Thursday, 2 February 2012
Earlier today, Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian Ambassador to the EU, said in an interview with Interfax that Russia condemned the EU sanctions against Iran. He felt that the sanctions imposed on Tehran have exhausted their potential. According to Chizhov, Russia believes that continuing to use sanctions to exert pressure on Iran’s wrong, since they’re bleeding the Iranian economy dry and are affecting the living standards of its population. Besides, the sanctions were untimely, as they were imposed at a time when efforts to settle the Iranian nuclear issue had already begun… Tehran’s cooperating with the IAEA delegation as well as being in contact with the Big Six group of negotiators. Chizhov said that he’s certain that the oil embargo’s also harming EU interests, as Europe’s biggest consumers of Iranian oil, Greece, Spain, and Italy, were hit hardest by the current Euro Zone crisis.
2 February 2012
Voice of Russia World Service
On Wednesday, Vitaly Churkin, the RF ambassador to the UN, said that Russia won’t support any arms embargo on Syria, asking rhetorically, “How can we say that we’ll tear up all of our contracts, sever all our ties with Syria. We won’t agree to any embargo, not even so much as a hint of an embargo”. His remarks echoed those made by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, who said, “We signed some contracts and contracts must be implemented. We’re arming the constitutional government… we don’t approve of what it’s doing, using force against demonstrators, but we’re not picking sides, we’re implementing our commercial contractual obligations”. In any case, Lavrov said that the arms Russia sells to Syria “aren’t used against demonstrators, but to ensure Syria’s defence”.
Last Wednesday, Sergei Chemezov, the head of the Russian state-controlled arms exporter Rostekhnologii, said that Moscow faced losing its leading position in the Middle East and North African arms market if it failed to maintain arms deliveries to Syria. Lavrov also indicated Russia would veto a draft resolution on Syria that calls on President Bashar Assad to step down and provides for “further measures” if he refuses. The European-Arab draft, to be presented to the UN Security Council in two weeks, is due to be debated at the Security Council later on Tuesday. Russia has been one of Assad’s staunchest supporters during the ten-month-long uprising against his regime. Moscow proposed its own draft UN resolution on Syria, but Western members of the Security Council criticised it for being too soft. At least 5,400 people have been killed in the government’s 10-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.
1 February 2012
Roman Silantyev, the Director of the Centre for the Geography of Religions at the MP Department for Church and Society, told our Interfax-Religion correspondent that, according to data on registered religious organisations as of 1 January 2012, the MP continues to lead on the dynamics of growth. He said, “In 2011, the share of the MP bodies amongst all those registered increased by a full percentage point, and it now stands at 56.6 percent. This increase is a record over the past few years”. In comparison, some 15 years ago, Silantyev pointed up that the MP had less than half of all registered religious bodies. As of 1 January 2012, the Ministry of Justice recorded 24,624 religious bodies of various types, 13,943 of which were in the MP (100 of them are considered “central” bodies).
Silantyev also reported that, during the past two years, there was a small (about 0.1 percent) increase in the proportion of Buddhist and Old Ritualist communities, with a decrease in the proportion of Muslim, Jewish, and Protestant communities. In addition, trends show a reduction in the followings for a number of religious traditions, especially Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox schismatics. Commenting on the preliminary 2010 census data, Silantyev noted that, on their basis, we can state that 85 percent of the Russian population is Orthodox. In the light of new information on Orthodox population size and data on registered MP organisations, on 1 January 2012, there is one Orthodox parish per 9,000 people of Orthodox culture, whereas, two years ago, it was one parish per 11,500 Orthodox people. Silantyev said, “Perhaps, one of the biggest sensations of the new census was a decrease in the number of those from Muslim nationalities, who number a bit less than 14.5 million. However, there’s no detailed study of the more than five million people who didn’t report their nationality, so, it’s too early to talk about it yet”.
1 February 2012
One must understand that Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist local bodies can have THOUSANDS of members each, many of the Protestant, Old Ritualist, and Orthodox schismatic bodies are tiny (less than 500 members, most closer to 100, quite similar to patterns amongst American Sectarians). That being said, the main bottleneck hindering the formation of new parishes in the MP is priests. Unlike the OCA and Antiochians, Moscow isn’t ordaining any uncredentialised Tom, Dick, or Harry. It takes seven years to form a priest, as the MP learnt the hard way from its experiences in the first decade following Perestroika (1986-96)… bad apples like the Blunder and Kochetkov snuck in (neither could’ve gotten ordained under present rules… “live and learn”), and the Centre wants no repeats. Priests are formed without haste… a poorly-formed priest is worse than no priest at all is (as one can see in the “convert parishes” in the OCA and AOCANA… especially the ex-HOOMie cultists). The Centre wants no “Touchstonistas”.
How many parishes does the MP need? Well, the MP’s sociology is broadly similar to the RCs here in the Northeastern USA… they’re the dominant religious body, with an average parish size of several thousand. There are 68 million US Catholics in 195 dioceses and 19,000 parishes with 450 bishops (197 diocesan, 73 auxiliary, 180 retired), 42,000 priests, and 17,000 deacons. As the RF had a population of 143 million, 85 percent of that’s about 122 million members in the MP in the RF alone. Roughly, that’s 180 percent the size of US Catholics, so, the MP “needs” 370 dioceses and 34,000 parishes, served by about 400 active bishops (assisted by 130 auxiliary bishops), assisted by 76,000 priests and 31,000 deacons in the present RF alone. In 2010, the MP had 160 dioceses, with 30,142 parishes served by 207 bishops, 28,434 priests, and 3,625 deacons (this is the MP as a whole, not just the RF). If the MP has nearly 14,000 parishes in the RF, it has about 40 percent of what it needs in the way of parochial organisations.
Nevertheless, a good foundation is there. Institutions take decades to gel properly… that’s why the OCA’s “Strategic Plan” is so crackbrained. They actually think that they can make major changes in a generation. What a buncha maroons! In the first 25 years of the revival (1986-2011), the MP laid the foundations for future growth. Now, in the second “quarter” (2011-2036), the MP will build up to its “proper” size. That’s how long it takes, kids… they take the L – O – O – N – G view at the Centre. As Fr Vsevolod noted, it’s a great thing that 7 percent of the population keeps the Lents… in the early ‘80s, outside of priestly families, it was next to nil. That’s why konvertsy “experts” have to shut up. They simply don’t know what they’re talking about.
The Church in the Rodina is on track… I wish that the same were true here… I truly do…