Deacon Andrei Kuraev (1963- ), Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy and popular preacher
Deacon Andrei Kuraev, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy, thinks that the Moscow Patriarchate must intensify its missionary efforts and not concentrate so much on the building of thousands of new churches. “The popularity of this Bishop Diomid fellow in some church circles is the direct result of our lack of missionary zeal in the 90s, when all our efforts in the Church seemed to be focused on bricks and bells”, Deacon Andrei said to our Interfax correspondent at a news conference in Tomsk. He shares the opinion of many in the Orthodox clergy in Russia that the era of building grandiose cathedrals is over, but, he is not sure that he agrees with the proposition that “we must build thousands of small churches in residential neighbourhoods”. Focusing our energies solely on the building of new churches can create a false sense of security and complacency in the church administration, the dioceses, and the clergy, Fr Andrei believes.
“These are some virtues that come perilously close to being sins. For example, here is a priest who does not know how to mix with people; he doesn’t know how to go to the school to talk with the children, so, then, he keeps to the church building according to the rubrics. I guess one could call this a good deed, but, I would call it a substitute, a sublimation of the real thing”, Deacon Andrei mused.
At present, in his opinion, the Church should be concentrating on publishing solid and canonical material for the general public. “Just go to any bookseller! It’s all trashy pseudo-literature and pseudo-Orthodoxy, there are no solid canonical Orthodox books in the shops”, Deacon Andrei said. “If we were to devote millions of dollars to cope with this problem, to ensure that solid Orthodox literature would be on the shelves of the shops, this would greatly change the spiritual climate in our country”. Today, Deacon Andrei believes that the Church has a choice to make. “We can either fancy up the ‘church ghetto’ or pack up our bags and leave the ‘ghetto’ behind”. He expressed his frustration that, so far, “the first phenomenon rules [in the Church], which shall inexorably lead to a serious crisis, including inside the very ‘church ghetto’ itself”.
29 October 2008