Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Patriarch Kirill is Against the Death Penalty under the Current Judicial System in Russia


Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias thinks that the death penalty is acceptable in extraordinary cases, but it can’t be applied fairly using the current judicial system. He said on Monday in Chișinău in an interview with Moldovan and Romanian TV outlets and Россия-24 (Rossiya-24), “I’m opposed to the death penalty under current Russian conditions. Today, if you want to eliminate a competitor, you hire a killer. Under the present state of our courts, if we had the death penalty, some would use the law to ‘rub out’ people. That’s a terrible risk”. His Holiness went on to say that there’d already been some cases “when, suddenly, at the last moment, it became known that the suspect wasn’t guilty. Therefore, if we’re to talk about reintroducing the death penalty in some very specific cases, such as psychopaths, mass murderers, and terrorists… without a doubt, of course, it’s absolutely necessary to have clear evidence that the suspect really was involved, and that no one somehow arranged it so that the guilt fell on his head… we may be able to do this in future”.

Citing evidence that the vast majority of citizens of Moldova, Russia, and the Ukraine are in favour of the death penalty, the Patriarch pointed up that they had “to bring about effective changes in the judicial system in our countries. Courts must be incorruptible and trustworthy. If there’s to be a death penalty, investigators must be scrupulous in their work, so that the criminal justice system doesn’t end up murdering someone’s ‘undesirable’”. He reiterated that Church Tradition doesn’t condemn the death penalty, and Christ “was crucified, He suffered the death penalty, but He never said that you can’t execute criminals, and the Holy Fathers said the same thing. The anti-death penalty movement doesn’t come out of Christian Tradition, it’s a result of new Liberal {that is, “conservative” in US/British parlance, more precisely “Libertarian Nihilism“: editor} philosophical ideas originating in the Western European milieu”. Patriarch Kirill noted that the Church has never opposed the death penalty; it’s opposed the use of indiscriminate force. At one point, for a period of a century, there were only seven or eight cases of the death penalty in the Russian Empire. He stated that the Church took pity on criminals, “took them under its security, and asked the state not to use the death penalty”, so that it could try to bring the perp to repentance, “and, in most cases, this could be done”.

11 October 2011



Editor’s Note:

Note well that His Holiness doesn’t take either EXTREME position. The Church does NOT deny that there are extreme cases such as Andrei Chikatilo. This human POS OFFED 53 KIDS. You heard me… 53 KIDS! I’d shoot this monstrosity without emotion, go eat a burger and drink a pivo, and sleep like a baby afterwards. There’s also Mikhail Saakashvili… the darling of the American rightwing. He ordered the Grad bombardment of sleeping civilians in Tskhinval, killing scores in their beds. I’d put the noose around his neck, say a prayer, spring the trap, and watch him die with no emotion (and I’d see to it that the variable drop was used to minimise any suffering). There’s nothing WRONG intrinsically with the death penalty… it’s the punishment of UTTER LAST RESORT. It’s not for a criminal who whacked another criminal… that’s a 20-year sentence. It’s not for an enraged lover… it’s not for a single murder. It’s for repeated and contumacious offences against God and Man… and that’s RARE. Mostly, Imperial Russia reserved the death penalty for traitors, not common criminals (but I’d argue that the Chikatilo and his ilk were obvious exceptions).

Here’s your real-world choices… you can have the Orthodox Way, as was embodied by Tsar Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (he rarely used the gallows), or, you can have the Pseudo-Christian Way as is embodied by Rick Perry and the bogus “Manhattan Declaration” (and applauded by the Religious Right). His Holiness has chosen the former course, and I say “amen”… all those who support Rick Perry’s Bloody Assizes in Texas deny Our Lord Christ and His Church, and that’s all that there’s to say on it.




Patriarch Kirill Spoke Out For the Persecuted Christians of Egypt

Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias urged the international community to stand up for Egyptian Christians. In a statement published on Tuesday on the official MP website, he wrote, “From our own recent history, our Church knows about the suffering of innocent people and the destruction of churches. Not only do we raise our voice in defence of our brothers in the faith in Egypt, we urge the world community not to ignore this unprecedented outbreak of lawlessness. The United Nations, other international bodies, and the leading world powers have the ability to influence the new Egyptian government to set good policies; we must unequivocally oppose the persecution of Christians, we must do everything that we can to promote inter-religious peace and security in the region. Egyptian Christians are bravely enduring tragic trials that have lead to a chain of events that has already produced a new and growing wave of emigration”.

His Holiness pointed up that Christians and Muslims have lived together in peace for centuries in Egypt, saying, “Destructive and radical forces are responsible for this aggression against Christians; they aren’t guided by any real spiritual motives”. In this regard, he appealed to Islamic leaders “to clearly condemn violence against Christians, to respect their right to openly profess their faith, and to maintain their religious and cultural traditions. At a time when it appears that the very future of the Christian-Muslim dialogue is in the balance, religious leaders should demonstrate their commitment to peace and mutual understanding”.

He urged the Egyptian government put an immediate halt to the violence against the ancient Coptic community, the killing of Christians, and the vandalism of churches and holy places, saying, “It isn’t enough just to say that one holds the principles of justice and human rights… it’s necessary to have a real respect for freedom of conscience in the country. The Egyptian Christian community is of long-standing; it should have the right to freely and safely practise their faith, to preserve their ancient churches, and to build new ones”. On behalf of the Local Church of Moscow and all the Russias, His Holiness reiterated his support for our suffering brethren in Christ in Egypt, “I’d urge them to keep a peaceful spirit, not to succumb to provocations, and to be faithful to the Saviour in their affliction”. He also sent a letter of support and solidarity to the First Hierarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Shenouda III Gayed, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, of the Holy Apostolic See of St Mark the Evangelist.

11 October 2011



Jews celebrate Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles)

Sukkot celebration in Ulyanovsk (Ulyanovsk Oblast. Volga Federal District) RF


Jews around the world will celebrate Sukkot (סוכות: The Feast of Tabernacles) this Wednesday at sundown, which will last until 20 October, ending on Shemini Atzeret (שמיני עצרת: The Eighth Day of Assembly). Tonight, synagogues will hold festive evening services marked by the lighting of candles. The Moscow Jewish Community Centre in Maryina Roshcha, will sponsor a series of events dedicated to the holiday, including a concert, “The Jewish Circle”,  the well-known akafot ritual (dancing with the Torah), along with memorial and celebratory prayers. Sukkot is a seven-day holiday starting on the 15 Tishrei, it symbolises the tents in which the Israelites lived in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.

To celebrate this holiday, Jews build a hut (סוכה: sukkah), of any material at hand, covering it with leaves or straw. The roof shouldn’t be too sturdy; it’s OK if a heavy rainfall penetrates the booth. The commandments requires observant Jews to hold leaves of four plants (ארבעת המינים‎: The Four Species) whilst pronouncing the blessing. Jewish sages taught that the plants symbolise the Jews, as people with different degrees of closeness to God’s commandments. Etrog (אתרוג) is the fruit of the citron tree, it has a pleasant taste and smell, so, it symbolises Jewish wisdom and sanctity. Lulav (לולב) is a closed green frond from a date palm; it symbolises those people who have wisdom, but don’t reflect on the kindness of their actions. Hadass (הדס), a branch with myrtle leaves, symbolises Jews who carry out the commandments, guided by faith, awe, and love for the Creator, but who don’t have extensive Torah knowledge. Arava (ערבה), a branch with willow leaves, symbolises Jews who aren’t familiar with Torah wisdom and who don’t observe the commandments. If people fulfil the commandments, it makes them equal; both sages and sinners stand before the face of their Creator during the Sukkot holiday, with one and the same joy.

12 October 2011



12 October 2011. Five Months After the Tsunami… The Kiotoku Maru Still Beached in Kesennuma

It’s taking Japan a while to get over the effects of the March tsunami. This photo was taken on 7 September. It shows the fishing trawler Kiotoku Maru, still beached in Kesennuma (Miyagi Prefecture. Tōhoku Region). It’s going to take a long time to recover. You simply don’t wave a wand and say, “It’s all over”… only lunatics do that.


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