Some clergymen of our Church, although they respect the words of loyalty to their Hierarchy, (Episcopacy) behave like schismatics, pretend to play the role of some sort of “elders”. Criticizing the Supreme Church hierarchy, they, contrary to the Spiritual Fathers of the past and the present, are trying to attract attention to themselves and thus create a greater reputation. As a rule, for an unchangeable and unique condition of salvation, they announce the complete submission to themselves of those, who will approach them under their leadership, turning them into some kind of robots who, without the blessing of such an “elder,” cannot do any good deed, however insignificant it is. Man in such a way deprives himself of the blessed freedom of the will, which God gives him. In order to confirm their truthfulness, they incorrectly invoke references from the Holy Fathers, desecrating their great deed and twisting the very notion of the eldership … Separate contemporary “elders” (or better to be called “young-elders”), without spiritual reasoning, impose burdens on church-goers that are hard to wear (Lk 11; 46), in their pastoral activity, they attach printed materials devastating to the spiritual life, and unreasonably impose on the laymen, who are largely still spiritually unsupported, forms of spiritual guidance, relevant only to monasticism.
Blessedly-rested Patriarch of Russia, Alexey II