At the beginning of the last century, the émigrés who established the ROCOR escaped from Soviet Russia, fleeing socialism. Historically, the ROCOR hierarchy objected to the MP’s association with communism. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías is a socialist; several years ago, he nationalised the mining industry. How are your relations developing today?
Bishop Ioann Berzin of Caracas (Venezuela) (ROCOR)
The Russian émigrés who founded our Church weren’t running from socialism; they were escaping godlessness, militant atheism, and persecution. Today, the people who run Venezuela aren’t Soviet-style stooges. Yes, President Chávez is a socialist; however, he isn’t an atheist. Moreover, he states publicly that he’s a believer, he doesn’t harass the Church, and he doesn’t advocate atheism. Contemporary Venezuela’s in a profound social crisis, someone has to attend to it, so, I find myself open to Chávez. The Church shouldn’t interfere in politics or try to decide whether socialism or capitalism is the better system. Our Saviour commanded us to care for our neighbours, to help the poor and orphaned. Christianity and the concept of social justice aren’t incompatible, so long as we don’t mix it up with godlessness. At the same time, understandably, many of our parishioners mistrust socialism, that’s rather common amongst ROCOR people. Orthodox Christians in Latin America are much politicised, and that’s that. For instance, during Allende’s time, they fled Chile en masse.
31 May 2011
Нескучный сад (The Unfading Garden)