Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

An Interview with Metropolitan Hilarion by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda

Nikolai Varsegov

Your Eminence, if you please, tell our readers a little about yourself.

Metropolitan Hilarion

My mother and father were born in Poland, which was then part of the Russian Empire. However, when their home became part of the Soviet Ukraine, my parents went to Canada, where I was born on 6 January 1948. After finishing high school, I entered Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville NY, and afterwards, I was a monk at Holy Trinity Monastery. In 1984, I was consecrated a bishop, and in 1996, I became the head of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand with the rank of archbishop. I was changed by this assignment. This diocese is very interesting… it’s enormous! There is so much missionary work we must do in Asia and Indonesia.

Nikolai Varsegov

What are the questions that most Russian journalists ask of you?

Metropolitan Hilarion

Oh, I try to avoid the press, especially the TV cameramen! I think that my Russian is poor, it embarrasses me.

Nikolai Varsegov

It is well-known that you were one of the main figures in the reconciliation talks between the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate.

Metropolitan Hilarion

Oh, I would not say that I was one of the main figures. The decision for accepting the reconciliation came from the entire Holy Synod, they decided that the time for such had come. I was only part of a delegation of three clergymen who flew to Moscow. We then negotiated with His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei and other members of the MP Holy Synod concerning the reconciliation of our churches.

Nikolai Varsegov

There were opponents of the reconciliation amongst your clergy then, and, I understand that some still oppose it. How do they justify this opposition?

Metropolitan Hilarion

Their first disagreement lies in the fact that there are bishops serving in the MP today who were active in the Soviet times, who made compromises with the Soviet régime. They believe that these men have not made repentance for these actions. Secondly, they do not accept the fact that the MP participates in the World Council of Churches, in the so-called inter-religious dialogue.

Nikolai Varsegov

What do you think of these actions of the MP?

Metropolitan Hilarion

We were disturbed by (the participation of the MP in the WCC) since the 1960s, when Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Paul VI the Pope of Rome rescinded the mutual anathemas that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches imposed against each other in 1054. There were even instances of joint prayer, which are strictly forbidden by our canons. But, in 2000, the MP explicitly defined in a decree that the Orthodox Church is the true Church created originally by Christ. Moreover, Christians who have strayed over time from the ancient Church are not true Christians and their belief is false. The MP emphasises, the same as we do, that it is impossible to hold joint divine services with those who have strayed. The MP participates in the WCC for the purposes of maintaining a dialogue among Christians, but, we can see that there is no unity reached as a result, so, this organisation has lost its significance.

Nikolai Varsegov

In the MP, I constantly meet people who are dissatisfied with our hierarchs because they associate at a high level with Catholics, Muslims, and other heterodox sectarians. To what extent are these people correct in not accepting other religions?

Metropolitan Hilarion

The motives of the Orthodox bishops who meet with the representatives of other religions are purely moral and they do so only for the purpose of communication. It is not troubling if such happens at the meetings of the G8, where they search for some sort of agreement amidst all the contradictory sides.

Nikolai Varsegov

Today, the topic of whether to introduce courses in Orthodoxy in our secular schools in order to foster the Christian faith amongst our children is hotly debated. What do you think of this?

Metropolitan Hilarion

I think that such courses are very important, we should do this so that our children can realise the true significance of their lives. Russia shall then have a new generation with a true understanding of God and the Motherland, a generation with an understanding of their debt to the past. However, I am aware that Russia is a multinational state. Therefore, a course in Orthodoxy would not be obligatory for all students. For example, in parallel, Muslim and Jewish students could take courses covering their religions.

Nikolai Varsegov

But, can that avert the large danger (facing us)? Drawing from examples found in Russian history, we know that many conflicts erupt precisely on the soil of inter-religious strife. Do you think that extremists using religious jargon shall provoke conflicts based supposedly in faith?

Metropolitan Hilarion

In tsarist Russia, where there was a strong understanding of the Faith, there was no inter-religious strife whatsoever. True believers never use God as a pretext for hostility or violence towards the heterodox. Today, extremists are using the religious illiteracy of people to propagate false doctrines, especially amongst the young, and they use religious jargon to kindle hatred against those who confess other religions. Truly devout people, be they Muslims or Christians, resolve all of their disputes peacefully.

Nikolai Varsegov

There are some who are glad that it seems like there are many believers. The churches appear to be full of young people, but, in my view, this is all phoney religion. Before exams, all the students go to church, but, if no exams are coming up, they go off to drink beer… What sort of faith is this?

Metropolitan Hilarion

It requires long and difficult work in order to turn people properly to true faithfulness. What we need are educated priests who know how to speak to people and to explain things to them. This is a serious study… to help a person to understand prayer, and how through prayer one realises the importance of the soul and how one cleans one’s sins from it. All sins are originally thoughts. We develop these sinful thoughts, and often we carry them out to our ruin. Man… the battlefield of good and evil, here we learn to maintain a constant vigilance against evil. This is the most important thing we must learn as Orthodox Christians.

Nikolai Varsegov

What can priests from the ROCOR do to help missionary work in Russia?

Metropolitan Hilarion

The fact is that we do not have enough priests in the ROCOR. At the same time, my observations tell me that, in recent years, there are many priests in Russia who need more experience in Orthodoxy. God willing, this can be attended to quickly. We do have some priests who came to us from other confessions who could come to Russia and share their expertise. As a rule, they are very competent and committed people.

Nikolai Varsegov

Vladyki, what sort of changes are necessary in the Church today? For example, why can’t women come to church in trousers? Well, not in gaudy slacks with parrots on them, of course. Why can’t people sit during the long services?

Metropolitan Hilarion

Such traditions as we have in the Church are of ancient establishment, and if we change anything, it must be done very carefully. A woman wearing trousers to services is not an overly important thing. If something were to change, I would say the time is ripe to translate prayers from the Old Slavonic to the Russian language. Many do not understand Old Slavonic; therefore, they do not grasp the meaning of the sacraments and their way to God is impeded. Some parishioners abroad do not even know Russian or know it poorly, and there are also faithful who come from various (non-Russian) nationalities. In Australia, we do missionary work amongst the Aborigines! So, prayers must be translated into English, as well.

Nikolai Varsegov

Many take their children by the hand into the church and the kids are forced to listen to incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo for hours on end. I think that this shall turn our kids away from the faith and they shall see the weekly trek to church as nothing but torture.

Metropolitan Hilarion

Absolutely. I agree with you completely. We must teach our kids so that they would go to services with an understanding of it all. We should let our children participate in the services. Girls love to place candles and boys try to help in other ways. Children are curious, and they have many interesting questions concerning the Church. It is necessary that both priests and parents encourage questions from the kids and be able to give answers to them.

Nikolai Varsegov

Vladyki, what contemporary questions face your people in Australia?

Metropolitan Hilarion

Many people who find themselves in a foreign land in difficult situations. Australia is a wonderful country, and many people from Russia, as well as from all over the world, make their homes there. Often, our compatriots do not know English well, they find it difficult to get work, and some have visa problems. So, they fall into misfortune, and come to us in the church for help, for fellowship. Unfortunately, our church in Sydney does not have the means to offer shelter or employment to these people. Therefore, we direct them to the different organisations that are capable of rendering them some form of assistance. We work closely with the Russian Embassy in Canberra, which actively helps us solve some of these people’s problems.

Many Russian women marry Australians. Unfortunately, many of these marriages fail because of the difference in background and upbringing (of the spouses). Some of these women are beaten and abused by their husbands. We try to comfort them, and to try to direct them to seek aid from the courts, since the rights of women in Australia are well-protected and the law is frequently on their side.

Nikolai Varsegov

It is well-known that many women from Russia and the CIS dream of falling in love with an Australian man. They write to their suitor and fly there in a search for personal happiness. What is your advice to them, Vladyki?

Metropolitan Hilarion

I would advise them to approach this question with caution and care. It is always true that one should not believe all the promises of Paradise found in letters sent by Australian suitors. It is hardly worthwhile to pack your bags and say farewell to Russia. Rather, you should come first on an ordinary tourist visa and look at everything attentively, study your suitor carefully, and see how people interact with one another. Australia is a country obsessed with work. People are absorbed with work here, and most talk concerns work and business. Therefore, Russians living here mostly miss the simple and sincere contacts (found in the motherland).

Nikolai Varsegov

In earlier times, Russians looked for their salvation abroad. Today, Russian emigrants are still searching for a sweet and warm life. I drew this conclusion after talking with Russian students in Australia. How do you plan to relate to them? How shall they keep their ties with the motherland? They grew up in Russia, it raised and educated them, and, now, they fly out the door in order to give their all to another country…

Metropolitan Hilarion

I think that many of the young people who have come from Russia to Australia shall ultimately return to the motherland. At least, the true patriots shall return, those who cannot live without their motherland. However, in Australia, they can acquire knowledge of a new culture and good training, which shall be in demand back home.

Nikolai Varsegov

You are saying that there shall be a natural selection? The patriots shall return, but, the other ones, the pitiful ones…

Metropolitan Hilarion

Most importantly, Russians abroad must not lose the feeling of their motherland. They must not forget their language, and they must develop their best national moral qualities. I would like to convey this wish not only to Russian immigrants, but, also to all Russians, who do not plan to emigrate abroad.

God preserve Russia!

13 May 2008

Komosomolskaya Pravda

As quoted in Sedmitza.ru

http://www.sedmitza.ru/

Editors Note:

This was another one of those pieces that was a “bear” to put together. I have no illusions as to being the best translator from Russian to English. Nevertheless, there are many Orthodox Christians who do not read Russian at all, and this is an important read, I would say.

People need to know what sort of man Metropolitan Hilarion is, and this interview is illuminating. He is not Vladyki Laurus, but, that is a “hard act to follow”. We are in for changes in the church, and not merely in the ROCOR. Vladyki Hilarion shall steer the ship of the faith through those storms as well as Vladyki Laurus sailed it through the storms swirling about the reconciliation.

Well, Vladyki Hilarion has hit the ground running, and that is a good sign. May God preserve him.

BMD

Moscow Mayor Luzhkov Barred From the Ukraine

Filed under: NATO,patriotic,politics,Russian,the Ukraine,Vladimir Putin — 01varvara @ 00.00

The Honourable Yuri Luzhkov (1936- ), Mayor of Moscow

______________________________

On Monday, the Ukrainian Security Service barred Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov from entering the former Soviet republic because of his “provocative’ statements regarding the ownership of the Black Sea city of Sevastopol”. The Moscow mayor made strong calls for the disputed ownership of a Russian naval base on the Crimean peninsula to be transferred back to Russia. “Russian citizen Yuri Luzhkov has been barred from entering the Ukraine, beginning on 12 May, because, despite warnings, he continued to call for actions that threaten Ukrainian national interests and territorial integrity”, the Ukrainian Security Service said in a statement.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in the Crimea under a 1997 agreement allowing Russia to lease the base from its ex-Soviet neighbour for $93 million per year until 2017, which is paid for by Moscow with Russian energy supplies. There have been frequent disputes between Russia and the Ukraine over the lease of the base. “This issue remains unresolved. We will resolve it for the sake of our state interests, for the sake of the lawful right that Russia has to the naval base of Sevastopol”, Mr Luzhkov said on Sunday during celebrations in Sevastopol to mark the 225th anniversary of the Black Sea Fleet.

According to Mr Luzhkov, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954 as “a token of brotherly love”, but, under a 1948 decree Sevastopol was assigned special city status “under the governing central authorities”, and, therefore, could not be included in the list of territories transferred to the Ukraine. “I do not want a split [between Russia and the Ukraine over the base], I just want to speak the truth”, Mr Luzhkov said, ignoring previous warnings from Ukrainian authorities not to repeat his numerous calls for the base to be handed over to Russia.

The Crimea, now an autonomous region within the Ukraine, is a predominantly Russian-speaking territory. Since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, the Crimea has unsuccessfully sought independence from the Ukraine. A 1994 referendum in the Crimea supported demands for a broader autonomy and closer links with Russia. Last month, Aleksei Ostrovsky, the head of the State Duma committee on CIS affairs, said that Russia could reclaim the Crimea if the Ukraine was admitted to NATO. Media reports indicated that then-president Vladimir Putin issued a similar threat at a closed-door speech to NATO leaders at the Bucharest summit earlier in April.

12 May 2008

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20080512/107142320.html

Editor’s Note:

Many Americans are unaware that much of what they hear in the American mainstream media regarding the Ukraine is simply repetition of Galician Uniate propaganda. A hefty proportion of the “Ukrainian” population is actually Great Russian, and most non-Ukrainians of non-Russian groups prefer to speak Russian over “Ukrainian”. Polls indicate that most of the people are favourably inclined to Russia rather than the USA. In short, anything coming out of Kiev from “Orange” sources must be labelled “caveat auditor”. Thank you for speaking out, Mr Luzhkov. The truth had to be spoken.

BMD

A Church Built for an Anti-Russian War Shall Become a Russian Orthodox Church

The old garrison church at Colchester, soon to be the home of St John the Wonderworker parish

In ancient times, when it was a province of the Roman Empire, Colchester, a city located some 80 kilometres northeast of London, was the first capital of Britain. It was a garrison town of “special designation” in that period. In the nineteenth century, during the time of the Crimean War (1853-56), Colchester again became the location of a military base, where some 5,000 soldiers were trained for dispatch to the Crimean front. For their spiritual needs, the British government built a large garrison church. Today, the majority of English historians have come to the conclusion that the Crimean War was an entirely unnecessary conflict, it was “an error”, a “failure”, and many lives were ruined in the course of its useless slaughter.

In the years since, Colchester has remained a major British army base, being enlarged and updated over the years. In March 2007, the original garrison church was closed and divine services in it ended. A new, somewhat smaller, chapel was built for the servicemen in its place. It was in this area, with God’s blessings, through the prayers of our Patron and Father amongst the Saints John Maksimovich the Wonderworker, and with the material support rendered by the readers of the journal Orthodox England and the internet site Orthodoxengland.org.uk, that our parish leased modest premises in the small seaside town of Felixstowe for some 11 years, a place where St Felix (+647) preached in antiquity.

When it became available, I dared to believe that I could acquire the large (and now closed) church in which the soldiers of the Crimean War period said their prayers. Finally, we received the news last Wednesday, on 7 May 2008, that our tender for the purchase of the old church building was accepted. We were shaken by this good news. The total floor area of the church building is 650 square metres (@7,000 square feet), and the area of the chapel, office, conference room, and hall add an additional 170 square metres (@1,800 square feet).

We intend to dedicate the main church in honour of St John Maksimovich, who, some 50 years ago, was the ruling archbishop of London. We shall dedicate the chapel to All the Saints Who have Shone Forth in the British Islands. It seems to us that St John Maksimovich himself shall bless our intentions. Soon, we shall visit Russia and acquire an iconostas and all necessary church utensils and fixtures. The very existence of our parish, the only permanent Russian Orthodox church in the East of England, seems to me to be nothing short of miraculous. Everyone who sacrificed to help us in the acquisition of this former Protestant church that we intend to convert into a proper Orthodox church is a co-participant with us in this miracle. This miracle was a miracle of the survival of an Orthodox community that overcame many obstacles, having to move here and there, but, because of the spirit of self-sacrifice, determination, and fortitude shown by its people, it has lasted these past 40 years.

A church built by the heterodox and which served the forces fighting in an anti-Russian war, now, becomes a parish church of the Russian Orthodox Church. Some shall see it as an irony of fate or history, others shall see in it divine judgement, and it shall be an example of what we call in English “poetic justice”. We consider it a spiritual victory that we were allowed to acquire this church, it is a celebration of the purity of Orthodoxy. This church was built to admonish and inspire soldiers fighting a country confessing the Orthodox Faith. However, God’s inscrutable ways unfold before us, and before our eyes this previously heterodox chapel is converted into a temple of holy Orthodoxy.

13 May 2008

Fr Andrew Phillips

Pastor, along with the clergy and parishioners of St John Maksimovich the Wonderworker

Pravoslavie.ru

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/put/080513123310

Editor’s Note:

If anyone heard of this worthy project through my posts, thank you. Fr Andrew and his parish still need help, you can access his website via the blogroll on the right-hand side of the page.

Bog blagoslovit, Batiushka!

BMD

The Moscow Patriarchate is satisfied with the Election of Archbishop Hilarion as the head of the ROCOR

Fr Nikolai Balashov, of the MP Department of External Church Relations

Archbishop Hilarion Kapral, the newly-elected First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) will continue the policies of his predecessor, the Moscow Patriarchate believes. “I am sure that Vladyki Hilarion will successfully continue to lead the ROCOR along the course embarked on by the late Vladyki Laurus”, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the secretary for inter-Orthodox relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, said to Interfax-Religion. The election of Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia, and New Zealand as the First Hierarch of the ROCOR was held on Monday at a session of the ROCOR Council of Bishops in New York.

Fr Nikolai referred to the election of Archbishop Hilarion as “an anticipated event”, and reminded us that Archbishop Hilarion “was perceived by many as a natural successor to Metropolitan Laurus, and his kindred spirit, whom Metropolitan Laurus ordained a priest, and a man who shares the views of the late ROCOR First Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus in respect to the way of the ROCOR’s further development”.

Fr Nikolai mentioned that it was Metropolitan Laurus who elevated Archbishop Hilarion to the office of his first deputy. “During the period of reconciliation and reunification of the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Hilarion showed himself to be a wise, prudent and thoughtful archpastor. Due to his efforts, the majority of clergy and believers of the Australian diocese of the ROCOR view reunification with the Church in the Motherland positively”, he emphasised. He also noted that the newly elected First Hierarch of the ROCOR visited Russia as a pilgrim on numerous occasions, meeting hierarchs, priests, and believers, and therefore, “he knows the Church life in our Motherland very well”.

13 May 2008

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=24404

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