Voices from Russia

Friday, 23 January 2015

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev: “The Church Can’t and Mustn’t Take Sides in a Conflict”

00 Save donbass people 02a. 27.04.014.

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00 Novorossiya. refugees. Rostov Oblast. 22.09.14

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The Church can’t and mustn’t take sides in a conflict because by doing so, firstly, we help to promote that conflict, and, secondly, we marginalise people, regardless of their number… people who belong to our Church, but take another political stand.

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk

Head of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS)

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Aleksandr Rogatkin: 

In any war, civilians suffer the most. That’s evident from the war in Novorossiya, in the Donbass. It’s destroyed schools, hospitals, and maternity homes… it’s damaged churches, as a church and its belfry with its shining cupola is an easy target for a gun-layer. One Cossack, who built a church with his own hands near Lutugino for twenty years now, told me that, for a whole month, Ukrainian artillerymen believed that a patriot observer was in the belfry and kept shelling the church. He said, “God preserved me, no shell hit the target”. However, the war destroyed some churches down to their very foundations. It affects all churches, not only Orthodox ones. In Pervomaisk, shelling almost completely destroyed the Baptist church. In Novosvetlovka, several shells hit the cupola of an Orthodox church, but its undergoing restoration now. A monstrous thing happened in that church. They used it to imprison the people of the town. They locked the locals in there for some time, and, later, the junta forces killed several [patriot fighters] with no investigation or trial, just because they had arms in their hands. They took them prisoner, executed them, and buried them a few metres from the church. In this connection, what should an Orthodox priest do? Does he have to favour a particular side? He sees shells flying into his church, wounded [fighters] and suffering civilian come to him. What must he do?

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev: 

An Orthodox priest should identify with those who suffer. The Church is always on the side of those subjected to violence and aggression. The Church shouldn’t take sides in a political or civic confrontation. What do we see in the Ukraine now? Believers in our Church find themselves on both sides of the barricades. This has been the case since the January events.

Rogatkin: 

So, would you say that two forms of division bedevil the Church? Firstly, the Ukrainian schism divided it, as the self-proclaimed Patriarch Filaret led away a part of the flock. Now, the civil war divides it.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

We shouldn’t say that there’s division in the Church. As for the schism, we say that some people separated themselves or fallen away from the Church for this-or-that political reason. Indeed, from the very beginning, the Ukrainian schism was a political project aimed at dividing the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. More than twenty years ago, they divided the Church; more precisely, they divided Christians because, I repeat, we never say that there can be division within the Church itself. We say that some people, groups of people, or hierarchs fall away from the Church. Today, there are divisions in Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Firstly, the people divided according to a doctrinal principle, then, some attempted to divide them according to linguistic and political principles, now, this division led to a civic confrontation victimising civilians. This is what the most terrible thing is. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church/Moscow Patriarchate (UPTs/MP) doesn’t take a particular side in this conflict. She doesn’t say that we’re with the Ukrainian Army or that we’re with the [patriot fighters], or that we’re with this-or-that political force. On the one hand, the Church should be above political fights, on the other, it should stand together with those who suffer, with the victims.

Rogatkin: 

Do you remember those pictures from the Maidan when many Uniate priests took the side of the Euromaidantsy? They came forward with crosses and urged the crowd to attack the Berkut. It was so.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

From the very beginning, the Uniates fanned this conflict, for they identified with one of the conflicting parties. I spoke about it openly at the Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome, in the presence of Pope Francisco. After that, all the Catholic media, especially in America, most of all the Uniates, lambasted me. I stated a very simple thing… the Church isn’t supposed to participate in political struggle. The Church can’t and mustn’t take sides in a conflict because by doing so, firstly, we help to promote that conflict, and, secondly, we marginalise people, regardless of their number… people who belong to our Church, but take an alternative political stand. In general, the Church shouldn’t take any political position.

Rogatkin: 

However, it’s precisely a political conflict. If we recall, the Svoboda bloc seized churches belonging to the UPTs/MP. They handed them over to the schismatics or to the Uniates. What we saw in Maidan isn’t new at all. It’s been going on for twenty years. They shout, “Hang the Moskali!” They knocked down the doors of Orthodox churches and dragged out priests. One priest in the Western Ukraine told me that they used chains. He himself sat almost in chains for several days. Another priest from Rovno told me that in the 90s when he was 12, they seized his church and struck his father on the head. He heard them saying, “What shall we do with the priest’s kid? Let’s hang him; otherwise, when he grows up, he’ll turn into a Moskal priest”. He was only a kid, why, he didn’t even know where Moscow was!

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

Paradoxically, the Uniates, whose head is in Rome, positions themselves as the Ukrainian national church. The nationalistic media issues propaganda that the UPTs/MP, which comprises a majority of Orthodox believers in the Ukraine, is a Church governed from Moscow. That means that it’s OK for the leadership of a national church to be in Rome, but not in Moscow. Actually, the UPTs/MP is fully independent. The Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias doesn’t govern the UPTs/MP; it isn’t accountable to him either financially or administratively. We only preserve a spiritual relation. For instance, we’ll be ready to help when, God willing, they begin to restore churches in the Donbass. Certainly, we’d help in all possible ways. However, that has nothing to do with the internal financial life of the UPTs/MP. In this respect, it’s fully independent. The UPTs/MP elects its own bishops… Moscow doesn’t approve the nominations. The Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias only vets the election of the Metropolitan of Kiev and all the Ukraine. Nevertheless, this is more spiritual than actual.

We cherish this relationship because our spiritual unity is over a thousand years old, coming from the baptismal font of the Holy Prince Vladimir. This year, we’ll mark the millennium of the death of Holy Prince Vladimir. In 2013, we celebrated the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. At one time, Rus was one state. For the last thousand years, new political boundaries arose more than once, but that doesn’t mean that we should divide the Church into ever-smaller parts every time that there’s some new boundaries. If we’d done it in Africa, there wouldn’t be a united Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa, but 54 Lilliputian Orthodox Churches. The Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, which unites believers in Syria and Lebanon, would’ve had division as well. The Church doesn’t unite people on ethnic grounds. We cherish our unity; especially today, it manifests its relevance, soundness, and importance. When politicians divide a society into warring parties, when soldiers liquidate people, the Church seeks to unite and reconcile all.

Rogatkin: 

Notably, the Ukrainian religious field is rather mixed. There are so many all kinds of sects… so many preachers bringing in crazy ideas. They enjoy respect, while the UPTs/MP is a pariah. They hate it and everybody mistreats it. That’s politics, nothing else.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

The UPTs/MP is a victim of propaganda and political struggle; in the combat zone, it’s also a victim of the military conflict. You gave some examples. We have information that, regrettably, grows with each new report… 3 priests of the UPTs/MP are dead, 62 churches in Donbas suffered damage, some destroyed, others with serious damage, still others need restoration. All this supports what you said… there’s a purposeful struggle against the canonical Church; the Church is under attack. Really, churches are easy targets. Today, a great tragedy unfolds before our eyes. We can’t take it as a coincidence. If there’s a massed artillery bombardment, it may accidentally hit churches. However, if we see so many churches destroyed or damaged, it means that there’s a purposeful campaign. We can’t see it differently.

Rogatkin: 

That’s true, considering that the people there are believers. When Ukrainian paratroopers left the Lugansk Airport, the [patriot fighters] showed us what they left after them. Together with packed rations, there lay heaps of Uniate books. There were also Gospels and Bibles, that is, they’d all been parachuted specially for them.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

When I openly state that the Uniates took one side of the conflict, that they stood behind the events in Maidan, that they were brought by bus from the Western Ukraine to ramp up interethnic hostility, they say… “No, it isn’t a political confrontation. This is how we express our political opinions”. This is what the Uniates say. We’re not at all happy with their answer. Indeed, if the Church has a call to reconcile people, it means that we should be with all those who suffer; we shouldn’t take a particular side; we shouldn’t say, “These people are ours and these people aren’t”.

Rogatkin: 

How do matters stand with the Pochaev Lavra? It’s one of the most significant holy sites of the UPTs/MP in the Western Ukraine. I remember how in February, just a week before the events in Maidan, they came to assault the gates to the Lavra. How do matters stand there now?

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

There were such attempts, but the Pochaev Lavra guards canonical Orthodoxy. There was an attempt to seize the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra as well, but these two monasteries keep strong the monastic spirit. The monks are well aware of what the canonical Church is and what the schism is. In the time of the iconoclastic heresy, the monks stood up in defence of holy icons. Today, our monks guard canonical Orthodoxy. I believe that the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, the Pochaev Lavra, and other monasteries will stand firm for the faith and canons of the Church. The conduct of monks during the Maidan events can serve as an example. When barricades went up and some prepared armed confrontation, monks of the Tithe Monastery in Kiev came out to stand under a torrential rain between the two warring groups in order to prevent them from fighting. I think such should typify the position of the Church and of Orthodox monastics.

Rogatkin: 

Over the last twenty years, how many churches of the UPTs/MP did they seize or destroy in this struggle?

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

If we speak of the parishes that recently transferred to the so-called “Patriarchate of Kiev”, according to them, there are 30 such parishes, but according to our information, there are 10. However, we should realise how this actually takes place. It isn’t due to free popular will, as a rule, its only done under very serious pressure. Let me give you an example. Recently, a declaration in Rovno Oblast appeared on the establishment of a united Ukrainian Local Church. It appeared under pressure from the local authorities. Amongst others, a bishop of the UPTs/MP signed it. Immediately, it raised many questions… will a united Ukrainian Orthodox Church arise within Rovno Oblast? Alternatively, is the Uniate bishop ready to disobey the Pope in order to join the projected united Ukrainian Orthodox Church?

Rogatkin: 

That is, not everybody understands what they sign.

Metropolitan Ilarion: 

They either don’t understand or yield to pressure. As a result, very soon after, the UPTs/MP bishop withdrew his signature; the Uniate bishop followed suit, whilst the Oblast governor got the boot. That’s the end of the story for you. In this case, there was very serious pressure. As for popular will, we saw a report about people making rounds with ballot boxes. They come to some baba who hardly can hear what they say and ask her, “Are you Ukrainian?” ”Yes, I am”. “Are you for Kiev?” “Yes, I am”. “Sign the paper”. “Your relatives, where are they?” “They aren’t here”. “Can you sign for them?” “Yes, I can”. You see, it is simply profanation. That’s how they transfer parishes of the canonical Church to these schismatic associations. It isn’t widespread, of course, but it happens. We should hope that it’d end. However, it’ll only end when peace returns to the Ukraine. We pray for it at every Divine Liturgy. Not only the UPTs/MP, but also all of the multinational MP prays that peace may return to the Ukrainian land. It’s our strongest desire. At the beginning of this New Year 2015, we ask God for that, we wish that He’ll send us this much-desired peace.

10 January 2015

Pravmir

http://www.pravmir.com/metropolitan-hilarion-church-not-political-position/#ixzz3PXjA2ezT

Editor:

It’s clear that all parties who associate with Uniates in these times of great emergency are anti-Christian elements… we must treat them as such. The Uniates are the Curia’s dagger pointed at our heart. All those (including Paffhausen, Potapov, Jillions, and Freddie M-G) who mix with Uniates spit on Christ and His Church. That’s that…

BMD

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

BREAKING NEWS… Russian Mediation Springs Archbishop Jovan from Macedonian Slam… Alfeyev Confabbed with Macedonian Leaders in December

00 Archbishop Jovan in Prison. 06.12

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A court in Skopje granted conditional release to Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski, the head of the SPC Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid, on 19 January. Meanwhile, Tanjug reported that the uncanonical Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) expects that a dialogue with the SPC on its status would begin afterwards, with mediation from the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS). Metropolitan Petar of Prespa and Pelagonija, the MPC administrator for Australia and New Zealand, announced in an interview with TV Sunce that the MPC Holy Synod would most likely discuss this. Skopje media reported that he said that the MPC expects a positive response from the MP, which has stepped in to mediate in the dispute over the status of the MPC. The MPC is uncanonical; the SPC considers it schismatic since it declared autocephaly unilaterally in 1967.

Following “insistence” from MP sources, Macedonia will free Archbishop Jovan on conditional release after spending three years in prison. Visiting Macedonia on 21 December 2014, Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev, the head of the OVTsS, urged Vraniškovski’s provisional release. Metropolitan Ilarion made the request during meetings with the head of the MPC Archdiocese of Ohrid, President of the Macedonian Government Nikola Gruevski, and President of the Republic of the Macedonia Ǵorge Ivanov… who has the constitutional power to pardon… and also met with Vraniškovski.

Since 2003, the Macedonian authorities arrested Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski six times on different charges, including public disorder when he tried to conduct a baptism ceremony in a church the MPC sees as its own. He also faced charges of “inciting ethnic and religious hatred” for having “slandered the MPC” and spent a total of almost 18 months in prison. The authorities last arrested Vraniškovski on 12 December 2011, upon entering Macedonia from Greece, on charges of having misappropriated 250,000 Euros (17.8 million Roubles. 1.84 million Renmnbi. 18.4 million INR. 296,000 USD. 349,000 CAD. 363,000 AUD. 196,000 UK Pounds). He returned to the country to request a retrial, only to have the cops arrest him and dump him in Idrizovo prison near Skopje, where he remains to this day.

The MPC defrocked Archbishop Jovan and the SPC appointed him as Serbian exarch in Macedonia. The SPC believes that Archbishop Jovan is a victim of rigged political trials because of his opposition to the schism, while Amnesty International and Freedom House said that he’s a prisoner of conscience. Tanjug reported that the stated position of the MP is, “We’d be unable to help in the Macedonian-Serbian church dispute for as long as Vraniškovski remains in prison”.

13 January 2015

B92

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2015&mm=01&dd=13&nav_id=92852

Editor:

Note that this was due to Russian mediation. Is the MP up to something? Is the Russian state up to something? If the MPC and SPC reconcile, will the Phanar sit at table or will it pout and stay away on American orders? This would complicate any all-Orthodox Sobor in 2016. Besides that, is this part of a Russian effort to prise Macedonia out of the American orbit? Look at Russian efforts in Hungary, Slovakia, and Greece… it’s also tempting Romania with pieces of the Ukraine. It looks like the American project in Eastern Europe is unravelling, and right quickly, too.

BMD

Friday, 5 December 2014

Mollard Venerates Relics of St Matrona… Serves Liturgy with HH in the Moscow Kremlin

00 Patr Kirill and Metr Tikhon Mollard. 05.12.14

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Read this and this. On Wednesday, Mollard visited the Stavropegial Convent of the Protection in Moscow and venerated the relics of St Matrona. He said, “St Matrona’s life and the miracles worked by her relics are well-known in America. It’s a great consolation to personally make a pilgrimage to venerate the miraculous relics of a saint”.

Later that day, Mollard and HH served a molieben at the Danilovsky Monastery and confabbed afterwards. HH said, “I’m sure that you feel the love that we have for the OCA. Its history goes back to the podvig of St Herman of Alaska and his followers, to the work of Metropolitan St Innokenty and Patriarch St Tikhon… my great predecessors as First Hierarchs in Moscow… whose missionary heroism wrote a bright page in the history of our Church. Moscow and Washington are on different continents and separated from each other by thousands of miles, but not only a common history, but also a sincere love, unites our Churches. For Russians, the OCA is the dear and beloved fruit of our missionary work. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and with your esteemed delegation to discuss issues that’d help us to strengthen our relationship further. We believe that your historic and peaceful visit to the Russian Orthodox Church will be another important step towards strengthening both our bilateral relations and the Orthodox witness in the Americas”.

Mollard replied, “The fraternal relations of the ancient Patriarchates and Local Churches throughout the ages kept the fullness of the Church and continued the work of the apostles, martyrs, and saints; such invariably strengthens the OCA, the youngest among the Orthodox Local Churches”. He emphasised that the Russian Church played an incredibly important role in the life of the OCA, saying, “In 1794, she sent to America the first missionary monk from Valaam, in 1970 she granted autocephaly to our Church. The fraternal support of the Russian Church isn’t extinct today, and I sincerely thank Your Holiness for your invitation extended to the OCA, which made possible this visit. I’m humbled to accept your warm hospitality, so typical of Your Holiness and the Russian Church”.

HH pointed up that the schismatical so-called “Kiev Patriarchate” was seizing parishes in the central and western Ukraine, and that the Uniates were exploiting this situation. He also emphasised that the MP wasn’t taking sides in the conflict.

In short, this was a gauntlet hurled at Bart’s feet. HH was saying, “If you don’t accept the OCA at the 2016 all-Orthodox Sobor, there won’t be an all-Orthodox Sobor. All of your ties with the Pope of Rome and Biden will mean nothing. Accept the OCA as a full member or let your conventicle be damned!” As the REAL leader of World Orthodoxy, as the ACTUAL “First Amongst Equals” of Orthodox First Hierarchs, his words have cred and tread.

One can see why the Centre withheld support from California Fats (that’s why he got the boot and why the OCA SOBs named Mollard to replace him) and why it supports Mollard. Mollard will do what the Centre tells him to do, without compromising ties to godless Republicans and faithless Evangelical sectarians. Mollard won’t go off on pointless crusades… he’ll do what the Centre tells him and nothing more. Mollard will do nothing at all, in fact… but that suits HH just fine… he won’t do anything stupid, like JP would’ve done, to queer his calculations. However, this isn’t so much support for the OCA as it’s a move in the Great Game between the EP and the MP.

Read this and this. On Thursday, Mollard served Liturgy with HH in the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Interesting note… Lyonyo was in the church, but didn’t serve (his minion Jillions did, though). Afterwards, Mollard went to the Donskoi Stavropegial Monastery to venerate the relics of Patriarch St Tikhon Bellavin. HH didn’t tag along, as he and Metropolitans Ilarion Alfeyev and Varsonofy Sudakov attended an important policy speech by President Putin (Mollard did NOT, or at least, patriarchia.ru didn’t report such).

Mollard has five more days in the Rodina… or that’s the schedule given. We’ll have to see…

BMD

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

3 December 2014. Mollard in the Rodina on Orders of HH… Will Also Meet with Varsonofy Sudakov

00 Tikhon Mollard and Ilarion Alfeyev. Moscow. 03.12.14

Tikhon Mollard (1966- ), OCA First Hierarch, with Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev (1966- ), the Chairman of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS),  at Sheremetyevo Airport on 2 December 2014 

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Mollard is in the Rodina on HH’s orders (maybe, to personally answer questions… perhaps, regarding JP and his antics). He’s also slated to meet with Varsonofy Sudakov… as one of my contacts put it, “You can’t slip a piece of paper between His Holiness and Metropolitan Varsonofy”. Not only that, Mollard is to serve liturgy on the feastday of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple with HH at the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin… an honour that HH didn’t give Fathausen the Great. Lyonyo is going with him… Mollard and Lyonyo are also going to kiss the American ambassador’s ass and suck up to him at a formal dinner. I have no doubt that one of the reasons for this pop ad limina is that Lyonyo, S A Schmemann, S L Kishkovskaya, SVS, and others are either supporting the Uniate war criminals in the Novorossiya War of National Liberation or supporting the neoliberal American enablers of the Uniate aggressors (in particular, JP is still hanging out with and supporting the usual crowd of godless warmongering “conservative” culture warriors in the District). Jillions, the Uniate-loving traitor, is part of the group… is HH going to grill him on his treachery and perfidy (one can only hope)? Mollard & Co will be in the Rodina until 10 December… eight full days. Note well that the Treasurer is part of the entourage… is Mollard begging for funds? Does HH want to know the status of the OCA’s finances? This isn’t a usual inclusion. The MP/USA bishop is also in the group. Perhaps, one of the agenda items is what Mollard knows of Yustinian’s gay escapades… and if that sort of canoodling is going on the OCA (HH has obviously heard all the same sorry-ass tales that we have). Yustinian was like Gury in Paris… who ended up in Magadan, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, this is also part of the Great Game between the MP and the EP. However, as a final note, do notice how aged Tikhon has gotten over two years. He’s the same age as Alfeyev, not even 50! One last thing… there was NO advance notice of this. Ergo, was this on HH’s initiative or on that of VVP (only time will tell us)? Will Mollard meet with VVP? Perspirin’ minds wanna know…

Patriarchia.ru coverage is here.

BMD

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