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Metropolitan Korniliy on the problem of drunkenness in Russia

The problem of drunkenness, drug addiction, smoking and other sinful habits is very acute and, unfortunately, is now escalating into a humanitarian catastrophe in Russia, which has wrought upon our country one of the highest death and crime rates in the world, threatening our security and authority in the world. It is regrettable that, unlike our comprehension of the dangers of epidemics or natural disasters, we have not yet consciously penetrated the perniciousness of drunkenness, which depersonalises a human being, kills the image and likeness of God within them, equates them to dumb animals, and at times reduces them to a deeper failure, considering that no animal will voluntarily drink alcohol.

Drunkenness is our public, Russian misfortune, shame and pain, and should be fought together with the whole world, asking for God’s help in this difficult task.

The Old Belief throughout its history has never approved of the consumption of spirits, and maintained that sobriety is the norm of life. Old-believers have always been advocates of sobriety and temperate lifestyle. So, the Old-believers’ Church Council, which was held exactly 100 years ago in 1909, in its resolution calls upon all Christians to embody a good life, to preach and exhort via discourse and instruction, with the creation of communities and unions of sobriety in the struggle against drunkenness and other vices.

Over the past hundred years, the severity of this problem has largely increased and today the “terror of alcohol” is a national disaster leading at an ever-increasing rate toward the self-destruction of the Russian nation. Alcoholism and other vices are today’s retribution to the Russian people for their apostasy from God stemming from the periods of the church schism and atheistic Soviet education.

An undeclared war is now being waged against Russia, the tactics of which are to destroy the Russian people with wine, tobacco, drugs, debauchery, etc. In this war, we continue to lose millions of compatriots, with our children in the most part being born in sickness, both spiritually and physically. With these weapons of mass destruction, we annihilate ourselves to the joy of our opponents.

The history of our Motherland, Russia, is grand and glorious, but, through our inactivity, we can end it very disgracefully, and, most frighteningly of all, very quickly. This is evidenced by the statistics and inexorable evidence of our reality.

Nowadays, complaints are being levelled at the government regarding the insufficient amount of tough measures being taken in the fight against alcoholism, drug addiction and other vices, with propositions being made to drastically change the anti-alcoholism policy and to introduce bans. But this problem will not be solved by means of prohibition, since the forbidden fruit is sweet. Historically, such prohibitive campaigns, as a rule, did not bring about desired results. Although, undoubtedly, today it is necessary to limit the availability and advertisement of alcohol, and to employ legal measures to counteract the spread of alcoholism, especially among young people. It is necessary to create such a moral and psychological environment in our society, wherein being drunk or walking down the street carrying a bottle of beer, is viewed as shameful, ugly, and ultimately “not fashionable”.

But first we need to understand that the cause of our misfortunes does not arise from the actions of our enemies nor the external forces of evil, nor in the insufficient inclemency of the government in this matter, but within ourselves. So we must commence with ourselves, to show a personal example in this difficult but immensely important matter, to express a solid intention and start a sober life.

The main emphasis in the struggle for sobriety and the eradication of other harmful habits should be placed not on prohibitive and coercive measures, but on the religious re-education of the consciousness of people, because a person who consciously chooses a sober way of life to save his soul is many times more reliable and more valuable than one who was coerced into abstinence.

The battle against drunkenness and other vices in Russia is a field of joint operation of religious and public organisations, and as such we can only welcome and support the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate in the fight against this evil.

In conclusion, I want to express the hope that our people, turning to God for help, will find the strength not to lose heart and, in overcoming all spiritual and material crises, they will be revived and acquire their former glory and greatness.

From an interview with the web-portal “Arguments and Facts” 2009