Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Wound of Smolensk is still Fresh…

The hearse carrying the coffin with the remains of Maria Kaczyńska, the wife of Polish President Lech Kaczyński, in Warsaw on 13 April 2010. Both were killed in a plane crash near Smolensk in Russia on Saturday 10 April.

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Poland bid farewell to President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria Kaczyńska. Archpriest Konstantin Ostrovsky told our ANN correspondent how Orthodox Christians could pray for the repose of the Catholics amongst the victims of the plane crash near Smolensk. Fr Konstantin, who is the dean of the Krasnogorsk district of the Moscow diocese, told ANN that the desire to help our neighbour is quite natural for Orthodox believers, regardless of what religion his neighbour confesses. He said, “We can wish for the well-being of Catholics, for that matter, even of non-believers, including the dead. We may ask in our personal prayers for grace for the living, and indulgence and diminishment of suffering for the dead. This is a normal and natural thing. I know people who have Catholic relatives, and they pray for them”. However, Fr Konstantin went on to say we couldn’t submit the names of Catholics for commemoration either in the Liturgy or at a Pannikhida. The Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ; non-Orthodox are not a part of that. Therefore, we do not pray for them in the context of the Church. Nevertheless, according to Fr Konstantin, we can place candles in an Orthodox church in remembrance of reposed Catholics. He said, “Candles are a symbol of prayer, a manifestation of personal, rather than communal, prayer in the Church. We do not prohibit the placing of candles [for those outside the boundaries of the Church]. Sometimes, even Muslims come and light candles… we don’t forbid that”. Fr Konstantin said that when we pray for the repose of deceased Catholics, we should ask for the relief of their suffering. On the question of whether to ask for them the kingdom of heaven, he replied, “Should we boldly ask for that?” He went on to say believers could offer alms on behalf of deceased Catholics. Unfortunately, there is the view that churches can only take offerings given in behalf of deceased Orthodox, as some say that he Church must take money only from its own. On the contrary, Fr Konstantin said that believers could submit offerings to the Church given on behalf of deceased Catholics. He said the money brought on behalf of the deceased is the property of the man who gives them. However, this charity would benefit the deceased.

Polish President Lech Kaczyński was born in 1949. Along with his twin brother Jaroslaw, he entered politics. In his youth, they fought against communism and were part “Solidarity”. For this, Lech Kaczyński spent about a year in prison. When he was mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczyński banned several gay pride parades. On becoming the president of Poland in 2005, he stated that he would support Catholic values and fight for strong families. Until the election of President Kaczyński, abortions in Poland were very rare. However, when he introduced a bill to ban them outright, the Sejm did not accept this draft law. President Kaczyński spoke out against gay marriage and euthanasia. He compensated those sentenced by Stalin’s courts to terms in labour camps and, likewise, to those in “Solidarity” who suffered the same fate later. On 10 April 2010, President Kaczyński was on his way to Katyń, to honour the memory of repressed Polish officer POWs buried there. With him in the presidential plane were not only the highest Polish officials, but also descendants of some of the victims of the Katyń affair. In total, 96 people died in the plane crash near Smolensk.

Representatives of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate visited the Embassy of Poland in Russia. Igumen Filipp Ryabykh, the deputy head of the DECR, and Fr Sergei Zvonarev, the acting Secretary of the DECR for Foreign Affairs, brought flowers, signed the condolences book, and personally expressed their condolences to the representatives of the Polish state, according to the website of the DECR. They gave the Ambassador of Poland to Russia, Jerzy Bahr, and Envoy Extraordinary Tomasz Turowski condolences on behalf of Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias and Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP DECR. “We grieve with you, we pray for the victims. These days, many Orthodox believers bring flowers to the missions of the Republic of Poland; they light candles in churches and pray. I think that we shall learn a lesson through this tragedy only if we ensure that bad weather never mars the future relations between our peoples”, Fr Filipp said to Ambassador Bahr. He pointed up that on 7 April at Katyń “our peoples were united in an Easter prayer for the victims of repression, we rejoiced in common harmony, and, today, we are experiencing a common grief that transcends national borders”. In addition, Fr Filipp mentioned the joint effort of the MP and the Roman Catholic Church in Poland on a document of reconciliation between Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, and Poles, which began several months ago.

The coffins containing the bodies of Polish President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria Kaczyńska lying in state at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on 13 April 2010

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Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the MP Synodal Division for Church and Public Relations, remarked on the Christian values reflected in the life of the late Polish President Lech Kaczyński. “We had rather different assessments of history, but I would like to say that he was very faithful to Christian values. He created a new party, and it came to power precisely because he insisted on the observance of the eternal and unchanging moral values, in which European traditions are intimately associated with Christianity”, he said Tuesday on a radio broadcast of the Русская служба новостей (Russian News Service). Fr Vsevolod helped to organise a private visit by President Kaczyński to Katyń in 2007, and he said that the Polish president not only prayed at the place where the Soviets killed not only Polish officer POWs, but also many ordinary Soviet citizens, he also visited the Orthodox Cathedral of Smolensk, “where he prayed and he spoke with our priests. Truly, he was a man open to the Christian soul of the Russian people. For all the criticism he heaped on Russia, he did not, I think, like so many other Western politicians, equate ‘Russia’ and ‘disbelief’”, he said. He expressed the hope that Katyń will become a place of “shared memory of both the Polish and Russian peoples, and for all the peoples that were part of the USSR”. In addition, he hoped that it would become a place that “will warn us of the fact that the frenzy of militant atheism necessarily leads to human tragedy, and that we should not repeat it. That is why there are now Christian symbols at the Polish memorial, and, a few days ago, we laid the cornerstone for an Orthodox Church, a church that would not only be a place of prayer, it would also be a place of historical remembrance”.

To try to find a positive seed in the accident may seem weird and cynical… but soldiers do not just die… they die for the sake of something. Alas, if not for the death of Mr Kaczyński, Russians would have simply ignored the memorial events at Katyń because the prevailing attitude towards this subject is a tired and irritated, “Well, didn’t this all happen a long time ago, the graves are overgrown, all they ever do is to try to stab us…” This trip to Smolensk to go to that terrible forest, well, Russians thought it was nothing but a diplomatic nicety. It took a tragedy to shock us, what happened horrified us sufficiently that we took a fresh look at the nasty history of Russian-Polish relations in recent years. These seemed to be entirely composed of grievances based upon misunderstandings. It’s not even that it is impossible to feel the pain of others as your own. You can imagine someone else’s headache, since your own head sometimes hurts, too. However, where the Poles feel suffering, the Russians feel almost no pain, and they just cannot imagine why they feel this way. In 1940, the NKVD shot 20,000 Polish officer POWs… numerically, this is nothing compared to the millions of Soviet citizens who were tortured and ravaged through the actions of those same Chekists. It’s not many, even if you take into account the vast difference in the size of our populations.

Perhaps, apparently, this staggering number of victims led to apathy; otherwise, the pain would have overwhelmed us. For millions of contemporary Russians… well, their ancestors just died sometime in the past, didn’t they? It was just like an epidemic or a hurricane. This means that their deaths have no special meaning; there is no particular reason to grieve for them, to memorialise their suffering, to require the perpetrators to repent and recognise their responsibility, or to reach conclusions about ourselves based upon this experience. If we are to honour these millions of victims, we must spare nothing when we seek for the perpetrators [and what motivated them]. We must do this even if it results in an unpleasant dialogue [about us]. It is easier to forget, to slap a beautiful blind myth upon the past (thus spitting on the bones of our ancestors) and live on. Who was your greatgrandfather? Yes, God knows, he vanished somewhere. That’s what happened at that time. Who’s to blame? Nobody, really. Beria? Beria was nothing but a “talented servant”. Anyway, it was a wonderful romantic time back then.

Consequently, we wonder and don’t understand it when the people next door make a different choice… to remember. They honour them. They reach conclusions about the events and require the recognition of guilt, even after half a century, yes, even after 70 years. In this family and national remembrance, we see nothing but an impending “crash”. Instead, we cobble together a cheap and false consensus (соборность), and now we are ready to defend that selfsame Beria… because his hands are no longer around our necks. However, the Poles, in turn, cannot even imagine that we don’t care not only about their ancestors, but about our own as well… so, they suspect that every Russian secretly supports the return of imperial consciousness, and are convinced that we are nothing but imperialists. I’d love to believe that we could break this cycle of hatred, today, right now. We are now living as though there is clearly nothing to confess… but our conscience demands that we keep alive the memory and truth [of what happened]. We have not yet looked closely at our reflection in the mirror. We must bear in mind that the enormity at Katyń was not committed by monsters, but by ordinary human beings… just like us.

That means that we must change.

13 April 2010

ANN News

Interfax-Religion

Voice of Russia World Service

http://www.annews.ru/news/detail.php?ID=220975

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=35123

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=35133

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2010/04/13/6346475.html

Editor’s Note:

There is only one thing from the above that I would point up at present, please, read this:

We are now living as though there is clearly nothing to confess… but our conscience demands that we keep alive the memory and truth [of what happened]. We have not yet looked closely at our reflection in the mirror. We must bear in mind that the enormity at Katyń was not committed by monsters, but by ordinary human beings… just like us.

That means that we must change.

This means that the present attempt by the OCA leadership to bury the evildoing of the past is not only wicked… it keeps us shackled to a juvenile refusal to face ourselves. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us”. Either we face the evil of the past and punish those responsible or the OCA shall die… it is quite that simple. ‘Nuff said.

BMD

It’s Still Not Up On oca.org!

It’s now Tuesday, 13 April 2010… Jonas Paffhausen had the above photo taken with a bunch of unrepentant Anglican Proddie sectarians on Friday 9 April at a ecumaniac love feast. Four days later, this news is still not up on oca.org. In short, they are lying to you by omission. I know that the konvertsy are not listening… they are ignorant brats with full nappies who refuse to listen to grounded people. As for the real people out there… these jerks and poseurs are MORE secretive than Herman Swaiko ever was.

Send them no money and starve them out. Matushka Nina was telling me that there are parishes refusing to pay anything to these secretive and preening reptiles… emulate them. They will expire all the sooner.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Albany NY

Organisers of the Rock Tour in Honour of the 1,020th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia Named the “Best Rock Band of 2009”

Poster for the rock tour in honour of the anniversary of the Baptism of Russia… it reads, “(Your) Entire Life”… perhaps, a better “Englishing” would be “Give Your All!”

Here, we see the Brothers Karamazov performing with Yuri Shevchuk, the frontman of DDT… they performed together on Deacon Andrei Kuraev’s rock tour of the Ukraine.

The legendary Kiev rock group Братья Карамазовы (Brothers Karamazov) was declared the best Ukrainian rock band for 2009. A combination of SMS-voting, online surveys, and ratings of music critics determine the award of the Непопса (Nepopsa) Prize, Yuri Molchanov, producer of the musical channel Enter {the original title is in English: editor}, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday, Yuri Molchanov. He believes it is noteworthy, “Given that The Brothers Karamazov write and sing their songs only in the Russian language, and everybody knows about their patriotism. Just as we held a grand rock festival tour called Мир (Peace) last year, we plan to hold a similar tour called Всем миром! (The Whole World!) honouring the 65th anniversary of the Victory Day in World War II and the liberation of the Ukraine from the Nazis”.

13 April 2010

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=35124

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