Priests should have one purpose on social media—to bring people to Christ, says Russian Church rep

Moscow, February 5, 2021

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Priests should register and log on to social networks with but one purpose—to take people from there and lead them to the Church, a to a real parish, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church recently commented on the Orthodox TV station Spas.

Recalling His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s guidance for priests on social media at the recent Moscow Diocesan meeting, Alexander Schipkov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and the Mass Media and dean of the Social and Humanitarian Department of the Russian Orthodox University, emphasized that priests must gather people around Christ, not around themselves, reports

A real pastor always relies on a real parish, and his task is to bring people to it, not to create an illusory second parish online. But in becoming obsessed with views and likes, “blogging priests sometimes sadly end their missionary journey by leaving the Church,” Schipkov warned.

Substitute parishes and substitute sermons online “kill the sacred. There is no Church in this simulacrum,” the Church representative said.

The possibility of making money by producing content online is also a temptation for clerics. “The priest forgets why he originally got on social networks—to preach or to earn money? The priest’s place is in the church, not in social networks,” Schipkov emphasized.

“However,” he added, “this does not mean that a priest cannot express his point of view on the events of public life at all. However, this should be preceded by thoughtful theological and prayerful work. The Church needs not narcissistic priests, but thoughtful, intelligent theologians, preachers, analysts, publicists, and teachers.”

And concluding his comments, Shchipkov recalled the words of Pat. Kirill: “It’s not appropriate for a priest to entertain the public with his behavior.”

“Of course, we can’t leave the many people involved in social networks without pastoral care. At the same time, it’s obvious that not every priest can be a social network preacher and that social networks conceal their own special temptations for a priest,” Pat. Kirill said at the Moscow Diocesan assembly on December 24.

“Church ministry should be a matter of proclaiming the Good News of Christ Jesus, of the Kingdom of God come in power (cf. Mark 9:1), and not of personal evaluations or polemics,” the Patriarch said, concluding his own remarks.

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