Voices from Russia

Monday, 7 December 2009

Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev says that Unsettled Problems Must Be Resolved Before there is a Meeting of the Patriarch and the Pope

Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (1966- ) of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Department for External Church Relations


Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Department for External Church Relations, said that that a crucial step before there could be a meeting between the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias would be willingness on the part of the Vatican to solve unsettled problems. “For many years, our position has remained unchanged, we’ve never ruled out the possibility of such a meeting. Both the late Patriarch Aleksei and the current Patriarch Kirill have said this. But, this meeting must be prepared with care so that we can remove existing frictions”, Archbishop Hilarion said in an interview on the TV programme Вести в субботу (Vesti v Subbotu: The News on Saturday) on the Rossiya channel. In his words, the MP expects the Vatican to “take specific actions that would indicate that they’ve a desire to work together with us and to heal the wounds that they dealt to us during the difficult period of the early nineties, when Uniates seized more than 500 Orthodox churches in the Ukraine, and they threw the Orthodox congregations out into the street. Furthermore, we’re tendering specific answers to resolve the problems that exist”, Vladyki Hilarion said. Commenting on the decision to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican, Archbishop Hilarion said, “This is a welcome step by the Russian state”. At the same time, he pointed up that in inter-church relations, “There are problems that we need to resolve in a completely different way using other means. We’ll not resolve them simply by establishing diplomatic relations. First and foremost, is the problem of the Western Ukraine, where there is enmity in the relations between Orthodox and Greek Catholics (sic)”, he added.

7 December 2009



Editor’s Note:

Looks like HA is pouring the expected bucket of ice-cold water on the usual papist propaganda concerning a meeting between the Pope of Rome and Patriarch Kirill. Let’s not mince about the truth… you cannot trust papist sources such as Asia News, Zenit, Walter Kasper, and even such minor internet sources as Byzantine Texas in this regard. Such sources are the equivalent of Herr Göbbels and his Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment. The papists are trying desperately to affix us to their dying confession. Let’s not succumb to their blandishments. I’m going to translate an interview with the late Fr Mikhail Shuvar, who suffered permanent injury because Uniate and schismatical thugs beat him with iron bars. If you excuse Uniates… you stand with those who beat Fr Mikhail, there’s no other way of putting it. This means that Andrei Psaryov and Vassa Larin, by praising the Uniate Robert Taft, struck at the Church with iron bars (and approved of Fr Mikhail’s beating by their approval of a Jesuit impostor). Don’t say that I speak for the “Church of Fear”… what childish and rubbishy nonsense. I stand for the “Church of Bravery”… along with the Martyrs of the Butovo Poligon, Minin, Pozharsky, the “prisoners of conscience” of the 80s, Aleksandr Isaievich Solzhenitsyn, and all the brave Orthodox people injured and killed by Uniate thugs in the last 20 years. I do daresay that the “Church of Fear” crowd is huddled in a corner, in checkmate. Why don’t they just go off to the Russicum… it’s where they belong, after all… and it would be honest!

The papists aren’t sorry for what they did in the 90s, they aren’t sorry for the Unia, and they aren’t sorry that they brought Islam into the heart of Europe by attacking the bulwark of Christendom, the Empire of the Romans. They haven’t changed in the slightest, and anybody who thinks that they have is daft and requires a long rest. The Pope of Rome still expects all of us to kiss his bum and declare him “infallible”… that hasn’t changed either. Don’t talk to me about that supposed 30 November 2009 letter from Benny to Black Bart. It was an empty-headed non-starter; it assumes that Bart is the “Orthodox Pope”, which, of course, he’s not. By not sending a copy to KMG, Benny offended the MP… and he shall NEVER get his meeting and photo op. You see, his meeting with Bart didn’t produce the desired result. None of the other Orthodox listened; the situation remained unchanged. However, he torpedoed any chance of a meeting with KMG by slighting him. Silly wabbit… expect the usual Sturm und Drang from the usual sources. For the umpteenth time… there’s going to be NO meeting between KMG and Benny… not now, not soon, not any time later either. The papists aren’t going to rein in their Uniate attack dogs, so, that’s that. Let’s roll up this pointless dialogue so that we can concentrate on being good neighbours. Now, that’s something we can all agree upon!



How do Women Relate to Christ?

On 3-4 December, the First all-Russia Forum of Orthodox Women took place in Moscow, and the first day of its proceedings was no different from “heterosexual” Orthodox-social activities of a similar format such as the World Russian People’s Council and the Christmas Readings. The large number of women was not remarkable, for in most Orthodox forums they usually constitute the majority of participants.

At first, a report by Health Minister Tatiana Golikova impressed me by its warmth and informality. She wanted us to love our fellow citizens as in the old fairy tales, “to live long and happily, and die in one day”. However, the topic of ordinary housewives and mothers with large families seemed to change the Minister’s tone… she menacingly denounced the vices of society, talked about planned amendments to the budget, and, unfortunately, said almost not a word about their real everyday problems.

Nevertheless, on the second day of the forum, when the forum met in specialised groups, the participants finally moved beyond slogans to discuss real cases. In the group “Women in the Church”, Valeriya Efanova, the wife of a priest, a mother of three children, and a well-known author of book reviews, made the suggestion that churches should have rooms where mothers could feed and change infants, as well as to place ramps at the church entrances so that the disabled and mothers with prams could enter without difficulty. When Matushka Valeriya proposed that churches should set aside a space inside for wheelchairs and prams, the audience in the hall responded with resounding applause.

Orthodox writer Yuliya Voznesenskaya, known as the author of Мои посмертные приключения (Moi Posmertnye Priklyucheniya: My Posthumous Adventures), Путь Кассандры (Put Kassandry: Cassandra’s Way), and Паломничество Ланселота (Palomnichestvo Lancelota: The Pilgrimage of Lancelot), shared the experience of the Mariya Orthodox women’s club, which operated underground during the years of the communist persecution of the Church. With the support of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, its participants managed to produce and distribute six issues of its samizdat journal, which published such prominent authors as, for example, the philosopher Tatiana Goricheva. Ms Voznesenskaya noted with regret, “At the instant that the outside pressure was relieved, we flew apart due to centrifugal force”. In her view, women’s groups would not be viable if they do not set specific goals and objectives and begin to work towards their realisation.

Olga Kiryanova, a member of the Synodal Department of the Relationship of Church and Society, said, “A poster hung in front of a church entrance, it said, in very large letters, ‘Women are forbidden to be in church if’, and below that in smaller type, ‘they wear trousers, they are without a head-covering, etc’. After reading this announcement, people conclude women are not welcome in church, they presume that the Church teaches misogyny”. She went on to say, “To overcome the false impression that the Church demeans women, Orthodox Christians themselves must canvass religious bookshops and have books containing ‘old wives’ tales’ removed, even if they are profitable, and replace them with serious theological works about the role of the sexes. For example, the recently murdered Fr Daniil Sysoev, kandidat of theology, wrote an article in which he refuted the superstitious opinion that women should not enter an Orthodox church during their ‘time of the month’. However, the publisher who ordered this manuscript, refused to publish it, because he did not believe it possible to admit that men and women are equal bearers of the image of God. He thought one should not participate in the sacraments during ‘those days’, he wanted terrible stories about punishments that befell sinners who dared to ‘touch the sanctuary whilst they were unclean’, so, he did not accept it”.

The forum also left the impression that women are a huge, powerful, and elemental force… just how do we use it for useful purposes, no one, unfortunately, knows. We remember how, in the early 2000’s, when people passed out leaflets and held prayer meetings to protest the INN and the new passports, 90 percent of the work was done by women. A matushka {Editor’s note: It is unclear whether the author means a priest’s wife or is using a Russian slang usage for a “church lady”. My money is on the latter.} walks down the street with a trolley of leaflets, her inflexibility and severity remind one of a tank, and everyone she meets runs away from her with a spasm of revulsion. Later, the same matushkas with the same carts and portable icons protested in support of the now-defrocked bishop Diomid of Chukotka.

Today, all the same familiar faces are opposed to juvenile justice {Editor’s note: I believe that the author is referring to what we in the West call “children’s rights”.}. After all, not one of us really knows how to deal with it. On the one hand, juvenile justice is a serious problem, clearly indicated in speeches from such well-known public figures as Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, and Dmitri Smirnov. On the other, a spontaneous, loud, unpredictable, and emotional army of women entered the information war against “Yu-Yu” {Editor’s note: This is from the initial letter “yu” in both “juvenile” and “justice” in Russian.}, no one really knows what they’re up to. Tomorrow, in an attempt to solve the whole problem, it is possible that the authorities will simply brush them aside, calling them “mad women”. Watching on the sidelines of the forum, I saw these sorts mobilise in a chain reaction to any mention of juvenile justice. First, a matushka appeared out of nowhere, presenting a brief lecture on how it’s coming soon that children, especially from Orthodox, families, will be able to appeal to the courts against their parents. Her listeners went away groaning and horrified, but, before five minutes had passed, she was preaching the same thing in front of another crowd. Unfortunately, none of them clearly answered the question of what is juvenile justice and why it is bad.

Do not ignore women and push them into a corner. That is fraught with dire consequences.

6 December 2009

Olga Gumanova



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