Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

On Euthanasia and Crosses in the EU

Socialist Deputy Manuel Valls (1962- ) (centre) of the French Assemblée Nationale (the lower house of the legislature), sponsor of pro-euthanasia legislation in France.

Deputies of the French Assemblée Nationale rejected a bill proposed by Socialist deputy Manuel Valls, which advocated the establishment of “medical care for those wishing to die with dignity”, that is, the legalisation of euthanasia. 326 Deputies voted against the bill and 202 voted in favour of the legislation. “Every adult person with serious conditions may seek medical help to die with dignity”, the bill stated. Today, euthanasia is legal in some European countries, in particular, the Benelux countries and Switzerland.

The Spanish government intends to ban Christian symbols in schools, hospitals, prisons, and barracks. Spanish media reported that ministers of the government would no longer take their oaths of office using the Bible and the crucifix. Currently, the government is considering appropriate amendments to the Law on Freedom of Conscience. In 2008, the City Court of Valladolid, in response to a lawsuit of a group of parents, ruled that a private school had to remove all crucifixes from its classrooms. This decision provoked criticism from the Vatican and Catholic clergy in Spain.

The Spanish Constitution, adopted in 1978, guarantees freedom of religion with the stipulation that “no religion can have the status of a state religion”. However, it declares that the government must “take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and to cooperate with the Catholic Church and other religions”. In September, a survey showed that nearly 75 percent of Spaniards consider themselves Catholic, although only 15 percent attend Mass every Sunday, and 55 percent “almost never” do so. 20 percent of Spaniards identify themselves as atheists.

On 3 November, the European Court of Human Rights prohibited the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools in response to a suit filed by Soile Lautsi. She complained that Christian symbols in schools where her children attended prevented them from receiving a secular education. The government of Italy announced its intention to appeal the verdict of the court.

25 November 2009





The Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” Was in Earth Orbit on the ISS… an Unusual Procession around the Globe

An unusual procession with a copy of the Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” occurred in space in Earth orbit. On 30 September, Soyuz TMA-16 was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome and it delivered the image of the Virgin to the International Space Station (ISS), a source at the Galaktika (Galaxy) training-operational centre (the initiators of the idea) told Interfax-Religion on Wednesday. The icon’s stay in space ended on 11 October. The icon was aboard the ISS for 176 Earth orbits. It returned to Earth on the spacecraft Soyuz TMA-14.

This copy of the Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” will be on display 8-14 December at the Orthodox exhibition at VVTs. Anyone interested can see video and photographic coverage of the icon’s “procession” in Earth orbit. Patriarch Kirill blessed this project and the Centre of Russian National Glory, the St Andrew the First-Called Foundation, and the Energiya (Energy) Space Rocket Corporation sponsored it. Four years ago, an icon from the Our Saviour-Transfiguration Monastery of Valaam went into space. During its two-month stay aboard the station, it, along with cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, orbited the Earth about a thousand times.

25 November 2009



A Last Farewell to Fr Daniil

Here are the last illustrations to be posted on the death of Fr Daniil Sysoev. It’s time to put this story to bed.


Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev (1946- ) serves a Litiya at the coffin of Fr Daniil Sysoev.


Flowers left at the fence of St Thomas church in Moscow in memory of Fr Daniil Sysoev.


Memory Eternal to Fr Daniil. Wechnaya yemu pamyat!

He was Preparing Me for His Death!

Mourners at St Thomas church in Moscow queueing up to pay their last respects to Fr Daniil Sysoev.

On Monday, Moscow said farewell to slain missionary Daniil Sysoev. The funeral took place in Ss Peter and Paul church in Yasenevo, where his father serves as rector. Hundreds of Orthodox believers came to bid farewell to Fr Daniil. However, there was no room for the public in the church. At the entrance, a large video monitor broadcast the funeral ceremony to the crowd outside. In the church, around a hundred priests from the Moscow clergy stood, all in white vestments, with lit candles in their hands. Only the relatives of the deceased were allowed inside the church building with the clergy. His widow, Yuliya Mikhailovna, dressed in mourning attire, was there, with daughters, Iustina Daniilovna, his eldest child, and Dorofei Daniilovna, his middle child. From time to time, from the second floor of the church, one heard tearful cries of “Mama! Mama!” These came from the fidgety two-year-old, Angelina Daniilovna, his youngest child, who was sitting on her grandmother’s lap, crying for her mother.

“She met Daniil by chance, they were introduced by mutual friends”, Yuliya’s mother told me in a break in the chanting. “My daughter graduated from the medical institute as a pharmacist. Frankly, it wasn’t easy to get used to the fact that my daughter was a Matushka. {Editor’s note: Russian term for a priest’s wife.} For Daniil, his ministry has always taken first place in his life. Secular things? Well, they’re on the back burner. He often lingered in the church; the children didn’t spend so much time there. Yet, he loved his girls very much”.

Our conversation was interrupted; there was silence. The clergy stood mute, the choir stopped singing its dirge. The clergy held its breath as Patriarch Kirill appeared at the threshold of the church. He said, “If a man is killed for the sake of God’s truth, then, if the people accept this truth and admit it, it has vast power”. After serving a Memorial Litiya, the Patriarch said words of comfort and blessing to Fr Daniil’s widow. After the three-hours-long service was over, the funeral procession moved toward Kuntsevo Cemetery.

“Usually, rectors of churches are buried behind the altar of their church”, explained one of the priests at the funeral. “But, when the city authorities do not give permission for this, then, they are buried in Kuntsevo Cemetery” (according to an agreement contract with the Moscow City authorities: note by Y. Suprychova). Why didn’t the officials allow the burial of Fr Daniil in a missionary at St Thomas church, where he was the rector? Perhaps, it’s because the church is a temporary wooden structure.

“Danya had big dreams”, said the mother of the deceased missionary, Anna Mikhailovna, moving away from the grave. “But, it wasn’t to be… Generally, he was in a hurry to do everything. He always wanted to be a priest from the very first. Instead of playing the usual children’s games, he played at liturgy and preaching. He stood in the middle of the room, hanging a towel around him, preaching away. I tried to stop him; I thought it was blasphemy. He kept begging me, let me give a small sermon, at least, I’ll only whisper…”

I asked her, “He told you about the threats he received?”

“Of course”, Anna Mikhailovna replied, with a sad smile. “Moreover, he prepared me for his death. So gently, stealthily… no, that’s not it… yes, he brought up the topic of the martyrs. Like, they’re the lucky ones; they get paradise. He said that the martyr’s relatives shouldn’t grieve, but, rejoice. He was sure that he didn’t have much time left. However, until recently, he hoped that he’d have the time to carry out his dreams. He and his wife wanted to create a fund to assist the families of priests. Here’s Yuliya with her three children, they have nothing now… how many more families are like that? You know, after Daniil’s death, several major philanthropists approached Yuliya, so, maybe everything will turn out fine…”

24 November 2009

Yevgeniya Suprychova

Komsomolskaya Pravda (Komsomol Truth)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion


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