Voices from Russia

Monday, 3 August 2015

3 August 2015. A Thought from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

2 August 2015. I’m NOT Clergy… Nor Am I an “Elder”

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I wrote this to a senior archpriest:

You’re a priest… I’m a journalist. These are radically different callings. However, we both see the same thing. We describe it differently (after all, what person would accept a priest who writes like a journalist or vice versa?), but we have the same reality in view.

I can’t and won’t attempt to “write like clergy”… I lack the training and charismata to do so. I won’t write like an “elder”… I’m not such, and there’s been damnably few such here in the diaspora (the only one that I ever met was the late Fr Vladimir Sukhobok… the only one). Sadly, there are many who try to pass themselves off as “experts” and “elders” when they’re no such things. I’d say… “Look at who they praise. If they praise questionable people, chances are good that they’re questionable, too”. For instance, if someone praises Paffhausen in any way, you’re certainly talking to a phony. To this day, Paffhausen denies his intimate ties with the known perv Podmoshensky; he hides his close relationship with the convicted abuser Storheim and the convicted kiddie porn king Brittain. That’s not to mention his relationship with Ray Velencia… the guy wasn’t suspended by the OCA Synod for nought.

DO have a care… there are many rightwing phonies pretending to be Orthodox “experts” out there. One correspondent asked me, “What do we do with an incorrigible liar like Paffhausen?” I think that the Church should send him to the Mountain to work out his salvation… he’s a monk, after all. In his case, the ancient canon applies, “If you find someone calling themselves a monk in the midst of the City, you should take him by force to a monastery”. There it is. That’s my journalist’s opinion.

Mistrust all who dress up their unfounded opinion as the “Teaching of the Church”. I don’t… you’d do well to do likewise. After all, I’m a journalist, not a priest…

BMD

2 August 2015. “For Where Two or Three are Gathered Together in My Name, There Am I in the Midst of Them”… Don’t Go Online Looking for Answers

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There’s much rubbish online… most of it dressed in “holy” and “reverent” vesture. If you want answers… go to the Liturgy… ask your priest… he has the training to handle things like that (I’m speaking of real Orthodox Seminary-trained priests, not former heterodox Shake n’ Bakes with no real Orthodox formation). For God’s sake, don’t read Rod Dreher, go to church, and light a candle. Don’t read Elijah Borek, go to the Liturgy, and let the common prayer wash over you. Don’t read Patrick Reardon, kiss the Cross, and bow before the Holy of Holies. Don’t read Freddie M-G, go and chat with a real flesh n’ blood Orthodox person. Virtually all of what dresses itself up as “Orthodoxy” online is worthless rightwing claptrap, and I’ve found too much godless Republican dross mixed in with Christian Truth. Therefore, save yourself the trouble. Don’t go looking for “answers” online… go to the Liturgy! Associate with real Orthodox Christians. Our Faith isn’t discarnate, as Protestantism is. Our Faith isn’t a law court, as the Papists are. Our Faith isn’t anarchic and nihilistic as Sectarianism (e.g. “Evangelicalism”, Pentecostalism, JWs, and Mormonism) is.

We’re Orthodox believers… we’re Christians… our Faith is LIVE, NOT online. Seek and ye shall find… but ya gotta start by looking in the right place…

BMD

Friday, 31 July 2015

Re-Registration of Religious Bodies in the LNR Won’t Interfere With Services

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LNR Advocate for Cooperation with Religious Organisations and Spiritual Issues Roman Cherneshenko spoke with us about sensitive questions such as registration of religious organisations, rumours about alleged religious persecution, interaction of church and state, sects, and spiritual education.

Lugansk Information Centre (LITs) 

What’s the situation with registering religious organisations?

Roman Cherneshenko

Today, we’re ready to re-register and license religious organisations. For example, we have some serious questions about previously issued Ukrainian documents. Earlier-archived files seem to have disappeared. Apparently, someone wanted to cover their tracks. Only a few important documents remain. Therefore, the State Committee on Religion and Spirituality will address all questions on compliance regarding the issuance and verification of previously issued documents. From the start, [Chairman Plotnitsky] gave a clear understanding to all traditional and non-traditional religions, to all religious bodies, that we don’t intend the Committee’s activities and work to be punitive. We’re not going to close down anything or anyone. However, we won’t allow any religious group in the LNR to carry out actions harmful to our Republic, nor shall we allow any subversion against it, nor shall we allow anyone to attack the values underpinning the cultural and spiritual foundations of our society.

LITs

The spiritual foundation of our society is Orthodoxy. Does the Committee consider that?

Cherneshenko

Of course, the LNR recognises this fact. We have a high regard for the work and activities of the Orthodox clergy in our Republic. We can safely say that our priests proved themselves an extremely worthy lot during the period of active hostilities. There are plenty of examples.

LITs

What do you think of the schism in the Church? What would you say about the destructive activity of the Kiev Patriarchate and some of its bishops?

Cherneshenko

Here, [Chairman Plotnitsky’s] position and my stance as his advisor is clear… we believe that the Church should stay out of politics. Simply put, our foundational principle is that the secular state shouldn’t interfere with spiritual life. Of course, in reciprocal fashion, churches shouldn’t interfere with the secular state. Accordingly, there’s never been a question raised about any intervention in or closure of any of the churches or parishes of the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate (UPTs/KP)” in the LNR. In fact, it’d be easy for us to do just that… just as our opponents are doing to the parishes of the UPTs/MP in the Western and Central Ukraine. They hope that we’d do just that, however, we wouldn’t let that happen. The people will make up their own minds about the Church. If they want to go to a particular church, why, let it be. We aren’t a punitive body.

LITs

Okay, but what about the Uniates?

Cherneshenko

As far as Uniates go, our position is very simple. In fact, we understand that many religious bodies left the LNR during the phase of active hostilities. It’s certainly distressing when clergy leave their flock. However, what happened, happened. We have no evidence about illegal activities by Uniates or their priests. Accordingly, their claims about hindrances to their work are false. We ask them to tell the truth, that no obstacles to their free work exist here. We ask ourselves all the time, “Why don’t they tell the people in the Western Ukraine that everything’s normal here?” On the contrary, they constantly yak about ballot stuffing, that we want to vilify them, to take them over, and so on. They’ve flooded the internet with horror stories about Cossacks and our soldiers. I checked out such information personally, I went to each site, saw things for myself, and none of this talk has any confirmation. We heard no complaints from parishioners about any shenanigans.

LITs

What about other denominations and religions?

Cherneshenko

Our religious mosaic is incredibly rich as we have many denominations and faiths. Re-registration will give us a clear picture of the number and composition of religious groups now present in the LNR. We’re preparing draft regulations now, and we’ll submit them for consideration and approval by the LNR Peoples Soviet. One should understand that the procedure of re-registration wouldn’t hinder the work of churches and parishes. We pose this question to our opponents, “In your opinion, are we or are we not engaging in repression and confrontation?” Really, we’re not going to do it. We’re going after no one; we’re closing no one down. We listen to everybody and everybody’s cooperating. For example, we actively coöperate with the Muslim community. We have complete mutual understanding with them. We meet with believers from all churches. We all listen to each other; we all find a common language.

LITs

Yes, but what about totalitarian sects and destructive cults?

Cherneshenko

As in any country, there is the unconditional rule of law and the statutes. Sects and cults aren’t new… they’ve been around for centuries. They’ve always been, they are, and they’ll always be… that we know right well. If a group’s actions are destructive in nature, if they pose a danger to life or health, or if they undermine the foundations of the state and society, then, surely, we’d take action. We’d use the law enforcement agencies… the MVD and the MGB… and the courts would take part, too.  We’re fully capable of giving a legal response to any destructive activities. I won’t rest until I uproot all the totalitarian sects and cults. In addition, we have should create an independent advisory panel to give us a qualified expert assessment of any sect. After all, LNR universities have Faculties of Theology and Religious Studies; we have scholars and theologians with a competence in these areas. In any case, before we made a particular decision, we’d empanel an independent commission to avoid any insinuations of bias or insufficient study in respect to any religious body.

LITs

What can you tell us about religious culture and education?

Cherneshenko

Our main task is to introduce into our schools’ curriculum a syllabus based on [the Russian] Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture and Ethics. This year, our Ministry of Education introduced several Russian courses [in this] as a part of the Fourth Class during the second semester. There were about six programmes available, but we chose the one that seemed most suitable to us. By order of [Chairman Plotnitsky], acting under recommendations from clergy, the LNR Ministry of Education will introduce these courses [in all schools] effective 1 September, the start of the new school year. We also have to deal with training instructors. The Dahl University theological faculty is now gathering a body of instructors [to teach educators how to present this course]. In addition, Archangel Michael Lugansk Theological University and the Academy of Culture are working on this, too. We appreciate these efforts; we offer them our maximum assistance so that we’d have enough properly trained qualified specialists and theologians. Another important issue concerns advanced training of the clergy. Therefore, this year, Metropolitan Mitrofan Yurchuk of Lugansk and Alchevsk blessed a number of young priests to study in secular universities. I’d also like to speak to parents, who so often try to pass on the basics of simple faith. If you want our children to succeed in life, they need peace, kindness, and love… give them the space to decide for themselves whether they want to believe or not. Two thousand years of Christian culture undergirds our civilisation. If our kids don’t learn that, they’ll plunge into incivility and ignorance. Give your kids the possibility to have the best chance at spiritual growth and cultural development.

29 July 2015

LITs Lugansk Information Centre

http://lug-info.com/comments/one/sovetnik-glavy-lnr-po-rabote-s-religioznymi-organizatsiyami-pereregistratsiya-ne-narushit-sluzhby-v-khramakh-323

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