Home Politics Outspoken Moscow Priest Defrocked by Orthodox Church

    Outspoken Moscow Priest Defrocked by Orthodox Church

    The Russian Orthodox Church has defrocked one of the country’s most prominent priests after he was found to have slandered a fellow priest who died from Covid-19.

    Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev, a well-known radio and television personality whose views on homosexuality, blasphemy and Russia’s Orthodox hierarchy have made him one of the country’s best-known priests, had described Alexander Ageykin, a fellow priest who died of the coronavirus in April, as a “dumb careerist” on his LiveJournal blog.

    The Moscow Episcopal Court on Tuesday found that Kuraev had not “changed his ways” since receiving a warning in 2015 and concluded that his public statements accusing the Church hierarchy of “organizing a schism” were blasphemous.

    The decision to defrock Kuraev — who described the move to The Insider news website as his “canonical murder” and “a New Year’s present for Patriarch Kirill” — must be approved by the Patriarch, the highest authority in the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Kuraev has long been a polarizing figure in Russian Christianity. 

    In 2013 the outspoken priest alleged the existence of a “gay lobby” at the heart of the Orthodox Church, after which he was dismissed from his teaching position at the Moscow Theological Academy. 

    His public pronouncements — which have included criticism of Islam, legal restrictions on blasphemy and Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea — have made him one of the Orthodox’s Church’s internet-friendly priests, with over 70,000 Facebook followers.

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