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Metropolitan Hilarion: the Church will not ab…

Metropolitan Hilarion: the Church will not abandon the teaching of marriage which is presented in the Bible

On May 15, 2022, on the program "The Church and the World" on the TV channel "Russia 24", 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: Vladyka, recently a draft of ‘humanized rules’ for keeping prisoners has been published. However, the Russian Orthodox Church draws attention to the fact that these rules, for example, do not take into account the recommendations of the Church in relation to prisoners in pre-trial detention centers. For example, one of these amendments concerns the seal of confession. The Russian Orthodox Church proposed to allow meetings of suspects or accused with clergymen without a separating partition and out of earshot of third parties. Also, this draft order allows the Eucharist, Communion, for those under investigation, but, let's say, in a distorted form, that is, Eucharistic bread is allowed, but Eucharistic wine is not allowed. How would you comment on this draft of ‘humanized rules’?

Metropolitan Hilarion: It is very good that the rules are humanized . The more the conditions of detention of prisoners are humanized, the better. But it is very important that the wishes of the Church be taken into account, and they are quite specific here, because only the priest, the person confessing and God can participate in the sacrament of confession. No other persons should participate here either directly or indirectly, that is, neither through the listening system, nor through video cameras. The conversation should only take place between the priest and the penitent.

The same applies to Communion: in the Russian Orthodox Church, Communion under one form is not practiced. For example, in the Catholic Church, Communion with only the Body of Christ is possible, but in the Orthodox Church it is impossible. Therefore, we will continue to insist that Communion for the condemned, for prisoners, be carried out in the same way as it is done for all believers of the Orthodox Church.

E. Gracheva: More of the latest news. The Ethics Commission of the Council of Judges of the Russian Federation issued a conclusion specifying that “a retired judge cannot work in a religious organization under an employment contract and cannot serve as a clergyman.” Also in this commission, judges are generally advised not to particularly demonstrate their religious affiliation, if any. How do you, Vladyka, feel about this? To what extent do you think these restrictions on judges in Russia are appropriate?

Metropolitan Hilarion: Various comments have already been made by the Church on this initiative. Someone said that this is a violation of the rights of judges, someone - that this is due to professional ethics. For my part, I think that when it comes to the incompatibility of certain professions in general with church service, then we are always talking about the incompatibility of two loyalties. A person who becomes a clergyman must be accountable and, so to speak, loyal only to his church organization: he cannot be accountable to any other organization.

Why, for example, a clergyman cannot be a staff member of the special services: they have their own rules, their own accountability, and a clergyman can only report to his ruling bishop. Therefore, the point here is not that a practicing judge or a retired judge cannot become a clergyman, but that he must make his choice. If he becomes a clergyman, he must renounce the status of a judge.

E. Gracheva: Vladyka, now the time is coming when school graduates decide where to apply for admission, which educational institutions - secondary or higher. 40 percent of Russian 11th graders, according to a recent poll conducted by MAXIMUM Education, have not decided on their future profession. Only 30 percent of graduates know what they want to be, 42 percent don't, and 28 percent say it's not worth planning in this unstable time: life is too unpredictable right now. Do you think, Vladyka, that they are right to believe that life is unpredictable now and it is really difficult to plan anything? What would you, as a pastor, advise such young people who are in the transitional age and cannot make up their mind?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I have been watching young people for many years and I see that the process of growing up is getting longer. In my time, eleventh-graders, as a rule, already knew what they were going to do, many of them started working after school. In other words, by the time they left school, young people were more or less already adults, determined people. Now it's not like that. This, I think, is largely due to the fact that modern life provides a person with many more opportunities and much more freedom. In my time, for example, the choice of a young man was largely predetermined by his parents. Very often, in most cases, young people followed in the footsteps of one or both of their parents in choosing a profession. Moreover, during my youth, a person, as a rule, chose one profession and then worked in it all his life. Quite rarely there were cases of change of profession. Now it happens much more often. I remember those children who studied with me at a music school, and almost all of them, graduating fr om the 11th grade of a music school, then entered a higher musical educational institution - a conservatory or a music academy.

As for unstable times, I don't think we should wait for stable times. In any case, a young person has to make a choice of what he wants to devote his life to, and how circumstances will develop is really very difficult to predict now.

There is a story about a monk who built a church. He spent many years building this church with his own hands. He was asked: “And if you were told that tomorrow would be the end of the world, then what would you do in the remaining time?” He replied: "In the remaining time, I would continue to build my church." A person's life calling is something that a person chooses once and that should not depend on circumstances. Another thing is that circumstances can make significant adjustments to what happens to a person.

E. Gracheva: Vladyka, you are already the author of several dozen books, so it seemed interesting to me to discuss with you the initiative that comes fr om the Ministry of Digital Development . The Ministry proposes to create a new professional standard for the profession of "Writer". They want to do this in connection with the need to study "issues related to the development of a professional standard for the profession, the normative consolidation of writing as a professional activity." In general, I approximately understand the motive that the Ministry of Digital Development may have , in connection with which this initiative was born. If you go to bookstores, then next to fiction, with Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Bunin, there will be books by such newly-minted pseudo-writers . We now have all coaches, writers, psychologists without specialized education. Do you think this kind of standard will be useful for modern writers, which you are, or will it just be an additional burden, completely unnecessary? How do you think?

Metropolitan Hilarion: Professional standards are needed so that people can protect their professional affiliation, work according to their profession, so that no one would tell them that they are doing the wrong thing, and so that this or that profession has certain, specific, clearly defined boundaries.

You quite rightly said that today on the shelves of bookstores, along with the creations of professional, high-quality writers, you can find works by people who simply express their thoughts or tell some plots, but at the same time do not possess elementary professional writing skills at all.

Of course, I'm not sure that all these skills can be described in some kind of standard. Nevertheless, I think that some standardization, bringing this activity to certain standards will not hurt at all. It is clear that all the same, people who do not know how, but want to write, will continue to do so. We will not have new Dostoevskys, Tolstoys and Chekhovs due to such normative acts, because such people must be born with the appropriate talent and develop this talent in themselves. But in any case, I am a supporter of the fact that any business that a person does should be done by him professionally. This also applies to writers, composers and representatives of other creative professions.

E. Gracheva: Vladyka, and now to the questions of this week’s TV viewers: “Why should women wear headscarves in church, and men should take off their hats?”

Metropolitan Hilarion: This is a tradition that has developed and has existed for many centuries. It goes back to the recommendation of the Apostle Paul and to the practice of the ancient Church. At the same time, of course, this tradition is not universal, because, for example, clergymen wear hats during worship, and in a number of Local Orthodox Churches, women do not wear headscarves when they come to church, for example, in the Orthodox Church in America.


E. Gracheva: This Easter I attended a certain Moscow parish which many figures of culture and art attend: due to the biography of the dean, there are many graduates of creative universities, actors, directors. There were a sufficient number of girls without headscarves and in trousers. As I understand it, they confessed, took Communion, there is a blessing from the priest for this. How do you feel about this? Are you a strict shepherd in this sense, or do you think that one still needs to keep up with the times here?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I believe that the appearance of a person is not something that a clergyman should pay attention to. Another thing is that there are different practices in different parishes and in different Local Orthodox Churches. It seems to me that if a person comes to the church, dressed differently than most of the parishioners dress, then he himself will be uncomfortable there, and he may encounter a negative attitude towards himself. This, from my point of view, is a big mistake, because we should never look at what a person is wearing. God does not look at clothes, but at the heart of a person, and this is the most important thing that a clergyman should pay attention to.

E. Gracheva: Question: “Why do we make the sign of the cross with three fingers? After all, Christ was crucified on the cross, not the Trinity. Therefore, we must use two fingers?

Metropolitan Hilarion: We make the sign of the cross with three fingers due to the centuries-old tradition. Three fingers mean the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, and two fingers that a person bends to his palm mean the two natures of Jesus Christ - Divine and human. At the same time, in the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church there is an old rite wh ere crossing with two fingers is practiced, but its meaning is the same: two fingers denote the two natures of Jesus Christ, and three fingers denote the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. There is no special dogmatic meaning in this. These are just traditions that have developed over many centuries.

E. Gracheva: Question: “What is the difference between religion and ideology, the Church and a sect?”

Metropolitan Hilarion: What is the difference between religion and ideology is a question to which I would answer as follows: the difference here is very radical and fundamental. Religion is not an ideology or even a worldview at all. Religion is a way of life. A deeply religious person, a deeply religious person, is a person whose actions are motivated by his faith. For example, if we are talking about a Christian, then he should always remain such: in his professional activities, and in family life, and in relationships with people. He cannot be a Christian, for example, only two hours a week or a day, he is called to be a Christian always.

If we talk about the difference between the Church and a sect, again, the differences here are very radical and fundamental. A sect, as a rule, is created in order to pull a person out of ordinary life, to create for him some kind of artificial space wh ere he will live and develop. Very often sects are destructive in nature and affect the human psyche. Very often sects destroy a person's family life.

The Church was created so that a person, remaining in the world, would continue to engage in his profession and at the same time would have the opportunity to come into contact and communicate with God. Therefore, the differences here are fundamental and radical. Much more could be said about this. Entire books have been written about this, including books on sect studies, which tell you what the danger of sects is and why they are the opposite of what the Church teaches.

E. Gracheva: Question: “What is the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards computer games? Why doesn't the Church create its own religious games?"

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Сhurch as a whole has a negative attitude towards computer games, because they carry the danger of addiction. Computer games, as a rule, make children and teenagers addicted to them, but sometimes adults as well. A computer game can knock a person out of his normal state for some time, for several hours, days or weeks, plunge him into an illusory world. The danger of a computer game is that a person can become addicted to it, just as people become addicted to alcohol and drugs. A computer game is a kind of drug. Therefore, from the point of view of the Church, computer games generally have a negative effect on the psyche of people.

It is probably for this reason that the Church does not participate in the creation of computer games, just as it does not participate, for example, in the production of drugs, because it considers drug addiction itself to be deeply dangerous for a person.

E. Gracheva: Question: “In the Bible there are words spoken by God to Eve when He drove the first people out of paradise: “And your desire is for your husband, and he will rule over you (Gen. 3.16). How should these words be understood by modern women, both married and single?

Metropolitan Hilarion: These words reflect the Biblical understanding of the essence of marriage, which from the point of view of the Church has not changed. It has changed very significantly in secular society, but the Church has not changed its view of the balance between men and women in the marriage union. I have recently performed the sacrament of the wedding and for the umpteenth time I listened to the words that are read there. In particular, these are the words from the letter of the Apostle Paul, wh ere he says that the husband is the head of the wife, that the wife should be afraid of her husband (not in the sense, of course, that she should tremble before him, but in the sense that she must be afraid of offending him, afraid of breaking his fidelity), and the husband is called to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, that is, not with selfish, but sacrificial love.

The model of the marriage union offered by the Church seems to many to be outdated, but in fact it can ensure the strength and safety of the marriage union to the greatest extent. That is why the Church does not and will not abandon the idea of marriage that is laid down in the Bible.

E. Gracheva: Question: “I used to visit churches with great pleasure, tried to take Communion every Sunday if possible, but then something happened, and I no longer feel the need, I force myself to go to services by force. How to return the desire to go to church?

Metropolitan Hilarion: This is a question that is difficult to answer from a television screen and is best discussed with a clergyman in a personal conversation. Many people have such problems, they are connected with the internal development of a person. These are exactly the same problems that can arise, for example, in the relationship between a husband and wife in marriage: they live together for 10-20-30 years. At some point, there is a crisis in the relationship and they have to make joint efforts in order to survive this crisis.

Such crises are also possible in the relationship between man and God. There are quite traditional ways to deal with such conditions. First of all, do not weaken in prayer, do not stop attending divine services, read the interpretations of the holy fathers on the Holy Scriptures. In other words, continue to kindle the spiritual fire in yourself, which sometimes, perhaps, becomes brighter, sometimes dims, but the most important thing is that it does not go out at all. Like a lamp that burns: in order for it to continue to burn, it is necessary, firstly, to add oil, and secondly, from time to time to correct the wick and sometimes change it. In the same way, in the spiritual life, you need to add oil to your lamp from time to time, sometimes clean the wick, and sometimes replace it.

E. Gracheva: Thank you very much, Vladyka, for answering our questions.

Metropolitan Hilarion : Thank you , Ekaterina.

Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to end this show with the words of the Apostle Paul from the Epistle to Ephesians: “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” ( Eph . 4.32).

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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