Clergymen should not indulge in social media at the expense of liturgical and parish activities. A cleric should not turn into a personal growth coach or a psychologist, said His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the annual Diocesan meeting of Moscow, held in a video conference format on December 24, 2020, reports Ria.ru.
As the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted, not every priest can be a preacher on social networks: the use of these communications for a mission presupposes “a good education and a generally high cultural level.” Also, a priest engaged in preaching on the Internet should have many years of experience in pastoral work and not forget that his goal is “to bring people to Christ, and in no case is it ‘putting’ himself in the center of their lives.”
“Immersion in social media should not be detrimental to liturgical and other parish activities. If the number of subscribers surpasses the number of real parishioners, a blogger priest can have a feeling that the actual parish is secondary. And thus: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” said His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
If the virtual community becomes more important than the real one, the priest will direct more strength and the most of his attention to serving this virtual community, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church warned.
“And he, indeed, becomes a blogger talking about spiritual life, and ceases to be a pastor and a confessor. And there is perhaps the most dangerous thing: the most important thing – the celebration of the divine service and officiating the Sacrament of the Eucharist – will take a secondary place. To overcome this illusion, a cleric needs a sober assessment of his activities, perhaps he needs to seek advice from a more experienced and knowledgeable fellow priest or an archpastor. After all, the consequence of being carried away by such an illusion may be a decision to stop performing regular services,” said His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
Such examples, the Primate admitted, “although they are not numerous, which is fortunate, but they do exist.”
“A pastor should not turn into some kind of personal growth coach or psychologist, who are popular nowadays. There are cases when some clerics even renounced their ordination in order to engage in such activities. There are few of them, but they exist. Some stumbled and some yielded to this temptation,” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill pointed out.
Speaking about the need for the priest to preserve his “pastoral dignity”, the Patriarch noted that a servant of the throne “does not amuse the public with his behavior, and does not insult or threat people.” A priest should never forget that the purpose of his work on social networks is “not to entertain people, not to attract them to himself, but to carry the word of God.”
“A priest must understand that when communicating with people on the Internet, as in ordinary life, it is important not only to avoid arrogance, abuse and rudeness, but also to be moderate in the desire to become closer to his audience,” added His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
Acquiring many subscribers, the Patriarch noted, priests sometimes lose the ability to accept any criticism, including from his fellow priests, or start to “react to objections with endless arguments.”
“The cure for this disease is prayer,” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill emphasized.