Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the MP Department for Coordinating Church and Society (ОВЦО/OVTsO), warned that well-heeled affluence (мажорства) and miserable poverty amongst the clergy were equal dangers, saying at a Moscow panel discussion on the public perception of the Church’s image, “Of course, most emphatically, the clergy mustn’t succumb to the consumerist notion that we see today… affluence and access to material goods can cause stratification within the clergy, dividing them into rich and poor. This is very bad”.
He went on to say that ordinary people “internally rebel when they see an affluent clergyman”, yet, equally, he doesn’t believe that “it’s beneficial to the Church if the clergy become marginalised outcasts”. He said that there’s a “diminution of the clergy’s status” amongst Catholics and Protestants in the West, which is due to the fact that “secular forces squeezed them out and made them social outcasts. The same thing could happen with us… it’ll drive priests crazy or force them into the labour market if we allow the notion that clergy should live in miserable poverty to settle amongst us. In Russia and Greece, indeed, in all Orthodox lands, the priests usually had a living standard a little bit better than the average working-class family”.
According to Fr Vsevolod, if there’s wealthy people in his parish (or, at least, the comfortably well-off), if the priest lives in want, if he must constantly beg on his knees for his livelihood, “it’s a shame upon the flock, upon that church community, upon all those who frequent the place where that priest serves”. Fr Vsevolod concluded, “Don’t attend to people who imply that a priest shouldn’t live in dignity, with enough material goods”.
5 July 2013
Many priests are at the mercy of obscurantist parish boards… let’s not be coy about it. That’s wrong. It’s forced priests into the labour market, and, as Fr Vsevolod points up, it’s warped them. It has created a two-tier priesthood here in the Orthodox diaspora… and it’s toxic in all respects. On the one hand, you have affluent priests like Potapov or Warnecke, who’re more bureaucrats or managers than clergy… on the other hand, you have priests on food stamps. That’s wicked. It also means that affluent priests have more effectual power than the bishops do, for “money talks and bullshit walks”.
We’re in the deep kimchi… and the sooner that we realise it, the better off we’ll all be. However, shall we?