Voices from Russia

Monday, 14 November 2011

14 November 2011. “It’s All I Can Stands and I Can’t Stands No More”… It’s Time to Expose Reardon et al as Pseudo-Orthodox Sectarians

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Editor’s Foreword:

This is MUCH longer than the usual “800 words”. I needed to give you full detail and that required much more space. I think that this’ll repay the time that you spend on it though. If these people aren’t Orthodox, and if they don’t wish to be Orthodox, what are they doing amongst us? Ponder that…

BMD

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I’ve received much in my mailbox concerning the antics of this or that semi-converted (at best) ex-Anglican or “Evangelical” pretending to be an Orthodox priest. I must say that although my informants do NOT know one another and much distance separates them, they all tell the same story. These prelest-ridden semi-converts substitute their idiosyncratic notions for the solid teaching of the Church. Before we go into the mire (for we must), let’s look at what the Real Deal Church looks like.

The Real Deal Church is the Big Tent. It isn’t the Little Flock… it isn’t Gideon’s Band… it isn’t a bunch of wild-eyed martyrdom-seekers in sandals and togas. Above all, it isn’t a conventicle of self-satisfied prune-faced prigs with a laundry-list as long as they are describing every minor sin that’ll “automatically excommunicate” you. What drives the RCs nutters is that whenever they ask us, “What do you believe?” they get three different answers if they ask two Orthodox Christians. The Church is like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz… “Some people go this way… some go that way…” We’re NOT lock-step conformists, despite what Reardon and Freeman say. Orthodoxy doesn’t so much give you answers as it gives you the right questions to find the right path that leads to the correct answers. What really discombobulates them is when we say, “They’re not entirely correct… but that doesn’t throw ‘em out of the Church”. The (official) RCs are looking for ONE SIMPLE AND LEGALISTIC ANSWER. I’ll clue you in on something… if you talk to a Sicilian Nana or a Québécois Grand-père, you’ll find that they agree with Yiayia and Papou, and with Baba and Dede… oh, do watch out for Oma’s cane, her aim is as dead-straight sure as any Baba’s (as Opa and Dede share a friendly brewskie together). What DO we believe? The fixed non-negotiables are in the Creed… that’s why we recite it at every liturgy; it’s what we MUST believe, after all. Trust me, if you were to talk to a canonist, they’d start rattling off all the exceptions to this-or-that rule. The Fathers are even dicier. You MUST believe what’s in the Creed… a lot of the rest is up for grabs.

The Real Deal Church is Forgiving. It doesn’t run an Inquisitorial investigation at every confession. The priest doesn’t go around snooping into his parishioner’s private lives. He doesn’t have the time to do either! In an average urban parish in the motherland, there are several thousand people at least, and poor Batiushka has all that he can do to keep up with baptisms, funerals, weddings, visitations of the sick, overseeing the church school, and looking after the material cares of the parish, not to mention the fact that the church building is open for services daily, not just on Sunday. He’s not a Patrick Henry Reardon or Lyonyo Kishkovsky with a miniscule congregation and plenty of time on his hands for ecclesial politicking. In the homelands, careerist priests tend to gravitate to diocesan slots, for if a priest is in charge of a parish, he has NO time left over for glad-handing and bum-kissing. In short, there’s no prying into the details of people’s private lives as you see amongst the konvertsy.

Now, that we’ve established that the Church is the Big Tent and that it’s Forgiveness, it’s time to nail down why the konvertsy aren’t Orthodox in their heart-of-hearts. Their worst error is their indifference towards Old Ritualists and the Unia, perhaps, the most serious of their errors. That is, from the top, they deny the Church, the Body of Christ, the objective embodiment of His People on earth. Everything else is minor in comparison (yes, it’s bad enough, and it’s nasty, to be sure, but MUCH less serious than the effectual denial of Christ and His Church). We see this in Freddie M-G’s Facing East. She talks as though her Uniate neighbour is the same as an Orthodox Christian. Uniates are many things, but gad sir, they ain’t Orthodox! They’re RCs with an Orthodox ritual, that’s all. They have to accept the Pope of Rome as the Infallible Head of the Church, attend to his “encyclicals”, and to every jot and tittle of the RC’s “Councils” (such as the ridiculous Vatican II). They’re not of us… and that’s that. It’s why we don’t give them communion. It has nothing to do with their personal faults (they’re no better or worse than we are)… it has nothing to do with this-or-that incident in the past. It has everything to do with the fact that Uniates are outside of the Body of Christ… and that ends the discussion. They aren’t part of any of the fourteen Local Churches… they’re tied to the Pope of Rome and his confession… for an Orthodox Christian that ends the palaver. Tell me who your bishop is… I’ll tell you if you can commune with us. It’s quite that simple.

Konvertsy fall into this error because they NEVER give up the Anglican heresy of the Branch Theory. Of course, many of the konvertsy are former Anglicans, and most of the other semi-converts ape them, as Anglicans are the Big Ju-Ju in American Religion. That is, sociologically-speaking, Anglicans take a “step down” in converting to Orthodoxy. Many of my Arab friends tell me that they hate “Angliochian” (Anglican convert in the AOCANA) priests. They tell me that these paladins continually look down their nose at them, are condescending, and lay impossible demands on believers (like or not, Orthodox do NOT tithe… it’s NOT part of the Tradition). Since they despise the groups into which they’ve converted, the konvertsy often form a distinct “set”. This coterie NEVER gives up its Anglican pretensions (especially the phonies who call themselves “Western Rite”). You can’t tell them that the Church condemns the Branch Theory… they’ll refuse to listen to you. It doesn’t matter to them that His Holiness himself wrote the Church’s condemnation (when he was a Metropolitan)… they don’t care what our real leaders teach. It’s against their fancies… they’re better educated than the rest of us, dontcha know, so it doesn’t matter what authoritative voices in the Church say.

Just look at it. Chad Hatfield accepted an honorary degree from his Anglican alma mater… I’ve never heard the like in my life! You usually can’t get converts to sit in the same room with those of their former confession, let alone to accept an honour from them. Fathausen gave a paper at a loony Uniate conference… it’s one thing to go and listen (innocent)… it’s quite another to actively participate in the proceedings (culpable). Reardon teaches at a Continuing Anglican Seminary (if he wants to hobnob with Anglicans so badly, why in the hell did he “convert?”). On top of all of this, the konvertsy are forever telling us how we’re mistaken about the Old Ritualists, and they tut at us at how we shouldn’t be so “judgemental” of them. Let’s keep this simple. The Old Ritualists left the Church. Full stop. They’re nothing but Proddies with a fancier liturgy. Prove to me that the Staro-obraztsy didn’t leave the Church… or please do shut up about it.

Now, let’s turn to some names that we all know. Everyone’s heard of some of the woollier sorts such as Michael Baumann, John Whiteford, George Washburn, Brian Mitchell, David Constantine Wright, Chad Hatfield, and Matthew Tate, but there IS a defining figure amongst them… Patrick Henry Reardon. I’ll concentrate on him, for his errors are indicative of all the rest. Although, one must say that he’s the prize package of ‘em all. Everybody in the Chicago area who’s written to me says the same things about him. Either there’s a fantastic conspiracy out in the Windy City (complete with black helicopters and Grassy Knolls) or a disparate set of people IS telling the truth. Nearly every account agreed word-for-word verbatim. Mr Reardon… don’t go after your present and former parishioners. I’m giving out the straight story as it was told to me by people who’ve seen you in action, but aren’t part of your parish. I’m saying this because all my informants tell me that you’re vindictive when crossed (it’s why most of them won’t have anything to do with your parish). I’M NOT AFRAID OF YOU; VERSTEHST DU MICH?

Let’s begin at the beginning. Everybody knows that Reardon was an Anglican, but how many know that he started out in the RCs? He was a Trappist monk… with Thomas Merton, of all people! I’m told that he’s still Catholic in practise, he uses Latin in his private prayers behind the altar, and he pushes the RC line on birth control. In his eyes, the only usable method is Natural Family Planning. Hey, Pat, the Real Church says that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with condoms… if it’s a choice between you or the Church, the Church wins (every time). Pope Pat I wasn’t ordained in the OCA because he’d been ordained a priest as a Catholic monk, and he married after he’d became an Anglican. At that time, the OCA refused to ordain him because he married after his RC ordination. If Pope Pat were to try this gag today, he’d be ordained, because Matthew Tate’s a twice-married man… Fathausen would embrace him! An MP priest that I asked said simply, “All marriages count, if you have a civil marriage, you’re married”. That tells you much about Mr Reardon (and about Fathausen, too)… how do you spell D-I-S-R-E-G-A-R-D? That’s to say, no reputable bishop in the motherland would ordain such a man, and quite rightly.

Pope Pat is one of those priests who pressures people to have children… the more children, the better. It didn’t matter if the family couldn’t afford to raise the kids that they had… they had to have more kids! On top of that, he pushes “home schooling” as the end-all and be-all solution to the education of our children. He constantly rants about ALL public schools being Satan’s establishments, and private Christian schools aren’t much better in his eyes. On top of that, he attacks all women who don’t fit the stereotypical 1950s housewife pattern. He didn’t care if it meant that the family had to suffer… the wife CAN’T work. By his actions, Reardon makes it clear that any woman who didn’t fit his preconceptions is going to Hell. The good word out there is that Pope Pat decided who was going to head the sisterhood. The women had no say so in the matter at all themselves. If that isn’t enough, he likes to change things without informing anyone, and you’d best not question him. Pat will just wilfully take away responsibilities from parishioners without giving any reason at all. Several sources told me, “The Church gives and the Church takes away. Deal with it”. All of my sources used the exact same words… all of them. In other words, “The Church is Pope Pat I… Pope Pat I is the Church”.

Reardon doesn’t tolerate ANYONE who thinks differently from him. He’d embarrass them publicly if he thought that their opinion differed from his (even on political questions). If you ask him a question about his views, he’ll shut you up. Reardon preaches the GOP Gospel (but without mentioning them by name in church). According to Pope Pat, if you vote for a pro-abortion candidate, you’re going to Hell. It doesn’t matter what their stance is on other issues… he’ll attack you for supporting them. Outside of service hours, Reardon’s a reliable shill for the extreme rightwing of the Republican Party. All of my sources agree; Reardon revels in publicly humiliating people. He wants to have his hand in everything in a parishioner’s life. Friendships outside the parish were subtly discouraged, even with other Orthodox. What’s worse, I’m told (including by clergy) that he thought nothing of publicly disparaging other Orthodox parishes and clergy in the area; what’s more, it’s a regular thing on his part. The good word out in that part of the world is that he’s a “sheep stealer”, trying to get people from other parishes to switch to his if they visited his parish (Pat… you knew that the people who resisted you WOULD talk about it, didn’t you?).

To sum up, Reardon’s a typical semi-converted konvertsy “priest”. How can a thrice-ordained man be a TRUE Orthodox priest? Feodosy Lazor may have been a poofter, but he refused to ordain Reardon, and he refused to ordain Gillquist’s bunch. I’m told that the Centre put the kibosh on both of ‘em. Is Reardon a Catholic, or an Anglican, or is he Orthodox? I can’t speak for the first two named, but he certainly isn’t Orthodox in heart and soul! Reflect on this… Pope Pat’s not alone… Fathausen thinks JUST LIKE HIM. Monomakhos.com thinks just like him… Dreher, Mattingly, and Freddie M-G think just like him. In fact, all the konvertsy think alike. Isn’t that SCARY?

If we want to preserve the CHURCH… we’ll have to give these sorts the heave-ho. Will we? It’s up to you…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 14 November 2014

Albany NY

14 November 2011. Video. In Honour of St Onufry… The Wonderworking Icon of Jabłeczna POLAND

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Monastery of St OnufryJabłeczna (Lublin Voivodeship) POLAND

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Monastery of St Onufry. Jabłeczna POLAND

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This video has narration in Polish, but it “moves”, so, even non-Polish speakers will receive much from the visuals and music. It focuses on the Monastery of St Onufry in Jabłeczna. At 45 minutes into the vid, it shows part of a monastic tonsure ceremony. It’s an hour VERY well spent, as the visuals confirm much about grounded Orthodoxy as compared to Looney Tunes konvertsy Pseudo-Orthodox Sectarianism. TRUE Orthodoxy doesn’t need books… it doesn’t need preaching… it doesn’t need words at all… it GRABS YOU AND WON’T LET GO. It’s the personification of the Hound of Heaven.

You can REAL STRAIGHT-UP Orthodoxy or you can have LOBOTOMISED WATERED-DOWN Pseudo-Orthodoxy as peddled by SVS and the konvertsy. It’s up to YOU…

BMD

Editor’s Update:

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Look at what one of my correspondents with PA connections sent me. Igumen Mirosław Nos, who’s the Superior of St Onuphry Monastery, graduated from St Tikhon’s Seminary in 1995. The above image is his picture in the yearbook. Some sorts in Syosset wanted Mirosław to take the position of kellenik to Metropolitan Feodosy Lazor, however, Mirosław said he didn’t graduate from two seminaries to carry a Metropolitan’s luggage.  Smart man, no? Then again, Mirosław grew up on a farm in Poland… which means that he has the peasant’s canniness and ability to smell BS a LONG way off.

BMD

Narodnye Opolchenie Revived in Byelorussia

Filed under: politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00
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“NO! Byelorussia‘s NOT for sale!”

“The fruits of our country belong to us; we earned them with our labour!”

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President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus presented legislation reviving the Stalinist practise of fully arming every citizen. Facing increasing pressure from the US, EU, and NATO to abandon the national decision to maintain Soviet Socialism, the President and many officials from the various Belarusian parties feel strongly that the citizenry needs to be trained in national defence and well-armed. President Lukashenko said, “Comrade Stalin armed every single citizen with guns. Orthodox bishops and elderly nuns weren’t exempt. Some of them, later, because of their training, became heroes of the USSR. Today, too, we’re faced with similar threats, not only from Berlin, but from Washington as well. Belarus will not be another Libya or Yugoslavia”. Former President Fidel Castro followed Stalin’s practise and armed every Cuban over thirty years ago. “If they support me, they’ll defend me. If not, then, they may oust me”, Fidel said famously at that time. He remains a most beloved leader, not only in Cuba, but also throughout all Latin America.

4 November 2011

BELTA News Agency

(No URL available… sent to me as a cut n’ paste in an e-mail)

Editor’s Note:

In view of the bellicose and blustering threats issued by the Interventionist Democrats and Neocon Republicans against Syria and other states, it’s good to bear in mind that there are people willing to fight for their homelands. Let’s see… Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, George WeigelBill O’Reilly, Rand PaulSean Hannity, Paul Ryan, Dropout Scott Walker, Dick Cheney, and Newt Gingrich all refused to fight for their country. One Byelorussian baba with an AK is worth more than the whole Fox News crowd put together…

BMD

“In Antioch They Were First Called Christians”: Patriarch Kirill’s Visit to Syria and the Patriarchate of Antioch

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On Saturday, hundreds of Syrians enthusiastically met the Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias at the Mariamite Cathedral, the cathedral-church of Damascus. A procession of Orthodox Arab youth (Scouts) accompanied by singing and drumming was part of the formal greeting. The procession included supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waving Syrian flags and holding portraits of the Syrian president. They chanted slogans of gratitude to Russia and in support of President Assad.

Inside the cathedral, Patriarch Ignatius Hazim of Antioch and all the East and Patriarch Kirill served a molieben, during which they prayed for the welfare of the Syrian and Russian peoples. Patriarch Kirill said, “My prayer today is for the welfare of Syria, and for the preservation of the historical friendly relations between Muslims and Christians. My prayer today is for the Church of Antioch and the Church of Holy Rus to maintain fraternal relations, so together we can turn to God”. He noted that after soon his election as patriarch, he wanted to come as soon as possible to the ancient land of Syria, but circumstances prevented him from fulfilling that desire “as soon as I wanted”. Patriarch Kirill stated that some people said to him, “It isn’t the best time to go to Syria”. However, he emphasised, “Love has no boundaries, and we shouldn’t restrict it to more or less favourable situations. My mission’s neither political nor diplomatic… I go to visit my brother, in the church, which belongs to both of us. Please God, grant that the relations between people belonging to different religions, in particular, to Orthodox Christians and Muslims are always friendly. Now, it’s especially important for Syria and the Middle East”. Shouts of “Thank you, Russia!” punctuated his speech.

The Mariamite Cathedral dates back to the 2nd century, and is one of the oldest shrines in Syria. In 1860, the cathedral suffered damage in a fire that affected the entire Christian quarter of Damascus, but the Orthodox renovated it. Earlier, talking to reporters at the Damascus airport, Patriarch Kirill spoke out, saying, “We can solve any problem through peaceful dialogue. Most importantly, we shouldn’t shed any human blood”. His Holiness pointed up that the history of Syria goes back for thousands of years, it has an enormous cultural tradition, and that Christians and Muslims lived together in peace for centuries. The Patriarch expressed his hopes by saying, “The historical wisdom and the historical memory of the people of Syria will help them in this difficult time, bringing them a peaceful and equitable solution of all the problems that face them today”.

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Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev (1946- ) of Moscow and all the Russias with Patriarch Ignatius Hazim (1921- ) of Antioch and all the East

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Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias urged his compatriots in Syria to be faithful to Orthodoxy and to be calm, noting the need for “positive change”. At a meeting with compatriots on Saturday evening at St Ignatius of Antioch parish in Damascus, which is the MP Podvorie to the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, he said, “Today, I pray especially for the Christians of Syria and for all the people of Syria. Please God, grant that the shocks and confusion shall pass without touching the foundations of their national life”. The Patriarch noted that Russia “has gone through civil unrest, its people know how deadly conflicts lead to bloodshed and how dear the cost is for the people involved. Therefore, we’re aware of the need to preserve peace in this country, and we pray for good and right changes in the lives of the people, that people receive a greater opportunity to participate in society and the state, and have their needs met… thus, they’ll be calm, confident, and happy”.

In His Holiness’ opinion, “When some wanted to tear our national life asunder, they destroyed the church, because it had great power, as it passed on immutable and eternal moral and spiritual values, as well as conserving the nation”. For those who live abroad, he said, the role of the church is more important. He urged our compatriots to “preserve the Orthodox faith”. He thought it very important that “this parish be a living community, which leads to a sense of solidarity, manifested in mutual support. Syria and the Middle East are going through difficult times. However, I couldn’t cancel this visit, I couldn’t delay”. Patriarch Kirill thought that the pastor must always be with his flock in the Church, especially during difficult times. His Holiness pointed up that he had repeatedly visited St Ignatius of Antioch parish when he was chairman of the Department for External Church Relations over a span of some 20 years, and, for him, this parish was “very close”. On the same day, he and the Patriarch Ignatius Hazim of Antioch and all the East served Divine Liturgy at the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus. Hundreds of believers gathered at the cathedral, both Syrians and Russian expats. The hierarchs served the Liturgy in Arabic and Slavonic.

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His Holiness with Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar (1953- )

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Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar assured Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias that the authorities seek to preserve Syria’s unity and the peaceful coexistence between the followers of different religions found there. At a meeting with the patriarch at an official government location in Damascus on Saturday, Prime Minister Safar said that Syria could be proud of the peaceful co-existence between believers. “Unfortunately, now, we’re now going through a stage when our country is under unprecedented pressure to destroy this unity”, he emphasised. In his view, the patriarchs prayed for the welfare of all the people. He said, “We, on our part, are making every effort to strengthen our inner unity, to ensure the peaceful coexistence of our citizens”. In turn, Patriarch Kirill said that the greeting that the Syrian people gave him in Damascus affected him, saying, “Through their shouts, the people underlined the ties of friendship between the Russian and Syrian peoples. It was a very sincere and spontaneous expression of deep feeling. It moved me very much”.

His Holiness and the Syrian Prime Minister discussed the situation in the Middle East, the difficulties faced by minorities (including Christians), as well as their opposition to extremism. The Patriarch emphasised that the Orthodox Church is the oldest religious community in Syria. He said, “As believers, we’re convinced that the people can find the strength to end the fighting”. His Holiness urged that we should resolve all problems through dialogue and he wished success to the authorities in their efforts to achieve civil peace and to consolidate society. He remembered that when President Dmitri Medvedev visited Syria in 2010 he awarded the Order of Friendship of the Patriarch Ignatius Hazim of Antioch and all the East. On his part, Prime Minister Safar said that Syria has respect for the Russian people and the Russian Church. In his opinion, the religious leaders of Syria support peaceful interaction. Safar pointed to the destructive role played by some extremist groups, they use pseudo-religious slogans, and he expressed concern over the problem of religious extremism in certain Middle Eastern countries. He believes that it’s important, along with Russia and other countries, to oppose extremists who operate under the cover of religion.

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Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias urged Syrians to build an open and peaceful nation, strengthen national unity, and resolve all their internal problems through dialogue. On Sunday, in a sermon after serving Liturgy together with Patriarch Ignatius Hazim of Antioch and all the East at the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus, His Holiness said, “With all my heart, I sincerely wish you success in building a new Syria… open to all and a peaceful state, which would respect religious freedom, in which Muslims and Christians live in peace, as is the custom here”. The congregation responded to Patriarch Kirill’s words with applause and shouts of “Thank you, Russia!”

Vladyki Kirill said, “Today, when the Church of Antioch and the people of Syria are undergoing serious trial, I couldn’t just sit in Moscow, I wanted to be with you, that we might pray together, maybe only in weak words, but spoken with power”. He expressed his hope by saying, “I wish that the Lord would condescend to bestow His mercy upon the people of Syria and to the Church of Antioch, to bring peace and justice, so that the Syrian people themselves could resolve their own internal problems. God forbid, that ever be inter-religious strife on this earth. I hope that it won’t happen”. He noted that he brought “the love of the Russian people” to the Syrian people, and he pointed up the terrible ordeals that Russia experienced in its history. His Holiness said, “One of the most severe tests was the Civil War of the 20th century. Our people divided themselves, killing each other in the name of a better life. We weren’t able to build a happy life based on spilt blood. Only when we just gave up civil confrontation, when the people joined forces, when we reconciled with each other, then, there was hope for a renewal of national life”.

He gave liturgical items decorated with precious metals and jewels as gifts from Russian people to the Syrian believers…  a cross 0.5 metres (20 inches) high, a tabernacle, and two ripidy (liturgical fans with images of the six-winged seraphim). The cross is in the Greco-New Roman style modelled on Athonite crosses form the beginning of 17th century. The shaft of the cross has a silver covering; its decorations consist of precious and semiprecious stones, gilding, and wood carving. The tabernacle (a receptacle to hold the reserved Holy Gifts), also richly decorated, is modelled on the Tabernacle of Anastasia, which is considered a masterpiece of Antiochian religious art of the 10th century. As a memento of his visit to Damascus, Patriarch Kirill personally gave Patriarch Ignatius a pectoral cross and two Panagias (pectoral images symbolising the episcopal dignity). In turn, Patriarch Ignatius awarded Patriarch Kirill the highest order of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

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Russia Today video giving the TRUE Russian stance on Syria… Syria, Yes! NATO, No!

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Chief Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun (1949- ) 

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Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias and Chief Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun (Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun), the top Sunni cleric in Syria, agreed at a meeting on Sunday in Damascus, that they’ll work together to combat extremism through religious education. Speaking to the Sheikh and Mohammed Abdul Sattar, the Syrian Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments), His Holiness said, “Orthodox and Muslims live in peace in Syria, there’s much tolerance in society, there aren’t any religious conflicts, and the state respects the rights of religious minorities. I’m looking at the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa with some anxiety. We’re very concerned about the persecution of Christians in countries where there’ve been radical changes. In light of these developments, I’d especially like to emphasise the peaceful and tranquil coexistence of the religions in Syria. This is certainly an achievement of your country and your society, both Muslims and Orthodox Christians contributed to it”. He emphasised the important role of Mufti Hassoun, whose appeals have “in many ways formed this inter-religious peace”.

Vladyki Kirill said that he’s convinced that the development of relations between the Muslims of Syria and Russia, and the dialogue between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in these two countries “can and should be an important factor in building inter-religious harmony and peace. Of course, all of us have concerns about extremism with supposed religious motivations… one of the reasons for this phenomenon is that there’s not enough religious education of your young people. People aren’t knowledgeable about their faith; they lack an intellectual basis for the perception of their faith, so they easily succumb to distorted messages that lack any foundation in the fundamentals of the faith”. His Holiness stated that the MP advocates the teaching of the fundamentals of religion in schools, saying, “It’s necessary to give an authentic witness of Orthodox principles to Orthodox students, and of Islamic principles to Muslim students, so as to leave no room for extremist interpretations of our religious doctrines. The second problem that faces both Orthodox and Muslims is the moral state of modern man. This concerns problems involving young people, marriage, and personal and family ethics. In this, Muslims and Orthodox Christians have much in common… we both strive for a worldview that enables people to strengthen the moral principles in their lives”.

Mufti Hassoun, in turn, noted that Christianity spread throughout the world out of Syria (through the missionary work of Apostle St Paul). He said, “The Orthodox Church continues to keep true to its roots. The Church of Jerusalem won’t give up one metre of its patrimony, even though they’d been tempted to sell off part of it to the Zionists. It’s a timely message to IsraelChristianity’s in the region to stay. We must rethink our teaching in our mosques and churches so that we can give our young people a basic defence against extremism. Islamic, Christian, and Jewish extremists are out there; for instance, there are Muslims who try to inspire us to establish a religious state”.

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Chief Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun with Catholicos Aram Keshishian of the Great House of Cilicia (1947- ) of the Armenian Apostolic Church

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Chief Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun (Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun), the top Sunni cleric in Syria, warned Russians about the possible dangers from the Arab world if Islamocist régimes take over the region. On Sunday, at a meeting in Damascus with Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the Mufti said, “There are those in the Western world who seem to wink at the removal of Christians from the region, to give over power in the Arab world to religious extremists. If they carry out their plans here, of necessity, they’ll turn to you next… in Chechnya and Tajikistan… I know what ideas they’re exporting to that region now, and how they’re trying to artificially create a climate of hostility towards Russia”. According to Sheikh Hassoun, today, there are more than a million dead, four million orphans, and two million widows in Iraq. “The circles I’ve mentioned plan to provoke and incite the states bordering Russia”, he added. He expressed the hope that President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin “would come to Syria post-haste” in order not only to protect Syria, but also to protect Russia. “If Syria falls to pieces, then, they’ll start the same thing in Turkey, and, ultimately, they’ll move towards Russia. NATO seeks to implement a plan to create so-called religiously-backed states”, the Mufti said. Sheikh Hassoun gave a copy of the Koran to Patriarch Kirill, crafted under the express order of President Bashar al-Assad. In return, the Patriarch gave Sheikh Hassoun a bowl made by Russian master craftsmen.

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His Holiness with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (1965- )

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has high expectations from the visit of Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias Kirill to his country. In a meeting on Sunday in his residence in Damascus, President Assad said, “I’m confident that your visit will help strengthen relations between our countries, and to promote dialogue between different cultures and different world religions. Russia and Syria have much in common, both at the religious and at the national level. From the very beginning, we knew that Russia was firm in protecting the interests of our Arab peoples”. Patriarch Kirill, in turn, remembered that when he was still a Metropolitan and the head of the MP Department for External Church Relations, he visited Syria many times, and he knows the country and its people. He said, “We’re especially pleased by the level of dialogue, cooperation, and harmony between the followers of the different religions”. The Patriarch gave President Assad a gift as a memento of the occasion, a bowl made by Ural craftsmen {probably Bashkir masters in Ufa, a heavily-Muslim region in the Urals: editor}.

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His Holiness with Patriarch Ignatius

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Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias expressed his concern about the future of Christianity in the Arab world. At a press briefing on his arrival at Beirut from Damascus on Monday, in reply to an Arab journalist’s question about the recent decision on the Syrian issue by the Arab League, he said, “My main concern with what’s happening in the Middle East is how the situation affects the Christians there”. His Holiness believed that Syria was an example of “peaceful, quiet, and friendly coexistence and interaction between the Muslim and Christian communities for many years. Naturally, we’re concerned at what might happen. We saw what happened in Egypt and in Iraq. We saw violence against Christians, and we see a growth of anti-Christian ideologies, which destroy relationships that aren’t easily rebuilt once they’re gone”. His Holiness said, “I hope that nothing like that occurs in either Syria or Lebanon, or in any other country in the Middle East, North Africa, or anywhere in the world. The topic of inter-religious relations is very important for Russia, too. We’ve arrived at a special modus vivendi between Orthodox Christians and Muslims, and we’ve come to attach much importance to it. We believe that inter-religious harmony is our only hope of securing peace on our planet”.

14 November 2011

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=43027

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