Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias ordered Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk to temporarily perform the duties of the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations. The First Hierarch announced the decision at a meeting on Wednesday with the staff of the DECR, which he had led for almost 20 years prior to being elected as the Patriarch. Over the past several years, Bishop Mark has served as the deputy chief of the Department.
“I will never be able to strike 20 years of my life out of my memory, this is why the DECR, the people who work here, and the agenda of this institution will always be close to my heart and will have an important place on my own agenda”, Patriarch Kirill told the assembled staff.
He pointed up the importance of continued post-graduate study on the part of the staff of the DECR so that they could carry out their work effectively. Patriarch Kirill emphasised, “The purpose of the staff [of the DECR] is to serve a special purpose within the entire Russian Church. Therefore, I hope that the Division will continue in future to be an incubator, so to speak, for the staff for our Church”. He also noted, “In the most difficult times of political and public crisis”, the DECR contributed much to the changes in the position of the Church in society. The Patriarch pointed up that the active participation of the DECR shaped the legislation regulating the activities of religious organisations, including the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations.
Furthermore, he emphasised the special role of the DECR “in breaking the blockade which existed in information space” in relation to the Russian Church in the early 1990′s. “First, we created a web page, not only the first official Orthodox website in Russia, concerning which it is unnecessary to elaborate, but, it was one of the first religious websites in the world. The website of the Patriarchate of Moscow and all the Russias predates the official website of the Vatican”, Patriarch Kirill noted. He went on to say, “We were the first to confront the ‘missionaries’ who came to our land to pull our people away from both Orthodoxy itself and those who followed our traditional Orthodox faith. I am speaking of our people who, for historical reasons, were non-believers. These ‘missionaries’ tried to convert them to their faith”.
In the words of Patriarch Kirill, the DECR formulated and proposed the concepts used in the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with the MP. His Holiness also noted the contribution of the DECR to the creation of the Basic Social Concept of Russian Church and the Elementary Principles of the Russian Church on Dignity, Freedom, and Human Rights. Speaking about the future prospects of the DECR, the First Hierarch stated that the effectiveness of the work of the DECR “should in no way diminish”, and expressed his conviction that “the DECR should continue to play a major role in the life of the Church, just as it did for the more than 60 years of its existence”.
11 February 2009
Imagine yourself in the St George Hall in the Moscow Kremlin… are you anticipating another awards announcement? If you are, you are correct. The muffled drums are beating; the trumpeters are ready to sound the fanfare. This is a MOST special occasion. Today, the Interfax English translator is receiving the Grand and Exalted High and Honourable Order of the Big Green Weenie (First Class with Diamond Clusters).
THEY ONLY TRANSLATED THE FIRST PARAGRAPH! PARAGRAPHS 2, 3, AND 4 WERE TOTALLY OMITTED!
Boy-oh-boy, whoever is the English translator at Interfax has worked out a hustle for themselves! They don’t translate the whole thing; they only pick and choose, like a happy-clappy American evangelical! Where is Albert Pierrepont when we need him… drat it, he’s dead… just when we need him to hang this idiot high from the tallest tree (for those not in the know, Albert Pierrepont was a famous English hangman).
This is an interesting piece of news. There are two main competitors for the post of the head of the DECR. One is Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, the MP Representative to the European International Institutions. The other is Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the zamglavy (assistant head) of the DECR. You could not imagine two more disparate personalities if you tried for a month of Sundays. Hilarion Alfeyev is an intellectual, quite the lion of more “liberal” church circles. Fr Vsevolod is a down-to-earth stump-puller. Bishop Hilarion is rather pro-Roman, Fr Vsevolod is considerably more sceptical of the papists and their promises (as well he should be, I might add). Bishop Hilarion has ambition pouring out of his every pore, whilst Fr Vsevolod is an experienced down-and-dirty bureaucratic blackjack fighter.
In short, this appointment means that Kirill is stymied at the moment. Apparently, the two camps are equal; he doesn’t wish to antagonise either faction at this point. So, he is placing a moderate placeholder in charge. This is a good sign. It shows that Kirill cuts to the middle when there is a dispute. It also means that he is going to keep a firm rein on the DECR. If either Bishop Hilarion or Fr Vsevolod were made the head, either man is capable of turning the DECR into a personal powerbase. Furthermore, it means that neither party is going to be sulking. Apparently, there is something big in the works that Kirill does not wish queered by internecine feuding. Stay tuned, kids, same bat time, same bat channel… it bids fair to be INTERESTING.