Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has called on priests not to attend talk shows, the Moscow Patriarchate reported.
“I am calling on priests not to take part in talk shows. It is often unknown what people attend them for - to defend a person or an idea or to promote themselves, or to defeat someone,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said.
“This is not our style, not our word. We have laypeople who may take part in a talk show, if they wish, without subjecting the Church to censure but defending the Christian moral stand,” the patriarch said.
“Totally quitting televised public discussions would be wrong,” the Church leader said.
Patriarch Kirill delivered that speech to bishops and priests during a meal that followed a liturgy in the Christ the Savior Cathedral on Sunday. The Moscow Patriarchate published the transcript of the speech on Wednesday.
Earlier the patriarch already called on clergy to be cautious about what they say on social networking websites as “careless, or even sometimes shocking statements by certain clerics” cast a shadow on the entire Church.
The Church has been involved in a number of high-profile scandals recently. Top Church officials have been criticized by bloggers and opposition activists for their support to authorities during recent parliamentary and presidential elections and for their “lavish” lifestyles.
Patriarch Kirill also said “shallow people, including, unfortunately, some of those in cassocks,” often make “hasty and often wrong judgments” when assessing the situation, instead of being guided by spiritual values.
“Our task is to never betray Christ or the cause he gave us. So for us, the guiding principle is not public opinion, positive or negative assessments or the number of ‘likes’ in Internet posts, but what God reveals to us in prayer and spiritual experience,” he said.
About 65,000 Orthodox Church believers gathered at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral on Sunday for a nationwide prayer in defense of the faith and of desecrated sacred objects, according to assessments of Russia's Interior Ministry. The mass prayer followed a recent series of sacred object desecrations across Russia.
Vandalism and church desecration cases have become more frequent in Russia after a female punk group performed what it called “a punk prayer” in February next to the Christ the Savior Cathedral’s main altar, which is off-limits to all but priests. Five group members, clad in balaclavas, chanted a song entitled “Holy Sh*t” against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that also contained words insulting to Patriarch Kirill.
Priests and believers also prayed on Sunday that those who had desecrated sacred objects in a series of recent blasphemous actions across Russia change their ways, and for good reputation of the Church.