2019-09-18 20:05:00

Priests' letter in support of protesters is political declaration - Russian Orthodox Church

Moscow, September 18, Interfax - The statement made by a group of priests from different countries on the people implicated in the "Moscow case" is "an attempt to participate in human rights activities, which has de facto turned into a political declaration," Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, said.

"The Church has the right to grieve and is actively using it, including non-publicly. This is happening through the Department for Church, Society and Media Relations with Society and Mass Media and Orthodox public organizations," Kipshidze told reporters.

On Tuesday, several dozen Russian Orthodox Church priests asked the Russian authorities to revise the court decisions on the imprisonment of some participants in the recent opposition rallies in Moscow. The synodal department found that approach to be selective.

"In Russia, like in any country, including in the countries where the priests who have signed this statement live, there are unjustly convicted people, but when several defendants, who are the best known due to media reports, are selected, that's politics, not grieving," Kipshidze said.

Some provisions of this statement were formed by the political agenda of some secular and Orthodox media that have well-known preferences and they "have little to do with legal defense," he said.

Kipshidze said that these priests "feel the public request for justice and they have tried to satisfy it in the way they could, they are possibly sincerely concerned about the future of the prisoners, regardless of their guilt, people, like any Orthodox Christian."

"However, they should know that one can only try to fight the authorities using political declarations, not to change the world using the principles of Christian truth, but the thing is that the fight against the authorities has never been and will never be a mission of the Church," Kipshidze said.

The clergy is expected to cultivate impartial judges and honest law enforcement officials and lawyers, and "these people may change the world for the better, acting in their plane according to their faith and conscience," he said.

That is exactly what most clergymen of the Russian Church, whose number exceeds 40,000, are doing, Kipshidze said.

"But signing declarations, in which political rhetoric is strangely mixed with scripture, is an easy, but useless path," he said, adding that "it is much more reasonable for these priests to raise money for a good lawyer, who could really help."