun. Do you think children need to be vaccinated?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I am not a doctor, not a physician, not an epidemiologist. I can only say one thing: the vaccine fights against the virus. Maybe it does not protect completely, not 100 percent, but in some cases - 90 percent, in some - more than 80 percent. I can also say with regret that children are dying from the coronavirus. This is now being written about in the media, and we know this from our pastoral practice. Therefore, unfortunately, children are also not protected from coronavirus, not protected from deaths from coronavirus and from the fact that the disease will be very severe.

They say that "omicron" is a common cold, that everyone gets infected and then gets sick easily. This, unfortunately, is not always the case. Someone carries this virus easily, and someone very hard. In a family I know, a seven-year-old boy contracted the omicron virus: he now has pneumonia and is in the hospital. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

Here is what I can say on this topic. Of course, you can also add that the virus is transmitted not only through adults to adults, but also through children too. Therefore, if children are protected from the virus, then for many of them it will not be superfluous at all, as well as for those adults next to whom they live.

I would like to conclude this transmission with the words of Jesus Christ, which He spoke when He sent His disciples after His resurrection to preach: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).

I wish you all the best. Take care of yourself, your loved ones, your children and may God bless you all.

Service DECR communications


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