Moscow, February 1, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia disagrees with claims that the Russian Orthodox Church avoids arguing with the Russian administration on issues that concern society.
"I think these accusations are made by people who want to see the Church be politically oriented organization," the patriarch told Interfax before the 10th anniversary of his enthronement.
Criticism of the authorities is an action that has certain political goals, he said. "When the opposition criticizes the authorities, it is clear that the opposition wants to show people that the current administration is bad and the opposition that criticizes it is good, and the conclusion is simple: vote and support the opposition," the patriarch said.
However, the Church "cannot take this line, it cannot not interact with the authorities," but it "should by no means keep silent when something that, from a spiritual viewpoint, can inflict a lot of damage on people and even the state happens in the country, in society," he said.
In such situations, the Russian Orthodox Church "has never limited" its criticism, the patriarch said.
As an example, Patriarch Kirill referred to the debate between the Church, society, and the state on the issue of abortion, which has lasted for many years.
"I've said so in the State Duma, too. Whenever this issue is addressed, I emphasize the importance of overcoming this, I would say, spiritual illness in our society. And when I say that I realize that a lot of people may even generally agree with me, but they disagree when it comes to real life. So what? Should that make me keep silent? That means I would stop doing the main thing, I would stop telling people's God's truth. And maybe someone will be influenced by my words, babies will be born, and it will make me very happy," the patriarch said.
The Church should not be expected to defend any particular political program or support particular political forces, whether they be pro-government or opposition, he said.
"What is a party? The word 'party' comes from 'part.' Essentially, a party system turns society into parts that have different political orientations. Many people think that's good and right and that it promotes the diversity of human choice," he said.
Patriarch Kirill said he does not support division of people into parties. "It's a given, and if this given exists, let it exist, but it should not divide our people, and most importantly, in such issues on which accord is vitally important to us," he said.
In closing, the patriarch said the Church is trying to influence society to promote accord on the most important issues. "And we will continue doing so, but we will by no means become a political force that serves the interests of some part of our people and our society," the patriarch said.