Russian Orthodox Church sacks outspoken cleric in Moscow

AP News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2015 3:51 PM
Russian Orthodox Church sacks outspoken cleric in Moscow

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Orthodox Church has sacked an outspoken official who pushed the church to take a more aggressive role in public life.

Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who has headed the Moscow Patriarchate's department for cooperation between church and society since 2009, has been released of his duties and his department has been disbanded. The church explained its decision Thursday by citing the need to increase efficiency.

Following his ouster, Chaplin issued strong criticism of Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, saying on Dozhd TV that the two men had "seriously disagreed" over the church's role. He added the church should be more independent and not ingratiate itself with government officials. He also said it should publicly condemn official corruption.

The 47-year-old Chaplin described his dismissal as an attempt to purge the church of independent voices.

Chaplin long has attracted attention with outspoken statements on topics ranging from spiritual matters to fashion. He famously said once said women should dress more modestly to avoid provoking rapes.

He recently said that Russia was waging a "holy war" against extremists in Syria, drawing strong criticism.