Archbishop Filaret of Penza and Kuznetsk in his interview to Interfax-Religion commented on the central religious event happened in his Diocese in recent months Ė situation around dug-out hermits who are waiting for the Doomsday.
- Your Eminence, how would you define religious orientation of the dug-out people in the Nikolskoye village?
- I studied reports from the clergy who use to visit these places and talk with these people and I wouldnít call Pyotr Kuznetsovís followers cultists or sect members. Itís not correct.
They are misled people, and the main reason for their conduct is overall post-Soviet religious illiteracy. And inertial atheistic conscience. Unfortunately, itís been very strong in us since the Soviet epoch. Even top-flight people, for example, politicians donít always get the situation clearly. Its depth is downscaled and the basic knowledge of church life is lacking. All the factors work for such people, who can be met in Nikolskoye.
These people read a plenty of booklets and penny papers, knocked ideas of Christís soon advent into their heads and started performing them in life.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, the1st century saint who met Christ during His earthly life said ďNo Church exists without bishops, priests and deacons.Ē If there are no clergymen, there is no Church and people are misled. False religious views combine with religious illiteracy here. It has resulted in a volcano.
- The Penza hermits expressed their attitude to the Russian Orthodox Church more than once...
- Yes, some of them hurry to declare the Church is deprived of Godís grace. What can I reply? Vicious actions and human sins have nothing to do with graceful life of the Church. Itís a barren fig-tree. Letís recall another Gospels parable of the wheat and chaff.
As to reproaches addressed to the Russian Orthodox Church... Our Church survived so many persecutions, torments, blood, destruction of churches and shrines so itís shameful, insulting and unjust to call it graceless. To say so is just the same as to expectorate in the face of those people who didnít betray their faith and their love to the Motherland. Remember Patriarch Tikhon...
- Donít you think that the whole situation with the Penza hermits is a planned scandal action against the Russian Orthodox Church?
- Even more than this, this action is also directed against Russia. Conspiracy is not my term. Rather it is a test the country has been put to.
Letís remember 1990s. Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia told me that the U.S.A. educated 200,000 preachers especially for Russia. I suppose it aims at blowing up centuries-old religious life of Russia. Itís an attempt to divide the Church and separate Godís children from it Ė thatís what we are living through. Itís evident for me.
Who can back up the Penza action? I think it may be some foreign organizations, perhaps, theyíre acting through nonprofit organizations here. They could have found Pyotr Kuznetsov. I wonder if such a simple-minded person as Kuznetsov could have everything planned like this. I donít believe that he could have written those books by himself. All is grabbed up, artificial and perfectly mixed.
- It was unofficially reported that one of the cave women died after voluntary strict fasting. Though such severe abstinence is not bound over by the Orthodox canons and even contradicts them.
- It surely does. Holy fathers say we are not body-killers, we are passion-killers. We donít fight against our body, we fight against passions, against human vices and the Lent helps us suppress their development.
People headed by Pyotr Kuznetsov are only a part of iceberg noticed thanks to media. Though there are manifestations invisible for the majority. Representatives of various alien to Orthodoxy currents actively work in Russia and in the Penza region.
I am a ruling bishop and my main task is to keep our people away from their impact.