MOSCOW: May 8, 2008
Protopriest Victor Potapov Participates In a Round Table On Conflicts in the Church
On Wednesday, May 7, 2008, a round table was held at the premises of the Publishing Council on “Conflicts in the Church.”
Participating in the round table were His Eminence Archbishop Feofan of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz; His Grace Bishop Longin of Saratov and Volsk; Protopriest Vladimir Siloviev, President of the Publishing Council; Protopriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Vice President of the Department of External Church Relations; Protopriest Vladimir Vigilyansky, Head of the Press Service of the Moscow Patriarchate; Protopriest Vladislav Sveshnikov; Protopriest Nikolay Balashov, Protopriest Sergii Pravdoliubov; Protopriest Victor Potapov (ROCOR); and Protopriest Andrei Lorgus.
Heading the round table was Sergei Chapnin, Senior Editor of Tserkovniy vestnik [Church Messenger].
The meeting began with an effort to outline the areas of conflict and to identify the basic types of ecclesiastical conflicts. Discussions and polemics are different in character from conflict and scandal, and if arguments are beneficial, scandals and conflicts are always based on sin (vanity, pride, thirst for power), said many of the round table participants, stressing that polemics on the part of those who truly love the Church is very good for church life. This rule—conducting discussions in the spirit of brotherly love and love for the Church—should be observed in internet dialog as well.
According to Archbishop Feofan, we must prevent problems, and not just put out fires; we must take precautions to avoid conflicts.
Bishop Longin noted that discussions most often center around the reestablishment of church life following decades of government atheism.
One of the main reasons for church conflicts considered was isolationism—not only on the parish level, or among groups of clergymen, but in certain instances on the diocesan level. The path to resolve these problems is openness and glasnost (including in the media) and pastoral conferences, at which paths of developing and reestablishing church life should be discussed in the spirit of love and mutual understanding.
The participants of the round table spoke at length on the topics of renewal and the role of tradition; on ecclesiastical court; on the principles of compromise and ideological contradictions in church life. In the opinion of many of the participants, the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion on May 17, 2007, was a unique example of the resolution of a conflict that lasted for many years.