Ousted Russian Orthodox Church official assails Russian elites, urges free public discussion

A priest who lost his high-level job at the Russian Orthodox Church has assailed Russia's "immoral elites" and predicted a national catastrophe if the country fails to allow free public discussion.

Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who headed the Moscow Patriarchate's department for cooperation between church and society, was relieved of his duties Thursday and his department was disbanded. The church explained the move by citing the need to increase efficiency.

Following his ouster, Chaplin criticized Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill for failing to listen to critical voices and predicted that he would be replaced soon.

Chaplin told a news conference Friday that Russia would face an "inevitable catastrophe" if the authorities fail to allow "live discussion and live public process," according to the Interfax news agency.