On October 21, 2020, at the age of 70, Archpriest Dimitri Smirnov, Honorary Chairman of the Patriarch’s Commission for the Family, Protection of Motherhood and Childhood of the Russian Orthodox Church, reposed in the Lord.
For many years he served as a priest in various churches in Moscow and the Moscow region, but was widely known throughout Russia and abroad. Not only Orthodox Christians, but also many other people sincerely respected and loved him.
Over the years of his ministry, he did a lot to protect human life and family, preserve and revive the moral and family values of Russian people.
In 2013, Father Dimitri headed the Patriarch’s Commission for the Family, Protection of Motherhood and Childhood as its chairman. This difficult service, which he performed, continuing to provide pastoral care to his parishioners, brought important and abundant fruits. More than once the voice of Father Dimitri and the Commission headed by him helped to prevent legislative decisions that were dangerous for the family, to direct public figures and politicians towards the real protection of children and their parents.
His work in the field of protecting family and life was known not only in Russia, but also internationally. Father Dimitri met a lot with representatives of foreign non-governmental organizations, actively participated in the work of the World Congress of Families.
Since August 2020, he was relieved of his post as chairman of the Patriarch’s Commission for the Family due to health reasons, but remained its honorary chairman, was always keenly interested in its work and accompanied it with his prayers.
We deeply mourn this loss and sincerely condole with all the family and friends of Father Dimitri.
Father Dimitri has spoken at the World Congress of Families more than once. We publish his last—and very important—speech of this kind, from World Congress of Families XIII in Verona in 2019, in full below.
Let it become a parting word from Father Demetrius to all of us, whose earthly labors to protect family and life have not yet been completed.
It is worth noting that Father Dimitri truly knew the meaning of the phrase “totalitarian regime” – he was the great-grandson of Vasily Smirnov, who was shot by the NKVD in 1938 and was buried in a common grave at the Butovo shooting range near Moscow. In 2000, priest Vasily Smirnov was canonized by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church as a holy martyr.
Dear brothers and sisters!
I will not torment you with my terrible English, I will speak Russian.
At our Congress, it has been said more than once that if a house is deprived of its foundation, it will collapse. The foundation is the base of the building. Humanity, any society in history, also has a foundation. It is the natural moral norms that the Creator, the Heavenly Father, has put into human nature. And these norms have a very specific living embodiment – this is the family. And every nation on our earth, and the entire great edifice of humanity, relies on the family.
We can say that human nature is a family. The Bible says: “Male and female He created them.” If God did not need a family, He would not have created Eve out of Adam.
Remove and destroy the family – and humanity will quickly collapse like a house of cards.
But this is what many irresponsible people are trying to do today.
They are trying to destroy the building of humanity by attacking its most important, fundamental pillars. Sometimes these pillars are attacked separately, sometimes simultaneously, but the purpose of these attacks is the same – this is the destruction of the family, which means the murder of humanity.
These pillars: marriage between a man and a woman and the natural family based on it (and this is the only real marriage and family); it is respect for human life from the moment of conception to natural death; it is the natural rights of parents linked to the upbringing and education of children, and freedom of religion.
They are all inextricably linked. The destruction of any of them – of those pillars – will bring down the entire building.
And therefore, today all sane and reasonable people have a moral duty – to jointly protect the family and all these principles. Each state, if it really cares about the welfare of its people, is called upon to protect and to guard these foundations, including at the legislative level. Their importance is recognized by all traditional religious communities. They should be protected by religious and public figures, scientists and politicians.
By doing this, we are only protecting humanity from complete destruction – self-destruction and dehumanization.
Alas, in many countries of the world today we see a different course of action, sometimes reaching the level of direct attempts to bring down the foundations of society. For this, political and legislative levers are used. For this, radical totalitarian ideologies are used, imposed by force, as were once imposed ideologies of Nazism, communism and similar.
All this activity is built on lies. Without any grounds they give out for “human rights” what in fact destroys human existence. At the level of international structures and national legislation, norms are approved that accept and encourage cohabitation outside of marriage, divorce, abortion, gender ideology, surrogacy, all types of sexual promiscuity, the destruction of the authority and rule of parents in the family. In our country, Russia, we also see the impact of these destructive actions.
If humanity wants to live, it must return the family to the center of its being.
Fortunately, the people who are trying to protect humanity are not inactive. There are very good organizations in many countries around the world that fight against abortion and protect the life of unborn children. The protection of life, the protection of marriage, the natural family is a struggle for genuine human rights, against lies and madness implanted through violence and manipulation. What human rights can there be without life and family, if without them there will be no man himself?
Our opponents don’t see simple things. There is a lot of talk about “human rights”. But does a person have the right to simply live on the earth for the time allotted to him/her? If so, what right does a person have to have an abortion? When a small person is not given the opportunity to live – on what basis? That it is very democratic?
There is another important area, which, unfortunately, is receiving less attention in the world today than necessary. It is the protection of the rights of parents to freely, without unjustified interference from the state and other persons, bring about the upbringing and education of their children. Protection of the rights and freedom of parents in the field of upbringing and education.
Attempts, under various pretexts, to limit the rights of parents, to deprive them of the opportunity to arrange family life at their own discretion, to bring up and educate their children, and to shape them morally is a terrible evil. In the 20th century, this is exactly what the most inhuman totalitarian regimes were doing.
This is often done under the pretext of protecting the rights of children, which are interpreted arbitrarily and broadly, opposing them to the rights of families and parents. It also leads to the destruction of families and communities.
Real concern for the protection of the genuine rights and interests of children requires that in society and the state care for the family is at the forefront, that the authority of parents, their rights in the field of raising and educating children, is recognized and protected. For a child to be truly protected, it is necessary, first of all, to guarantee and protect the rights of his parents by law. It is the parents who should make decisions regarding the education of children, take care of their moral formation, choose the methods of education and family discipline. No one has the right to teach children something against the will and beliefs of their family.
I will repeat once again – an attempt to forcibly, against the will of parents, to implant into the minds of their children various radical ideologies directed against the family, against parents, against religion – this is a characteristic feature of the most totalitarian and dangerous regimes in history. The state should respect the decisions of parents, respect the rights given to them by God, and not dictate to them how they should raise and educate children.
Parents should have the right to decide what will and what not be taught to their children in schools. Parents should have the right to freely educate their children at home, in the form of home education, without going to public and private schools, where corrupting lessons in sex education are often imposed. It is outrageous that home education is still prohibited and persecuted in some countries. For example, in Germany such a law was introduced by Adolf Hitler and continues to be used today, this time – to propagate the liberal ideology of politically correct multiculturalism through compulsory school education. The right to choose the type of education for children – including family education – is a natural and fundamental right of the family, the right of parents, in modern terms, it is one of the main human rights (Article 16.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). I am convinced that all healthy social and political forces today must protect the rights and freedom of the family in the field of education, including the right to family education.
No less outrageous is the situation when families are simply destroyed under the pretext of protecting children. Children are taken away from their parents in the absence of any real danger, under far-fetched pretexts. We see this happening throughout Europe and around the world. This is a suicidal epidemic. In doing this, children are not protected at all – they are often exposed to far more serious danger than any problems they might face at home.
All this is done under seemingly plausible pretexts, such as protecting the rights of women and children, preventing violence and crime, and ensuring the right to education. Alas, this is just a deceptive cover for radical ideologies hostile to the family, children, and elementary moral norms. These ideologies are spreading in our societies like a malignant cancer. Perhaps we can still stop it – with God’s help and together.
Let us ask God in our prayers that we succeed in doing this.
Thank you for your attention!