Archbishop Arseny Epifanov of Istra, a vicar of the Diocese of Moscow, therefore, not a ruling bishop. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk is the same sort of non-ruling bishop without a real diocese… his “authority” only extends to a single parish in the Bolshaya Ordynka district of Moscow.
According to Archbishop Arseny Epifanov of Istra (a vicar bishop of the Diocese of Moscow), at the annual diocesan meeting of the Moscow clergy on Monday, MP authorities are apprehensive concerning the careless attitude of some Moscow clergymen to their pastoral duties and he urged Patriarch Aleksei to initiate disciplinary actions against them. He said, “Some young priests are disdainful of Church guidelines, and they think they can introduce their own rules. They often abridge them, not paying heed to their high aims”.
In his view, when priests conduct services in a hurry, it produces a negative impression in believers and has a negative effect on parochial life as a whole. “The Church considers the current guidelines normative, and the clerics named are not free to change them”, Archbishop Arseny emphasised. He regretfully mentioned some characteristic “irregularities performed by priests when conducting prayer services”. Thus, some priests conduct the sacrament of baptism by effusion instead of total immersion; they don’t read the Creed, and they don’t even consecrate the water before performing the sacrament. “When some accuse us of ‘Latinism’, we say that it isn’t ‘Latinism’, it’s rather just the ordinary carelessness and laziness of some priests”, he noted. The baptism of rich people is often turned into “a show, a theatrical performance, where everyone laughs and takes photos, and, unfortunately, the priest does nothing to draw public attention to the prayer”.
He also pointed up that hurried 15-minute Pannikhidas and priestly advice to believers that the sacrament of anointing is a substitute for confession and washes out all one’s sins are also inadmissible. “It’s necessary to find those clergy who neglect the guidelines, and to ask His Holiness the Patriarch to relieve them of priestly duties because it’s an ‘intolerable burden’ for them”, in Archbishop Arseny’s opinion. He also stated that ordinary believers complained to the MP about very high prices for sacraments and candles. Archbishop Arseny said that some priests “charge fees to absolve the sin of abortion”. He stressed that such actions repulse believers from the Church.
Archbishop Arseny also reproached some Moscow clergy in being late to Liturgy regularly and urged them to “value the time of those who come to the divine service. The general excuse of such clergymen is traffic jams. However, we usually know in advance that such things happen, so, it’s necessary to plan one’s schedule in advance”, he said. Archbishop Arseny insisted that clerics who omit the confession obligatory to all clergymen should be suspended from celebrating Divine Liturgy. He also criticised priests who speak aloud in the altar and who sit during the services.
Archbishop Arseny also asked all Moscow clergy to set up a fax machine in every church for operational communication, because people who answer telephone calls in churches are often “not fit to accept information”. He also spoke about appearance of certain clergy. He believes it unacceptable for longhaired priests and deacons to wear “ladies pins” instead of hair-ties of ordinary elastic. “It only remains for them to tie it into a bow to impart a feminine appearance”, he noted acidly. To conclude his speech, Archbishop Arseny requested Patriarch Aleksei “to take more effective measures” in order to eliminate deficiencies in parochial life.
24 December 2007