Voices from Russia

Monday, 18 March 2013

18 March 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Argentina’s in the Finals!

00 Sergei Yolkin. Argentina's in the Finals! 2013

Argentina’s in the Finals!

Sergei Yolkin



Note the blue and white stripes on Bergoglio’s cassock… no doubt, it’s meant to symbolise “team colours” in the World Cup. Pope Francisco is a big-time footy fan, so, Yolkin’s playing this for a laugh… as if it was a sports match. In other words, Turkson (for instance) was the favourite going into the match, but the “dark horse” won.

The RIA translator did a shitty job again. The title wasn’t “Winner Take All”, and “What a letdown” wasn’t a good translation of какая боль.


Despite all predictions that the conclave would elect the first black pope, the new Pope of Rome chosen on 13 March was Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. He wasn’t among the favourites amongst the “papabili“, unlike Cardinals Peter Turkson of GhanaAngelo Scola of Italy and Odilo Scherer from Brazil. Sergei Yolkin thinks that we should feel sorry for the “papabili” who didn’t make it.

14 March 2013

Sergei Yolkin






Sunday, 17 March 2013

Bart to Attend Pope Francisco’s Inauguration


Bart‘s the Vatican‘s lapdog… this image proves it.


Vatican Radio said that the Ecumenical Patriarch would attend a papal inaugural mass for the first time since the Great Schism between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The presence of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis, who claims to be the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, at Pope Francisco’s official Inaugural Mass in St Peter’s Square on 19 March, is widely regarded as a sign of further improvement in relations between the two church bodies.

Earlier, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed the election of Pope Francisco Bergoglio with a warm message of congratulations, saying, “I want to express the hope and the certainty that the Holy Father will contribute to the peace of an already battered humanity, for the poor and the suffering”. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who shared friendly relationships with John Paul II Wojtyła and Benedict XVI Ratzinger, said that newly-elected Pope Francisco “will give a new impetus to the two churches’ journey towards unity”.

The Great Schism was the medieval separation of Chalcedonian Christianity into Eastern Orthodox (Greek) and Roman Catholic (Latin) churches. Ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes, including the procession of the Holy Spirit (“filioque“), whether one should use leavened or unleavened bread in the Eucharist, the Pope of Rome’s claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople amongst the Pentarchy long embittered relations between Orthodox and Catholics. The formal start of the schism was in 1054 {there were many long periods of breakage in communion before then… 1054 was an attempt at reconciliation gone wrong: editor}.

Emperors, popes, and patriarchs made efforts in subsequent centuries to heal the rift. However, a number of factors and historical events worked to widen the separation over time. The relations between Orthodox and Catholics eventually showed signs of improvement, especially after the Second Vatican Council, known as Vatican II, when Pope Paul VI Montini and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras Spyrou {a pro-American cleric installed after Langley instigated a coup against socialist-leaning pro-Soviet Patriarch Maximos Vaportzis in 1948: editor} voiced a joint expression of regret for many of the past actions that had led up to the Great Schism in the Catholic-Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965. Patriarch Bartholomew, elected the 273rd Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in October 1991, visited the Vatican for the first time in June 1995. John Paul II was the first pope since the Great Schism to visit an Eastern Orthodox country (Romania) in May 1999.

16 March 2013



Editor’s Note:

Despite all of Bart’s pretentions, the REAL primus inter pares amongst Orthodox is HH… the MP IS the 400-kilo (882 pounds) bear in the room, whilst the EP is an American-paid-and-directed 40-kilo (88 pounds) weakling. Everybody knows this, and it drives Bart batty to no end. Let’s not be coy… the Curia was watching to see who the Centre would send as a delegation… they knew that they had Bart in their pocket; they always have, to speak plainly.

The Russian state sent a low-level group centred on a middling RF Gosduma figure (they didn’t even send Medvedev, who met Benedict previously), whilst the MP only sent the Blunder. He has no oomph… everyone knows that… the Curia knows that (they also know that he’s the most hated bishop in all of Russia… he has no chance at the funny white hat as he comes from a family of Jewish background… that’s the way it is in Russia. The Blunder is as marginal as Men, Chistyakov, and Kochetkov were). If the delegation were to have a legit figure such as Varsonofy Sudakov, Yuvenaly Poyarkov, Mark Golovkov, Filaret Vakhromeyev, or even Kliment Kapalin as the head, then, both the Curia and we would sit up and take notice of it (and have meaty material for speculation). As it is, it’s just the Blunder and his usual set of greasy eunuchs from Bolshaya Ordynka.

As an aside, the OCA kisses up big-time to the papists because they get recognition as a legit Local Church from them (which they don’t get in Real Orthodox circles). The Curia knows this… shall they place Mollard near Bart, just to show the latter who’s the boss and who’s the flunky? It’s a possibility…


Russian Catholics Greet New Pope with Open Arms

fireworks christmas moscow immaculate conception


Russia’s small Catholic community greeted the election of Pope Francisco Bergoglio with elation and hopes that the new pontiff will continue to improve ties with the country’s Orthodox majority despite a rocky history and lingering disagreements. Congratulations to the new pope, formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, 76-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio, poured in from ordinary Catholics as well as senior political and religious leaders in Russia, which has an estimated 700,000 Catholics, or about 0.5 percent of the population. President Vladimir Putin said that he hoped that ties between the Vatican and Russia would continue to develop “on the basis of the Christian values that unite us”, according to a statement posted on the official Kremlin website.

Interfax reported that Fr Igor Kovelevsky, chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation, which oversees the Roman Catholic Church in Russia, said that the election of the first non-European pope in centuries was a sign that the church is global and open to all. Described as warm, humble, and conservative, Bergoglio appeared to fit the bill for Russian Catholics, many of whom harbour fond memories of the gregarious and worldly Pope John Paul II Wojtyła, who helped re-establish a Catholic presence in Russia in the waning days of the USSR.

Yegor Bredikhin, 18, a student and recent convert, standing in the falling snow outside Moscow‘s main cathedral Wednesday morning, said that the new pope should unite religious believers of all faiths, including Orthodox Christians. Yekaterina, 26, a graduate student and member of the Greek Catholic Church (sic), said on the day of the vote, “He should also be conservative. It’d be very strange and contradict the teachings of the church if the Catholic pope were for same-sex marriages“.

Catholics have a long and variegated history in Russia going back to at least the 12th century. Over the years, and even to this day, they’ve had to fend off suspicion and occasional hostility from nativists who see them as an unwelcome Western import. Inter-church relations have improved in the last decade under outgoing Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger, and Catholics interviewed by the St Petersburg Times say that they feel at home in Russia. However, unresolved issues remain between the two churches, the most troublesome being property disputes in the Ukraine. That conflict was the latest sticking point preventing a meeting of the heads of both churches, something that’s never happened in their history.

Interfax reported that Patriarch Kirill said that the Orthodox Church shared Francisco’s concern for the poor and suffering, and that this creates new opportunities for cooperation between the two churches. Experts said that Russian Catholics had reason to be optimistic and pessimistic about the arrival of Pope Francisco, but warned that Russia would probably not be high on the new pontiff’s to-do list. The Vatican’s prestige and influence suffered in recent years with mounting revelations of child sex abuse by priests and allegations of corruption at the Vatican Bank, and there’s been widespread speculation that Benedict XVI’s historic resignation had links to the church’s woes. Kommersant FM editor-in-chief Konstantin von Eggert wrote that given these challenges, and the shift of Catholicism’s heartland from Europe to South America and Africa, Russia’s tiny fraction of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics would be far from Pope Francisco’s thoughts.

Roman Lunkin, a religion expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that unlike his predecessor, a long-time Vatican insider who met with Patriarch Kirill when Kirill was still a metropolitan, Francisco doesn’t have established ties to the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, Lunkin noted that it’s going to be difficult to explain to Francisco, an Argentinean Jesuit who’s said to have a passion for social work and a concern for the poor, how things are done in Russia, saying, “Why is it important to tiptoe around the Moscow Patriarchate’s sphere of influence? Why are Catholics constantly accused of proselytising? Why is it important to be quiet when the Orthodox Church and the government object to new Catholic churches?”

A Rocky Past

The Catholic Church in Russia, which includes Roman Catholics and Eastern Catholic churches subordinate to the pope, currently consists of four dioceses in Russia… the archdiocese is in Moscow… totalling 396 parishes nationwide. The three other dioceses are in Saratov, Novosibirsk, and Irkutsk. Catholicism has a long and turbulent history in Russia, punctuated by expulsions of Catholic missionaries and frustrated attempts to reunite the largest Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054. Roman Catholic chapels first appeared in the ancient cities of Novgorod, Ladoga, and Smolensk between the 12th and 15th centuries, and Jesuit missionaries arrived in 1684, only have the government expel them five years later, and see their leader sent to a monastery.

The government became more tolerant to Catholics in the late 18th century under Tsaritsa Yekaterina Velikaya, who established rules for a Catholic parish in the imperial capital, St Petersburg. Shortly thereafter, the Jesuits returned, but the government expelled them again less than two decades later. The relationship hit rock bottom under the Bolsheviks, who in 1918 declared all church property to belong to the Soviet state, a move followed by arrests of Catholic clergy. In 1990, diplomatic relations between the USSR and the Holy See were established and the full re-establishment of the Catholic Church in Russia took off.

A Dominant Rival

Orthodox believers make up 74 percent of the Russian population, according to a December poll by the independent Levada Centre, and critics accused the Kremlin of cosying up to the Orthodox Church to wage an information campaign against dissenters and critics. Father Kirill, a spokesman for the Mother of God Catholic Archdiocese in Moscow said that whilst all religious groups face legal and property issues, “some confessions find it easier to resolve these issues than others”. In recent years, senior Orthodox clergymen have been spotted with expensive cars and pricey jewellery, enjoying scandalous luxuries that are anathema to Francisco, who reportedly rides the subway to work, cooks his own food, and flew to Rome with a single suitcase and without an entourage. Lunkin said, referring to the Orthodox Church’s head of external relations, “Metropolitan Hilarion and other senior clergy are used to diplomatic discussions between top officials, but for this pope, concrete missions and concrete social and evangelical projects are more important”.

There is some hope that values and religious sensibilities could trump differing styles. Francisco is said to be well-versed in Orthodox liturgical tradition, and an Orthodox bishop in South America told ITAR-TASS that he was “pro-Russian”, saying that Bergoglio was friendly with local Orthodox clergy in Argentina and sometimes attended Orthodox services. Because of the Catholic Church’s relatively small size and novelty in Russia… the archdiocese in Moscow was established in 2002, alarming some Orthodox leaders… it’s managed to remain isolated from some of the Roman Catholic Church’s problems, at least publicly. There weren’t any scandals involving alleged paedophilia by Catholic clergymen in Russia. The strongest whiff of sexual impropriety came in 2008, when a Russian man killed a Jesuit priest whom prosecutors said was making sexual advances.

However, its relative insignificance in the Catholic world also partly explains Russian Catholics’ exclusion from the Vatican’s hierarchy. There aren’t any Russian cardinals, and consequently, none of the 115 cardinals who chose Cardinal Bergoglio to be the 266th pontiff serves in Russia. Only one, Archbishop Audrys Juozas Bačkis of Vilnius, serves in the former USSR. Ivan Maksutov, a senior lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Religion at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU), said, “It’s too dangerous” to appoint a Russian cardinal, which would surely harm relations with the Orthodox Church. According to officials in both churches, relations warmed under Benedict XVI, who assumed the pontificate in 2005 and stepped down last month citing frailty, the first pope to retire in almost 600 years.

Moscow and the Holy See established full diplomatic relations in 2009, and perennial Orthodox complaints about Catholics’ “poaching” their flock petered out. The primary remaining irritant involves a dispute in the Ukraine between Orthodox and Greek Catholics (sic), who the Orthodox Church says wrongfully seized its property in the 1980s and 1990s. Soviet dictator Iosif Stalin ordered the seizure of Eastern Catholic Churches and gave the property to the Orthodox Church. After the collapse of the USSR, Eastern Catholics took back more than 500 of them, mostly in the Western Ukraine. Deacon Alexei Dikarev, an MP spokesman, said that the presence of Greek Catholic (sic) missionaries in traditionally-Orthodox parts of the Ukraine exacerbated the dispute.

No Easy Fix

Fr Kirill, the spokesman for the Moscow Catholic Archdiocese said that relations between the two churches would likely remain a source of tension for years to come, saying, “It’s a dialogue of love”, adding that it was natural for the two churches, while close in terms of tradition and practise, to continually calibrate their relationship. He denied that the Catholic Church ever aggressively proselytised in Russia, saying, “If by proselytism we mean scaring people or using unsavoury methods… payments, etc… then, this has never been the case”. Maksutov, the religion expert, said that relations between the two churches were currently “guarded”, observing, “They’re neither good nor bad. Because the Roman Catholic Church is less interested in the former USSR than it is in Africa and Latin America, there’s no special dialogue”.

The cardinals might have missed a chance to improve interfaith relations by failing to elect Hungarian bishop Péter Erdő as pope, who forged close ties with the Orthodox Church, who Vatican saw insiders as a leading candidate before Wednesday’s vote. Officially, the churches’ eventual goal is to unite after almost 1,000 years of separation. Dikarev said, “We’re on the path, but we’ve a long way to go”. One often-cited step on that path is a meeting of the heads of the two churches, which has never happened despite rumours in recent years that a summit was in the wings. On Thursday, Metropolitan Hilarion repeated the MP’s long-standing line on such a meeting… It’s possible, but not until the churches resolve “conflicts that arose abroad in the 1980s and 1990s”, referring to the Ukrainian property dispute. Fr Kirill downplayed the significance of a summit of the two leaders, saying, “It’s not a magical solution to our problems”, adding that spiritual unity was the main goal in bilateral ties.

Love from Russia

Bergoglio’s first appearance as Pope Francisco on the Vatican balcony at about 23.15 MSK on Wednesday earned gushing reviews from Russian-speaking Catholics on the Vkontakte social network, the largest in Russia. User Lilia Khugeyan, from the Western Ukraine, where much of the population is Catholic, wrote, “They say the strongest and most mysterious feeling is falling in love, but I’d beg to differ; I’m having ‘that feeling’ right now”. Others were more sober in their assessment. Another Western Ukrainian user, Dima Mis, replied, “Come on, girls, emotions are good, but I’m more interested in whether he’ll rise to the challenges of the times. I don’t know much about him, and his Wikipedia entry is skimpy”. Bergoglio was an unknown for many Catholics in Russia, including for Fr Daniel Ceratto, a fellow priest and Argentinean, director of the Church’s Regional Family Centre in St Petersburg. He said, “Unfortunately, I don’t know much about him. I’ve been here for 12 years”.

Although the church doesn’t keep accurate statistics, Fr Kirill speculated that the number of Catholics in Russia was probably shrinking due to emigration of Catholics with strong foreign roots. He denied that the trend was due to a “loss of faith” or signalled the church’s unsustainability. Catholics interviewed by the St Petersburg Times said that whilst they’re comfortable in Russia, many don’t always feel accepted. Bredikhin, the student, said he felt “fantastic” as a Catholic, but was concerned about how a coreligionist conscript would fare against endemic bullying in the Russian Army, saying, “They wouldn’t understand a Catholic there; he’d be an outcast. Some individuals understand that there’s freedom of religion, but the masses don’t”. Anna Belova, 28, who works in the cathedral’s catechismal library, said that her social circles didn’t include any Orthodox Christians but that she occasionally encounters resistance from particularly conservative Orthodox believers, saying, “Once I invited an Orthodox priest to see my grandmother. When he found out that I’m Catholic, he gave me a long lecture and tried to convert me”. Igor Gurkin, 39, a taxi driver and daily churchgoer, said that he hadn’t ever observed antagonism toward Catholics, but that could also be because, “It’s not written on my forehead that I’m a Catholic”.

15 March 2013

Jonathan Earle

St Petersburg Times


Russian Catholics Welcome Pope Francisco as New “Rudder of Faith”

00 RC Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Moscow. interior. 16.11.12


On Thursday, Catholic churches in Russia served thanksgiving liturgies marking the election of Pope Francisco Bergoglio. In Moscow, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary, Metropolitan Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, FSCB, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mother of God in Moscow served liturgy. On Thursday night, the atmosphere in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was almost intimate. After the the end of a working day, there were only a few believers at the ceremony. The priests in snow-white vestments, which they wear on solemn occasions, called on believers to pray for Pope Francisco. Catholics are only beginning to get accustomed to this new name. For most of them, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is still a stranger. Nevertheless, many believers already took him to their hearts as their pope; they believe he’s the one the Roman Catholic Church needs today. Artyom, one of the churchgoers, said, “I’m sure that my church will become better under him. I never heard of him before, but I’ve read that he’s modest and humble of heart, a priest who’s devoted to his mission with a reasonable degree of conservatism. I think that he’s an example for our whole church, and I hope that the new Pope will be a good ‘rudder’ leading our ship directly to God without deviating from the course”.

Today, the entire Catholic world is watching every step and every word of the new Pope. Fr Peter, a Catholic priest from Slovakia, said, “I heard of him before. I know that he’s very simple, open to people, and lives simply, even to the point of commonness. However, he’s very intelligent and educated. My first impression was very good. For example, right after his election, when he blessed the believers who gathered in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, they offered him a special car to go back to the hotel, but he refused; he said that he’d return to Rome together with the other cardinals. He also checked out from the hotel, paid for his room, and carried his luggage without allowing anyone to help him. These are very important things that prove that he’d be a good pontiff”.

Fr Kirill Gorbunov, the head of the press service of the RC Archdiocese of Mother of God in Moscow said, “The relations between the MP and Catholics will become warmer. The process of convergence of our churches is going on independently from any specific personalities. The relations between Orthodox and Catholics aren’t a question of virtues and shortcomings of its members, whatever the roles of the pontiff or the Patriarch of Moscow are. It’s rather a matter of fate, of our church’s destiny, reverential trust. Because this is God’s will. Nevertheless, I’m confident that Pope Francisco will take steps towards our unity”.

On Thursday, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias congratulated Pope Francisco on his election as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church and expressed hope for cooperation. The Patriarch said both Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics should unite forces to defend fellow believers in countries where they’re under persecution, and to affirm traditional moral values in the modern secular world.

Milena Faustova15 March 2013

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service



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