Chairman of the Synodal Information Department Vladimir Legoyda in his interview to the Interfax-Religion correspondent Yelena Zhosul analyzes first results of Patriarch Kirill's frequent public meetings, especially with young people and justifies "moderate" church PR.
- Patriarch Kirill focuses on the dialogue with "crowds" of his parishioners and his frequent speeches at the stadiums, meetings with people whenever he goes on pastoral visit proved it. Is there any positive outcome from such widescale dialogues with the audience? What aftereffects are desirable for the Church and how have they shown up for the recent year?
- I believe today it's too early to sum it up. The sermon is not aimed at instantaneous effect, though it sometimes happens. Its results can't be measured in "quantity" at the expense of "quality." Even if the word is spoken to thousands of people it should reach everyone's heart.
Though, I can't help mentioning that even now we see certain effect proving that such meetings are not in vain. For example, last year His Holiness the Patriarch spoke in St. Petersburg Ice Palace and then local priests saw more young people coming to churches. It means the first impulse was received and influenced them. After the recent meeting in Petrozavodsk, it was clear that people didn't let the Patriarch go, they were ready to listen to him again and again. I think the reasons are evident: there were many not enchurched people who came to listen to him out of interest or just for fun. However, it resulted in a serious talk on important issues. No one speaks to the majority of people like this.
Certainly, such sermons are not enough. Every day, laborious spiritual work is needed. But we should keep in mind that the Church is carrying out this work. Besides, we should keep in mind that the Patriarch's ministry goes beyond such stadium speeches. Unfortunately, when His Holiness goes to an orphanage or a shelter for homeless as it happens on Easter and other feasts, journalists don't show much interest in such events. It's a pity.
- Church's task today is to increase its authority in information field, first of all, in secular media. Is the Moscow Patriarchate going to open up principally new, top methods of information work? What niches seem most attractive, profitable and open for work?
- The Church should surely change the current situation when it often has to post factum react to certain critics or sometimes just respond to groundless attacks against it. We have a lot of positive events we want to tell about.
Why church charities are mentioned so rarely? Thousands of Orthodox people in our country show deep devotion in serving others. We need to talk about it. It is true Christianity and we have to urge everyone to join it.
- Can we talk about such thing as church PR? Some people stand for analyzing it and professionally working on it, while others decisively reject even the need of the Church in PR. What do you think about it?
- Let's negotiate the terms. If we say that PR is just professional coverage of Church work then certainly such work is needed, and it's already underway. Even more so, whether we like it or not, today the Church is under information pressure and its initiators seldom observe the rules and seldom reject "black" technologies. To oppose them, professional and effective work of experts is needed or otherwise the Church will sink in flows of lie and dirt.
However if saying PR we mean "promotion" of some image, then I don't think it's appropriate to refer this term to the Church.
The Church is the bearer of the Truth and the Truth, Christ, doesn't need image. Moreover, rules of Christian sermon differ from, for instance, commercial ads.