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24 Dec, 2023 21:01

Christian leader calls for ‘extraordinary’ demographic measures

Russia must take urgent action to ensure the “proliferation” of its people, Patriarch Kirill believes
Christian leader calls for ‘extraordinary’ demographic measures

Russia must take “extraordinary and effective measures” to fix its demographic situation, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, has said.

Speaking during an annual Eparchial meeting in Moscow earlier this week, the Patriarch described boosting the country’s birth rates as an “imperative” for its survival. 

“The well-being of the family, this small Church, and the proliferation of our people is an absolute imperative for the survival of our Fatherland,” Patriarch Kirill stated in his speech, which was carried by the Russian Orthodox Church press service.

“I’ll put it straight: if extraordinary and effective measures are not taken, then not during the lifetime of this generation, but during the next generations already, Russia may cease to be a great power, which means a potential loss of territories and, possibly, its disappearance as a single country,” he added.

The Patriarch reflected on the exhortation he made last year to ensure protection of family values through various means, including meaningful economic support of parents with children. Thus far, little progress on that path has been made, he admitted.

“Unfortunately, I cannot say that anything has changed drastically in this aspect over the past year, although we do hear about some progress. I hope that the announcement [by Russian President Vladimir Putin] of next year as the Year of the Family will serve to seriously change the situation,” Kirill stressed.

The patriarch criticized the “multifold disproportion” of support enjoyed by families with foster children and with those sired themselves. “Perhaps, if the blood families whose children end up in orphanages received at least a small share of the funds allocated for the care of these children in orphanages, then these children would not be left without parental care,” he suggested. 

At the same time, the Patriarch warned against attracting more migrants into the country, which some might see as a quick way to alleviate the demographics issues. Should the current immigration trends continue, the country might ultimately lose its identity, he warned. 

“The situation has worsened compared to last year,” the patriarch said. “The desire to obtain cheap labor for the sake of mainly short-term economic benefits should not attract to our motherland a huge number of people belonging to a different culture, who often do not speak Russian and have no respect for Russia and the peoples who live here,” he added.