XIV. Secular science, culture and education

XIV. 1. Christianity, having overcome heathen prejudice, demythologised nature, thus contributing to the development of natural science. With time, science, both natural and humanitarian, became one of the most important components of culture. By the end of the 20th century, science and technology have achieved such results and influence on all aspects of life as to become in fact the decisive factors in the life of the civilisation. At the same time, despite Christianity’s initial impact on the formation of scientific activity, the development of science and technology under the influence of secular ideologies has led to consequences arousing serious fears. The ecological and other crises, which have hit the modern world, have increasingly challenged the way chosen. The scientific and technological level of the civilisation is such that the criminal actions of a small group of people can cause, in principle within a few hours, a global disaster in which all the highest forms of life will perish irrevocably.

From the Christian perspective, such consequences have arisen because of the false principle lying in the basis of the contemporary scientific and technological development. This principle stipulates a priori that this development should not be restricted by any ethical, philosophical or religious requirements. With this “freedom” however, the scientific and technological development finds itself at the mercy of human passions, first of all vanity, pride and thirst for the greatest possible comfort, which frustrates the spiritual harmony of life with all the ensuing negative developments. Therefore, to ensure normal human life it is necessary today as never before to restore the lost link of scientific knowledge with the religious spiritual and moral values.

The need for this link is also conditioned by the fact that a considerable number of people still believe in the omnipotence of the scientific knowledge. It is partly due to this belief that some atheistically-minded thinkers of the 18th century resolutely opposed science against religion. At the same time, it is commonly accepted that in all times, including the present, many outstanding scientists were and are religious people. It would be impossible if there were fundamental contradictions between religion and science. The scientific and the religious types of knowledge are completely different. They have different points of departure and different goals, tasks and methodologies. These spheres can come in touch and overlap, but cannot oppose each other, because the natural science contains no atheistic or religious theories, but more or less authentic theories, whereas religion does not deal with matter.

Mikhailo Lomonosov rightly wrote that science and religion “cannot come into conflict unless some one excites strife in them out of conceit and desire to show off one’s ingenuity”. St. Philaret of Moscow expressed a similar idea: “The faith in Christ is not in conflict with the true knowledge, because it is not in union with ignorance”. Noteworthy also is the incorrectness of opposing religion to the so-called scientific worldview.

Only religion and philosophy by their very nature can fulfil the function of worldview, which no specific science or concrete scientific knowledge as a whole can assume. A reflection on scientific achievements and on their inclusion in an ideological system, however, can take place in a wide framework beginning from religious to openly atheistic.

Though science may be one of the ways to know God (Rom. 1:19-20), Orthodoxy sees in it also a natural instrument for building life on earth, which is to be used very prudently. The Church warns man against the temptation to view science as a realm completely independent of moral principles. Today’s achievements in various areas, including the physics of fundamental particles, chemistry and microbiology, show that they are essentially a double-edged sword that can both benefit man and take away his life. The evangelical norms of life make it possible to educate a person in such a way that the knowledge and abilities obtained could not be abused. This is why the Church and secular science are called to co-operation for the sake of life and its proper order. Their interaction contributes to the healthy creative climate in the spiritual and intellectual sphere, thus helping to create the best conditions for the development of scientific research.

Prominence should be given to social sciences which by their nature are inevitably linked with theology, church history and canon law. While welcoming the works of secular scientists in this area and recognising the importance of humanitarian studies, the Church does not consider the rational picture of the world, sometimes formed by these studies, to be complete and comprehensive. The religious worldview cannot be rejected as a source of the ideas of truth and the understanding of history, ethics and many other humanitarian sciences which have the reason and right to be present in the system of secular education and formation and in the building of social life. It is only the combination of spiritual experience and scientific knowledge that ensures the fullness of cognisance. No social system can be described as harmonious as long as it gives monopoly to the secular worldview in making socially significant judgements. Unfortunately, there is still a danger of ideologised science for which the nations have paid too high a price in the 20th century. This ideologisation is especially dangerous in the area of social studies which are laid in the bases of state programs and political projects. While opposing attempt to substitute ideology for science, the Church supports the especially important dialogue with humanitarian scholars.

Man as the image and likeness of the Incomprehensible Creator is free in his mysterious depths. The Church warns against the attempts to use the scientific and technological progress for establishing control over the inner world of the personality, for creating any technologies making it possible to infuse and manipulate the human consciousness or sub-consciousness.

XIV. 2. The Latin word cultura meaning cultivation, breeding, education, development is derived from cultus meaning veneration, worship, cult. This points to the religious roots of culture. Having created man, God put him in paradise and ordered him to cultivate and keep His creation (Gen. 2:15). Culture as the preservation of the world around man and care of it is a God-commanded duty of man. After the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, human beings had to face the need to struggle for survival. They began producing instruments of labour, to build cities, to develop agriculture and arts. The church fathers and doctors emphasised the divine origin of culture. Clement of Alexandria, in particular perceived it as a fruit of the human creative work under the guidance of the Logos. He said that “Scripture gives the common name of wisdom to all the earthly sciences and arts generally, everything that the human mind can achieve for every art and every knowledge comes from God”. St. Gregory the Theologian wrote: “Just as in subtle musical harmony every string produces a different sound, one high, another low, so also the Artist and Creator-Word, having installed different inventors for various occupations and arts, has given everything in the possession of all those who wish in order to tie us by the bonds of fellowship and love of man and make our life more civilised”.

The Church has assimilated much from what has been created by humanity in art and culture, re-melting the fruits of creative work in the furnace of religious experience in the desire to cleanse them of spiritually pernicious elements and then to offer them to people. She sanctifies various aspects of culture and gives much for its development. The Orthodox icon-painter, poet, philosopher, musician, architect, artist and writer all use the means of art to express the experience of spiritual renewal they have found in themselves and wish to offer to others. The Church makes it possible to see man, his inner world and the meaning of his life in a new light. As a result, the human creativity in its churching returns to its original religious roots. The Church helps culture to cross the boundaries of a purely earthly pursuit. Offering it a way to cleanse the heart and unite with the Creator she makes it open for co-work with God.

The secular culture can be a bearer of the good news. It is especially important in those cases when Christian influence in society weakens or when the secular authorities inter in an open struggle with the Church. Thus, in the years of state atheism, the Russian classic literature, poetry, painting and music became for many almost the only sources of religious knowledge. Cultural traditions help to preserve and enrich the spiritual heritage in a rapidly changing world. This is true for various kinds of creativity, such as literature, representational arts, music, architecture, drama and cinematography. For the preaching of Christ any creative style is suitable if the artist is sincerely pious in his intentions and if he keeps faithful to the Lord.

The Church has always made this appeal to the people of culture: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). At the same time, the Church gives this warning: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 Jn. 4:1). Man has not always been spiritually sharp-sighted enough to distinguish between genuine divine inspiration and ecstatic “inspiration” behind which stand dark forces making a destructive impact on man. The latter happens, in particular, when people come in touch with the world of magic and sorcery or take up drugs. The church education helps a person to find the spiritual sight enabling him to distinguish between good and bad and between the divine and the demonic.

The encounter between the Church and culture does not at all always mean just co-operation and mutual enrichment. “The True Word, when it came, showed that not every opinion and every teachings is good, but some are good, while others are bad” (St. Justin the Philosopher). Recognising every man’s right to give a moral assessment to cultural developments, the Church reserves the same right to herself too. Moreover, she sees in it her direct obligation. Without insisting that the church evaluation system should be the only one accepted in secular society and state, the Church is convinced of the ultimate truth and salvific nature of the way revealed to her in the Gospel. If a creative work contributes to the moral and spiritual transformation of the personality, the Church gives her blessing upon it. But if culture puts itself in opposition to God, becoming anti-religious and anti-humane and turning into anti-culture, the Church opposes it. However, this opposition is not a struggle against the bearers of this culture, for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but our struggle is spiritual, aimed to deliver people from the pernicious impact made on their souls by dark forces, “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

The eschatological aspiration of the Christian does not allow him to identify his life fully with the world of culture, “for here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13:14). The Christian can live and work in this world, but he should not be fully absorbed in the earthly activity. The Church reminds the people of culture that their calling is to cultivate people’s souls, including their own, seeking to restore in them the image of God distorted by sin.

Preaching the eternal Truth of Christ to people living in changing historical situations, the Church does it through cultural forms peculiar to the time, nation and various social groups. What has been experienced by some peoples and generations has to be sometimes interpreted anew to others in a way familiar and understandable for them. No culture can be regarded as the only one acceptable for the expression of the Christian spiritual message. The verbal and graphic language of preaching, its ways and means, are changed naturally in the course of history and vary depending on the national and other contexts. At the same time, the changeable moods of the world cannot be the grounds for rejecting the worthy heritage of the past centuries and all the more so for consigning the church Tradition to oblivion.

XIV. 3. Christian tradition has always respected the secular education. Many church fathers studied in secular schools and academies and considered the disciplines taught in them to be necessary for a believing man. St. Basil the Great wrote that “external sciences are not without use” for a Christian who should borrow from them everything that contributes to his moral improvement and intellectual growth. According to St. Gregory the Theologian, “every one who has an intellect recognises scholarship (paideusin) as a primary blessing for us. And not only this noble scholarship of our own, which has as its subject only salvation and the beauty of what is contemplated by the mind, but also the external scholarship which many Christians abhor out of ignorance as unreliable, dangerous and diverting from God”.

From the Orthodox perspective, it is desirable that the entire educational system should be built on religious principles and based on Christian values. Nevertheless, the Church, following the age-old tradition, respects the secular school and is willing to build relations with it on the basis of human freedom. At the same time, the Church considers it inadmissible to impose on students anti-religious and anti-Christian ideas and to assert the monopoly of the materialistic worldview (see XIV. 1). The situation typical of many countries in the 20th century when state-run schools were made instruments of militant atheistic education should not be repeated. The Church calls to remove the consequences of atheistic control over the system of public education.

Unfortunately, the role of religion as forming the spiritual self-awareness of peoples is underestimated in many curricula on history to this day. The Church keeps reminding people of the contribution Christianity has made to the treasury of the world and national cultures. The Orthodox believers regret the attempts to borrow uncritically the educational standards, principles and curricula of the organisations known for their negative attitude to Christianity in general and to Orthodoxy in particular. The danger of occult and neo-heathen influences and destructive sects penetrating into the secular school should not be ignored either, as under their impact a child can be lost for himself, for his family and for society.

The Church believes it beneficial and necessary to conduct optional classes on Christian faith in secular schools, at the request of children or parents, and in higher educational institutions. The church authorities should conduct dialogue with the government aimed to seal in the legislation and practice the internationally accepted right of believing families to the religious education and upbringing of their children. To this end, the Church has also established Orthodox institutions of general education and expects that they will be supported by the state.

School is a mediator that hands over to new generations the moral values accumulated in the previous centuries. School and the Church are called to co-operation in this task. Education, especially that of children and adolescents, is called not only to convey information. To warm up in young hearts the aspiration for the Truth, authentic morality, love of their neighbours and homeland and its history and culture is a school’s task no smaller but perhaps even greater than that of giving knowledge. The Church is called and seeks to help school in its educational mission, for it is the spirituality and morality of a person that determines his eternal salvation, as well as the future of individual nations and the entire human race.

Continue on to XV. The Church and the Mass Media from The Orthodox Church and Society

XV. Church and mass media

XV. 1. The mass media play an ever-increasing role in the contemporary world. The Church respects the work of journalists called to provide the public at large with information about the world developments, helping people to orient themselves in today’s complex reality. It is important to remember at the same time that the information of the spectator, listener and reader should be based not only on the firm commitment to the truth, but also concern for the moral state of the individual and society. This involves the interpretation of positive ideals as well as the struggle with the spreading of evil, sin and vice. The propaganda of violence, enmity and hatred and ethnic, social and religious discord and the sinful exploitation of human instincts, including for commercial purposes, are inadmissible. The mass media, which have an enormous influence on the audience, bear a great responsibility for the education of people, especially the younger generation. Journalists and mass media executives should never forget about this responsibility.

XV. 2. The educational, tutorial and social and peacemaking mission of the Church compels her to maintain co-operation with the secular mass media capable of bringing her message to various sections of society. St. Peter calls Christians: “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). Any clergyman or lay person is called be duly attentive to contacts with the secular mass media with the view of carrying out their pastoral and educational work and awakening the interest of secular society in various aspects of church life and Christian culture. In doing so, it is necessary to show wisdom, responsibility and prudence with regard to the stand of a particular mass medium on faith and the Church, its moral orientation and relationships with the church authorities. The Orthodox laity may be employed by the mass media and in their work they are called to be preachers and implementers of Christian moral ideals. Journalists who publish materials corrupting human souls should be subjected to canonical interdictions if they belong to the Orthodox Church.

The Church has her own media means, blessed by the church authorities, within each of the specific mass media types (printing, radio-electronic, computer). She is present there either through official institutions or private initiatives of the clergy and laity. At the same time, the Church interacts with the secular mass media through her institutions and empowered representatives. This interaction is carried out both through creating special forms of church presence in the secular mass media, such as special supplements to newspapers and magazines, special page, TV and radio series and rubrics, and participating in various forms of public dialogues and debates. The Church also gives consultative assistance to journalists, distributes reports prepared specially for them, provides them reference materials as well as audio and video aids, such as films, recordings and reproductions.

The co-operation of the Church and the mass media presupposes mutual responsibility. The information given to a journalist to be conveyed to an audience should be reliable. Opinions of the clergy or other representatives of the Church, reported through the mass media, should conform to her teaching and stand on public issues. If a purely private opinion is expressed, it should be clearly stated both by the person who speaks through the mass media and those responsible for communicating it. The co-operation of clergy and church institutions with the mass media should be carried out under the guidance of the church authorities if the coverage concerns church-wide activities and the guidance of the diocesan authorities in reporting the life of a diocese on the regional level.

XV. 3. As the Church and the mass media develop their relations, complications and even serious conflicts may arise. Problems may arise, in particular, because of inaccurate or distorted information about church life, putting her in an inappropriate context, confusing the personal stand of a reporter or a person cited with the stand of the whole Church. Relationships between the Church and the mass media are often darkened also through the fault of clergy and laity themselves, for instance, when they refuse without justification to give journalists access to information or react oversensitively to correct and proper criticism. Such problems should be resolved in the spirit of peaceful dialogue with the aim to remove misunderstandings and to continue co-operation.

At the same time, more profound and principled conflicts have been seen to emerge in relations between the Church and the secular mass media. This happens whenever the name of God is blasphemed, other blasphemies are pronounced, the information about church life is systematically distorted consciously and the Church and her servants are deliberately slandered. In case of such conflicts, the supreme church authorities (with regard to the national mass media) or the diocesan bishop (with regard to the regional and local mass media) after issuing an appropriate warning and at least one attempt to enter into negotiations, may take the following steps: to rupture relations with the mass medium or journalist concerned; to call upon the faithful to boycott the given mass medium; to apply to the governmental bodies help settle the conflict; to subject those guilty of sinful actions to canonical prohibitions if they are Orthodox Christians. The above-mentioned actions should be documented and made known to the flock and society as a whole.

Continue on to XVI. International Relations; Problems of Globalization and Secularism from The Orthodox Church and Society

XVI. International relations

Problems of globalisation and secularism

XVI. 1. Nations and states enter into economic, political, military and other relations with one another. As a result, states emerge or disappear, change their borders, unite or break up, create or abolish various unions. In Holy Scriptures, there is much historical evidence about the building of international relations.

One of the first example of an inter-tribal treaty concluded between a master of a land, Abemelech, and a stranger, Abraham, is given in the Book of Genesis: “Abemelech spake into Abraham, saying: Now swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear and both of them made a covenant” (Gen. 21:22-24, 27). Treaties reduced the danger of war and confrontation (Gen. 26:26-31; Jos. 9:3-27). Sometimes negotiations and demonstrations of good will prevented bloodshed (1 Sam. 25:18-35; 2 Sam. 21:15-22). Treaties ended wars (1 King 20:26-34). The Bible mentions military unions (Gen. 14:13; Judg. 3:12-13; 1 Kings 22:2-29; Jer. 37:5-7). Sometimes the military aid was bought for money or other material goods (2 Kings 16:7-9; 1 Kings 15:17-20). The agreement between Hiram and Solomon was actually an economic union: “My servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians and they two made a league together” (1 Kings 5:6, 12). Negotiations through envoys was used to settle such matters as the passing of armed people through others’ land (Num. 20:14-17; 21:21-22) and territorial disputes (Judg. 11:12-28). Treaties could include the transfer of a land from one people to another (1 Kings 9:10-12; 1 Kings 20:34).

The Bible also contains descriptions of diplomatic ruses resorted to in order to be protected from a powerful enemy (Jos. 9:3-27; 2 Sam. 15:32-37; 16:16-19; 17:1-16). Sometimes peace was bought (2 Kings 12:18) or paid for by tribute. Certainly, one of the means for settling disputes and conflicts was war and the Old Testament books abound in references to it. However, in Holy Scriptures there are examples of negotiations aimed to avoid war immediately before it threatens to begin (2 Kings 14:9-10). The practice of reaching agreement in the Old Testament times was based on religious and moral principles. Thus, even a treaty with the Gibeonites, who used deception to reach it, was recognised as valid by virtue of its sacred formula: “We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them” (Jos. 9:19). The Bible contains a prohibition on concluding union with vicious pagan tribes (Ex. 34:15). However, the Hebrews occasionally swerved from this commandment. Various treaties and unions were also often broken.

The Christian ideal of a nation’s and government’s behaviour in international relations lies in the Golden Rule: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Mt. 7:12). Applying this principle not only to personal but also social life, Orthodox Christians should remember that “God is not in power but in truth”. At the same time, if justice is violated, restrictive and even forceful actions are often needed towards other nations and states to rectify it. The human nature being distorted by sin, nations and states inevitably have differing interests dictated by the desire to possess land, to enjoy political and military dominion, to derive maximum possible profit from production and trade. Arising for this reason, the need to defend fellow countrymen places certain restrictions on the readiness of the individual to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of other people. Nevertheless, Orthodox Christians and their communities are called to strive for such international relations which would promote in the greatest possible degree the welfare and legitimate interests of their own people, neighbouring nations and the entire human family.

Relationships among nations and states should be directed to peace, mutual aid and co-operation. St. Paul enjoins the Christians: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). St. Philaret of Moscow, in his speech on the occasion of the 1856 peace treaty, says: “Let us remember the law and fulfil the will of the Divine Prince of Peace not to remember evil, to forgive offences and to be in peace even with ‘him that hateth peace’ (Ps. 120:6), and the more so with those who offer an end of enmity and a hand of peace”. Conscious that international disputes and contradictions are inevitable in a fallen world, the Church calls the powers that be to settle any conflicts through search for mutually acceptable decision. She identifies with the victims of aggression and illegitimate and morally unjustifiable political pressure from outside. The use of military force is believed by the Church to be the last resort in defence against armed aggression from other states. This defence can also be carried out on the basis of assistance by a state which is not an immediate object of attack at the one attacked.

States base their relations with the outside world on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. These principles are viewed by the Church as basic for the defence by a people of their legitimate interests and as the corner stone of international treaties and, therefore, of entire international law. At the same time, it is evident to the Christian consciousness that any human ordinance, including the sovereign power of a state, is relative before Almighty God. History has shown that the life, borders and forms of states are changeable as created not only on the territorial and ethnic, but also economic, political, military and other suchlike grounds. Without denying the historical significance of the mono-ethnic state, the Orthodox Church at the same time welcomes the voluntary unification of nations into one entity and the creation of multinational states if the rights of any people are not violated in them. At the same time, it should be admitted that in today’s world there is a certain contradiction between the universally accepted principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity on the one hand, and the search by a people or part of them for state independence, on the other. Disputes and conflicts arising from this contradiction should be settled by peaceful means, on the basis of dialogue, with the greatest possible agreement between the parties. Remembering that unity is good and disunity is bad, the Church welcomes the tendencies for unification of countries and nations, especially those with common history and culture, provided that this unification is not directed against a third party. The Church grieves when with the division of a multiethnic state the historical community of people is destroyed, their rights are violated and suffering comes to their life. The division of a multinational state can be justified only if one of the peoples is clearly oppressed or the majority of a country do not show a definite will to preserve unity.

Recent history has shown that the separation of several states in Eurasia has brought an artificial rupture between peoples, families and business communities and led to the forced resettling and ousting of various ethnic, religious and social groups, in which they have also lost their shrines. The attempt to create mono-national states on the ruins of unions have led to bloody inter-ethnic conflicts which shook Eastern Europe.

In view of the above-mentioned, it is necessary to recognise the benefit of inter-state unions which have as their goals to unite efforts in political and economic spheres, to create common defence against external threats and to help the victims of aggression. The inter-state co-operation in economy and trade should fall under the same ethical rules as the individual economic and entrepreneurial activity. Interaction of nations and states in this field should be based on honesty, justice and desire to make the fruits of common labour acceptable to all participants in it (see XVI. 3). International co-operation in cultural, scientific, educational and informational fields is welcome if it is built on the basis of equability and mutual respect and is aimed to enrich the experience, knowledge and creativity of every participating nation.

XVI. 2. In the 20th century, multilateral inter-state agreements resulted in the establishment of a comprehensive system of international law obligatory for signatories of its conventions. There are also international organisations whose resolutions are obligatory for their member states. Some of these organisations have powers delegated to them by governments to be exercised in economic, political and military activities and applied not only in international relations but also the internal life of nations. Legal and political regionalisation and globalisation are becoming a reality.

On the one hand, the development of inter-state relations in this direction helps to intensify commercial, industrial, military, political and other co-operation the necessity dictated by the natural intensification of international relations and the need for a common response to the global challenges of time. In the history of Orthodoxy, there are examples of the positive influence made by the Church on the development of regional inter-state relations. International organisations help to settle various disputes and conflicts. On the other hand, the danger of differences that may emerge between people’s will and international organisations’ decisions should not be underestimated. These organisations may become instruments for the unfair domination of strong over weak countries, rich over poor, the technologically and informationally developed over the rest. They also may practice double standards by applying international law in the interests of more influential states.

All this compels the Orthodox Church to take a critical and careful approach to the legal and political internalisation, calling the powers that be, both on national and international levels, to utter responsibility. Any decision involved in concluding a fateful international treaty and defining the country’s stand within an international organisation should be made in accordance of the will of the people fully and objectively informed of the nature and consequences of the decisions planned. In implementing a policy obligatory by an international agreement or action of an international organisation, governments should maintain the spiritual, cultural and other identity of their countries and nations and the legitimate interests of their states. Within international organisations themselves, it is necessary to ensure the equality of sovereign states in access to decision-making and in the right of casting vote, especially in defining basic international standards. Conflict situations and disputes should be resolved only with the participation and consent of all the parties whose vital interests are involved in every particular case. The adoption of compulsory decisions without consent of a state to be directly affected appears possible only in case of an aggression or massacre within this country.

Keeping in mind the need to exert spiritual and moral influence on the actions of political leaders, to co-operate with them, to show concern for the needs of people and individuals, the Church inters into dialogue and co-operation with international organisations. Within this process, she invariably shows her conviction in the absolute importance of faith and spirituality for human work, decisions and laws.

XVI. 3. The globalisation has not only political and legal, but also economic and cultural-informational dimensions. In economy, it is manifested in the emergence of transnational corporations which have accumulated considerable material and financial resources and have employed an enormous number of people in various countries. Those standing at the head of international economic and financial structures have concentrated in their hands a great power beyond the control of nations and even governments and beyond any limit, be it a national border, an ethnic and cultural identity or the need for ecological and demographical sustainability. Sometimes they refuse to reckon with the customs and religious traditions of the nations involved in the implementation of their plans. The Church cannot but be concerned also for the practice of financial speculations obliterating the dependence of income on the effort spent. Among various forms of this speculation are “financial pyramids” the collapse of which causes large-scale upheaval. In general, such changes in economy result in the loss of priority that labour and man have over capital and means of production.

In the field of culture and information, the globalisation has been conditioned by the development of technologies facilitating the movement of people and objects and the acquisition and distribution of information. Societies, which were separated earlier by distances and borders and therefore predominantly homogeneous, now come in touch easily and become multicultural. This process, however, has been accompanied by attempts to establish the dominion of the rich elite over the rest of the people and of some cultures and worldveiws over others, which is especially intolerable in the religious field. As a result, there is a tendency to present as the only possible a universal culture devoid of any spirituality and based on the freedom of the fallen man unrestricted in anything as the absolute value and measure-stick of the truth. The globalisation developing in this way is compared by many in Christendom to the construction of the Tower of Babel.

While recognising the globalisation as inevitable and natural and in many ways facilitating people’s communication, dissemination of information and more effective production and enterprise, the Church points to the internal contradictions of these process and to their threats. Firstly, the globalisation begins to change, along with the conventional ways of organising production, the conventional ways of organise society and exercising power. Secondly, many positive fruits of the globalisation are available only to nations comprising a smaller part of humanity, but having a similar economic and political system. Other nations to whom five sixths of the global population belong have found themselves on the margins of the world civilisation. They have been caught in debt dependence on financiers in a few industrial countries and cannot create dignified living conditions for themselves. Discontent and disillusionment are growing among them.

The Church raises the question concerning the need to establish comprehensive control over transnational corporations and the processes taking place in the financial sector of economy. This control, aimed to subject any entrepreneurial and financial activity to the interests of man and people, should be exercised through all mechanisms available in society and state.

The spiritual and cultural expansion fraught with total unification should be opposed through the joint efforts of the Church, state structures, civil society and international organisations for the sake of asserting in the world a truly equitable and mutually enriching cultural and informational exchange combined with efforts to protect the identity of nations and other human communities. One of the ways to do it is to ensure for countries and nations an access to basic technological resources which will enable them to disseminate and receive information on the global scale. The Church reminds that many national cultures have Christian roots. The followers of Christ therefore are called to promote the interconnectedness of the faith and the cultural heritage of nations, opposing resolutely any manifestations of anti-culture and commercialisation of the space allocated to information and arts.

Generally, the challenge of globalisation demands that contemporary society should give an appropriate response based on concern for the peaceful and dignified life for all people and combined with efforts for their spiritual perfection. In addition, efforts should be made to achieve such a world order which would be based on the principles of justice and the equality of people before God and exclude any suppression of their will by the centres of political, economic and informational influence.

XVI. 4. The contemporary international legal system is based on the priority given to the interests of the earthly life of man and human communities over religious values (especially in those cases when the former and the latter come into conflict). This priority is sealed in the national legislation of many countries. It is often built in the principles regulating various activities of the governmental bodies, public educational system, etc. Many influential public mechanisms use the same principle in their open confrontation with faith and the Church, aimed to oust them from public life. These manifestations create a general picture of the secularisation of public and social life.

While respecting the worldview of non-religious people and their right to influence social processes, the Church cannot favour a world order that puts in the centre of everything the human personality darkened by sin. This is why, invariably open to co-operation with people of non-religious convictions, the Church seeks to assert Christian values in the process of decision-making on the most important public issues both on national and international levels. She strives for the recognition of the legality of religious worldview as a basis for socially significant action (including those taken by state) and as an essential factor which should influence the development (amendment) of international law and the work of international organisations.

[end of text]

From The Orthodox Church and Society