MOSCOW, November 21 /TASS/. Over 5,000 new churches have been completed throughout Russia since Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill took the helm at the Russian Orthodox Church seven years ago. The number of clergymen has also risen by 10,000 under his patriarchy.
"If we take the period from 2009 to January 2016, our Church saw 5,000 new churches built and 122 newly-constructed monasteries; the number of clergymen increased by 10,000," Patriarch Kirill told journalists in an interview in the run-up of his 70th birthday.
He explained that 160 new parishes had appeared in Moscow due to its expansion a few years ago. The number of parishes and bishops almost doubled from 159 to 296 and from 200 to 361, respectively.
"Some have criticized us by saying that the church officialdom has ballooned. What really happened is that the church’s eparchy appeared in regional centers. This system is called the diocesan administration: educated people devoted to the church - most of whom are laypeople - rally around bishops. They create a body of active church functionaries who maintain relations with the local authorities, the press, the public as well as with hospitals and youth organizations," Patriarch Kirill explained.
He noted that the Russian Orthodox Church had taken the work, which it was carrying out in Russian regions, to a fundamentally new level. "The fact that today we can see the invigoration of the entire church life is certainly linked, in the first place, to the creation of new eparchies and a new vertical of power in the Russian Orthodox Church," the patriarch went on to say.
One of the most obvious advantages, which this system has, is that "today the patriarch can learn more about what happens in churches not just for statistical but also for analytical purposes - we can see what happens from year to year and how changes work in any sphere," Patriarch Kirill stressed.
"We can make adjustments to this work, what we actually do through the Supreme Church Council and the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Perhaps, now we can give our first assessments to what we do. It seems to me that much has certainly changed even in statistical terms," Patriarch Kirill said.
He added that the changed attitude to Church in Russian society, was the main indicator of change inside the Russian Orthodox Church in his view.