On Friday, RF President Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with the hierarchs of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The President said that it is necessary to move away from the vulgar understanding of secularism and promised that religious feeling of believers will be defended. The Russian Orthodox Church priests for their part believe that it is not so much the church as the society itself that needs the new law on the protection of religious feelings.
The authorities and the church in each their speech have demonstrated full solidarity, the Novye Ivzestia daily writes. The Russian Orthodox Church for centuries has supported and unified the Russian people, Putin said. “We must remember that it from the persecution of the Orthodox Church that the destruction of the state began,” said the RF President. To back the words that the state will not allow such things to happen in the future he said that the religious feelings of believers should be protected both by the force of public opinion and by the force of law. “Preventing the governmentalisation of church life, we should get away from the vulgar primitive understanding of the secular notion,” the head of state said.
We very much appreciate the opportunity for dialogue between the church and the state, the Patriarch thanked the authorities. “Without interference in the church life, we cooperate with the government where it is needed,” the Patriarch said. But, according to Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, as it has turned out, this support is not enough. Isn’t the time ripe for equalising in the rights to receive assistance from the state the religious social organisations along with government organisations, asked the Metropolitan.
Although the issue of the protection of religious feelings was not openly discussed with representatives of the ROC Council of Bishops at the meeting with Putin, ROC representatives nevertheless admitted that this issue is one of the most relevant for the church, the newspaper stated. “The new bill on the protection of the feelings of believers is needed,” Bishop Roman of Yakutsk and Lena told the Novye Izvestia newspaper. “But a very careful approach should be taken to this, we should strike a happy medium. Putin has shown respect for Orthodoxy and he has confirmed that he is ready to support our projects.”
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily writes that the President recalled the “lessons of the dramatic events of the early XX century when the destruction of one country, its sliding into revolutions and upheavals, fratricidal conflicts and war was beginning in many ways with the erosion of spiritual and national foundations, with a real persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional faiths.”
It is clear what the Kremlin means, repeatedly referring to the “erosion of the spiritual foundations” and “the destruction and sliding of the country into revolutions and upheavals.” According to the newspaper, first of all the Bolotnaya Square case defendants who are charged with organising mass riots fall into this category.
The defamation law, which allows to bring people to justice for “insulting religious feelings” that was adopted last summer is targeted against “those who erode.” Member of the RF Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) journalist Yelena Masyuk at the first meeting of the current HRC told Putin said that anyone can be put to trial under the new article of the RF Criminal Code.
The place of the ROC in society is determined not at all by the degree of its protection from this society by the state, but by the impeccable reputation of its clergy, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta emphasises. And this reputation is based primarily on moral postulates, of which non-acquisitiveness and mercy have not the least importance. The newspaper recalls that in a speech at the meeting of the ROC Council of Bishops Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill stated that “leniency to the Pussy Riot band members without their repentance can generate in the society a feeling of permissiveness.”