Voices from Russia

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Belarus Commemorates Holocaust Victims

Yefim Tsvik. 11 April. International Day to Remember the Liberation of the Prisoners of the Nazi Concentration Camps. 1985

11 April: International Day to Remember the Liberation of the Prisoners of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Yefim Tsvik

1985

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On Saturday, Belarus marked Holocaust Victims Memorial Day. On 2 March 1942, the Nazis killed more than 5,000 Jews from the Minsk Ghetto (which had 80,000 to 100,000 residents) at the “Pit”. Later, in 1947, the USSR erected a monument to Holocaust victims at the place of this tragedy. This Saturday, Belarusian Jewish groups came to the memorial to commemorate the victims of that massacre.

2 March 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_02/Belarus-commemorates-Holocaust-victims/

 

Orthodox Corruption?

00f Orthodox Christmas 2013. Russia. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Patr Kirill. 12.01.13

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Less than three decades ago, it’d been unthinkable for a Russian premier to exchange public expressions of solidarity and goodwill with the head of the country’s Orthodox Church. For years under communism, the institution was suppressed, its priests harassed by the authorities, its churches closed or given over to communal secular pursuits, its devotees scorned for their “superstitious” adherence to doctrines that the state and the party regarded with deep suspicion. Indeed, the USSR was the first nation to have elimination of religion as an ideological objective and tens of thousands… if not hundreds of thousands… of people paid very dearly for their beliefs consequently.

However, things have changed. Nowadays, the nation’s political leaders and top clerics seem to be building an extraordinarily-close relationship. Last week, President Vladimir Putin appeared with Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev to celebrate the latter’s fourth year of leadership of a religion that’s re-establishing its traditional place at the centre of the country’s affairs. Putin, speaking at a ceremony in the Kremlin, said, “At the heart of all Russia’s victories and achievements are patriotism, faith, and strength of spirit. We should give the Church more control over aspects of Russian life; we should give it every opportunity to fully serve in such important fields as the support of family and motherhood, the upbringing and education of children and youth, social development, and the strengthening of the patriotic spirit of the armed forces”.

Such sentiments, which one hears increasingly-often these days, are music to the ears of those who hark back to the days when Russia’s particular brand of Christianity was the country’s dominant moral force. From its foundation in the 10th century, when the Orthodox Church broke from Roman Catholicism (sic), its power and influence grew until it became central to the nation’s very identity, synonymous with Holy Mother Russia. Now, its champions tell you, after the barren wilderness years of Soviet hostility, the Church is merely reclaiming that rightful pre-eminence. Others aren’t quite so convinced. Adherents of other religions and committed atheists (there are still plenty of both in Russia, despite polls which show that almost three-quarters of Russians consider themselves Orthodox) question whether Putin’s recent co-joining of Christian values with patriotism actually has more to do with his desire to unify a country where ethnic and political fault lines are beginning to show than with any genuine commitment to spirituality.

Nevertheless, the Church’s top clerics, basking in the warmth of the Kremlin‘s new-found appreciation, are grateful and happy to reciprocate. Patriarch Kirill famously likened Putin’s time in power to a “miracle of God”. When in the run-up to last year’s presidential elections, the feminist punk-band Pussy Riot controversially entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sang that the Virgin Mary should “throw Putin out”, Church leaders were publicly delighted that the government cracked down hard and that the women received long jail terms. However, there’s more to this closeness than just mutual admiration. One can see physical signs of the Orthodox Church’s resurgence all over Moscow, where a massive state-funded programme, worth billions of roubles, to restore hundreds of Orthodox churches is currently underway.

Although this initiative undoubtedly is returning some of the Russian capital’s ancient architectural wonders to their full glittering glory, it’s caused some to wonder whether the Church should be choosing its friends more wisely. Some even talk darkly about corruption, about the less-than-transparent way publicly-funded reconstruction projects are contracted out, about the oddly-commercial relationships of certain Church institutions, and the controversial use of taxpayers’ money for church-related projects in what is still officially a secular country.

NB:

Click here, it’ll take you to a page with a 25-minute vid on the topic

2 March 2013

Simon Ostrovsky

Veronika Dorman

al-Jezeera

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2013/02/2013267215745877.html

 

Benedict Leaves… Cardinals to Meet in Rome on 4 March

01 Medvedev and pope

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On Thursday, at 20.00 CET (11.00 PST. 14.00 EST. 19.00 UTC. 23.00 MSK. 06.00 1 March AEST), the Vatican declared a state of sede vacante, which means that the authority of Benedict XVI Ratzinger as the Pope of Rome is now over. An honour guard of Swiss Guards left the pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo near Rome, where Benedict intends to spend the next two months, denoting the termination of his papal authority. Henceforth, Benedict will have the title of “Honorary Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church“, and his personal style will still be “Your Holiness”.

Earlier Thursday, Benedict XVI gave his farewells to the cardinals in the Vatican, thanking them for their support. He admitted that for the nearly eight years of his reign, there were both sublime and unpleasant moments. He promised that he’d pray that the Cardinals would make the right decision in the conclave to choose his successor. Then, Benedict left the Vatican and headed by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo. When he arrived at the residence, believers were there to greet him, to whom he made ​​his last official speech, thanking them for their support, saying, “This day isn’t like any other [in my pontificate]. I’m not going to be the pope any longer; I’ll be a pilgrim, making the last stage of my pilgrimage on earth. This day brought me great joy. With all my heart, prayers, and thoughts, with all my inner strength, I’m ready to serve God. I bless you in the name of the Holy Spirit”.

Benedict intends to settle in a monastery in Vatican City to lead a secluded life. He won’t take part in the Church’s administration, but will devote his time to prayer and contemplation. The conclave to choose Benedict’s successor is due to start in March. However, the former pope won’t take part in it. Amongst the most likely papabili cited by the media are 65-year-old Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana, 67-year-old Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, 80-year-old Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, 77-year-old Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, and 71-year-old Italian Archbishop Angelo Scola of Milano. The last instance of a papal abdication was in 1415 with the resignation of Gregory XII Corraro.

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During this period of sede vacante following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger, Catholics throughout the world pray that the Lord would give them a worthy successor to their previous pope. As it states in the guidelines published on the website of the Catholic Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, “One should pray daily for the College of Cardinals that, guided by the Holy Spirit, they might recognise the one whom the Lord shall choose as the new successor of the Apostle Peter”. On Friday, Fr Igor Kovalevsky, General Secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia, told Interfax-Religion that not only priests, but also ordinary believers, shall offer up such prayers, not just in Russia, but also in other countries. In addition, in the days before and during the conclave, Catholics will serve special Masses for the election of the pope. As reported, the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor will convene in mid-March.

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On Friday, EFE reported that Colombian tailor Luis Abel Delgado, who made Benedict XVI’s vestments, received instructions several weeks before the abdication of the pope to sew vestments in three different sizes. According to Señor Delgado, these vestments could be for possible successors of the abdicated pope. He had instructions to prepare three different sizes of mitre and vestments “for tall men of European descent”. At the time of receipt of this request from the Vatican, Delgado didn’t know of Benedict’s plans to abdicate. He also didn’t know the possible names of the people for whom he sewed the vestments.

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On Friday, the Vatican announced a meeting of cardinals to prepare for the upcoming conclave would begin on 4 March. The meeting, at which participants would discuss the most important issues of the Church, will fix a date for the conclave. EFE noted that many of the cardinals who’d take part in the conclave are already in Rome.

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According to a release from the patriarchal press service, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias praised Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger for his uncompromising stance in matters of faith, and that the patriarch wished him the best of health on the eve of the pope’s retirement. The message of His Holiness to the just-retired Pope of Rome read, “In these special days for you, I’d like to express my feelings of brotherly love in Christ and respect”. Patriarch Kirill said that the decision of the Pope of Rome to leave “in humility and simplicity” announced on 11 February found a “response in the hearts of millions of Catholics. We’ve always been close to your steadfast position, marked by an uncompromising stance in matters of faith and unswerving adherence to the living tradition of the Church. At a time when an ideology of permissiveness and moral relativism is trying to displace moral values ​​in people’s lives, you boldly raised your voice in defence of Gospel ideals, the lofty dignity of man, and his vocation to free himself from sin”.

He fondly recalled his meetings with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before his election to the Roman papacy. According to Patriarch Kirill, in the years of Benedict’s reign, relations between Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholics “took on a vigorous impetus and responded to the need to testify to Christ to the modern world”. His Holiness hoped that “the good and trusting relationship between the Orthodox and Catholics” developed with Benedict’s active participation would progress under his successor. Patriarch Kirill ended, “Please, accept my sincere wishes for good health, long life, and help from above in your prayer and theological works”.

1 March 2013

Interfax-Religion

http://interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=50194

http://interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=50205

http://interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=50208

http://interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=50209

http://interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=50210

2 March 2013. Something That I Saw on the Web About Mother Theodora…

Yelena Cherkasova. The Righteous Soul Enters Heaven. undated

The Righteous Soul Enters Heaven

Yelena Cherkasova

undated (2000s?)

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My Saturday morning began with a cup of coffee and a review of unopened e-mails. I opened one e-mail with a subject line indicating sad news, one that had been sent by one of my fellow church parishioners… I got hit with some news I really wasn’t expecting or ready for. Our sister in the faith, Mother Theodora passed away yesterday at Saratoga Hospital [in Saratoga Springs NY].

I always referred to Mother Theodora as “my nun friend”. More often than not, she was the first person I talked with at the conclusion of Sunday Liturgy. Our conversation would range from a discourse on that day’s Scripture reading, readings we had engaged in over the course of the previous week, to me sharing various epiphanies in my life and getting her feedback as to whether I “way out there” or actually on to something… in so many ways, she was much more than “my nun friend”.

Mother Theodora was a great teacher. Humble, serene, and friendly, she taught by example. She carried with her a notebook of names. This was her prayer list and she’d often break it out at the end of services and begin personal prayer. She’d take the time to remember in prayer each person on her list. I remember of couple times I asked her if she would mind adding people in my life to her list… my wife’s step-daughter Suzie, my nephew John. I explained the various challenges that each were facing in their lives. Mother happily added them to her notebook. She went beyond that, though. Six to eight months laterб she’d make sure to ask me, “How’s Suzie doing”, and, “How’s John”… you knew that she cared. Mother Theodora taught us by example how to live the commandment, “Love Thy Neighbour” . That’s a great gift to us all.

May her memory be eternal

Philip Melnik

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I knew Mother Theodora Meyers… and I‘d say that she brightened every life that she touched. One day at liturgy, I saw her praying in secret in a corridor… I moved so that she couldn’t see me and I decided that I’d say nothing of what I’d saw. There are genuine people and there are “empty suits”… I needn’t tell you what Mother was… damn, I do miss her. She was always so genuinely kind to me. Oh, yes… she loved my Nicky’s borshch… that’s why so many miss the truly great and holy people… they look and act so heedlessly “ordinary”…

Вечная её память

BMD

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