MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) – The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has urged monks to turn their backs on the Internet, in order to protect themselves from online temptations, the Russian media reported on Saturday.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia reportedly described the Internet as a hotbed of sin and temptation, and said that monks who forsake worldly pleasures in real life should do likewise on the Internet.
However, speaking at the Zograf Monastery at Mount Athos, he also urged priests, who live in the community and are allowed to marry, to use the Internet more actively in the course of their holy mission, Russian media reported.
Later in the day, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev sought to clarify the Patriarch's words, which he says are open to interpretation. The Patriarch was not, Kuraev argued, saying that he thinks monks are like "lustful teenagers, for whom access to the Internet means access to porn."
"I think he was talking about other threats - about unregulated information (and rumors) about church life," Kuraev wrote in his blog.
In May, the Patriarch told a meeting of the Supreme Church Council that the "instant reaction to trifles" in the modern world, embodied in "the Twitter approach" must not infect the church's online activities.
"We must not use the language of Twitter when we talk about salvation," Patriarch Kirill said.
During periods of fasting in the Russian Orthodox calendar, the church advises the faithful to abstain not only from meat and fish, but also from using social networking sites.
The Russian Orthodox has taken on a significant institutional role in post-Soviet Russia, and is known for promoting a strictly "traditionalist" view of many current social issues, particularly those related to sexuality and gender roles.
In April, Patriarch Kirill criticized feminism as “very dangerous” adding that “it is probably not by chance that most feminist leaders are unmarried women.”
Updated to include Kuraev porn comments