Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), Deputy Head of the MP DECR
Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations, advocated that clergymen be more diligent in their pastoral activity, and to have no fear of secular society, including the media. “It is imperative for us to realise the need for pastoral activity outside of the walls of the church. Our flock is not only those who come to services, but, also all the surrounding people in the neighbourhood”, Fr Vsevolod stated during a discussion at the Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia) exhibition-forum taking place in Moscow. In his opinion, people are of all different ages, nationalities, and cultures, and “the priest must go forth to all of them”. He noted that priests have to go to hospitals, schools, and public functions, anywhere where they can preach the Word of God to people. They must also try to reach the people through local newspapers, television, and radio, so that they can inform people of the meaning of the divine services, feastdays, fasts, etc.
Fr Vsevolod is convinced of the necessity “for the psychological reorientation of our clergy from being absorbed with intra-church matters to having a zeal for mission to all the people in the local neighbourhood”. Frequently, priests evaluate their activity according to the beauty of the iconostas in their church and the extent of their parish activities, but, Fr Vsevolod believes that it is increasingly needful for clergy to evaluate their mission according to how they are received by people in secular society. “We should fear nothing, not even contact with the press”, he stated, adding that the media is a means for the words of the priest to reach the public, not all of whom he is able to meet personally. Fr Vsevolod emphasised that “in our outreach to the surrounding world, we must not show a haughty attitude in the media, acting like those who are constantly forbidding this or that. It is not good to act like ‘little princes’, to always use the tone of a lecturer”. He also stated that there was a need to open many more churches, since “one church to 100,000 people is abnormal”. Fr Vsevolod noted that clergymen “should not have fears of living in poverty. The Lord shall provide His priests the means they need for sustenance. We must not allow the Church to be converted into a thoughtless assembly-line of religious rites”.
10 November 2008