Voices from Russia

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Pastors and Margarita: The Hierarchs of the MP Cannot be in Dialogue with the New Leader of the Lutheran Church of Germany (EKD)

Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door in 1517 (taken from a cinematic recreation). Did he realise what it would lead to?

Editor’s Foreword:

“The Pastors and Margarita” in the title is a play on words taken from the title of “The Master and Margarita”, a famous novel by the Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940). Mikhail Afanasyevich was NOT a close relative of the heretic theologian Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1943) (Sergei Nikolaevich was one of the founders of St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris and (unfortunately) a formative influence on ADS). I believe there is a distant family connection, as Mikhail Afanasyevich’s ancestors included Orthodox clergy.


The dialogue between the major religious bodies in Russia and Germany, the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Evangelical Lutheran Church (EKD), one that has been in existence for the past 50 years, is now jeopardised. Indeed, communication between the two churches may stop altogether, according to an announcement yesterday by Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Department for External Church Relations. The reason cited for this was the recent election in the EKD of new leader. More precisely, it concerns the person who is now the head of the EKD.

On 28 October, the Synod of the EKD elected as its chairman 51-year-old Margot Kässmann, the Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Hanover. She is divorced and the mother of four children. The approval of Ms Kässmann went surprisingly smoothly, only five of the 142 members of the Synod voted against her. Thus, for the first time in the long history of Lutheranism (which dates back to 1517, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses against the Catholic clergy), a woman was at the head of this 25 million-strong German Protestant church.

“We do not recognise the ordination of women to the priesthood, nor do we recognise such ordination to the episcopate”, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev said in reiterating the principles buttressing the MP’s position. In his opinion, of course, the MP could continue inter-church dialogue with the EKD, but, it would involve many “protocol issues”. For example, it is unlikely that the First Hierarch of the MP would meet with Ms Kässmann. “How would the patriarch refer to her or meet with her?” Vladyki Hilarion wondered. This situation will continue for at least the next six years (that is the length of her term as leader of the EKD).

In 1992, Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias attended a Holy Assembly of First Hierarchs of the Local (Orthodox) Churches. That meeting released a communiqué where the Orthodox hierarchy firmly rejected some recent trends in ecumenical relations, including the problems introduced by the ordination of women to the priesthood. In this regard, Orthodox found solidarity with Roman Catholics. For example, the Vatican’s relations with the Church of England markedly deteriorated after the Anglicans in 1994 (until now, considered one of the most conservative Protestant “denominations”) allowed women to be ordained to the dignity of the priesthood. As a side-note, the newly-elected head of the EKD, Margot Kässmann, promised that she would not demand that Catholics ordain women to the priesthood and abolish clerical celibacy. (Editor’s note: this last sentence probably means that Ms Kässmann is putting no prerequisites on her relations with the papists… at least, that is what it says to me. BMD)

“I don’t think that  Ms Kässmann’s election will lead to a break in relations between the Orthodox and Lutheran churches”, Pastor Konstantin Andreyev, rector of the Moscow parish of St Michael the Archangel of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, said in an interview with our correspondent from Up-to-the-Minute News. “Strictly speaking, we don’t consider Ms Kässmann the head of the EKD, but, she is the chairman of the Synod of the EKD, the largest Lutheran Association in Germany. As long as the MP participates in inter-church dialogue, it can’t ignore this powerful and very conservative organisation”, Pastor Andreyev concluded.

Not every Russian Lutheran welcomes the fact that their German fellows elected a woman as their head. For example, Pastor Ivan Chernyshov, commenting on Ms Kässmann’s election, recalled the words of the Apostle Paul that a bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife. “If you follow this example literally, a woman couldn’t serve at the altar simply because she can’t be the ‘husband of one wife’, quite simply, because of her gender”, Pastor Chernyshov noted. In addition, he called to mind the words of the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Corinthians, Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak.

12 November 2009

Mikhail Moshkin

Vremya Novostei (Up-to-the-Minute News)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=print&div=10622 (in Russian)


Sexton from Ulyanovsk Oblast Sentenced To 20 Years in Prison for Paedophilia

Filed under: moral issues,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

russian jury

Russian jury hearing evidence in a court case. Trust me… there are such things as fair trials in Russia… it’s not a dictatorship… you shouldn’t listen to the NY Times and its Orthodox amen corner in SVS (don’t forget that ADS’ son worked for the Grey Lady!).

On Thursday, a court in Dimitrovgrad in Ulyanovsk Oblast sentenced a 41-year-old sexton of a local church after it found him guilty of charges of child molestation. The court found him guilty under chapter “b” Part 3 Article 132 of the Criminal Code (sexual assault against persons known to be under fourteen years of age) and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, a spokesman for the court told Interfax. He will serve the first ten years of his sentence in a maximum-security prison and will serve the rest of his sentence in a penal colony. “We found 18 separate occasions of criminal activity [by the accused]. We held the trial in this criminal case behind closed doors. Amongst the victims were five boys and one girl, aged from 8-to-11-years-old”, the spokesman told us. He went on to tell us that the defendant admitted his guilt. “The sexton said that, even after serving his term, he would not reform, but, would engage in paedophilia again, therefore, he asked [the court] to sentence him to life imprisonment”, the spokesman of the court said. At the same time, in its sentence, the court took into consideration such mitigating circumstances as the defendant’s partial recognition of his guilt and his active cooperation with investigators.

12 November 2009



Editor’s Note:

One of the constant complaints issuing forth from the SVS crowd is that the Church in Russia winks at criminal activity. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this case indicates. Indeed, I would say that it is the OCA, not the MP, which does so. Bobby K, who stole over a million dollars from the OCA is still on its payroll… that is insane! I shall not mention the stories about Feodosy Lazor and other hierarchs (alas, they are too well-known). In short, the OCA has no call to criticise the MP for moral shortcomings (something one finds constantly in the comboxes on ocanews.org and on certain internet forums). In any case, this fellow is going to find out what punishment means… they don’t muck about in Russia, thank God (trust me, the Butyrki makes The Walls in Texas look like Club Med… I kid you not!)… it’s what we should do with certain people who all of us know about (I didn’t say ANYTHING about Venice FL… I truly did NOT!).


“New and Improved”, or, It Looked So Much Bigger on TV…

as seen on TV

It’s a truism: when you actually buy an item, you usually find that it is not what it appeared to be in the TV advert. How many times have we bought something only to find that it not only didn’t work as claimed, but, that it needed an extra “this” or “that” (requiring the outlay of more cash, natch) in order to work at all. For an example of that kind of complete fluff and puffery, read the following article on oca.org:


Read it? Sounds impressive, huh? Well… there’s much less than meets the eye here. Firstly, the article reports the re-election of Philip Saliba to the Board, but, there was no mention of whether he was present at the meeting. This is of vital importance, for Saliba pulled all of the AOCANA students out of SVS earlier this year. If he were not present and if the students are not returning… that is NOT good news at all. I have seen pathetic spin before, but, this one is SAD. Philip Saliba has the most well-honed political instincts in American Orthodoxy (he has served for 43 years, longer than any other American-based bishop in history)… if he pulls his archdiocese’s students out of a particular seminary, it is because he knows something is up.

We have to ask several questions. Was Philip present at the meeting? Was he absent? If he was missing, was it because he was ill? Are the AOCANA students returning to SVS? The article is silent on all of these points, which leads reasonable people to suppose that the students are not returning, Philip sat out the meeting on purpose, and that his re-election was in absentia. Ms Belonick (the author of the oca.org article) fails to convince anyone in the know… she left out so much information that it renders her submission useless. I also ask the following question, “In the light of recent events (the suspension of relations between the MP and EKD), it may well be that Philip Saliba shall resign from the SVS Board. Would SVS tell us if he did so?”

The second piece of puffery concerns Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (HA) of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP DECR. Firstly, the office he holds is not the same one held by Kirill Mikhailovich Gundyaev (KMG) before his election as Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. I have to reiterate it… for the modernist Orthodox sources refuse to tell you… MAJOR portions of the DECR are now independent bodies under Fr Vsevolod Chaplin and Bishop Mark Golovkov. Thus, KMG retains control of the MP’s “foreign policy” by the use of divide et impera.

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), formerly of the DECR, his office, which focuses on cooperation with the RF government, is now independent. He is just as major a player as HA. Ever wonder why the SVS Renovationists never mention him? Could it be because he favours traditional church life? Hmm…

HA is a known temporiser in regards to the papists and a “liberal” in theological terms. Fr Vsevolod is feisty towards the papists… he’s always pouring ice-cold water on the attempts of Cardinal Walter Kasper and HA to foster a meeting between Benedict Ratzinger and His Holiness. Bishop Mark is KMG’s man… that is, KMG has HA and Fr Vsevolod duke it out, then, he has Bishop Mark cast the deciding vote (that is, Bishop Mark carries out KMG’s wishes). In short, KMG has created a troika… that means that he retains TOTAL control over “foreign policy”.

HA is a cipher and office boy (as is shown by his title: “of Volokolamsk”… that is a minor town of less than 20,000 inhabitants in Moscow Oblast under the actual jurisdiction of the Patriarchal Vicar, Metropolitan Yuvenaly Poyarkov (who was Aleksei’s unsinkable satrap as well)). Indeed, HA has LESS actual authority than he had under Aleksei… for he was the ruling bishop of Vienna and the Representative of the MP to the European International Institutions, with quite a bit of freedom of action. KMG gave him the title of the head of the DECR, but, then, he proceeded to strip away major portions of that agency, and didn’t give HA an actual diocese in Russia to run (remember, KMG was ruling Metropolitan Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (it had some 200-250 parishes) as well as the head of the DECR). In short, KMG demoted HA… he has to be a good boy and do what KMG wishes or… le sabot! KMG clipped HA’s wings… and he forced HA to SMILE throughout the entire operation.

In any case, the Board of SVS can elect HA as a board member… but, KMG has to approve it! Do recall that there were those who wanted to elect HA as First Hierarch of the OCA last year. Patriarch Aleksei nixed it… obviously on the initiative of KMG (who was the head of the uncut and still whole DECR at the time). This so-called election was not approved by KMG… he could very well shoot it down. The OCA crowd is crowing much too early. Keep in mind the recent suspension in relations between the MP and EKD… it may well mean that HA’s election is mere window-dressing on the part of SVS… for KMG would not allow him to sit on the board of a seminary that inked a concordat with a seminary of a church body headed by a female bishop.

Nevertheless, HA is too busy with much more important matters to bother with such a piss-ant institution as SVS. At present, he is part of negotiations with the insurgent Philaret Denisenko in the Ukraine… THAT is far more important than the deliberations of a self-centred set of Renovationists in Yonkers NY. Note well that HA was not present for this meeting at SVS. If he has to choose between attending to business with Metropolitan Vladimir Sabodan and schmoozing with JP, there is no contest. KMG wishes to follow-up aggressively on his pastoral trip to his Ukrainian flock, and HA has no choice but to adjust his schedule to reflect that want of His Holiness. HA shall not be coming to SVS any time soon… or any time later, if the palaver with Denisenko proves protracted.

Lastly, one must view all the above through the prism of the situation revealed by the MP suspending relations with the EKD on the grounds that the EKD elected a female head. THAT means that Moscow does NOT approve the SVS-Nashotah House accord. It puts all the PR on Moscow’s “support” for SVS into the dunny. In short, the facts catch out SVS in a lie… for it shall refuse to follow Moscow’s lead in suspending relations with the TEC. Shall this kill the OCA? It may very well do so… if so, it shall not be painless or bloodless, I fear. A good chunk shall walk out with JP, BP, and Hatfield (and OCL and such AOCANA konvertsy sorts as Frederica Matthewes-Green and Joseph Honeycutt could conceivably join them). It would cause a church dispute that would make the OCA-ROCOR feud look innocuous. However… if we love the truth… we shall face it and endure it for God’s sake.

In short, the SVS article puffs up the news a bit… on closer inspection… it’s the same old tired gang giving us the same old tired verbiage. “New and improved”… how many times have you seen that on TV? Too many, I’ll warrant. It DOES take all kinds, doesn’t it? Pass me the jug, will ya…

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 13 November 2009

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

It’s Friday the Thirteenth! Let’s all shudder in unison. Lions, and tigers, and bears… oh, my! Have a good one, all of you! Remember, smile broadly… that really riles ‘em.

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