April 15, 2011
The Russian Orthodox Church warns believers against focusing too much attention on material matters.
"I happened to visit palaces in full feather and wander about slums in a ragged cassock. I am sure that the Church accepts both. We should not focus too much attention on either of the above," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin states in his answer to journalist Ivan Semenov.
Semenov has published an open letter calling Father Vsevolod to offer his apologies for his public address where he asserted that the members of clergy have the right to wear expensive things as such things emphasize the social prestige of the Church.
In his answer, Father Vsevolod stressed that "if Christians endlessly discourse on the "glamour and misery" of clothes and watches, it is a sign of their spiritual disorder. Or envy. Or an undying quasi-dissident habit to curse everything which is strong, expensive and powerful."
He recalled that ancient Christian hierarchs and almost all archpriests of the Russian Orthodox Church had owned palaces equal or almost equal to the mansions of tsars and the "relevant chariots". Thus, St. John of Kronstadt was wearing silk cassocks and travelled by his own ship, and Christ visited dinners at homes of people who today's intellectuals could call "not worth a hand-shake."
"What a horrible thing for intellectuals used to dissident kitchen discussions! What a shame for those who love the Church to be weak, not appearing on TV screens, dressed in ragged cassocks, huddling in shelters inaccessible to 'wicked cameras' behind rickety fences of dilapidated churches. Here's God's grace - no Mercedeses, no flash-lights, no gilded icon stands and no 'not-worth-a-handshake' sponsors."
According to him, it becomes the Russian Orthodox Church to own "modern and impressive buildings, beautiful cassocks and gilded icon stands (which shall not mean gaudy); and sufficient signs of material well-being to be able to talk on equal terms with those who 'tell a book by its cover' and sometimes try to negotiate from strength falling back on their wealth and influence."