Voices from Russia

Sunday, 3 March 2013

3 March 2013. A Frontline Fighter Speaks… We Should Listen

00 Aleksei Stefanov. VOV vet. Russia. 03.03.13

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Aleksei Stefanov, a 90-year-old VOV vet who spoke with the press, said:

“War isn’t a game; it’s the most horrible thing that there is. That’s the thing youngsters should always know”.

That’s the voice of truth; it’s spoken by a veteran fighter of the VOV who knows which end is up. What does that tell you about contemporary warmongering politicians (especially, those cowards who refused to serve themselves, but who stridently shout for war)? I think that it speaks volumes…

BMD

“Watchdog Pope” was a “Papal Pussycat”

Pope Benedict XVI 4

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When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the choice of the Vatican‘s guardian of orthodoxy cast a pall over the liberal wing of the flock and left conservatives giddy with the prospect of total victory. Fr M. Price Oswalt, an Oklahoma City OK priest who was in St Peter’s Square that April day, told The New York Times, “He’ll correct the lackadaisical attitudes that have been able to creep into the lives of Catholics. He’s going to have a German mentality of leadership… either get on the train or get off the track. He’ll not put up with rebellious children”.

Now, however, with Benedict set to leave office eight years later in an unprecedented departure, many on the Catholic right are counting the ways that Benedict failed them, and wondering how their favourite watchdog turned into a papal pussycat. Michael Brendan Dougherty, a Latin Mass enthusiast, lamented the day the pope made the shocking announcement that he would resign on 28 February, “Although Pope Benedict XVI’s highly unusual resignation is said to be for reasons of health, it fits the character of his papacy… all his initiatives remain incomplete. He was consciously elected to rescue the church from itself, but he failed to finish what he started”.

Since then, the criticisms have continued to come in from a range of onetime champions, and on a spectrum of issues… Benedict didn’t sufficiently clean house in the clergy sex abuse scandal and he didn’t appoint enough hard-liners to the hierarchy; he didn’t bring the old Latin Rite schismatics fully back in the fold, a mission that’ll likely end with his pontificate; he was too quick to mollify Muslims or pursue ecumenical gestures; and he charted, as Dougherty put it, “a precarious middle course” theologically. Even his three encyclicals… the most authoritative documents a pope writes… focused on social justice issues and often embraced the kind of liberal policy prescriptions that sent conservatives into conniptions.

To be sure, liberals would note that, under Benedict’s rule, theologians, and even American nuns, suffered investigation and discipline, and that he appointed some serious conservatives as bishops and promoted others to the College of Cardinals, which’ll choose one of their number to succeed Benedict. Nevertheless, if he was not exactly a pleasant surprise to the left, neither did he fulfil the great expectations of the right. That vaunted German managerial instinct? It seemed to have no effect, as the Vatican under Benedict became a mismanaged palace of court intrigue and financial scandals, lurching from gaffe to disaster, and all exposed to public view when the pope’s own butler leaked reams of internal papal documents. Joseph Bottum wrote a withering verdict delivered in the latest edition of The Weekly Standard, Benedict was “as bad as a pope has been for 200 years. All in all, a terrible executive of the Vatican”.

Even his resignation confounded many of his conservative supporters. Some saw Benedict’s act as a repudiation of the decision by his predecessor, John Paul II Wojtyła, to die with his boots on despite his public struggle with infirmity… a move conservatives loudly proclaimed the only possible option at the time. Others, like New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, worried that Benedict, this most traditional of churchmen, was introducing a modern innovation that would undermine future popes and embolden those looking for a more accountable papacy. However, disappointment was inevitable. The hopes of Benedict’s fans had blinded them to the parts of his writings (on charity and justice, for example) or his personality traits (such as his loyalty to friends, no matter how incompetent) that didn’t fit with their plans.

That leads to a second factor, which is that popes may enjoy great authority, but they can’t act like autocrats. Benedict, more than his supporters, knew that he had to be the pastor of a huge global flock, not just a “bad cop” who tells people to follow the rules and drums them out when they disobey. As he told dinner companions early in his pontificate, “It’s easy to know the doctrine. It’s much harder to help a billion people live it”. Finally, Ratzinger was always at heart… and in his head… a scholar and theologian. He had a German intellectual bearing, but little of his countrymen’s renowned knack for organisation. He warned his fellow cardinals during the 2005 conclave as he saw the momentum swinging in his direction, “I’m not an administrator”. Benedict spoke the truth then, as clearly as he always did. The irony is that his most ardent fans, rather than his liberal foes, apparently didn’t want to listen.

18 February 2013

David Gibson

Religion News Service

As quoted in USA Today

http://www.guampdn.com/usatoday/article/1928889?odyssey=mod%7cnewswell%7cimg%7cFrontpage%7cp

Editor’s Note:

There are two very important takeaways in this piece. Firstly, do note the vitriol and spleen that the righties spew at those who refuse to follow their notional fantasies. Benedict had to deal with the real world; ergo, his decisions and actions angered these sorts. As for Joseph Bottum, he was the third-rate successor to Richard John NeuhausFirst Things deteriorated badly under his mismanagement and rightwing fanaticism… it had to shitcan him and replace him with Russell Reno (for the record, the Weekly Standard isn’t known as expert in religious matters, it’s a stridently-neocon publication).

Secondly, do note how everyone’s quick to blame Benedict for long-simmering troubles in the Vatican. To be blunt, as an experienced curial infighter, he knew what was going on, and he knew that it was beyond anyone’s competence to put right. Let’s not be coy, the current troubles plaguing the RCs started in John Paul’s tenure… that’s one reason why Benny’s resigning… he doesn’t want things to get worse, he knows that the Holy See needs a younger, more vigorous, man to deal with this unpleasantness.

In short, the malevolence of the right is on display for all to see, and the fact that it’s unfair to blame Benny for the frolics that John Paul either shoved under the rug or was too weak to counter is just as obvious. I’d say that B16 resigned because he didn’t want the mess to get worse. No doubt, he didn’t want the post to begin with, but we don’t know what the alternative might have been. That’s the 64,000 Dollar Question, and the cardinals are going to carry the answer to that one to the grave.

Yet, the most important thing I’d like you to attend to is:

It’s easy to know the doctrine. It’s much harder to help a billion people live it.

I think that Benedict was completely in the right on that one… and that the Orthodox konvertsy are completely in the wrong. Do note how they accuse all and sundry of “laxity” and “indifference”… they don’t understand that the canons have to fit real people and actual situations grounded in reality… not the other way ’round. I’ll say that Benedict did know that… and that’s why the righties hate him. Do think on that. It makes him a sympathetic and human figure, no?

BMD

Is Russia Becoming a Theocracy?

00g Patriarch Kirill. 04.09.12 Central Pediatric Oncology Hospital

THIS is what HH is REALLY up to. The West hates him for that. That speaks volumes…

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Editor’s Foreword:

Caveat lector! The author of this piece is a neoliberal pro-Western fanatic who graduated from Harvard. Its chock fulla shit, but you need to know what’s out there. Don’t just read what pleases you… that’s what the Rush Limboob Fan Club droolers do. Always attend to reality… or, reality WILL deal with you.

BMD

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This weekend, the MP held its Archpastoral Council at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. In his speech to the assembly, President Putin said that, of course, Russia isn’t a theocracy, but, “We’re a secular state of course, and can’t allow state life and Church life to merge, but at the same time, we must avoid too, a vulgar and primitive interpretation of what being secular means. Traditional values, believers’ religious feelings, and people’s rights, freedoms, and dignity must all be protected by both the power of public opinion and the power of the law” (emphasis in the original).

He also said that the Orthodox Church and other traditional Russian religions must be involved in “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” (emphasis in the original). The social conservatism inherent in having the Church play a greater role in family life (with “fathers” notably absent from the equation), schooling, and, somewhat counter-intuitively perhaps, the war machine, is nothing new. However, whilst the Russian state has actively promoted the Church since the early Yeltsin years, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the statement was the legal element.

Putin’s statement confirmed that some of the most bizarre parts of the prosecution’s case against the members of Pussy Riot… namely, that their actions contravened medieval Church law… may not have been the surreal aberration they seemed at the time. In fact, the following day, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev also spoke in favour of giving legal weight to religious doctrines. Russian news sources reported that Kirill “backed the idea of criminal prosecution for blasphemy similar the Pussy Riot’s punk performance in Cathedral of Christ the Saviour”; he was quoted as saying, “The law must protect not only symbols of secular importance, but also objects with sacred meaning for the believers and guard their religious feelings from insults”.

The Orthodox Church has been in the news these days. Last weekend, the Financial Times published a long profile of Fr Tikhon Shevkunov, who’s said to be Putin’s personal confessor; whilst the latest issue of The Economist reviews a new history of religion after the fall of communism. The FT noted the paradox that, whilst “only a small minority of Russians attend church regularly” the MP has become one of the country’s most trusted institutions. Geraldine Fegan, author of the book reviewed in The Economist, was quoted as saying, “Putin wants to capitalise on Orthodoxy’s image of permanence, even as his own legitimacy crumbles”.

Certainly, there’s an intimate relationship between the Church, the Kremlin, and big money. After all, Yeltsin financed the Church, in part, by granting it the right to import and sell tax free cigarettes, whilst the most avid sponsors of new houses of worship over the past 20 years have been oligarchs. Many senior members of the Church hierarchy have themselves become quasi-oligarchs, driving expensive supercars, wearing Swiss watches, and living in multimillion dollar apartments. Today, it’s become very fashionable among the megarich to have their own personal confessors… the latest badge of élite status. However, whilst we know that the church, state, and army have refashioned the old tsarist three-legged stool, it’s much harder to see which of them wields the most power in the equation.

In short, is Putin using the church, or is the church using Putin? As the embrace between them becomes ever closer, the key power struggle to come may no longer be between the Kremlin and the liberals, but rather Putin and his Patriarchate.

3 February 2013

Vadim Nikitin

Foreign Policy

http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2013/02/03/is-russia-becoming-a-theocracy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-russia-becoming-a-theocracy

Editor’s Afterword:

This is what the crapitalist crowd in the West truly believes… and Orthodox swine like Lyonyo Kishkovsky, Victor Potapov, James Paffhausen, and Alexander Webster nourish their delusions by feeding them crank and bogus intel (in short, they give the Westerners what they want to hear, receiving attaboys and material rewards in return). Do remember how Jordanville lied about its non-existent ties to a putative “catacomb church” during the Cold War to receive Langley’s shilling… the main enablers of that were Basil Rodzianko and Victor Potapov… and how Schmemann worked for the American propaganda machine (how much Langley money did SVS get for that? Perspirin’ minds wanna know… there’s been no OCA analogue of Alexander Lebedeff (a First Family apparatchik, but an honest man when it comes to Church history) to tell the truth).

This is what the American Establishment believes… and there are traitorous Russians, both in the Rodina and in the diaspora, who sell out to them for filthy lucre and personal gain (after all, Potapov DID (or DOES) suck directly on the US government tit). The truth is that HH is a supporter of fundamental social justice, and he argues that it’s imperative for the state to provide a broad palette of social services (INCLUDING universal access to state-provided single-payer healthcare)… and the people that I named do NOT. Where is HH on every major holiday? He’s out in the hospitals and orphanages visiting sick and orphaned kids, that’s where (he also runs the niftiest Yolka in Moscow)… I’d remind you that James Paffhausen did NOT do that… which one of those two is god-pleasing? I’d say that it was HH… and Paffhausen was a gibbering and posturing poseur. Think on that…

BMD

Government and SYRIZA Clash Over Church Tax Proposal

04b-greek-demonstrations

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On Monday, the relationship between the Greek state and the Church of Greece became the focus of a fresh clash between the government and the main opposition SYRIZA party after a leftist MP proposed the introduction of a new tax to pay clerics’ wages. SYRIZA deputy Tasos Kourakis said that the Church should start funding itself instead of relying on dwindling state coffers. Kourakis told a conference organised by the Theology Department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki that another option would be to impose a church tax on all Greeks who declare themselves Orthodox Christians. He said that revenues from it could go toward church costs and clerics’ salaries.

The rightwing New Democracy shot down the idea, which likened the proposed tax to “Stalinist measures”. ND argued that such a levy would be unconstitutional, as it would discriminate between Greeks based on their religious beliefs. SYRIZA noted that Kourakis’s proposal was the MP’s “personal opinion”, but said that Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras had mooted a similar initiative in the fall of 2011 when the latter was head of the Foundation for Industrial and Economic Research (IOBE). Stournaras accused SYRIZA of distorting comments that he made during a TV interview, when he noted that other European citizens don’t pay clerics’ salaries through taxation without proposing however that Greece follow suit.

28 January 2013

Kathimerini

http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_28/01/2013_480874

Editor’s Note:

What SYRIZA proposes is nothing more than the system in place in Germany, where citizens pay a “church tax” that goes to the church of their choice. If one isn’t religious, the money goes into a general charity fund. “Stalinist” is usually “right-speak” for “we don’t like this and we want to demonise the people making this proposal” (such as Potapov’s recent crackbrained initiative concerning “Stalingrad” in the ROCOR). In short, the SYRIZA proposal isn’t leftist at all; it’s merely fair. It simply places the burden of support of the Orthodox Church on Orthodox believers. That’s as it should be, kids… New Democracy is sinking into irrelevance along with PASOK… SYRIZA is Greece’s future, as this common-sense proposal indicates. You can have SYRIZA or you can have Golden Dawn (which is neo-Nazifascist, racist, and xenophobic… that’s no choice at all)… that’s the real-world choice on offer… there’s nothing else. It’s clear that SYRIZA’s the better choice.

BMD

 

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