What do we mean by the word “publicity”? If publicity is aimed at achieving material, political goals and personal gain, which, unfortunately, is often seen in the activities of individual hierarchs and priests, this causes rejection among people. They say: “he is taking advantage of publicity.” This, of course, should never be in the Church. Therefore, a clergyman or bishop should always remember that the goals of his public appearances should be closely linked only with his direct ministry, with the main goal of his life - the preaching of Christ.
Each person has an ambition, a desire to move forward, but it is important for the Church to develop a new psychology, a new attitude to ministry. Both forward movement and ambition (which, by the way, helps people to do a lot and is a kind of spring that makes a person work; it’s bad if it’s not there) - all this must be corrected by our Christian attitude towards ourselves and those around us.
In the end, someone can present the multivolume collected works of John the Chrysostom as publicity, too. However, if there was no “publicity” - a large part of the patristic heritage would not exist. ...
Now in speaking about what may seem like “publicity”, some may say: good deeds should be done so that the right hand does not know what the left is doing, but if we do not tell people about the important deeds the Church performs, there will be no understanding of the important role the Church has in public life today. If, in the case of extinguishing fires, our society did not know about the role of the Orthodox Church, I am strongly convinced that it would be very bad. Many, espe-cially in areas where there were no fires, would not know anything and would say: Where was the Church?
Speaking about what the Orthodox Church is doing today, we do not want to say how good we are, because we are doing very little today. However, we can say that we are on the way. Each step is done with labor, but it is done for the glory of God. I think this information should be aimed at helping people, including starting with good examples, to try to repeat what other people do in their lives, and what these people learn from the media.
Answers to the questions of the participants of the 4th International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word”,
Moscow, October 12, 2010
Today’s society is in great need of positive information, and good news about events that are taking place, in particular, in the sphere of the Church. Unfortunately, the very logic of presenting information is based on the opposite. Even on the most respected central channels, the headlines of the news that go first contain the most terrible, or the most negative - regardless of whether such negative news has to do with the life of the entire nation. This may be a special case or not yet fully verified information about which there are different opinions, but it is what is most often presented as the hottest news, carrying a negative emotional charge of enormous power. People having absorbed this charge, will watch the next news in a half-strung up disposition, with a predisposed negative attitude towards everything they see on the screen.
This is an example of how the Church should not act. You and I cannot influence the media - they have their own logic, behind which there are commercial interests: more often than not, they pay for precisely what arouses negative feelings and fear. However, this approach, practiced by the modern media, should by no means be applied in the Church.
It is very important to fill the internet with positive materials about what is happening in the life of our Church, in the life of our nation at the junction of Church-state and Church-social relations. After all, there are a lot of materials that are capable of forming a bright and calm outlook for people, about the world around them...
Of course, it is important to observe a sense of proportion and tact in following the culture of presenting material. After all, positive materials can be turned into the most boring and unpersuasive brain candy. If you add moralization to it, in the most classical sense of the word, it’s as good as if the material is ruined. It will not affect people, it will not create a mood that would really help people to cope with the difficulties of modern life and spiritually open their hearts to God.
Speech at the meeting of the Supreme Church Council Moscow, April 3, 2012
...If publicity is aimed at increasing one’s rating or attractiveness, be it corporate or personal, and then selling the product profitably, then there should never be any “publicity” for the Church. We must be what we are.
Therefore, I am against any artificial means that would form an attractive image of the Church. I am just for us doing more good deeds. Of course, in the information society, we need to talk about these matters. Ideally, one should say as little as possible, but here we are faced with a certain contradiction - society requires information. If there is no information, the vacuum is filled with negativity.
Therefore, we have many sites that reflect this or that area of the Church’s activity, in particular a site about social and charitable activities. The situation is the same as concerns education, and so on.
...We must talk about what the Church is doing, but in no case should we resort to artificial means of self-promotion. Nevertheless, on the other hand, there is no need to be aloof from everything. As some say: “We live our own life, we should not care about anything, and the problems of the world are not our problems.” This is also the wrong approach.
First, we must do what is our spiritual mandate, be true to our calling and, given that we live in an information society, be able to talk about it, pursuing both missionary and educational goals.
Meeting with participants of the V International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word” Moscow, October 31, 2012
We must meet the challenges in the media. Let me emphasize a fundamental point. The people of the Church do many good deeds at the behest of their hearts, out of love for their neighbors. However, when we talk about our own deeds and achievements, we must keep within limits, because boasting is not only spiritually harmful to those who fall into it, but it is also dangerous, because it creates a false, overly optimistic picture of the life of the Church. As a result, the quite reasonable actions taken by certain clergymen and church organizations sometimes cause a completely inadequate reaction in society. To say that this is 100% dictated by someone’s malicious intent and that we have nothing to do with it is wrong.
Therefore, in shaping our own agenda on the use of information, we must maintain a certain modesty and a cer-tain balance. It is also impossible to restrain from informing - we must do this, but with caution. Then the information can achieve the goals that we would like to achieve: so that human hearts soften and people do more good, are more truthful, and more merciful, so that social relations change for the better, and so that the level of confrontation in society decreases and the moral responsibility of people for their own actions increases...
The opinion of the Church is in demand in the information society. We are called to work in this environment so that everyone interested in the life of the Church will see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father (Matt. 5, 16).
Speech at a meeting of the Supreme Church Council April 12, 2013, Moscow, Cathedral of Christ the Savior