Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk commented on the special report of Alexander Lukyanov "Witnesses of Perun", which was shown on the TV channel "Russia 24".
Metropolitan Hilarion:Neopaganism is a very diverse phenomenon. Very often, this term hides all sorts of aggressive sectarian organizations that are not so much engaged in the revival of pagan religion, how many people are brought up in the spirit of hatred and violence. We know that a number of crimes were committed on the basis of neopaganism. This phenomenon, which should be carefully examined.
If we talk about the ancient Russian pagan religion, the one that was replaced by Christianity in 988, then we know too little about this religion so that it can be really revived. The tradition of this religion was interrupted more than a thousand years ago. Some vestiges, of course, remained, but the tradition was interrupted, and there is no real information about it, so all that now stands out for the supposedly original Russian faith is in fact a fake and a fake. This should be clearly understood.
There are, of course, in the territory of Russia, small ethnic groups, in which various pagan beliefs have been preserved for centuries to the present. This is another story. But neo-pagans, which we hear more and more often in news reports about certain crimes, are people who have absolutely nothing to do with religion. For them, paganism is a mask that they put on in order to cover their crimes and commit their crimes.
Question:Maybe this means to direct people, to motivate them, say, to a criminal act, explaining what it is for? Because in many public places they write that the Day of the Baptism of Rus is a day of sorrow, and in general a lot of actions are directed against the Russian Orthodox Church. And the second question: there are examples when, for example, on Sakhalin, a neopagan broke into the temple and shot people ...
Metropolitan Hilarion:Those neopagans who commit criminal acts are strongly opposed to the Church because it has always fought against superstitions and with all kinds of crimes covered by religious rhetoric. We can draw a historical parallel here: the revival of paganism was one of the projects of Nazi Germany aimed at suppressing the Christian Church, the development of aggression among people and, most importantly, the justification of crimes. That's exactly what we see now in the phenomenon of neopaganism.
Question:I would like to know your point of view on another aspect of the problem. It can be noted that attempts are being made to introduce neopaganism through sports clubs, through the fraternities of those who once served together in the army; such associations "sprout" in the structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, among those people who must protect the law, citizens and so on. Is this not a threat to our society?
Metropolitan Hilarion:The propaganda of neo-paganism in the law enforcement structures causes concern, because the siloviki are people who, by virtue of their duties, use weapons and are legally entitled in some cases to use force. And the fact that among those who have hopes for maintaining stability in society, who are looked upon as guarantors of this stability, there is growing interest in neo-pagan cults, is an alarming symptom, which, I think, all our society should pay attention to.
Question:Perhaps the word "struggle" is incorrectly applied to this case - the Church, probably, should not fight, but only pray ... And yet, what actions can the Russian Orthodox Church take or will take to eradicate this phenomenon in our society?
Metropolitan Hilarion:First of all, we must explain that paganism in the form in which it is presented today by representatives of various neo-pagan sectarian cults is not the traditional religion of Ancient Rus. Planting neopaganism - this is not a revival of the religion of our ancestors, but a fake, fake, fake, fake. I think that if people understand this, they are unlikely to get carried away by this kind of pseudo-religious trends.