Patriarch Kirill’s Speech at Students’ Forum Faith and Works, IV

The final part of the speech, continued from part III.

And now the last thing which I would like to say. As a human civilization we have truly entered into a very difficult period, a period of a crisis existence. It is a big mistake to think that somewhere some kind of mortgage problems are the reason for the failure of the world’s economics. That view of the current crisis is too primitive.

I try to ask about the origin of this crisis when I talk with people who are competent in that, such as politicians and economists. I have yet to been given one clear and convincing answer where this misfortune came from. How did it happen that money disappeared? Where did the falling off of production come from? Well, it would be understandable if the falling off of production were caused by oversaturation, but there is no trace of oversaturation. Classical Marxist economics said that a crisis results from overproduction. Well, maybe, somewhere something extra has been produced but we have not seen or felt such a thing.

There are some hidden, not yet evident to me reasons for the world’s economic crisis. As I always tend to theological introspection, I’ve tried to apply my religious views and my understanding of the world and man to what is happening today. Such an answer is what appears to me: the world today is not only shaken by an economical crisis. We’ve already talked about ecological problems, and the World Russian People’s Council, in the frame of which our gathering today is arranged, is concerned about this problem. It’s completely obvious that we are going through an ecological crisis. We’ve already talked about the culture of post-modernism. For is not everything that is happening in this sphere a cultural crisis? Besides, isn’t there a crisis of national identity? Not long ago at all in this country every, no matter where you looked, there was a crisis, in economy, in culture, in education, and in sports. But if now there is a system crisis, not only here but in the whole world, then, perhaps, there is a common foundation of that crisis? My answer is this. There is a first cause: this is a crisis of the human person, a crisis of moral feeling, and a crisis of a loss of values.

For if moral values are lost, if moral feeling is eclipsed, then why not criminalize economics and not only locally. Why not criminalize it globally? Why not print as many papers of a certain color, which we all know well [meaning dollars], so that it would provoke colossal processes of inflation and, of course, would become one of the reasons of an economic crisis? If morality is taken out of economics then why not do such things and, all the more, if you have a printing press in your own hands? Why not sell those very papers? Money is an equivalent of work and, until recently, only human efforts were called a product, as well as, as the engineers say, the outcome of such efforts, i.e., goods and real valuables. But in the last ten years a majority of the capital was based on a speculative foundation, because money, loans, and all that which the modern financial market is made of began to be sold. People began to get rich quick only playing with currency exchange rates or on the stock market, buying or selling shares. They practically received billions out of thin air; but this is impossible! Money is an equivalent of real labor and real valuables. If there aren’t, however, valuables, how can an economy exist? Only those people and those systems can act such who completely separate economic activity from morality.

It is the very same in the sphere of politics. We lost a lot, including during the 90s, when one thing was declared and something else was done. This is a very painful period in the history of our country. Thank God that this page has been turned and now we should value and preserve that which we have. The Church, being outside of politics and not giving any preference to one or another political power, underlines that today’s policy of the country agrees with our national interests. And God forbid that speculation on economic problems, which currently appeared in our society from outside and not by our own fault, would return us again to the reality of the 90s, when we easily could have lost Russia. We all must be very vigilant, and it’s important to have theological introspection and the voice of conscience also must work well to be able to distinguish truth from lie and good from bad.

I’m deeply convinced, and as patriarch I speak not only about Russia but of historical Rus, of Holy Rus, that if all our people, the people of historical Russia can unite the heavenly and earthly, the Divine and human, faith and knowledge, and morality and the manifestation of the human person in society, we will be very strong, we will be stronger than any crisis. But if we again are seduced by the next “isms,” by other pseudo-phylosophies, which in the informational flow that inundates us as the sign of post-modern reality, then perhaps the country will not withstand that this time.

We live at a responsible time. We have no right for mistakes, and here is why. This morning I served liturgy at Butovo where were killed more than 20 thousand people, many of them priests, monks, nuns, and believers. That is our Russian Golgotha, the Golgotha of our country, because not only were there Russians and Orthodox. It may seem that we can’t learn anything from this tragedy. But, there is something very important: the tragedy of the 20th century gave us unique experience of life without God. Nowhere in the world was undertaken such a radical attempt to construct human happiness without God, and this ended up either at such places as Butovo or with the creation of a superstate, which in an instant collapsed without even a shot being fired. We have experience which no one else has and therefore we don’t have the right for mistakes.

If, setting off with that historical experience, we will act uniting the spiritual and material, then truly we will construct a most prosperous society, which would become an example for many.

Thank you for your attention.

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