In his opening address, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that the agenda included, in particular, the issue of the organization of house churches in higher educational institutions.
According to His Holiness, “this is not a clerical campaign against science …, but the revival of the same tradition that existed in Russia and exists today in many countries of Europe and America.”
Speaking about the difficulties of reviving “university priesthood as an integral organic part of the life of students and teachers,” His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill pointed to the special requirements that clergy of house churches at universities must meet. Noting that “discussions in the university environment always presuppose a high level of responsibility,” the Primate recommended that pastors holding a secular university degree be sent to higher education institutions, since “the priest must be at the same educational level as students and teachers.”
His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill believes that “the service of the university chaplain is inconceivable without witnessing to our faith, but this is not enough, because young people seek answers to acute life issues. The priest must be an assistant in this search, someone who is able to support, to show love and attention, … to offer students the landmarks that are crucial not only to their life, but also to the future of our society as a whole.”
“Temples in universities are a place where professors and students form an opinion about the Church as a whole,” the Patriarch added. “Through these churches the educated part of our society can get to know Orthodoxy. We must ensure that university temples are the hearths of love, the moral “tuning forks” in the university space, helping erase stereotypes, including the one about science and religion being in perpetual conflict.”
“It is important that the dialogue of the Church and society be carried out at the university level as well, helping the younger generation, future scientists, the future elite of our society to understand what the Church is doing today, what the purpose of its mission is, what is happening inside the Church,” summed up His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
This article was translated from Russian by Alexey Malafeev.