Voices from Russia

Friday, 23 January 2015

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev: “The Church Can’t and Mustn’t Take Sides in a Conflict”

00 Save donbass people 02a. 27.04.014.

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00 Novorossiya. refugees. Rostov Oblast. 22.09.14

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The Church can’t and mustn’t take sides in a conflict because by doing so, firstly, we help to promote that conflict, and, secondly, we marginalise people, regardless of their number… people who belong to our Church, but take another political stand.

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk

Head of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS)

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Aleksandr Rogatkin: 

In any war, civilians suffer the most. That’s evident from the war in Novorossiya, in the Donbass. It’s destroyed schools, hospitals, and maternity homes… it’s damaged churches, as a church and its belfry with its shining cupola is an easy target for a gun-layer. One Cossack, who built a church with his own hands near Lutugino for twenty years now, told me that, for a whole month, Ukrainian artillerymen believed that a patriot observer was in the belfry and kept shelling the church. He said, “God preserved me, no shell hit the target”. However, the war destroyed some churches down to their very foundations. It affects all churches, not only Orthodox ones. In Pervomaisk, shelling almost completely destroyed the Baptist church. In Novosvetlovka, several shells hit the cupola of an Orthodox church, but its undergoing restoration now. A monstrous thing happened in that church. They used it to imprison the people of the town. They locked the locals in there for some time, and, later, the junta forces killed several [patriot fighters] with no investigation or trial, just because they had arms in their hands. They took them prisoner, executed them, and buried them a few metres from the church. In this connection, what should an Orthodox priest do? Does he have to favour a particular side? He sees shells flying into his church, wounded [fighters] and suffering civilian come to him. What must he do?

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev: 

An Orthodox priest should identify with those who suffer. The Church is always on the side of those subjected to violence and aggression. The Church shouldn’t take sides in a political or civic confrontation. What do we see in the Ukraine now? Believers in our Church find themselves on both sides of the barricades. This has been the case since the January events.

Rogatkin: 

So, would you say that two forms of division bedevil the Church? Firstly, the Ukrainian schism divided it, as the self-proclaimed Patriarch Filaret led away a part of the flock. Now, the civil war divides it.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

We shouldn’t say that there’s division in the Church. As for the schism, we say that some people separated themselves or fallen away from the Church for this-or-that political reason. Indeed, from the very beginning, the Ukrainian schism was a political project aimed at dividing the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. More than twenty years ago, they divided the Church; more precisely, they divided Christians because, I repeat, we never say that there can be division within the Church itself. We say that some people, groups of people, or hierarchs fall away from the Church. Today, there are divisions in Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Firstly, the people divided according to a doctrinal principle, then, some attempted to divide them according to linguistic and political principles, now, this division led to a civic confrontation victimising civilians. This is what the most terrible thing is. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church/Moscow Patriarchate (UPTs/MP) doesn’t take a particular side in this conflict. She doesn’t say that we’re with the Ukrainian Army or that we’re with the [patriot fighters], or that we’re with this-or-that political force. On the one hand, the Church should be above political fights, on the other, it should stand together with those who suffer, with the victims.

Rogatkin: 

Do you remember those pictures from the Maidan when many Uniate priests took the side of the Euromaidantsy? They came forward with crosses and urged the crowd to attack the Berkut. It was so.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

From the very beginning, the Uniates fanned this conflict, for they identified with one of the conflicting parties. I spoke about it openly at the Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome, in the presence of Pope Francisco. After that, all the Catholic media, especially in America, most of all the Uniates, lambasted me. I stated a very simple thing… the Church isn’t supposed to participate in political struggle. The Church can’t and mustn’t take sides in a conflict because by doing so, firstly, we help to promote that conflict, and, secondly, we marginalise people, regardless of their number… people who belong to our Church, but take an alternative political stand. In general, the Church shouldn’t take any political position.

Rogatkin: 

However, it’s precisely a political conflict. If we recall, the Svoboda bloc seized churches belonging to the UPTs/MP. They handed them over to the schismatics or to the Uniates. What we saw in Maidan isn’t new at all. It’s been going on for twenty years. They shout, “Hang the Moskali!” They knocked down the doors of Orthodox churches and dragged out priests. One priest in the Western Ukraine told me that they used chains. He himself sat almost in chains for several days. Another priest from Rovno told me that in the 90s when he was 12, they seized his church and struck his father on the head. He heard them saying, “What shall we do with the priest’s kid? Let’s hang him; otherwise, when he grows up, he’ll turn into a Moskal priest”. He was only a kid, why, he didn’t even know where Moscow was!

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

Paradoxically, the Uniates, whose head is in Rome, positions themselves as the Ukrainian national church. The nationalistic media issues propaganda that the UPTs/MP, which comprises a majority of Orthodox believers in the Ukraine, is a Church governed from Moscow. That means that it’s OK for the leadership of a national church to be in Rome, but not in Moscow. Actually, the UPTs/MP is fully independent. The Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias doesn’t govern the UPTs/MP; it isn’t accountable to him either financially or administratively. We only preserve a spiritual relation. For instance, we’ll be ready to help when, God willing, they begin to restore churches in the Donbass. Certainly, we’d help in all possible ways. However, that has nothing to do with the internal financial life of the UPTs/MP. In this respect, it’s fully independent. The UPTs/MP elects its own bishops… Moscow doesn’t approve the nominations. The Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias only vets the election of the Metropolitan of Kiev and all the Ukraine. Nevertheless, this is more spiritual than actual.

We cherish this relationship because our spiritual unity is over a thousand years old, coming from the baptismal font of the Holy Prince Vladimir. This year, we’ll mark the millennium of the death of Holy Prince Vladimir. In 2013, we celebrated the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. At one time, Rus was one state. For the last thousand years, new political boundaries arose more than once, but that doesn’t mean that we should divide the Church into ever-smaller parts every time that there’s some new boundaries. If we’d done it in Africa, there wouldn’t be a united Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa, but 54 Lilliputian Orthodox Churches. The Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, which unites believers in Syria and Lebanon, would’ve had division as well. The Church doesn’t unite people on ethnic grounds. We cherish our unity; especially today, it manifests its relevance, soundness, and importance. When politicians divide a society into warring parties, when soldiers liquidate people, the Church seeks to unite and reconcile all.

Rogatkin: 

Notably, the Ukrainian religious field is rather mixed. There are so many all kinds of sects… so many preachers bringing in crazy ideas. They enjoy respect, while the UPTs/MP is a pariah. They hate it and everybody mistreats it. That’s politics, nothing else.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

The UPTs/MP is a victim of propaganda and political struggle; in the combat zone, it’s also a victim of the military conflict. You gave some examples. We have information that, regrettably, grows with each new report… 3 priests of the UPTs/MP are dead, 62 churches in Donbas suffered damage, some destroyed, others with serious damage, still others need restoration. All this supports what you said… there’s a purposeful struggle against the canonical Church; the Church is under attack. Really, churches are easy targets. Today, a great tragedy unfolds before our eyes. We can’t take it as a coincidence. If there’s a massed artillery bombardment, it may accidentally hit churches. However, if we see so many churches destroyed or damaged, it means that there’s a purposeful campaign. We can’t see it differently.

Rogatkin: 

That’s true, considering that the people there are believers. When Ukrainian paratroopers left the Lugansk Airport, the [patriot fighters] showed us what they left after them. Together with packed rations, there lay heaps of Uniate books. There were also Gospels and Bibles, that is, they’d all been parachuted specially for them.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

When I openly state that the Uniates took one side of the conflict, that they stood behind the events in Maidan, that they were brought by bus from the Western Ukraine to ramp up interethnic hostility, they say… “No, it isn’t a political confrontation. This is how we express our political opinions”. This is what the Uniates say. We’re not at all happy with their answer. Indeed, if the Church has a call to reconcile people, it means that we should be with all those who suffer; we shouldn’t take a particular side; we shouldn’t say, “These people are ours and these people aren’t”.

Rogatkin: 

How do matters stand with the Pochaev Lavra? It’s one of the most significant holy sites of the UPTs/MP in the Western Ukraine. I remember how in February, just a week before the events in Maidan, they came to assault the gates to the Lavra. How do matters stand there now?

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

There were such attempts, but the Pochaev Lavra guards canonical Orthodoxy. There was an attempt to seize the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra as well, but these two monasteries keep strong the monastic spirit. The monks are well aware of what the canonical Church is and what the schism is. In the time of the iconoclastic heresy, the monks stood up in defence of holy icons. Today, our monks guard canonical Orthodoxy. I believe that the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, the Pochaev Lavra, and other monasteries will stand firm for the faith and canons of the Church. The conduct of monks during the Maidan events can serve as an example. When barricades went up and some prepared armed confrontation, monks of the Tithe Monastery in Kiev came out to stand under a torrential rain between the two warring groups in order to prevent them from fighting. I think such should typify the position of the Church and of Orthodox monastics.

Rogatkin: 

Over the last twenty years, how many churches of the UPTs/MP did they seize or destroy in this struggle?

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

If we speak of the parishes that recently transferred to the so-called “Patriarchate of Kiev”, according to them, there are 30 such parishes, but according to our information, there are 10. However, we should realise how this actually takes place. It isn’t due to free popular will, as a rule, its only done under very serious pressure. Let me give you an example. Recently, a declaration in Rovno Oblast appeared on the establishment of a united Ukrainian Local Church. It appeared under pressure from the local authorities. Amongst others, a bishop of the UPTs/MP signed it. Immediately, it raised many questions… will a united Ukrainian Orthodox Church arise within Rovno Oblast? Alternatively, is the Uniate bishop ready to disobey the Pope in order to join the projected united Ukrainian Orthodox Church?

Rogatkin: 

That is, not everybody understands what they sign.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

They either don’t understand or yield to pressure. As a result, very soon after, the UPTs/MP bishop withdrew his signature; the Uniate bishop followed suit, whilst the Oblast governor got the boot. That’s the end of the story for you. In this case, there was very serious pressure. As for popular will, we saw a report about people making rounds with ballot boxes. They come to some baba who hardly can hear what they say and ask her, “Are you Ukrainian?” ”Yes, I am”. “Are you for Kiev?” “Yes, I am”. “Sign the paper”. “Your relatives, where are they?” “They aren’t here”. “Can you sign for them?” “Yes, I can”. You see, it is simply profanation. That’s how they transfer parishes of the canonical Church to these schismatic associations. It isn’t widespread, of course, but it happens. We should hope that it’d end. However, it’ll only end when peace returns to the Ukraine. We pray for it at every Divine Liturgy. Not only the UPTs/MP, but also all of the multinational MP prays that peace may return to the Ukrainian land. It’s our strongest desire. At the beginning of this New Year 2015, we ask God for that, we wish that He’ll send us this much-desired peace.

10 January 2015

Pravmir

http://www.pravmir.com/metropolitan-hilarion-church-not-political-position/#ixzz3PXjA2ezT

Editor:

It’s clear that all parties who associate with Uniates in these times of great emergency are anti-Christian elements… we must treat them as such. The Uniates are the Curia’s dagger pointed at our heart. All those (including Paffhausen, Potapov, Jillions, and Freddie M-G) who mix with Uniates spit on Christ and His Church. That’s that…

BMD

23 January 2015. More Intel on the Abuse Situation in Alaska

01 hurt teddy bear child abuse

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There’s more on the situation in Alaska where a konvertsy priest abused kids. Click here for more intel on this unfolding story. Cappy and Mel know what they’re about (they know much more than I do on the topic)… keep this link in mind, for they’ll keep this story updated. This is their special field; they do a better job of covering it than I could ever do. FYI… here’s the link for the original website on the abuse… check it periodically, its updated.

I know when to step back and let really-informed people speak… Cappy and Mel have taken tons o’ shit from the goodthinkers for having unearthed clerical abuse. A hat tip and a pass o’ the jug to both of ‘em!

BMD

State and Church Share “Close Views” on Kosovo

00 Nikolic and Irinej. Serbia. 23.01.15

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On Thursday, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić met with Serbian Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović “to discuss his proposal for a final settlement for Kosovo”. Nikolić, who often meets with the SPC head, said that his recently announced platform “would go towards what Serbia can accept as a final solution, without threatening its sovereignty and territorial integrity”. After a meeting that lasted almost two hours, President Nikolić told reporters that he and the Holy Synod have “very close views” about the issue, saying, “We talked about Kosovo and Metohija, the fate of our nation, our territory, the SPC, security in Kosovo and Metohija, and about how I see a solution”.

He noted that these are still “only discussions and consultations” and that there’s no “formal document” to present to the President of the Government, and, then, to the public. Nikolić said, “I presented some of my thoughts and I didn’t meet disapproval or disagreement from the Holy Synod. So, we’re very close in our thinking about what it should look like in the end”. Asked when the public would see the document, he said that he’d work “closely and intensively” to agree on this with President of the Government Aleksandar Vučić, “because such a document requires general agreement, or at least consent from the assembly, for what the government would propose on behalf of the President. It isn’t something that we should argue about, it’s a document in which we must find solutions that the government would support, as the body that needs to implement it and that’s negotiating in Brussels”. He called for patience, saying that we must wait for the meeting between Belgrade and Priština in Brussels, scheduled for 9 February, “to attempt to continue where (the dialogue) came to a halt a while ago. It seems to me that in that time we’ve all had time to think about what’s happening and what awaits us, and I think that we understand that procrastination and wasting time isn’t working in favour of Serbia”.

Nikolić said the other topics covered today included problems in the functioning of the Church, its relationship with state authorities, and the issue of restitution, saying, “The church has concerns about developments in Kosovo and Metohija, and I think it’s proper for His Holiness and the Synod to want to be informed about what’s being done, how far we’ve come”. Nikolić added that, as a member of the SPC, he’s anxious to know the views of the Synod, whilst exchanging thoughts with the Patriarch “helps make many things clearer. Now, I think that the need to meet more often is very manifest, at a time when we might face great temptations in solving major Serbian issues”.

22 January 2015

B92

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/society.php?yyyy=2015&mm=01&dd=22&nav_id=92956

Macedonia: Bishop Jovan Kept in Prison Despite Deal to Release Him

00 Police handcuffing Abp Jovan. 06.12

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The Prokuratura in Skopje filed a complaint against a decision to release SPC Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski of Ohrid, thus, he must stay in prison. Previously, a court decided that Bishop Jovan should receive conditional release and leave prison on 19 January. According to Macedonian media, the turnabout came “at the last-minute”. Archbishop Jovan is serving a sentence for allegedly embezzling 250,000 Euros (18 million Roubles. 1.75 million Renminbi. 17.45 million INR. 282,000 USD. 352,000 CAD. 353,000 AUD. 189,000 UK Pounds); the uncanonical Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) brought the charges against him. On Tuesday, Beta said that Vladyki Jovan was once in the MPC, but later sought “canonical unity with the SPC”; he’s now the head of “the SPC Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid“.

The Prokuratura Office for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption announced that it believed that the court should re-examine the circumstances of the decision to release him, as well as “whether the release would achieve the objectives intended”. It also stated that the Prokuratura believed that there’s evidence of “changed circumstances which indicate that the convicted person in the future may continue to commit criminal acts, so, therefore, doesn’t justify the trust shown toward him when granting provisional release”. The Prokuratura said in a statement on 12 January, after receiving the ruling to set Archbishop Jovan free, “After analysing the circumstances, we determine that the solution was lawful”, announcing at the same time, “We wouldn’t appeal against the decision”.

The MPC, which laid the original charges against Vladyki Jovan, is now in favour of his release. After mediation from the MP in late 2014, the MPC called on the government to “show mercy” toward Archbishop Jovan. Since he’s been ill, the imprisoned bishop recently had a brief stay in hospital in Skopje. After the announcement that he’d receive release “for good behaviour”, the SPC in Macedonia said that it’d seek “unconditional acquittal of all charges” against him. The SPC believed that the bishop’s incarceration was due to political decisions, namely, due to the dispute between the churches. The SPC doesn’t recognise the MPC as autocephalous.

20 January 2015

B92

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2015&mm=01&dd=20&nav_id=92925

Editor:

Obviously, this is due to American interference… you can thank such champions of “American Exceptionalism” as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. These guys posture as “Christians”… I think not. It’s clear that the MPC wasn’t behind this, as it’d scupper all talks between them and the SPC. If you marched in the March for Life, you marched AGAINST Vladyki Jovan, as you marched in support of the amoral sectarian Republican opponents of Christ’s Church. Think things through, or you might end by doing the opposite of what you intended. Do think twice before agreeing with such pro-sectarian traitors as Josiah Trenham, Jonas Paffhausen, and Patrick Reardon. Some “Pro-Life”…

BMD

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