Orthodox youth to be united into All-Russian movement

The Orthodox Church plans to unite numerous separate orthodox Christian youth organizations into an all-Russian movement which would do charity and missionary work and take care of the spiritual development of young people.

The initiative was put forward by the Moscow Council of Orthodox Youth Organizations, which has now sent its proposal to the Russian Orthodox Church for approval, writes Vedomosti daily.

The controversial Pussy Riot case has revealed that people are not aware of the Church’s activities and its principles, the council’s coordinator, Vadim Kvyatkovsky told the paper. So, one of the goals of the new association will be to explain these principles to young people, and to educate them. The movement members will also be involved in volunteering, he added.

Currently, there are about 300 regional organizations for young believers in the country. The creation of the All-Russian association would improve the coordination of their activities and the communication between them, the authors of the initiative believe.

The new structure will work as a movement – no legal proceedings are planned for its registration. According to the Moscow Orthodox Youth Group Bishop Ignaty Bronnitsky, who heads the Synodal department on youth affairs, will head the new unified body. It will be overseen by a coordination council comprised of leaders of regional organizations.

President Vladimir Putin has promised to support the movement.

“Nothing is more important in society than the moral principles that form its foundation, nothing. Everything else is secondary,” he stressed commenting on the idea at the pro-Kremlin youth forum, Seliger, in July.

He admitted the work of young people in religious organizations belonging to traditional confessions is very important. However, he warned against forcing youngsters to join any organizations.

There is no need to create “some new quasi-Orthodox Komsomol” (in the USSR the Komsomol was a youth division of the Communist party)," Putin stressed. "No one can be forcefully driven into organizations and associations, but a voluntary unification will, of course, be welcomed and supported," he added.

Bishop Bronnitsky says the idea has nothing to do with anything like Komsomol or any other organization with a strict set of rules.

Being involved in the life of the Church is always “a person’s own moral choice,” which cannot be imposed on anyone, he said in an article published on the Moscow Patriarchate’s website.

The membership in Komsomol gave privileges – such as career opportunities or a chance to join a university, the clerics pointed out. An orthodox movement provides no such benefits, he noted. So, any talks about the possibility of imposing an ideology or beliefs within such organizations make no sense, the bishop underlined.