Voices from Russia

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev Offered the Assistance of the MP to the US State Department in Preparing its Annual Report on Freedom of Conscience

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

In a communication with John Beyrle, the US Ambassador to Russia, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Head of the MP Department for External Church Relations (DECR), offered the assistance of the Moscow Patriarchate in the preparation of the annual US State Department report on freedom of conscience in the world. Archbishop Hilarion noted “the importance of the work of the US State Department in preparing an annual report on the state of religious freedom in the world. The MP, according to Vladyki Hilarion, could be involved in preparing the materials for this document, which would make it more objective. He also stressed the positive dynamics in the content of this document manifested in recent years”, said a statement posted on the website of the DECR. The statement went to claim that Mr Beyrle expressed his satisfaction with the response of the DECR to the State Department report and expressed his readiness to work with the MP. During a meeting, Archbishop Hilarion told the US ambassador about the current state of church-state relations in Russia and about the public service of the MP. He told the ambassador that, in Russia, the traditional religious communities made a “decisive contribution” to the establishment of the state, and this affects both the status and the specific implementation of religious freedom in Russia, this “should be considered in any analysis of church-state relations”.

29 January 2010

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=33967

Editor’s Note:

This piece was badly translated by Interfax. The title was badly botched as, “Russian Church to Assist US Department of State on Annual Report on Freedom of Religion”. Of course, this gives the implication that the initiative for this action was from the American side. It was not so. This is much less than it appears at first glance. Mr Beyrle was polite to HA… nothing more. Nothing was committed to or agreed to. It looks as though HA is trying to make up for his gaffe at Der Spiegel. HA made an offer, Mr Beyrle did not even give him a hint of the actual response. In actuality, Foggy Bottom careerists who are, in the main, Russophobes trained by Brzeziński, write the report. Trust me; they shall not change their spots. There is a good side to all this… perhaps, it will open up the Boy Wonder’s eyes to the perfidy of the Western secularist class and sour him on cooperating with the Latins… one should always pray for a happy result, no?

In any case, American policy towards Russia since Clinton has been a mindless rehash of the Polish interwar policy of Prometheism (don’t forget, Brzeziński’s father was a member of the fascist junta of the colonels (he was their Ambassador to Canada in 1939, hence, he and family never suffered in the war as so many Poles did)). It’s not going to change, for the career personnel are fixed in their ways by now. Only a collapse on the entirety or a portion of the post-Soviet space will effect a change. Shall the impeding fall of the Ukrainian successor-state be such a catalyst? We shall have to see… my crystal ball is out for repairs.

BMD

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia Pointed Up the Hypocrisy of the International Community in Relation to the Serbs in Kosovo

Monastery of Visoki Dečani in the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija

The newly elected First Hierarch of the Local Church of Serbia, Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović, described the situation of Kosovo Serbs “the greatest tragedy in the contemporary world”. In an interview with the Serbian website Vesti.Online, quoted by the Russian site Sedmitsa.ru, the patriarch said that the Serbian population of the province “are in a dire situation, one of the worst ever seen there. The tragedy is that the powers-that-be in the world are aware of this, but they pretend not to see it, or that they know anything about it. They stand on the side of those who have pushed us out of Kosovo-Metohija for over a century. Many people, being unable to resist, flee the area, and the Serb population of the area is becoming smaller. Furthermore, those who wish to return to their homes have not been able to do so. Today, those who have homes and smallholdings [in the province] are not confident that they would return alive if they left their property”.

Responding to questions, he also called the separation between Montenegro and Serbia a “crazy and unreasonable thing. We are one people; although we separated from time to time. At this difficult time for all our people, we should have been closer to one another; instead, we split apart, which cannot be justified. Will they (the Montenegrins: Interfax) understand it? I do not know. Perhaps, there are powerful elements behind these events, so, everything depends on them”.

With a special greeting, he turned to the Serbs living outside the former Yugoslavia, and urged them to preserve their native language and cultural and religious traditions. “I hope that our people who belong to our Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Savva will not forget their heritage, and show themselves worthy exemplars of their traditions to the peoples amongst whom they now live”, the patriarch said.

In a related story, Russia will donate 2 million dollars (60.791 million Roubles 1.441 million Euros 1.252 million UK Pounds) to aid four monasteries in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojša Bradić, the Serbian Minister of Culture, said on the Serbian TV and radio channel RTS. These funds will be used to update and ensure the protection of Visoki Dečani, Gračanica, the Mother of God at Ljeviška, and Peć Patriarchal monasteries. “It is planned that of the two million dollar Russian donation, 400,000 dollars (12.159 million Roubles 288,200 Euros 250,360 UK Pounds) will be allocated to the restoration of paintings at the monastery of the Mother of God at Ljeviška. In the other monasteries, the money will be directed not only to restoration of the paintings, but also for the refurbishment and protection of the monasteries”, Mr Bradić said.

29 January 2010

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=33968

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=33975

Orthodox Should Not Be Ashamed to be Orthodox: A Statement by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the Chief of the MP Synodal Division for Church-Society Relations, at a Plenary Session of the 18th Annual International Christmas Readings

Fr Vsevolod Chapin (1968- ), the Chief of the Division for the Synodal Church-Society Relations, is perhaps the closest confidant to KMG. Don’t be fooled by the Boy Wonder’s impeccable English or the number of books he has written. Give me a down-and-dirty stump-puller like Fr Vsevolod, any road… he’ll come through when the chips are down (unlike the Boy Wonder’s crash in England).

We must speculate, however, on how Orthodox Christians should see public service. Today, the interaction of Church and society in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova are largely the same, because our societies are composed mainly of Orthodox Christians. Hence, the same people largely make up both church and society. Christians have a duty to serve the public good, even if it is only as professionals in various fields of public life and society.

We have many Orthodox public officials, athletes, politicians, businessmen, artists, workers, peasants, that is, people of different professions, each of whom have certain socially important tasks. When we talk about the social mission of Orthodox Christians, this means that anyone who works in any area of society or the state must show themselves as a Christian, they must be a person of faith, no matter what they do and in whatever sphere of public life they labour.

Moreover, Orthodox Christians in the aggregate have a kind of public mission that they exercise when they labour at their ordinary tasks, coordinating and integrating their efforts, just as Orthodox Christians should, positively influencing this or that sphere of society and public life. We need to reject a certain idea that some secular elements wish to impose upon us; indeed, some people in the Church echo this error. Simply put, this idea posits that we must not even think of combining our church life and our secular life, that our church life can affect our everyday activities. They try to tell us that we can only be Christians in church; we cannot be Christians at work or in the secular world in general. We often hear such views; it is how secularists and atheists naturally interpret existing legislation. However, we also hear it from people, as I said earlier, in church circles. We sometimes hear some say that we should not bring Christianity into talk about politics, about the economy, about the life of the state, or about the law. This separation is partly a holdover from the Soviet period and partly because the new apologetics for secularism is, in my view, unfamiliar to Christians. As we all know, a house divided against itself cannot stand. People cannot split themselves into a church being and a social being. There is no social environment, whether a local community or the entire nation, where one can divide one’s spiritual mission and one’s so-called secular life.

When we talk about the separation of church and state, firstly, we mean that we do not mingle the governing bodies of the state and the canonical structures of the Church into a single organism. Incidentally, the law “On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations”, which gives the official interpretations of the principles of secularity and the separation of church and state, gives these principles very precise definition. It says that it means specifically the lack of overall management mechanisms in the state from religious groups, and, in principle, nothing more. According to the law, public authorities are not subservient to the Church, and Church authorities do not participate in the leadership of the state. However, certainly, this does not mean that we can divide the life of an individual Christian or the life of the Christian community into a secular sphere and a spiritual sphere. Therefore, individual Christians as part of a particular community can exercise their faith in socially important matters. Moreover, they do, thank God. According to [Vladimir Legoida], the editor-in-chief of the magazine Foma (Thomas), who just spoke in this hall, there are many Christians in the arts, in business, and in politics. Furthermore, everyone knows who they are.

It’s good that we have strong Orthodox individuals identifying themselves as believers in every sphere of society. What we have now is not enough, though. What we need is synergy; we need the influence of Orthodox Christians in all facets of society and state. However, we can only exert such influence through the coordination of our efforts. We must perceive the Church acting in the world. We should perceive that we are a community, who together, in all conciliarity (соборно), and not singly, affect the creative arts, the economy, the public administration, indeed, all the spheres of life in which we work. The task ahead of us should not intimidate us. If we are the majority in our own country, or, shall I say, in our own countries, as I see people from Belarus, the Ukraine, and Moldova in the hall, we have every right to have our moral principles, our vision of the present and future, as the decisive ones in those areas of society and state in which we work. To do this, we must be able to formulate our objectives. To do this, we must be able to develop mechanisms that would allow Christians, especially the laity, to define the role of Christians in all spheres of life of the people and country. So far, we’ve made a few steps in this direction. There is an association of Orthodox women and a Council on Economics and Ethics advises Holy Patriarch Kirill. I think that [the Holy Synod] will create a body that will coordinate Church and social activities in the arts, and we have functional contacts in the sporting world. This is only a few areas, but in all areas we need to make plans, you need to articulate the tasks ahead, you need to raise the question of how to ensure their implementation.

It is important to avoid duplication. Today, we have many Orthodox public organisations; the day after tomorrow, the Christmas Readings will hold a roundtable to discuss the coordination of efforts of these organisations. We will make every effort possible to combine all our efforts. I think that is very important to not just make formal management solutions, that is, simply create new organisations, new associations, new coordinating bodies, and new information structures. We need to help people to know what others are doing and what they can best do themselves. Most of all, we need to change our consciousness. I mean this in the sense that Orthodox Christians, especially the laity, would find their place in those areas of public life and society in which they work. We should not abandon people who are on Sundays and holidays are Christians, and, on all other days, all the rest of the time, are people living ordinary lives, according to the laws of this world. We should act as a vigorous and active community; we should be Orthodox Christians in an Orthodox country.

Thank you very much.

27 January 2010

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin

Chief of the MP Synodal Division for Church-Society Relations

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=documents&div=989

Editor’s Note:

One wonders why SVS does not translate Fr Vsevolod’s writings, but pumps up the Boy Wonder and such marginal figures as Serge Hackel and Sophrony Sakharov. That is to say, English-speaking Orthodox are only getting a partial, and, therefore, distorted view of Orthodox thought. Reflect well on the fact that SVS fanatics have accused me of “cherry-picking”. Methinks the pot calls the kettle black in this case! Bear in mind that no human being (myself included) is impartial and “objective”. Some of us DO come closer than others do, and I would submit that I come closer than the Scarsdale Road commandoes do. After all, according to “St Schmemann”, there are one million members in the OCA and Orthodoxy is a major religion in the USA. Note well that JP and Hatfield do not repudiate this. Caveat lector.

Note well that Interfax did not translate this in its entirety… one wonders about English submissions on Russian sites. Is Zacchaeus Wood influencing things (it would explain the schizophrenia between the Russian and English versions of Pravoslavie.ru, for instance)? After all, Moscow does not consider the Orthodox in the USA, Canada, and the Anglosphere in general, important at all (I wish that they did, but they don’t, that is what it is).

BMD

The Ukraine: The Conflict between Orthodox and Uniates

Carpatho-Russia: A beautiful land currently under Ukrainian occupation… shall it become free? God willing, yes! We Great Russians say, “Let our people go!”

Editor’s Foreword:

One of my correspondents asked for some more material on Carpatho-Russia. This may be “old news” to many of us “old sweats”, but some haven’t heard the word. Remember, the modernists don’t tell people the truth.

BMD

******

Relations between the Orthodox and Uniate churches are rapidly worsening in Carpatho-Russia, the westernmost region in the present Ukrainian state. Fr Dmitri Sidor, the dean of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross, accused Uniates, who retain Orthodox ritual despite being under the Vatican, of unprecedented proselytism in the traditionally Orthodox town of Užgorod, the diocesan seat. Orthodox believers are especially outraged at the impending construction of a Latin and Uniate Catholic cathedral complex near the Orthodox one, saying it could spark interfaith confrontation in the town.

The conflict between the Orthodox believers and Greek Catholics (also known as Uniates) in the Ukraine dates back centuries. In 1946, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic (sic) church was outlawed by Stalin and went underground, only to be legalised when Perestroika began. At the time, church assets in the Western Ukraine were split up, with some switching back to the Unia voluntarily and some following grave conflicts and even violence. Only Carpatho-Russia remained untouched, and the Orthodox retained their dominance. Now, this is under threat. In 2004, there were 10,310 Orthodox and 3,328 Uniate congregations registered in the Ukraine.

Normally, the Orthodox Church reacts to expansion with pickets and other acts of protest to the authorities. However, in this case, such measures would not be impressive enough for the European consciousness (as the Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe) since the important aspect is only the construction of new churches, rather than the ejection of a congregation due to interfaith antagonism. As far as contemporary secularist and relativist Europe is concerned, references to the historical background or the verity of faith look very archaic and out of touch with today’s law and liberal principles of free competition among goods, ideologies, and even faiths. Thus, Orthodox believers opted for an unorthodox approach, by announcing they would erect a church of their own in downtown Užgorod, right in front of the Greek Catholic cathedral, tit-for-tat, while still observing democratic norms. Should the city authorities deny the Orthodox believers their right to build a church, they will be open to criticism for discriminating against one faith in favour of another.

The new church will be dedicated to St Aleksei Kabalyuk, a Carpathian symbol. St Aleksei was born into a Uniate family but converted to Orthodoxy as a young man. He became a clergyman and played a major role in reviving Orthodoxy in Carpatho-Russia in the early 20th century, but the Austrian-Hungarian authorities, who suspected Orthodox believers of pro-Russian sympathies, persecuted his missionary activities. On the eve of World War I, Kabalyuk was sentenced to jail. Following his release four years later, he became one of the leaders of Carpatho-Russian Orthodoxy until his death in 1947. Naturally, he is an Orthodox hero, canonised in 2001, as he was an irreconcilable and successful, and, hence, dangerous, opponent to the Unia.

Naturally, interfaith confrontation is undesirable and has fatal consequences for the souls of believers, who, instead of praying and fasting, get involved in violent conflicts often used by various political forces for their own ends. Most Ukrainian Uniates voted for Viktor Yushchenko during the recent presidential election, whilst Orthodox believers preferred Viktor Yanukovich. However, when conflict goes too far, the forceful, yet peaceful, response of local Orthodox believers looks quite reasonable and justified.

30 June 2005

Andrei Makarkin

Deputy Director, Centre for Political Technologies

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20050630/40819891.html

Editor’s Postscript:

A triumphalistic Uniate attempted to rain on my parade. No sale. There has been no official ukaz allowing any sort of concelebration with Uniate heretics from the MP. There has been no news of such from reliable Russian and/or Orthodox sources. Yes, there are clerics who transgress the teaching of the Church, to be sure.  You see that all the time in the USA, especially from the SVS crowd. Supposedly, relations are “cordial”… hmm… the sources given are all papist. That is to say, all suspect and non-Church from the Orthodox point of view. Why, they’re trying to deny and explain away the violence they dish out. In any case, “Orthodox in union with the Pope of Rome”… I find that oxymoronic. The lives of Ss Aleksei Kabalyuk and Maksim Sandovich render that assertion a nullity. Checkmate, Uniate… do be careful when you argue with a grownup.

BMD

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