Staunton, January 30 – Russia has only “a half century left” as a people and a state if it is unable to overcome its currently rapid demographic decline, according to Archpriest Dimitri Smirnov, the former head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for work with the military and law enforcement and the current head of its commission on the family.
Smirnov, who has often gotten in trouble for his outspoken manner, says that today Russians “do not like and do not want children,” attitudes that “translated into Russian” mean that “we do not want Russia to continue” and that “we want that our culture will die and that in place of our churches there will be mosques” (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=54277).
In his comments to Interfax this week, the archpriest also lashed out at those who use the term “’institution of the family.’” That is one of many “strange communist stupidities,” he said, because if the family is an institution, “then we can liquidate [it] and create another,” which he suggested is exactly what is happening in the West.
And he concludes with the observation that the mass media are undermining the situation rather than helping. That needs to be stopped, he adds, implying that censorship must be imposed and that those promoting dissoluteness need to be removed. If that happens, he says, “something could happen” in a positive direction, adding that “the state can help here.”
It would be a mistake to dismiss such comments as the attitudes of just one Orthodox churchman. On the one hand, Smirnov has an enormous following among the security forces and likely reflects the fears that many in those structures have. And on the other, his apocalypticism is not of the passive kind but rather one in service of radical change.
While the archpriest may not want the restoration of Soviet-style controls – indeed, on many other occasions, he has sharply condemned the Soviet past and Communist attacks on religion and the Russia nation – he clearly favors a new kind of rightist and traditionalist authoritarianism.