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

Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who has headed the Moscow Patriarchate's department for the 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 they had "seriously disagreed" over the church's role. He added the church should be more independent, not ingratiate itself with government officials. He also said it should publicly condemn official corruption.

Chaplin described his dismissal as an attempt to purge the church of independent voices.