The Orthodox Church and Society

The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church

Bishops’ Statement

This document, The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, is called to serve as a guide for Synodal institutions, dioceses, monasteries, parishes and other canonical church institutions in their relations with various secular bodies and organizations and the non-church mass media. This document is to be used by church authorities to make decisions on various broad issues relevant to their own particular time and place, as well as to make decisions on very specific concerns. The document is to be included in the curriculum of the theological schools of the Moscow Patriarchate. As changes take place in public and social life and new problems significant for the Church emerge in this area, “The Basis of the Church’s Social Concept” may be developed and improved. The results of this process shall be adopted by the Holy Synod, the Local or Bishops’ Councils.

Note

This version of the Bishops’ Document is a meticulously edited edition that has been prepared by St. Innocent/Firebird Videos, Audios & Books, producers of educational materials about the Orthodox faith. Hundreds of hours were spent in revising the Patriarchate’s original English translation so that it would have a normal English flow. The editor has also added a table of contents and, in the printed version, an exhaustive index. Because this authoritative document — issued in the year 2000 by the Council of Russian Bishops — is so magnificent, and of such enormous value in understanding contemporary social ethical issues as Orthodox Christians, St. Innocent/Firebird is pleased to make its version available to the Orthodox Peace Fellowship to be used on their In Communion web site. Printed copies of the English edition are available from St. Innocent/Firebird Videos, Audios & Books for $8 plus shipping and handling. A trade discount is available for resale in bookstores. Please go to the following URL to visit the Firebird web site for contact and ordering information.

Contents

Introduction

Adopted at the Sacred Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, this document sets forth the basic provisions of her teaching on church–state relations and a number of problems socially significant today. It also reflects the official position of Moscow Patriarchate on relations with the state and secular society. In addition, it gives a number of guidelines to be applied in these social-ethical issues by the episcopate, clergy and laity.

The nature of the document is determined by the needs experienced by the whole of the Russian Orthodox Church during a long historical period both within and beyond the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. Therefore, it deals primarily with fundamental theological and ecclesio-social issues, as well as those aspects of the life of the state and society which were and are equally relevant for the whole Church at the end of the 20th century and in the near future.