Voices from Russia

Friday, 26 April 2013

No Sign of Orthodox Bishops’ Release, Fears of Political Blackmail Grow

01 Arab Orthodox in Beit Jala


There’s no sign that the abductors of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped four days ago near Aleppo have released them, despite numerous reports about their liberation. A source, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews, “Nothing; there’s nothing; only unreliable reportsWe can talk about their release only when the two bishops are in front of us and can talk to us”. On Monday, gunmen abducted Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Diocese of Aleppo, and archbishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox diocese of the same city, in Kafr Dael, 10 kilometres (@6.25 miles) from Aleppo, on the Turkish border. The kidnapers killed their driver, a Syriac Orthodox deacon. According to information from the Orthodox Church, the two prelates were negotiating the release of two priests, Fr Michel Kayyal (Armenian Catholic) and Fr Maher Mahfouz (Greek Orthodox), seized in February and still in the hands of kidnappers, even though a ransom was paid for their release.

Damascus pinned the kidnapping of the two bishops on “terrorist groups”. Some sources blamed Chechen jihadists for the abduction. Instead, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main armed opposition force, accused Syrian troops. Whatever happened, what’s certain is that their abductors kidnapped the two bishops in a rebel-held area, so, opposition officials said that they’d do what they could to ensure their release. Our source told AsiaNews, “However, the release is taking its time, and this is worrisome”. As time goes by, fears are growing that something went wrong. Our source said, “The more time goes by, the worse it gets”. Some fear that the abduction might be a way to force the Church and Christians to take sides. So far, only the UN and the Vatican continue to call for political talks as the only way to end the civil war.

On Wednesday, as he mentioned the two kidnapped bishops, Pope Francisco Bergoglio called “for an end to the bloodshed”, for the delivery of “necessary humanitarian assistance to the population”, and for a quick “political solution to the crisis”. In a joint public statement, the Syriac and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch, to which the two kidnapped bishops belong, emphasised that the two prelates were “messengers of peace”, as demonstrated by their “religious, social, and national work”. On this basis, the Patriarchates called on all Churches in the world to reject “all kinds of violence hitting people living in the East”. Similarly, they called on “our partners in citizenship, from all Islamic confessions, to stand hand-in-hand and work together, to repudiate human exploitation and the dehumanisation of man, to not use people as a shield in battle or as a means for monetary or political bribery”. The abduction of the two bishops came at a time when Western governments are increasingly convinced that they must arm the Syrian rebels and the CIA is certain that the Assad régime used nerve gas, a conclusion that could push the USA towards military intervention in Syria.

26 April 2013

Elias Khoury



Editor’s Note:

That’s where it stands now… nobody knows nothing, no way, no how… nobody knows a bloody thing. However, the longer that it drags on is not to the good. As the AsiaNews source said, “The more time goes by, the worse it gets”. Light a candle for Bishops Youhanna and Boulos at Liturgy on Sunday and have your priest pray for them… that’s all that any of us can do at present. As I said, the total amount of verified intel on these guys is ZIPPO… don’t build castles in the air.



Churkin Regards Abduction of Bishops Attempt to Aggravate Religious Conflict in Syria



RF UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that the abduction of two Orthodox Christian bishops in Syria indicates that extremists are willing to deepen conflict between religious communities. At a UN Security Council session, he said, “We condemn the capture by the armed opposition of the Bishops of Aleppo of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Churches. This criminal provocation once again confirms that the extremists are staking on aggravating ethnic and religious dispute”. Churkin added that the abduction “took place two days after the National Coalition presented its declaration in Istanbul guaranteeing equal rights to minorities, including religious minorities. This can only mean that either the coalition leaders don’t deserve confidence or that they don’t control the situation, as the incident took place near the Turkish border, in so-called liberated territory that receives generous foreign assistance”. Earlier reports stated that militants captured two Christian bishops near the Syrian-Turkish border. The bishops are the most high-ranking Christian clergymen captured by the opposition during the two years of the Syrian Civil War.

25 April 2013


Orthodox Christianity and the World



Centre to Help Victims of Destructive Religious Sects to be Set Up in Belarus

01 Cult Watch


The pravoslavie.bi website reported that a centre for the protection of family and personal health is being set up in Belarus. It’ll give systematic counselling and rehabilitation to the victims of unhealthy forms of religiosity (destructive cults and sectarian distortions of traditional religions) and quasi-religious groups (for example, commercial cults with pyramid marketing), to their families and relatives. According to the St Joseph of Volokolamsk Information and Counselling Centre of the Minsk Diocese, 398 organisations connected with new religious movements are active in Belarus, of which 101 organisations fit into the sect and cult category. Apart from this, 297 so-called “consumer cults” are active in the Republic. Only thirteen new religious movements have official registry in Belarus as religious organisations. At the same time, on average, fourteen new religious movements appeared in the country each year since 1988. These new religious movements distribute 421 periodicals, of which 96 originate in Belarus. Moreover, 258 “healers”, fortune-tellers, psychics, sorcerers, magicians, chiromancers, and 28 astrologers advertise their services in the Belarusian media.

Oleg Nagorny, the new project’s coordinator, said, “The centre for the protection of family and personal health, which is being set up with the support of the St Joseph of Volokolamsk Centre, is called on to carry out fully-fledged work connected with counselling cult followers and their relatives on issues of overcoming cult dependency and the consequences of ‘cult trauma’. The approach, which has been developed through private counselling in the light of Russian, Ukrainian, European, and North American experience, is based on personal counselling”. Psychological counsellors attached to the centre, clerics, and paraprofessionals will give help in solving specific problems of psychological, spiritual, and social life for victims of cults. The centre’s counsellor on spiritual and theological questions is the Rector of St Nicholas of Japan missionary parish church in Minsk, Fr Pavel Serdyuk. His approach gently includes the victim in a system of healing relationships with his or her relatives or with an affected group.

22 April 2013


Orthodox Christianity and the World


Editor’s Note:

Evangelicals, Mormons, JWs, Pentecostalists, and Adventists aren’t “nice people”… they’re deluded cultists. That’s one reason why the Church has to get out of the so-called “Pro-Life Movement”… it’s shot through with cultists and their crank distortions of Christianity. We’ve nothing in common with such movements… also, reflect on this… these cultists attack our Mother Churches in the Orthosphere. Why fraternise with such heretics? That’s crackbrained… it’s like cosying up to a rabid dog. If you’re bit, there’s hell to pay. We should listen to our good-sense… but shall we?



World Marks 98th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

00 Tatev Monastery. ARMENIA. Russia and Armenia Friends


On 24 April, Armenians worldwide, along with many countries, commemorated the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians went to Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey denies the fact of Armenian Genocide. Uruguay (1965), the Republic of Cyprus (1982), Argentina (1993), Russia (1995), Canada (1996), Greece (1996), Lebanon (1997), Belgium (1998), Italy (2000), the Vatican (2000), France (2001), Switzerland (2003), Slovakia (2004), the Netherlands (2004), Poland (2005), Germany (2005), Venezuela (2005), Lithuania (2005), Chile (2007), and Sweden (2010) recognise and condemn the Armenian Genocide. The Council of Europe and the World Council of Churches also recognise and condemn the Armenian Genocide.

The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during World War I are what we now call the Armenian Genocide. The Young Turk government perpetrated these massacres throughout all of the regions of the Empire. The first international reaction to the violence came in a joint statement by France, Russia, and Great Britain in May 1915, where they defined the Turkish atrocities directed against the Armenian people as “a new crime against humanity and civilisation”, with an agreement that that the Ottoman government must be punished for committing such crimes.

Why did the Armenian Genocide happen?

When World War I erupted, the Young Turk government, hoping to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire, adopted a policy of Pan-Turkism, that is, the establishment of a Turkish empire comprising all Turkic-speaking peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia extending to China, with the additional intention of Turkifying all ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenians were the main obstacle standing in the way of the realisation of this policy. Although the government took the decision to deport all Armenians from Western Armenia (Eastern Turkey) in late 1911, the Young Turks used World War I as a suitable opportunity for its implementation.

How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?

There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of World War I. Approximately one-and-a-half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. Another half-million found shelter abroad.

The mechanism of implementation

Genocide is the organised killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and internal machinery to implement it. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction. On 24 April 1915, the first phase of the Armenian massacres began with the arrest and murder of hundreds of intellectuals, mainly from Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire (now, Istanbul in present-day Turkey). Subsequently, Armenians worldwide commemorate 24 April as a day to memorialise all the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

The second phase of the “final solution” was the conscription of some 60,000 Armenian men into the Ottoman Army. Then, Turkish soldiers disarmed them and killed them. The third phase of the genocide was massacres, deportations, and death marches of women, children, and the elderly into the Syrian Desert. During those marches, Turkish soldiers, gendarmes, and Kurdish mobs killed hundreds of thousands. Others died of famine, epidemic diseases, and exposure to the elements. Turkish soldiers raped thousands of women and children. Tens of thousands were forcibly-converted to Islam. Finally, the fourth phase of the Armenian genocide was the total and utter denial by the Turkish government of the mass killings and elimination of the Armenian nation. Despite the continuing international recognition of the Armenian genocide, Turkey’s consistently fought the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide by any means, including false scholarship, propaganda campaigns, lobbying, etc.

24 April 2013


Orthodox Christianity and the World



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