Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Putin Meets Francisco… State Visit, Nothing More

00 Putin and Pope Francisco. 26.11.13


Editor’s Note:

This was a state visit, nothing more, it lasted less than an hour. “Constructive talks” in diplomatese means that not much was said and no food fight ensued (it wasn’t “open and frank discussion”, which signifies a Texas Steel Cage Match). There was the usual ecumenist blather, but one has to expect that, especially, from uninformed zapadniki. In the end, it was a photo op and little much else. Much Sturm und Drang, little substance. Ho hum…



On Monday, President Vladimir Putin showed off his religious side during a visit to the Vatican, stopping to cross himself and venerate an icon of the Mother of God that he gave to Pope Francisco Bergoglio. However, Moscow‘s improving relations with the Vatican went only so far… Putin didn’t invite Francisco to visit. The Vatican said that the two men didn’t really discuss ecumenical relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches during the 35-minute meeting in the pope‘s private library, although Putin brought greetings from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias. Rather, the discussions between Putin and the pope, and, then, Putin and the Vatican’s top diplomats, focused on Syria and the role of Christianity in society.

Putin thanked Francisco for his September letter to the G20 meeting in St Petersburg, in which the pope urged world leaders to abandon the “futile pursuit” of a military solution in Syria and lamented that one-sided interests had prevented a diplomatic end to the conflict. Francisco mobilised hundreds of thousands of people around the globe to participate in a daylong fast and prayer for peace, as the USA threatened military strikes following a 21 August chemical weapons attack near Damascus. Moscow opposed military intervention, as well. Francisco gave Putin a ceramic mosaic of the Vatican gardens, and Putin presented Francisco with an icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir, an important Orthodox icon. After they exchanged gifts, Putin asked Francisco if he liked the icon, and the pope said that he did. Then, Putin crossed himself and venerated the image, and Francisco followed suit. The Argentine pope is particularly devoted to icons of the Mother of God.

Long-standing tensions in Russia between Orthodox and Catholics prevented Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger, and, before him, Pope John Paul II Wojtyła, from achieving their long-sought dream of a Russian pilgrimage, along with a meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. Recently, officials floated the idea of a meeting in a third country, but Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that Putin and the pope didn’t discuss ecumenical issues. He confirmed that Putin didn’t invite Francisco, making the Russian president one of the few world leaders who’ve visited the popular pope and didn’t extend an invitation in exchange.

Nicole Winfield

Associated Press



On Monday, the Vatican said that President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francisco Bergoglio discussed the need for talks to resolve the Syrian conflict, as UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi huddled with American and Russian officials in Genève in a bid to set a date for a peace conference on the conflict in Syria, which most expect to happen in January. Vatican sources said that the two leaders talked about the urgent need “to promote concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation”, following a 35-minute audience in the Apostolic Palace. The Holy See said in a statement that they agreed any solution should involve “the various ethnic and religious groups, recognising their essential role in society”. The Kremlin chief and the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics also discussed “the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure necessary humanitarian assistance for the population”. Pope Francisco is a powerful voice against an armed international intervention in the Syria conflict and voiced concern about the plight of Christian minorities there and in other parts of the Middle East.

On Monday, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that Putin also brought greetings for Pope Francisco from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, but didn’t invite the pope to Moscow… an elusive diplomatic breakthrough. Francisco put particular emphasis on improving relations with the Orthodox world ever since being elected in March, and Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of Constantinople was present at his inauguration. This was Putin’s fourth meeting with a pope; he had audiences with the late Pope John Paul II Wojtyła in 2000 and 2003, and he met in 2007 with now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Ratzinger, who stepped down earlier this year in a momentous move. In recent years, strained relations between Catholics and Russian Orthodox improved greatly and the head of the MP DECR said that an historic meeting between the pope and the patriarch was now “more and more realistic” {in a pig’s arse. The Blunder’s been touting that for years, and it hasn’t happened yet… and won’t until the Vatican reins in the Galician Uniates: editor}. In an interview with Le Figaro published on Monday, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev said that Russia supported the pope’s drive for collegiality in governing the Roman Catholic Church and his appeals for Christians in the Middle East {the average Russian doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Catholicism, and even fewer care what goes on within it: editor}. He said, “All this makes the possibility of a future meeting between the pope and the patriarch more and more realistic… As for the possible place and date, there has been no bilateral discussion on this” {as VAC said the last time the Blunder opened up his yap, it’ll happen on an ice floe in Antarctica, with the penguins as witnesses: editor}.

Later on Monday, Putin had dinner with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who denied reports that the Kremlin leader could offer him diplomatic papers that’d allow him to flee a growing number of legal woes. The Kremlin said that Putin would then head to Trieste in northeast Italy for talks with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Tuesday, where they’ll sign several business deals and announce a 1 billion Euro ($1.4 billion) joint investment fund.

25 November 2013




On Monday, Pope Francisco Bergoglio and President Vladimir Putin met amidst high expectations that their visit could mark the beginning of the end of the centuries-old rift between Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since becoming pontiff in March, Francis met with more than a dozen heads of state, and Putin met with both of his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II Wojtyła. However, this meeting comes at a unique time. Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert for La Stampa said, “What’s making [this visit] different this time is who he’ll meet… a pope, Francisco, who, for the first time, isn’t from Europe. Therefore, [Francisco] has a more independent approach on international issues such as the relations between Orthodox and Catholics. Being from Argentina, [Francisco] isn’t tied to the old idea of Western Christianity, so this could play in [Putin’s] favour”.

Francisco ushered in a period of reform at the Vatican, but the timing is right for a thawing of relations between the Eastern and Western churches (sic) for other reasons, too… Russia and the Holy See only re-established full diplomatic ties in 2009. Nevertheless, despite numerous visits by Russian leaders to the Vatican, the head of the Catholic Church has never been allowed to repay the favour and travel to Moscow. The pope has had a standing invitation to the Kremlin since Mikhail Gorbachyov formally invited Pope John Paul II Wojtyła in 1989, but the MP never shared the government’s enthusiasm. Afraid of Catholic evangelisation in Eastern Europe, the Patriarch never opened the doors of the Orthodox Church to the pope. That may soon change. Francisco showed that reaching out to the Orthodox Church was at the top of his agenda from Day One of his pontificate, when he invited Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, to his installation mass. He was the first Orthodox leader to attend a papal inaugural Mass since the Great Schism split Eastern and Western Christians in 1054.

Still, Putin’s personal style couldn’t be more different from the low-key Francisco. Putin travelled to Rome with a delegation of 11 ministers and countless delegates who sped towards the Vatican in 50 cars that sent Rome into a massive gridlock… he was still 50 minutes late to the meeting. The Vatican didn’t offer any comment after the 35-minute meeting. However, observers expected at least one major foreign policy issue to dominate it, one on which the two found common ground… Syria. The two leaders agree that a non-military response to the Syrian conflict is the best course of action. Still, could a historic papal visit to Russia also come out of the meeting? It won’t unless Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the MP, blesses it. Tornielli, the Vatican expert, pointed up that Kirill “doesn’t really need Putin to mediate. He’s capable of doing that himself. I think what’ll happen next is that he and the pope will meet, but in neutral territory, neither in Rome nor in Moscow… they’ll go from there”.

Claudio Lavagna

NBC News



On Monday, Pope Francisco Bergoglio and President Vladimir Putin met and discussed the Middle East and problems faced by Christians across the world, but didn’t touch on the strained relationship between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church. The 35-minute meeting at the Vatican was the first between Pope Francisco and Putin, who met the pontiff’s two immediate predecessors, Benedict XVI Ratzinger and John Paul II Wojtyła. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ told reporters after the encounter, “It was quite a cordial and constructive meeting”. Putin arrived around 45 minutes late because of transport problems. Relations between the Catholic Church and Russia have long been uneasy because of accusations that the Vatican tried to poach believers from the Orthodox Church, a charge it denies. Fr Federico said that Putin brought a greeting to the pope from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the MP, but didn’t talk about inter-church matters. There was also no discussion of a possible visit to Russia by Francisco. Putin embraced the Orthodox Church as a moral authority, harnessed its influence as a source of political support, and championed socially-conservative values since starting a new six-year term in May 2012. The two leaders discussed the civil war in Syria and the pope emphasised the need to end violence and bring assistance to the civilian population. On Tuesday, the Russian President, accompanied by ministers and business leaders, is due to meet Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and members of the government in the northeastern port city of Trieste.

James Mackenzie




On Monday, President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francisco Bergoglio met in the Vatican for one-on-one talks that focused on finding a peaceful solution to the present civil war in Syria. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that during the Pope’s “cordial and constructive” meeting with Putin, “special attention was given to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and to the serious situation in Syria”. The two men agreed that a solution to the conflict should “involve the various ethnic and religious elements, recognizing their essential role in society”. They also discussed “the urgency of stopping the violence and bringing the necessary humanitarian assistance to the [Syrian] population”. Putin’s spokesman said the one-on-one talks in the Apostolic Palace lasted twice as long as planned. Putin and the pontiff exchanged gifts, and the pope asked the Russian leader to send his regards to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the MP. Thaddeus Jones, an official with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that Putin’s meeting with the pope signalled the acknowledgement of Russia’s role on the international arena. He said that the Vatican and Italy expressed deep gratitude for Russia’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict through multilateral negotiations and without an escalation of violence. Catholicnews.com reported that the two didn’t discuss ecumenical issues. A few issues have strained relations between Catholic and MP leaders, preventing any meeting. In particular, the MP accused the Vatican of trying to poach its believers… an accusation the Catholics denied. After the audience, Putin had dinner with his old friend former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and held closed-door talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Palazzo del Quirinale. Putin will travel Tuesday to Trieste to meet with Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta to discuss bilateral cooperation, and economic and international issues, including Syria.



25/26 November 20013



Putin OKs Bill Banning Advertising for Abortions

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. Now, THAT'S Pro-Life... 2012


On Monday, President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning advertising for abortion through either medical intervention or traditional practises. The bill also addresses other areas of the country’s health system and marks the latest effort at restricting access to abortion as Russia battles to boost stagnant birth rates. One provision raises the age at which minors don’t need require parental consent for medical examinations from 14 to 15. The age at which one needs parental consent for drug dependency treatment will rise from 16 to 18. The law also regulates the provision of free medication to HIV patients administered by federal and regional outpatient clinics. Producers and distributors of pharmaceutical goods will now face penalties if they encourage physicians to prescribe specific drugs in exchange for gifts and financial inducements.

Abortion was a common method of birth control in the Soviet era, and, according to UN data, Russia still had the highest number of abortions per woman of childbearing age in the world in 2004. A law passed in 2011 made abortion legal only up until the 12th week of pregnancy. It still permits some exceptions for termination up to the 22nd week of pregnancy in the event medical complications or rape.

25 November 2013



Editor’s Note:

The Church signed off on this… it isn’t seeking a total ban on the procedure, as that’s unrealistic. American Orthodox (especially, konvertsy) who’re agitating for a total ban on abortion are out of step with the Church. The Church isn’t a bunch of Yahoo sectarians; it isn’t a ravening stormtrooper bent on ramming its doctrines down secularists’ throats using the police power of the state (that is, it isn’t in the mould of Timothy Dolan).

The only way to minimise abortion (for there’ll always be medically-indicated procedures) is to use Christ’s way… not the way of the Grand Inquisitor. Those are the only real choices on offer…


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