Metropolitan Hilarion: the headlines often create a false image of the Church

© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich in fotobanka of the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion of VolokolamskMetropolitan Hilarion: the headlines often create a false image of the Church© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich the image Bank

The head of the Department for external Church relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, August 19, marks the 30th anniversary of his ecclesiastical activities. In an interview with RIA Novosti, he spoke about «small and large» miracles in his life, influenced by «the atmosphere of Western countries» while serving abroad, the visit to Moscow of Secretary of state of the Vatican Pietro parolin, the fate of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and also shared his thoughts on the work of secular mass media with religious themes.

— Transformation is a special occasion. It reminds you of that divine light which was manifested to the disciples on mount Tabor. When we do Liturgy, we go up to your favor and join this getvarname light. I am immensely grateful to God that for 30 years have the opportunity to stand before the Throne of God and to serve the Liturgy.

Miracles were many — both minor and major. Feel that Lord leads to life, teaches and instructs, through various life circumstances. Every day is a miracle. And a lot of such miracles, which would not be visible. For example, when you see the transformation of the human soul because of his involvement in Church life, communion, prayer. It’s a miracle we, the priests observed constantly and rejoice in him.

Three years ago his Holiness the Patriarch at the session of the Supreme Church Council raised the issue of having to update the entire corpus of textbooks for the bachelor of theological schools. I was asked to chair the working group on the implementation of this ambitious project, involving writing at least 60 of the new textbooks as author and group. Almost simultaneously we «started» about 15 projects, each of which was either found by the author or assembled the team of authors. In total currently the project has about 100 people.

When I was offered the plan of a textbook on the New Testament, I realized that the alleged group of authors has in mind restrict itself to modern scientific theories concerning the gospel text, but not to engage in commenting on the text. I want our students first of all read the text of the gospel, guided it, knew the differences between the narratives of the four evangelists, and be able to compare them. In the end I took up the pen and began to write. The material began to grow rapidly, and the result of three years of work, these six volumes. Of them and compiled books on the Four Gospels.

The text of the first volume of the textbook, based on the first two volumes of the series, has been read and approved by his Holiness, and then upon release of the book in the light — presented by me at the Supreme Church Council. The second volume he dedicated to the miracles and parables of Jesus is Holy. On the third working.

What have you been influenced by the life and Ministry in England and Austria — the countries where it is very strongly expressed a European desire to «democratize» religious traditions. How serious a challenge to the modern Orthodox person is a long stay in such an atmosphere?

— I can’t say that the atmosphere of the Western countries as have had any effect on me. I have always lived in my own world that’s driven by a rhythm of feasts and related worship, many assigned to me by the Church obediences and the theological work that I am doing almost continuously for all the years of his priestly service.

— 20 days of August, Moscow will be visited by the Vatican’s Secretary of state Pietro Parolin. What you, as the head of the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate expect from this visit? What topics are on the agenda? Is it possible in the near future the visit of Pope Francis in Russia and Patriarch Kirill in the Vatican?

Yet such exchanges of high visits are planned.

We still have a long way to implement all that was planned for the historic meeting of Pope and Patriarch in Havana. Of course, conversations with cardinal Parolin will focus on this.

We have an extensive list of topics that we discuss at every meeting. Is the protection of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, whose situation remains dire. This is the situation in Ukraine, where continuing atrocities of dissenters, of exciting our churches, where he is preparing the adoption of discriminatory bills against the canonical Orthodox Church there are different forces, including the Uniates. It and protection of traditional family values and more.

— In light of recent major success of the government troops in Syria and Iraq can we hope that the Christian population in this region still persist? What is your prediction?

— We heartily wish the restoration of peace in the troubled Syrian soil, pray and do everything we can to make it happen. And we must do everything to preserve the Christian presence in the region where Christianity was born.

The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly appealed to the Constantinople Patriarchate with a request to recognize the «autocephaly» of the Ukrainian Church, its independence from the Moscow Patriarchate. While no official response from Constantinople no. You know something about his position — maybe from some personal meetings? And how do you assess the prospects of Orthodoxy in Ukraine?

— Believe that the schism will be overcome and that the Ukrainian Orthodoxy will be United. But only the overcoming of the split can not occur by absorption of the canonical Church by the schismatics, as now offered by some Ukrainian politicians.

The return from split is only possible through repentance. And the unified Ukrainian Church does not need to create it already exists, and its canonicity recognized by all local Orthodox churches, while the canonicity of dissenters is not recognized by anyone.

His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has repeatedly spoken out in support of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, stressed that he recognizes his Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry the Primate of the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine. And I have no doubt that the Patriarchate of Constantinople will continue to take this position. And it cannot be otherwise, because we have a single family of Orthodox churches. And if one Church happens to be split, then all the other churches perceive it as a split.

You’re the Chairman of the editorial Board of «Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate» and often in the secular media. What challenges, in your opinion, facing the media, working with religious themes?

It is important that media do not distort — deliberately or unconsciously — what they say the Church hierarchy. Unfortunately, lately we see more and more often. The result is a wrong, false image of the Church. And then there are headlines like «Russian Orthodox Church calls for ban on…», «ROC requires a ban…» and so on. Read the material — no calls to ban no, at best you thinking about what is good and what is bad. But biting the header is doing its job. Let’s not forget that many people today read only the headlines, not read the contents of this publication.

Here is a recent example from my practice. I was asked in the program «Church and world», what advice would I give parents who want to send children to study abroad. I said literally the following: «It is very nice to children, boys and girls studied abroad. I studied two years at Oxford University, for me, in terms of scientific development gave much more than previous years of study at the Moscow theological Seminary and Academy and prior years, when I engaged myself in books, textbooks, for various benefits». Then I said that we in the Church are also regularly sent abroad for our students to learn and accept students from abroad, we even have a Commission for educational exchange.

At the same time I pointed out the inevitable drawbacks — namely, that if we sent abroad students don’t return and stay there, then it is for the country is not very good, because we thus lose people. In this context, it is also said about the risk posed by sending children to study abroad: «When I was approached with such questions, and I am often treated, I always try to present the situation in a comprehensive manner. If there is a risk that the child will receive and then he will not return, I would certainly not advise parents to send these children abroad».

That one phrase was enough to fell the headings: «the Russian Orthodox Church are advised not to send children to study abroad,» «the Russian Orthodox Church announced the dangers of studying abroad», «Otuchivshis in Oxford, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church said about the dangers of studying abroad» and so on. Everything I said about the benefits of study abroad, just ignored, and one sentence regarding the risks caused a flurry of comments. And now the first Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on education and science from the Communist party Oleg Smolin, as if answering me, said, that the introduction of any restrictions on sending children to study abroad is inefficient and would be contrary to the Constitution of Russia. And he adds: «there is No Church hierarchy can’t change the Constitution and existing laws». What does the Constitution do? Who said anything about legislation, restrictions and prohibitions?

Could cite many other similar examples, when you send one signal, and it is thus refracted in the media that the output is a completely different tone. I would really like to see some media more attentive to the quality of information they submit.