RUSSIA RELIGION NEWS

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Judges refuse to try arrested Pentecostals

"STOP. I WILL SHOOT!" "I AM STOPPING!" "I AM SHOOTING!"
Protest actions in center of Moscow by "Emmanuel" protestant church more than one month old
by Yury Popov
Portal-credot.ru, 5 July 2005

For more than a month now the protest actions have continued, which are being conducted by the "Emmanuel" central church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) of Moscow. The government of Moscow allotted land for construction of a house of worship, and after the church carried out expensive planning work it seized the lot.

The "Emmanuel" church planned to conduct a protest demonstration on 3 July in Novopushkin Square. However the constitutional rights of the believers were crudely infringed by the prefecture of the Central Administrative District of Moscow. Bureaucrats illegally forbade conducting the demonstration, changing it to picketing that police then broke up.

"Emmanuel" church submitted notification of conducting the demonstration on 3 July 2005 at the time required by law. In the next three days the church did not receive either written or oral consent about the place and time of conducting the demonstration. However E. Poliakova, who is acting prefect of the Central Administrative District, said in a private conversation with the press secretary of the church, Yury Popov, that "we will let you conduct the demonstration, we do not intend to give you the run around."

Church administrator Bakur Azarian arrived at the prefecture on 29 June 2005 and asked to have the permit but he did not receive any kind of intelligible answer, and only on Thursday, 30 June, did the church receive an answer, which proposed a) to replace the demonstration with a picketing action; and b) to permit the picketing from 16.00-17.00, that is four hours less than the time applied for. And this despite that in accordance with the law the head of the prefecture may insert changes as to time and place of conducting a public action, but not in this form.

Despite the prefecture's infringements of thei constitutional rights to freedom of speech, conscience, and religious confessions, as well as the law "On meetings, demonstrations, processions, and picketing," the church's organizers decided to fulfill the demands of the authorities.

The picket began at 16.00 with the "Emmanuel" church orchestra playing. The appointed representative of the Central Administrative District who was present for the public event declared that in conducting a picket it is forbidden to use a wind ensemble. Although in the law it is forbidden only to use sound amplification equipment, which has nothing to do with a wind ensemble. Based on the law "On meetings. . .," the organizers persuaded the representative of the district that nothing illegal was being done.

At this moment S.A. Vasiukov, the vice-prefect of the Central Administrative District, appeared at Novopushkin Square and ordered that the orchestra stop playing. At which time the organizers announced that the picketers were not violating the law. But Mr. Vasiukov was not to be dissuaded. The organizers of the picketing asked him to give a written statement to the effect that there were violations in the conduct of the picket so that subsequently they could appeal the actions of the prefecture in court.

Meanwhile, the orchestra had stopped playing and the people assembled began chanting slogans. Vasiukov also saw in this a violation, although the law "On meetings. . ." says that "picketing is a public event, conducted without sound amplification equipment and without processions, by means of placing one or more citizens at the object being picketed, using placards and other visual means of agitation." Having received from the appointed representatives of the prefecture a note regarding conducting the picket in written form, the organizers obeyed the orders, despite all their absurdity and illegality.

While the organizers of the public event were discussing the note regarding conducting the picket, the police major who is notorious from preceding pickets, A.P. Krylov of the Tver district Department of Internal Affairs, proceeded to a provocation. Apparently on the basis of his personal dislike for the believers, the major used a megaphone to intentionally distort the names of the organizers and to summon police officers to break up the picketers by force, thereby trying to prevent the organizers from responding to the note of the appointed representative of the prefecture.. Meanwhile the picketers had stopped chanting the slogans. The Christians simply stood, prayed, and sang Christian hymns.

Krylov continued shouting that the people were violating the law, although the representative of the prefecture stated that now he had no claims against the picketers. Flying into a rage, the major affirmed that despite all, he would arrest the organizers and participants of the picketing, since in his opinion the instances of violation of the rules of picketing had been confirmed by the authorized representative.

The federal law "On meetings, demonstrations, etc." says that after correction of any violations that are pointed out, representatives of authority are obliged to permit the continuation of the public event. Nevertheless, A. Krylov, apparnetly confusing administrative law with criminal law, said that there had been a violation and so he had to respond. After this, he began arresting the organizers of the picketing, stuffing the bus to such an extent that the doors had trouble closing. In the bus there were both old and young, both women and children. At the request of the picketers, mothers and children and some elderly women were permitting to leave the bus. The arrests proceeded peacefully; the picketers voluntarily, on the first request from the police, did not put up any resistance, and they got into the bus by themselves. Everything happened as in the story about the guard who shouted: "Stop. I will shoot!" and when the answer came: "Fine, I am stopping," he shouted "Fine, I am shooting!" and he pulled the trigger. The authorities declared to the picketers: "Stop the violations. We will arrest you now!" and the picketers said "We have stopped the violation." And the police said "We are arresting you." And they arrested them.

The people were so surprised when at the police station they were required to write that they had disobeyed legal demands of law enforcement agencies. The authorities acted in accordance with their favorite scenario and held the people more than three hours.

The permitted picketing by Pentecostals on Novopushkin Square was broken up on Sunday, 3 July, and by Monday, 4 July, the authorities planned to put the organizers of the protest action behind bars for "disobedience to the demands of the police," that is, for fifteen days.

Originally it was planned to conduct the trials at three different locations, since the protestants had been taken to three different police stations after their arrest. But then all the cases were turned over to Justice of the Peace A.B. Kovalevskaia (Moskva, B. Cherkasskii lane, lot 7, bldg 1B, sec. 369), who had already previously sentenced the believers to detention and fines. Other judges simply refused to accept for review cases in which so many crude violations on the part of the police and prefectures had been committed.

The trial on Cherkasskii lane was supposed to begin at 11.00, but it had not even begun at 12.00 The people stood in the stuffy corridor awaiting their fate. For all of them (and for the police as well) there came a completely unexpected refusal by Judge A.B.Kovalevskaia to participate in the trial of the picketers. Citing  gross mistakes in filling out the documents submitted to the court, she returned them to the police and asked the joyfully smiling Christians to leave the court building and express their happiness in a less noisy manner on the street. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 July 2005)

Russia Religion News Current News Items


Europe to Russia:  Improve religious rights

Council of Europe parliamentarians urge Russia to improve its democracy
PACE News, 22 June 2005

The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today urged Russia to improve its democracy, calling for more power for the Russian parliament, pluralist and impartial broadcasting and normal conditions for civil society.

In a reference to the reforms of Autumn 2004, the Assembly declared: "In order for democracy to function properly, power must not only be vertically reinforced but also horizontally shared."

While acknowledging that the authorities had to deal with serious problems which threatened the country ­ such as terrorism, corruption or irregular privatisations which led to oligarchic control ­ the parliamentarians said the solutions, even if adapted to Russiaıs realities, should be in line with Council of Europe principles.

They called on the Russian authorities to "adjust the direction" of recent reforms, and significantly accelerate the pace of compliance with remaining commitments to the Council of Europe, which Russia joined in 1996.

Other demands included immediate abolition of the death penalty, an end to human rights violations in Chechnya, improvements to the judiciary and "zero tolerance" for the abuse of soldiers. Russia was also asked to cease activities which may undermine the territorial integrity of neighbouring countries, and in particular to withdraw its military forces from Moldova.

PACE also said existing Council of Europe assistance to Russia was insufficient, given its size and diversity, and called for significantly more funds to help it honour its commitments.

The Russian Federation is one of ten Council of Europe member states[1] subject to the Assemblyıs monitoring procedure, which involves regular visits to the state concerned and dialogue with the authorities and civil society.

Follow link for excerpts from the report that dealing specifically with religion: "Honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation"

Russia Religion News Current News Items


Defense of Jewish law book

ISRAEL CONSIDERS INVESTIGATION OF "SHULCHAN ARUCH" MANIFESTATION OF ANTISEMITISM
Novoe vremia, 30 June 2005

The expert analysis of the contents of "Shulchan Aruch" which has been started by the Moscow prosecutor's office has evoked dismay in Israel. [See "Criminal case against Moscow Jewish organization"] As "Kommersant" wrote on Wednesday, when the foreign ministry of Israel learned about the interrogation of Rabbi Zinovy Kogan it immediately demanded an explanation from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On 23 June at the Basman district prosecutor's office of Moscow, the leader of Congress of Jewish Religious Associations and Organizations of Russia, Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, was questioned. As the rabbi describes it, at the prosecutor's office he was given one question: why was it decided in 1999 to publish the book "Shulchan Aruch" in the Russian language. "By that time, we had opened in Moscow two new yeshivas (religious educational institutions) and we needed literature in the Russian language, so the book was published," the rabbi answered consistently.

The interrogation immediately became known in Jerusalem.  "Such a thing has not happened for many decades, either in Russia or other countries with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations," a newspaper quotes the words of a source in the Israeli government who wished to remain anonymous. The Israeli foreign ministry immediately demanded an explanation, although it did not receive any answer.

According to information of the publication, the first vice-premier of Israel, Ehud Olmert, on Monday had a long conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who "was extremely concerned about what is happening." The prime minister instructed him to clarify how it could happen that a sacred book of the Jews has fallen under suspicion in Russia as inflamatory. Mr. Olmert stated that Israel views this as "an unprecedented manifestation of antisemitism."

Thus the question of antisemitism in Russia has become the main item in conversations of the vice-premier with Prime Minister Fradkov. The Israeli vice-premier stated at the meeting that Israel awaits from Russia concrete steps and a clear assessment of the actions of the Moscow prosecutor's office. In reply, the Moscow prosecutor's office announced on Tuesday that criminal cases would not be opened with regard to the publication of the book "Shulchan Aruch," nor with regard to the authors of the appeal to the Prosecutor General's office.

Coowner of the "MENATEP" group, Leonid Nevzlin, assessed the actions of the prosecutor in these cases as a manifestation of state antisemitism. In an interview with Grani.ru he named antisemites in Putin's inner circle.

Mikhail Chlenov, general secretary of the Eurasian Jewish Congress:  "Every religion, every developed religion, I stress especially, each of the three Abrahamic religions, that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, contains within it a serious element of obscurantism, that is, closed mindedness.  And this, it seems to me, is very important to stress: it is everywhere.. Moreover, among the followers of these religions we see everywhere, in all countries, including Russia, a group of people who have been attracted to religion precisely by obscurantism.

Now, just what is this book "Shulchan Aruch" to which these men are appealing? Without a doubt, this book is not a Christian book and there is no sympathy for Christianity in it. We can say that directly and frankly. And there should not be. Indeed, this book is not Christian and moreover it is a book which actually defines the life of a person who is living amidst people of other faiths. Which is how Jews lived up until the creation of the state of Israel, and even now they live that way to a substantial degree.

Now with respect to the specific questions. I have selected an example. A Jewish woman does not assist in childbirth.  I am not talking about the fact that the most famous maternity clinic in Moscow, to which everybody is rushing, so to speak, was founded by a Jew. Yes, Grauerman, was a Jew and not, let's say, a Tamil or Chinese. The quote which they cite enunciates this: "A Jewish woman must not aid a non-Jewish woman in childbirth, other than in the event that she is known as a midwife. In that case she is permitted to do it, so as not to evoke hostility toward us, and only for pay and on a weekday." Now these are religious laws that have differing strictness for orthodox and nonorthodox Jews. Naturally, a Jewish woman who is not a midwife ought not to be assisting in childbirth. Why? It's clear. If, God forbid, something happened, then back in those conditions when this book was written, not only this woman will be accused but also the whole community to which she belonged. They will say "O, this was done specifically so that the Christian child would die and then they will take its blood." We could cite many other examples. These quotes are partly distorted and partly taken out of context.

We should not have to justify ourselves for something that is written in the sacred books just as Christians should not have to justify themselves for, let's say, Christ's statement "I will not bring peace, but a sword," or, for example, for his statement to the Samaritan woman that "I will not give this to dogs; go away, I was sent only to save the lost sheep of Israel" (I am speaking from memory and not quoting). And I am not going to say anything about the Quran. It is simple enough to find, for every humane person, an Osama bin Laden. That's a peculiarity of this culture, these religions, in which we live. In this regard Judaism is more restrained, much more modest, because for every such apparently xenophobic point there is an explanation, a commentary in the books, but in addition, a rabbi, according to Jewish law, and this is very important, has the right to interpret and to change the law. Religious law is a constantly changing system.

Radio Liberty, 13 February 2005

Resolution concerning refusal to open a criminal case with regard to the appeal to the Prosecutor General's office demanding prohibition of Jewish organizations.

From the letter to the prosecutor general regarding prohibition of Jewish organizations.

Do the sharply negative assessments of Judaism by Russian patriots correspond to the truth? If they do correspond, then such assessments are justified and, regardless of the emotionality, they cannot be considered as derogatory or inciting strife, and so forth.

Deputies who signed the antisemitic letter to the prosecutor general: from "Rodina" fraction, Sergei Glotov, Anatoly Greshnevikov, Sergei Grigoriev, Alexander Krutov, Nikolai Leonov, Oleg Mashchenko, Vladimir Nikitin, Nikolai Pavlov, Igor Rodionov, Andrei Savaliev, Yury Savaliev, Irina Savelieva, Ivan Kharchenko, Alexander Chuev; from fraction of communist party, Nikolai Ezersky, Vladimir Kashin, Nikolai Kondratenko, Albert Makashov, Petr Svechnikov, Sergei Sobko.

Appeal to the prosecutor general regarding prohibition of national and religious Jeiwshj Organizations:  We, both to protect our fatherland and for personal self-defense, are forced to appeal to you, Mr. Prosecutor General, with an insistent request to investigate as soon as possible the salient facts and, if they are confirmed, to officially open a case for prohibiting in our country all religious and national Jewish associations as extremist.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch

"Shulchan Aruch" is a hallachic (that is, religious law) code of the sixteenth century, citing books written more than a thousand years before it. "Shulchan Aruch" (literally "covered table") was composed by Rabbi Joseph Karo (1488-1575). It was first published in 1565 in Venice.

In "Shulchan Aruch" are collected legal standards and norms for conduct; each is accompanied by a commentary in which conditions for its application are discussed. Some of them, such as, for example, the prohibition of murder or love for one's neighbor, are, from the point of view of Judaism, unchangeable; others are connected with specific social situations and lose force when they change. Many standards contained in these books relate to times when Judaism was persecuted and Jewish communities lived on the verge of extinction.

"Kitzur Shulchan Aruch," that is, an abridged "Shulchan Aruch" was compiled by Rabbi Shlomo Gantsfried (1800-1886) in Hungary. It was first published in 1864. It has the same rules given in pure form, without commentaries, which permitted the reduction of the huge four-volume book to one book, which still, to be sure, has half a thousand pages. In the intention of the composer, "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was supposed to be for people who for one or another reason did not engage in profound study of the laws of Torah.

However, the rules contained in this book cannot be understood correctly by themselves, without the commentaries. "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" presupposed knowledge of "Shulchan Aruch," and the ability to use it. This requires years of study.  (tr. by PDS, posted 4 July 2005)

Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru site, 30 June 2005

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Life of alternative Orthodox bishop reflects bitter fate of past century

PRIMATE OF ONE OF TRUE ORTHODOX "WINGS" DIES
Portal-credo.ru, 3 July 2005

The president of the Bishops Synod of the Russian True Orthodox church (RIPTs), Archbishop of Odessa and Tambov Lazar Zhurbenko died on 30 June at 75 years of age. As a Portal-credor.ru correspondent reports, Bishop of Novgorod and Tver Dionisy Alferov participated in the funeral for the late head of RIPTs. The acting president of the Bishops Synod of RIPTs is now the senior bishop of the church, Archbishop of Chernomore and Kuban Veniamin Rusalenko.

Archbishop Lazar, whose secular name was Fedor Iosifovich Zhurbenko, was one of the most famous and authoritative bishops of "alternative Orthodoxy" is Russia. He was born in 1931. He was orphaned in early childhood and he received his religious education in the catacomb church in Kuban under the priests Fr Konstantin Vysotsky, Hieromonk Samuil and Hieromonk Feodosy Kashin. On 17 September 1947 he was secretly tonsured a monk with the name of Feodosy by the holy elder Feodosy Kashin of the Caucasus.

On 21 March 1950 at the age of nineteen he was arrested for adherence to the catacomb church and he was sentenced on 13 January 1951 on article 58-10 part 2 and article 58-11 of the Criminal Code of RSFSR to ten years in a stalinist concentration camp. He served his term in the Karaganda concentration camp where he performed unbearable heavy labor in copper mines, stone quarries, tree felling, and the like. In the camp he often was placed in the isolation cell and subjected to torture, torments, and humiliation for his faith. He was secretly ministered to by the catacomb confessor "Mechevite" [follower of Orthodox anti-Sergian priest Alexei Mecheva, tr.] Fr Vladimir Krivolutsky, who also was serving a sentence in Karaganda concentration camp. In 1955, following the death of Stalin, he was released for reasons of health.

At the beginning of the 1960s, through a colleague of Elder Feodosy, the Athonite Archimandrite Evgeny Zhukov, he established secret correspondence with ROCOR Bishop of Chile Leonty Fillipovich, a former catacomb priest who became bishop of Zhitomir during the war.

On 31 January 1971 he was secretly ordained a priest for the catacomb church by RPTsMP Archbishop Veniamin Novitsky with the blessing of ROCOR Archbishop Leonty. On 11 January 1981 Hieromonk Lazar was elevated to the rank of archimandrite in absentia at the cathedral of the Elevation of the Cross in Geneva by Archbishop Antony.

At the beginning of 1982 a secret bishop of ROCOR, Varnava Prokofiev, visited the Soviet Union in the guise of an ordinary tourist. With the blessing of ROCOR First Hierarch Filaret Voznesensky and Bishop Antony, on 10 May Archimandrite Lazar was secretly made a bishop of the catacomb church by Bishoop Varnava in a Moscow apartment. In 1991 Bishop Lazar was elevated to rank of archbishop.

In 1993 Archbishop Lazar announced his administrative separation from the Bishops Synod of ROCOR in connection with the constant interference by Bishop Varnava in the affairs of the Tambov-Oboian diocese. In March 1994 he took leadership of the recreated Provisional Supreme Church Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church with its center in Suzdal. Together with his deputy Bishop of Suzdal and Vladimir Valentin Rusantsov he performed the consecration of new bishops for the Russian church.

At the beginning of 1995, citing economic burdens, he resigned from the work of the supreme administration, which then was taken over by Archbishop Valentin. Soon Archbishop Lazar joined the jurisdiction of the Bishops Synod of ROCOR, although in 2000, because of new disorders in ROCOR, he again became administratively independent. At the beginning of 2002, with the blessing of Metropolitan Vitaly, the independent Bishops Synod of the Russian True Orthodox Church was created.

Despite a declaration of unity with ROCOR(V), the Bishops Synod of RIPTs actually was not in communion with the synod headed by Metropolitan Vitaly. To the present, the canonical status of the Bishops Synod of RIPTs remains indeterminate.

At the present time the synod membership includes one bishop consecrated in ROCOR (Archbishop Veniamin) and four bishops consecrated after the effective separation from ROCOR(V). The RIPTs holds to conservative ecclesiastical positions and maintains no contacts with RPTsMP, although it supports contacts with the "crypto-ecumenical" group of Greek Old-stylists headed by Metropolitan Kiprian Kutsumba, who until recently was in communion with ROCOR(L) [Laurus, tr.] (tr. by PDS, posted 3 July 2005)

Russia Religion News Current News Items


Dispute between Uniates and Roman Catholics in Russia

OPEN LETTER TO HIS EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO MENNINI
From Russian Catholic of Byzantine Rite

Your Eminence!

Yesterday evening the Portal-credo.ru Internet site published news, reprinted from the Moscow patriarchate site. [See below] This news contained quotations from an official document supposedly received by the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate. It supposedly contained a condemnation of the rebirth of the Russian exarchate of the Byzantine-rite Russian Catholics, declared the uncanonical nature of the actions of participants in the council at Sargatskoe, reported official notifications sent to those participants, and hinted that certain "measures of canonical procedures" had been, or would be, taken with respect to them.

This news cannot evoke any other reaction but that this is a provocation. Because it is too hard to believe that this information is true.

Because it is hard to understand how a decision, which hundreds of faithful of the Catholic church have been nervously awaiting for a long time, could turn out to be conveyed to them through the Communications Service of OVTsSMP, which is known for its continuous, false anti-Catholic propaganda. If the information that the Moscow patriarchate site reports corresponds to the truth, then its first appearance should have been published in your name directly in the news media. That has not been done. Consequently, is this a falsification?

However, if this is a falsification, then it is extremely impudent, grimy, and dangerous for the state of minds of faithful believers of the Catholic church, both of the Byzantine and of the Latin rites. It contains not simply quotations of your words but also points to "official documents" which could have been sent to RPTsMP only with the knowledge and approval of the Vatican. This publication forces Russian Catholics to believe that the Holy See, disdaining the hopes and desperate calls of its own flock, is trying to achieve a dialogue and dubious agreements with its persecutors. Is this possible? As one who is true to the Catholic church and who does not doubt its sanctity and sincere concern for the needs of believers, I cannot answer any other way than "no, this is impossible."

It is impossible to believe that you could affirm that an exarchate of Russian Catholics does not exist, because it was not abolished, as official documents of the Holy See testified, and we all are its believers.

It is impossible to believe that you indicated the absence of "juridical bases" in the decisions of the council in Sargatstkoe.  That this council had a sufficient quantity of juridical bases is known to every interested person in Russia, including the humblest of the laity, which I am. These bases were laid out in all official documents of the fathers of the council, with which you of course are acquainted. They were set forth in detail in the book by Paul Parfentiev, which all who wish can see and read at the URL http://icxc.narod.ru/links/rkcvo.htm.  I doubt that this foundational work has escaped the attention of Your Eminence and that you, as a recognized church leader and scholar are unable to recognize the seriousness and weight of the canonical bases contained there.

It is impossible to believe that you could tell a lie in assuring representatives of RPTsMP that all of the participants of the council in Sargatskoe received "official notification about the noncompliance of such an initiative with Catholic canons and, consequently, of its being ineffective." As a person who is immediately and personally acquainted with a majority of the participants of the council, I can officially and under oath affirm that not a single one of the participants of the council received such letters.

It is impossible to believe that you could consider the activity of the Society of the Monks of St. Basil the Great, who have over the course of many years frequently demonstrated by their conduct only fealty to the Holy See and readiness to suffer, for the sake of that loyalty as well as for the sake of loyalty to their own people and Russia, all manner of evils and woes, as "unauthorized." Or that you could demean their honor and dignity by repeating the lies and fantasies engendered by their enemies.

It is impossible to believe that you really said and did all of the above enumerated things, which would, in essence, be a betrayal of the hopes and yearnings of a Catholic church that is one of the most vulnerable and persecuted, and most in need of the pastoral support of the Holy See, for the sake of temporary political interests.

It is impossible to believe that you would not understand that such a step is murder of all genuine ecumenism. In sacrificing honest people, its own believers, the Catholic church would risk forever driving from itself all people who trust in Christ and strive to be faithful to the Gospel--all those with whom she only can conduct real ecumenical dialogue. We would discredit ourselves and become traitors and betrayers of Christ in the eyes of our true Orthodox brethren, who would forever cease to trust us.

It is impossible to believe that there exist such political interests which would be served by way of betrayal of one's own faithful believers.

It is impossible to believe that you do not understand that this sacrifice to Moloch, the RPTsMP, will be in vain. It is impossible to believe that you do not know what this Moloch will demand of you, the Russian Catholic church of the Latin rite, as the next sacrifice.

I do not believe. And all my brothers and sisters of the Catholic church of the Byzantine and Latin rites in Russia agree with me.

For the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the sake of the unity of the church, for the sake of all that is sacred remaining in human hearts, for the sake of Christian charity--refute this lie. And the sooner, the better, since every minute of this terrible uncertainty takes years of life away from those whose life is based on this.

With faith and hope
Natalia Geda

(tr. by PDS, posted 1 July 2005)

Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru site, 1 July 2005
 

APOSTOLIC NUNCIO IN RUSSIA CONDEMNS REBIRTH OF RUSSIAN EXARCHATE OF BYZANTINE RITE CATHOLICS
Portal-credo.ru, 30 June 2005

The Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate received an official commentary from the representative of the Holy See in the Russian federation, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, relative to the restoration in August of last year in the village of Sargatskoe, Omsk province, of the exarchate of the Russian Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite. As the Communications Service of OVTsSMP reports, the nuncio's letter called the creation of this structure self-proclaimed and without any "juridical basis" underlying it on the part of the ecclesiastical administration of the Roman Catholic church.

The official representative of the Vatican reports that all persons who participated in the Sargatskoe council were sent official notification of the noncompliance of such an initiative with Catholic canons and, consequently, of its being ineffective.

Archbishop Mennini also gave notification of "certain measures of canonical procedures" that have been taken with respect to those who participated in the creation "of the self-proclaimed structure." (Actually the Russian exarchate, which was created at the beginning of the twentieth century, has never been abolished by the Vatican.) The nuncio noted especially that participation in these events "by persons who call themselves monks who were received from Orthodoxy into the Catholic church by foreign bishops whose jurisdiction does not extent to Russia" was unauthorized. The reference in this case is to former clergy of RPTsMP who were subjected by the Moscow patriarchate to severe punishment, including unfrocking, for "various kinds of immoral conduct." (tr. by PDS, posted 30 June 2005)

See "Background materials on Russian Uniates"

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