2020-06-29 18:08:00

Russian Orthodox Church sees Ural priest's calls against participation in amendments vote as "tragicomic'

Moscow, June 29, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church believes that calls from priest Sergy (Romanov) not to take part in the nationwide vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution are not serious.

"Flamboyant statements of this priest, who has been banned from conducting religious services, are continuing progressively and are becoming increasingly tragicomic," Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, told Interfax on Monday.

Earlier, Father Sergy used a YouTube channel to call on people not to participate in the vote on constitutional amendments, claiming that the introduction of these amendments to the Constitution would open the door to evil forces and would result in the loss of the grace of the Holy Trinity and the Cover of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"It is sad to see how a schema-monk, destined to perform the feat of prayer in solitude, all of a sudden turns into a scandalous video blogger, whose videos are being expected like a circus show," Kipshidze said.

As reported, a public sermon in which priest Sergy (Romanov) dismisses the Covid-19 pandemic as a myth and calls for disobedience to the senior clergy and authorities earlier drew outcry on social networks and in the media. Father Sergy also cursed those who have temporarily closed churches during the pandemic and warned of the creation of "Satan's electronic camp." Another video message from Father Sergy was published later, in which he calls for reopening churches and warns of the danger of chipization, which would allegedly prove to be fatal for the majority.

In response, the Yekaterinburg Diocese barred the priest from conducting religious services and deprived him of the right to wear a pectoral cross.

The first hearing was held on June 15. The schema-hegumen attended it, but, according to the diocese, he hastily left it after reading a text which he had brought with him and which had no relation to the essence of the accusations. The next hearing was then scheduled for June 26. The schema-hegumen did not show up for it.

The counter-extremism center of the Russian Interior Ministry's branch for the Sverdlovsk region accused the priest of an administrative offence in the form of "distributing knowingly false socially important information in the media and on information and telecommunications networks under the guise of authentic information." The priest may face a fine of 30,000 rubles to 100,000 rubles if found guilty. A court in Verkhnyaya Pyshma will hear this case on July 7.