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Metropolitan Hilarion: The Church is doing a&…

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Church is doing a great deal of work on providing assistance to victims of confrontation in Ukraine

On May 8, 2022, on the program "The Church and the World" on the TV channel "Russia 24", the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk answered questions fr om the host Ekaterina Gracheva and viewers.

E. Gracheva: Hello! This is the program "The Church and the World" on the TV channel "Russia 24". Every week we discuss current news with the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Hello, Vladyka!

Metropolitan Hilarion: Hello Ekaterina! Hello dear brothers and sisters!

E. Gracheva: The current news, which is now being discussed by all the media, concerns possible sanctions against the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. The European Union proposes to impose sanctions against him. White House press secretary Jen Psaki does not rule out that sanctions are possible fr om the United States of America. Earlier, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has already spoken out for such a possibility. Let me remind you that the Verkhovna Rada already has the Decree No. 7332, according to which sanctions have been imposed not only against the Patriarch, but also against you. How can you comment on the fact that these restrictions of the West have already reached the non-secular people of the Russian Federation?

Metropolitan Hilarion: Firstly, it was not a draft law that was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, but only a proposal that was made. As for me, I have long been deprived of the right to enter Ukraine. As for His Holiness the Patriarch, I think that no sanctions will prevent him from continuing his activities, which are aimed at consolidating Russian society, at the pastoral care of the entire multi-million flock of the Russian Orthodox Church and at the speedy achievement of peace between the fraternal Slavic peoples.

It must be understood, of course, that in the West the statements of the Patriarch are viewed through the prism of propaganda carried out in the media, and Western politicians cannot adequately assess these statements. Therefore, if they impose sanctions, this, of course, is their right, and we cannot influence this in any way, but these sanctions will not at all affect the life of the Russian Orthodox Church.

E. Gracheva: A question from a viewer: “Dear Metropolitan Hilarion, please tell me, have the sanctions already affected you personally?” For my part, I can only concretize this question, as I see it. If the Patriarch, being in Russia, can perform his immediate functions, then you, as the head of the Department for External Church Relations, the Church Ministry of Foreign Affairs, need direct communication with the leaders of the Local Churches: you must travel, communicate. You are a church diplomat. How do you carry out your functions now?

Metropolitan Hilarion: First , not all countries are closed. There are many countries wh ere you can travel freely, and if necessary, we use this opportunity. Secondly, the opportunities for guests from the Local Orthodox Churches, as well as from non-Orthodox Churches and Christian organizations to come to Russia are not closed. Thirdly, there are many ways to communicate remotely, which are used, among other things, by the Patriarch and other heads of the Churches, that is, now the technical capabilities make it possible to communicate directly without leaving the borders of their country.

E. Gracheva: Here is another important news story from Italy. The Pope gave an interview to Corriere della sera . Speaking about his communication with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Pope commented on the results of the conversation that took place on March 16: “I spoke with Kirill for forty minutes via Zoom . For the first 20 minutes, with a piece of paper in his hand, he read to me all sorts of justifications for the special operation. I listened and said: Brother, I don't understand anything about this. We are shepherds of the same holy people of God and cannot use the language of politics, but only the language of Jesus.” Regarding the meeting with the Patriarch, the Pope said: “We were supposed to meet in Jerusalem on June 14th. This would be our second personal meeting, in no way connected with the events, but now he also agrees: it’s better to hold it, otherwise it may seem as a dubious signal.” How would you comment on this interview with Pope Francis? As head of the Department for External Church Relations, do you agree that now any meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch, even virtual via videoconference, could be perceived as a dubious signal? Why?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I, too, with a piece of paper in my hand, will comment on this issue, since it is very delicate. I must say that the conversation between the Pope and the Patriarch took place on March 16, that is, a month and a half has already passed. We had this conversation protocoled, and after it took place, we did not publish the details of this conversation, because it was not supposed that it would be some kind of a public conversation. But after the Pope presented this conversation in such way, we decided to publish its details. The Patriarch told the Pope something like this: You are receiving certain information from the Western media about what is happening in Ukraine. I will tell you something that you may not know. Then he spoke about the background of the current conflict, about the events in the Donbass in 2014. He especially dwelled on the events in Odessa, which led to mass discontent among the Russian-speaking population and provoked, in turn, the events in the Donbass. Then he spoke about the expansion of NATO to the East: that NATO could reach St. Petersburg within a few minutes of flight time, and if Ukraine joined NATO, then it would reach Moscow with warheads (nuclear or otherwise) at a distance of several minutes of flight time. Finally, he spoke about the most important thing: that his flock is on both sides of the conflict, that his heart aches for what is happening. Approximately in this spirit, the Patriarch stated his vision of the events taking place. To which the Pope replied in the way that the Vatican news service at that time correctly presented.

As a witness and participant in that conversation, I remember well that the atmosphere was very friendly, there was no disagreement between the Pope and the Patriarch or dissatisfaction from one side or another. It was a brotherly conversation. Although, perhaps, the parties remained at their views.

E. Gracheva: Giving an interview to Corriere della sera, Pope Francis says that he called on the Patriarch to speak not the language of politicians, but the language of Jesus. Is it possible in the current acute circumstances, in the context of the special operation taking place in Ukraine, to discuss these events in the language of Jesus?

Metropolitan Hilarion: A pastor always perceives the events taking place from a Christian point of view, through the prism of the Holy Gospel. That is why the assessments given by a pastor always differ from those given by politicians. After all, the scenario of political events and the scenario of military actions are written without the participation of the Church. What the Church can do - she does, first of all, in the area of helping people.

We see what tremendous work the Russian Orthodox Church has launched under the leadership of the Patriarch to help the suffering, primarily to help those refugees who are now on the territory of Russia, and there are already more than a million of them. We see what a huge work the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is doing with internally displaced persons on the territory of Ukraine. We see how the Local Orthodox Churches, in particular in Poland and Romania, respond to the misfortune that befell people who turned out to be refugees, and how they help the refugees. Here, in fact, is the work that the Church can do, must do and is doing in the conditions of political confrontation. And the Church, of course, cannot directly influence the course of negotiations or the course of hostilities.

E. Gracheva: Let's move on to other recent news. The upper house of the parliament of Belarus approved amendments that expand the list of application of the death penalty: according to these amendments, one can be found guilty and face death penalty for an attempted act of terrorism, as well as for the attempted murder of a foreigner, statesman or public figure. We should probably remind our viewers that Belarus today is the only country in Europe wh ere the death penalty has not been abolished. All the events that take place in Belarus at the legislative level are interesting, because Belarus is a state allied with Russia. How would you comment on this initiative of the Upper House of Parliament, the amendments that have already been approved?

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Russian Orthodox Church has an official position on the death penalty, which is expressed in an official document adopted in 2000 - "Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church". The Church can only remind of the responsibility that the judicial and executive bodies bear for the life of every person.

Why is the death penalty dangerous? Because there is always the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. In the history of our vast state, which included Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, in the history of the Soviet Union, there was a period when mass executions were carried out, and then the state had to rehabilitate people who were unjustly executed. The fact is that this rehabilitation cannot help a person who has been deprived of his life. At least one of these factors should make legislators think that a judicial error may occur, as a result of which a person will be unjustly convicted, deprived of life, and then it turns out that it is no longer possible to correct the error.

E. Gracheva: In the United States of America, a whole wave of rallies was held with the participation of stars, US public figures, who protest against the repeal of the 1973 amendment, when women in the States received the right to choose whether they can have an abortion or not. Politika has learned that there was an internal Supreme Court vote to overturn the right to abortion that has been in place in the United States for the past 50 years. If such a decision nevertheless comes into force and the US authorities do not succumb to this protest movement, how would you comment on this truly revolution in the US?

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Orthodox Church welcomes any legislative initiative aimed at preserving human life, and if such a decision is made, we, for our part, will welcome it. But we must understand the following: we are not talking at all about the fact that abortion will be abolished throughout the country, in all states of America. We are talking about the fact that, as it was before 1976, the question of certain legislative measures related to abortion will be taken at the state level, each specific state, that is, it will no longer be within federal jurisdiction, but will again enter the jurisdiction of each particular state. This means that in about half of the states that are the most conservative and vote Republican, abortion will be more or less prohibited, while in the other part of the states it will remain. I think that is most likely what will happen.

The leak was no coincidence, because the Democrats wanted to stir up the public in order to prevent the ratification of this law. And Democrats in America are traditionally pro-abortion. In particular, Mr. Biden, who positions himself as a Catholic but belongs to the Democratic Party, advocates abortion, despite the fact that the Catholic Church opposes it.

E. Gracheva: On May 9, we celebrate the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. This year, celebrations will be held in more than a hundred countries, and parades in our country will be held in 28 cities. The solemn traditional reception, which usually takes place in the Kremlin, has been canceled this year. And how will the Church celebrate this anniversary? What does this day mean for the Church? Has anything changed for the Church in 2022?

Metropolitan Hilarion: From the very first day of the Great Patriotic War, the Church was with its people. Metropolitan Sergius of Moscow and Kolomna was the first to address the people by radio. He did this even before Stalin addressed the people. Moreover, we must remember that in the 20s and 30s the Church was persecuted, it was almost completely destroyed. In Moscow, the Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergius had nothing. He generally lived in another city, but, nevertheless, as soon as the war began, he found a way to get on the radio and record this radio message.

Then, during the entire period of the Great Patriotic War, the Church was very actively involved in helping the front. With the money raised by the Church, a tank column named after Dmitry Donskoy was created. Many clergy were on the front line, helping refugees. Wherever the Church was admitted, she was present. Of course, together with all the people, the Church celebrated Victory Day and continues to celebrate it for 77 years.

What does this celebration mean for the Church? First of all, the commemoration of the departed, because the Church never forgets the price at which this great Victory was achieved. On May 9, memorial services are performed in the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church, because in its prayer life it is precisely the Church that observes the principle that was then formulated: "No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten."

E. Gracheva: Vladyka, and now to the questions of the viewers: “I am very afraid of death. I know that sooner or later this will happen to all of us. A Christian must accept death with humility. I try to live according to the commandments of God, go to church, but the fear of death does not leave me. How can I stop being afraid of dying?

Metropolitan Hilarion: There are different ways to overcome the fear of death in yourself. Usually those people who meet with it face to face are not afraid of death: doctors who perform an operation; people who often see the dying, such as clergy. This happens not because we get used to death, but because we understand that death is the natural end of human life. This is not some tragic accident. It is inevitable, but as Christians we see death as a transition to a better life. On the icon of the Assumption, we see how the Most Holy Theotokos, already dead, just deceased, lies on her bed, Jesus Christ stands next to Her and takes Her soul, depicted as a baby in swaddling clothes, into His arms.

E. Gracheva: Question: “In our society, the topic is often raised that all religious organizations should start paying taxes. How do you personally feel about this and what is the position of our Church on this issue?”

Metropolitan Hilarion: In fact , religious organizations pay a variety of taxes. I don't see why the law needs to be changed in this regard. There are many myths around the Church that the Church is exempt from taxes. We all pay taxes. This also applies to religious and other organizations.

For example, the organization I head, the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. We have several dozen employees, we pay their salaries and we pay all the taxes that any other employer pays in relation to their employees - more than 30 percent in total.

E. Gracheva: Question: “I know that it is necessary to take Communion on an empty stomach. If a person must take medication (obviously, we are talking about taking medication in the morning on an empty stomach), then what to do? Can one not take it before Communion?"

Metropolitan Hilarion: I believe that the fasting communion rule does not apply to medicines. It is about not eating or drinking before taking Communion. Again, if we are talking about pills that need to be washed down, then an exception can also be made here. I think it all depends primarily on the recommendations of doctors. Of course, in this case, you need to consult with the confessor, tell the real situation, so that, on the one hand, not to damage your health, and on the other hand, not to create for yourself unnecessary indulgences.

E. Gracheva: Question: “Why does a clergyman have the right to marry only once?”

Metropolitan Hilarion: First , because Christianity recognizes monogamy as the ideal of married life. The second or third marriage is allowed for the laity only as an exception - for example, if one of the spouses died or when the marriage broke up due to adultery: then the innocent party is allowed to enter into a second marriage.

As for the clergyman, he should be an example for his flock. Therefore, if he entered into marriage, then this can only be one marriage. If something happened, his wife died or the marriage broke up due to adultery, then the clergyman is not allowed to enter into a second marriage precisely because he should be an example for his flock.

In addition to the moral and canonical reason, there is also a pastoral reason. If, for example, a priest serving in a parish has the opportunity to marry one of his parishioners, then imagine for a moment what his church ministry could turn into. Women will approach him, girls will come for confession. He will listen to the confession with his ears, and with his mind he will ask himself: is this girl suitable for the role of my wife? I think that this pastoral consideration was one of the reasons why, at a very early stage, the Church ruled out the possibility for clergymen to marry after ordination, that is, a future clergyman can marry, but after he has become a priest, a deacon, he already cannot marry.

E. Gracheva: Thank you very much, Vladyka, for this conversation.

Metropolitan Hilarion : Thank you , Ekaterina.

I would like to conclude today's show with the words of Jesus Christ from the Gospel: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil." ( Luke 6.35).

I wish you all the best and God bless you all!

DECR communications Service

Minutes of the Holy Synod of 29th May 2022


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill chairs a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church


Patriarchal condolences on the death of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York


Patriarch Kirill: Our flock is both in Russia and Ukraine and we ardently pray for the restoration of peace


Commentary by the Communications Service of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate on the interview given by Pope Francis to the Italian publication Corriere della sera.


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s talk with Primate of Serbian Orthodox Church


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill celebrates Paschal Great Vespers at the Church of Christ the Saviour


Paschal Message of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the archpastors, pastors, deacons, monastics and all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church


Holy Synod members discuss the issue of rendering aid to refugees and suffering civilians in Ukraine


Holy Synod considers it important that the Russian Church’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine be brought to notice of the heads of non-Orthodox Churches and inter-Christian organizations


Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church meets under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill


Metropolitan Hilarion: The main thing in a person's life is their relationship with God


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s address to the Supreme Church Council on March 18, 2022


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill chairing a meeting of the Supreme Church Council


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill had a talk with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby


First meeting takes place between the metropolitan of Volokolamsk Anthony and the workers of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate


Metropolitan Anthony: Growing manifestations of extremism threaten preservation of common Christian shrines in Holy Land


Handover of work responsibilities at the Department for External Church Relations


Appointments of new Сhairman of the Department for External Church Relations and new rector of the Ss Cyril and Methodius Institute


Metropolitan Hilarion: Attempts to split up the Orthodox community in Lithuania are doomed to failure


Metropolitan Hilarion: Time and good will are needed for healing schisms


Metropolitan Hilarion: Attempts to forcefully rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church result from an ambition to seize its church buildings


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been autonomous for over thirty years


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk concluded his working trip to Hungary


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk visited Hungary


Metropolitan Hilarion: The developments in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church should be understood in the context of unprecedented pressure put upon it


Metropolitan Hilarion: The unity between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is preserved


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill chairs a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church


Metropolitan Hilarion: Sooner or later a solution would be found about healing the wounds inflicted on the body of world Orthodoxy


Metropolitan Hilarion: Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus had sincerely wished to help when the Ukrainian schism was about to happen


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Vespers of Good Friday with the procession of the burial-shroud.


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Holy and Great Thursday.


Metropolitan Hilarion: the essence of religious life lies in the love for God


Metropolitan Hilarion: May the joy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world live in our hearts always


On Christmas Eve, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord calls every person to salvation in a variety of ways


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has commanded us to love every human being


Metropolitan Hilarion: on the Feast of the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we glorify the heavenly intercession of the Mother of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: Many things in a person's life depend on faith


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Spirit is the main treasure of the Christian soul


Metropolitan Hilarion: Holiness is a constant striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ


Metropolitan Hilarion: God does not want to condemn, but to save us


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord always grants to us the opportunity to display our talents


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has imbued the waters of Jordan with his divine presence to wash away human sins


Metropolitan Hilarion: to repent means to change your way of life


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