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MOSCOW, January 23 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Orthodox Church does not see any reasons to renounce a textbook on the fundamentals of Orthodox Christian culture by senior deacon Andrei Kurayev - a well-known missionary, scholar and a controversial blogger, a high-ranking Church official said Thursday.
Metropolitan Merkury of Rostov and Novocherkassk, who chairs the Russian Church’s Synodal Department of Theological Education and Catechesis, was speaking at a news conference in Itar-Tass on Thursday.
“The textbook has undergone a serious state expert examination and has been discussed at an interdepartmental council in the Education Ministry,” the hierarch said.
“There are no complaints regarding the textbook on the part of the Synodal Department and most educators who teach the subject,” Metropolitan Merkury said. “I think the textbook is very good.”
Though the book is “often said to have been written by Father Andrei Kurayev,” he said, “a substantive group of professionals, educators, including Orthodox ones, contributed to it.”
The metropolitan said the fundamentals of Orthodox Christian culture are not only taught on the basis of Kurayev’s textbook, but also based on books by other authors, including Lyudmila Shevchenko and Olga Yanushkyavichene.
“I think writing new teaching aids for schools are very important, so it is necessary to constantly create new textbooks,” he added.
The hierarch said the key problem of the school course on traditional religious cultures was not about teaching aids but about the small number of lessons for the subject in schools. “It is impossible to tell [students] about religious culture for one year’s time,” he said.
The subject entitled the Fundamentals of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics became mandatory for school students of the fourth and fifth grades last year. Parents and children may choose one of the five modules for studying: the basics of Orthodox Christian culture, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or secular ethics.
Senior deacon Andrei Kurayev, known for sometimes shocking statements running counter to the Church’s official position on current events, was fired from the post of the Moscow Theological Academy’s lecturer in December 2013 “for scandalous and provocative activity.