Voices from Russia

Monday, 10 November 2008

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin Advises Pastors not to be “Little Princes” and Urges Them to Do More Active Pastoral Work in Society

chaplin-archpriest-vsevolod-3

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), Deputy Head of the MP DECR

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations, advocated that clergymen be more diligent in their pastoral activity, and to have no fear of secular society, including the media. “It is imperative for us to realise the need for pastoral activity outside of the walls of the church. Our flock is not only those who come to services, but, also all the surrounding people in the neighbourhood”, Fr Vsevolod stated during a discussion at the Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia) exhibition-forum taking place in Moscow. In his opinion, people are of all different ages, nationalities, and cultures, and “the priest must go forth to all of them”. He noted that priests have to go to hospitals, schools, and public functions, anywhere where they can preach the Word of God to people. They must also try to reach the people through local newspapers, television, and radio, so that they can inform people of the meaning of the divine services, feastdays, fasts, etc.

Fr Vsevolod is convinced of the necessity “for the psychological reorientation of our clergy from being absorbed with intra-church matters to having a zeal for mission to all the people in the local neighbourhood”. Frequently, priests evaluate their activity according to the beauty of the iconostas in their church and the extent of their parish activities, but, Fr Vsevolod believes that it is increasingly needful for clergy to evaluate their mission according to how they are received by people in secular society. “We should fear nothing, not even contact with the press”, he stated, adding that the media is a means for the words of the priest to reach the public, not all of whom he is able to meet personally. Fr Vsevolod emphasised that “in our outreach to the surrounding world, we must not show a haughty attitude in the media, acting like those who are constantly forbidding this or that. It is not good to act like ‘little princes’, to always use the tone of a lecturer”. He also stated that there was a need to open many more churches, since “one church to 100,000 people is abnormal”. Fr Vsevolod noted that clergymen “should not have fears of living in poverty. The Lord shall provide His priests the means they need for sustenance. We must not allow the Church to be converted into a thoughtless assembly-line of religious rites”.

10 November 2008

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=27251

Moscow Patriarchate Says there are No Preparations for a Meeting of Patriarch Aleksei II with the Pope of Rome

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), Deputy Head of the MP DECR. Fr Vsevolod takes the overeager papist press out to the woodshed for a “come to Jesus” thrashing. Here’s our terms, what’s your reply?

Preparations for a possible meeting between Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia and Benedict XVI the Pope of Rome have not begun according to sources in the Moscow Patriarchate. On Monday, Bishop Aleksandr of Baku and the Trans-Caspian expressed his opinion that the meeting might take place in Baku. Patriarch Aleksei and Pope Benedict have been invited to Baku to attend a world religions forum from 30 October 30 to 2 November 2009. “As of today, there are no preparations for such a meeting”, Fr Igor Vyzhanov, the head of the Secretariat for Christian Relations of the MP Department for External Church Relations, told our Interfax-Religion correspondent.

In addition, Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the MP DECR, explained that before there can be any meeting between the patriarch and the pope, there must be specific understandings reached between the churches. “We reacted positively to the suggestion of Sheikh Ul-Islam Allakhshukyura Pasha, the chairman of the Supreme Religious Council of the Caucasus, to hold a large inter-religious summit in Baku next year, and we recently discussed these plans in Moscow. But, we have not yet discussed exactly which heads of which churches are going to be invited [to the summit in Baku]”, he said to Interfax-Religion on Monday at the Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia) exhibition-forum. Fr Vsevolod noted that before there can be a meeting between the patriarch and the pope, “We must first agree to terms that shall actually change the relations between our churches to the better. As soon as we can do this, it shall be easy to fix the time and place for a meeting, especially as we have received proposals from several countries concerning such a meeting”, he said.

10 November 2008

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=27266

Editor’s Note:

Another HUGE Big Green Weenie award for the Interfax English translators! Paragraph 2 was missing in their translation, a giant distortion of the text. When will they learn? AARGH!

There has much rumbling in the papist press concerning a meeting between His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei and Benedict the Pope of Rome. Well, Aleksei Mikhailovich is not Black Bart the Jesuit lickspittle. There is going to be no meeting until Benedict admits that Aleksei is his equal and Benedict Ratzinger must bring the ravening Galician Uniates in the Ukraine to heel. If not, there shall be no meeting; it is as simple as that. The Catholics know the stipulations, it is up to them. It is not an important item on our agenda, not in the least. We are not going to compromise the Faith for photo ops with the Pope of Rome and to give papist journalists a chance to write about their guy being the head of all Christendom. What rubbish! They should all get a life… The Pope of Rome is not the head of the Church, he is not a “symbol” of anything for those of us outside the Church of Rome, and we don’t accept your categories in any case. There is no “Eastern Church”, nor is there a “Byzantine Church”, there is the Orthodox Church and the heterodox confessions, and that is all one can say on it.

We can get on well enough without a phoney PR event like the one staged in Istanbul. Fr Vsevolod is only reiterating what has been our constant position. Did he speak slowly enough for you this time? Let us be friends and good neighbours, for that is what is achievable. As for union, don’t hold your breath.

BMD

Can One Obama Change Everything?

US President-elect Barack Obama (1961- )

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Take a moment and punch the word “change” into your Google news search engine and you will quickly understand the essence of Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential elections. Optimistic-dripping headlines like, “The Freshness of Change” in the San Diego Union Tribune, “Voting for Change” in the Boston Herald, “Change comes to America” in The Nation Newspaper, and weighing in for Europe, “Euro­peans Hope Obama’s Change Reaches Across Atlantic” on Deutsche Welle, screamed from front pages in the United States and the world. Clearly, much of the world is hoping that America, which is viewed by so many as a beacon of democracy, cleans up its house and endorses Change with a capital C.

US President George W. Bush, before moving into the White House in 2001, took a cheap shot at his predecessor, Bill Clinton, by saying he’d have to “disinfect” the Oval Office before moving in. However, given the tremendous damage that Bush has done to the Oval Office himself, Mr Obama will need a whole construction crew to rebuild the reputation of the White House. The outright atrocities of the Bush administration, from the still-operational Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, where inmates are held without legal representation, to the invasion of a sovereign state, Iraq, in direct contravention of UN law, will not and should not be forgotten any time soon. Indeed, they must be addressed. For the United States to have fallen from global grace so quickly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 suggests that it behaved no better than the enemy it was pursuing around the world.

The United States has given the world a new toolbox of geopolitical terms, nation-building, axis of evil, pre-emptive strike, to name but a few, that it believes will help solve the world’s problems. In fact, it has done the exact opposite. Now, nations that were once strong allies in the war on terror, are questioning the true motives of their American partner. Russia, for one, rightly questions the necessity of America building missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, on Russia’s doorstep. Is it any surprise that President Dmitri Medvedev said that Russia had no choice but to station Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave? So, this brings us back to Barack Obama, who has inherited a kitchen full of dirty dishes in the midst of financial meltdown. Barack Obama and the American people should work closely with Dmitri Medvedev and the Russian people. After all, there’s nothing to gain from stewing over old animosities, many of which are vestiges of the Cold War.

6 November 2008

Robert Bridge

An American in Moscow

Moscow News

http://www.mnweekly.ru/columnists/20081106/55355383.html

Hearts for Life

valentin-yudashkin fashion

The world of fashion might seem to be a shallow world of preening glamour and conspicuous consumption, but, part of this year’s Russian Fashion Week was devoted to giving haute couture a kindlier makeover. A conference devoted to charity formed part of the RWF08 schedule, and it pledged to bang the drum for good Samaritans. Amongst the delegates at the Evento nightclub were pianist and philanthropist Yuri Rosum, astrologer Pavel Globa, the president of the “Line of Life” Fund Faina Zakharova, businessman and radio-DJ Yuri Kobaladze, designer Oksana Yarmolnik, editor-in-chief  of “Yes!” magazine Irina Ilyina, president of the Russian doll collectors club and painter Svetlana Pchelnikova and others.

Ms Zakharova highlighted the role that celebrities are playing the Russian charity scene. “Charity has undoubtedly beco­me fashionable in Russia. It has its champions among trendsetters in different spheres of life such as business, politics, culture, and show-business. Now, it is vital to turn fashion into lifestyle for everyone”. But, whilst some feel charity is a private decision, Ms Yarmolnik urged people not to be modest about helping others. “Help somebody, speak up, and the idea becomes infectious… somebody else will get up and donate as well”. Mr Globa insisted that the motive for a good deed is unimportant, “It doesn’t really matter to a child whether you are helping him for fashion’s sake or to do a good deed, it can save that kid’s life. Any motive is a good motive”.

The conference’s special guest was Romina Mingazova, the 10-year-old winner of the Mini Miss Universe pageant. She donated her ballet shoes from the contest and two decorative hand-made hearts as a gift to the fund. The organisers intend to set up a new project called Charitable Rus­sia. Its aim is to work on developing charities across the country. The key feature is that everyone in Russia should be aware of how to help sick kids. It seems the country is making strong strides towards a vibrant charity sector, and regardless of motives, this means more children around the country will have a chance to smile.

6 November 2008

Ksenia Kuzub

Moscow News

http://www.mnweekly.ru/news/20081106/55355365.html

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