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Salvation Army wins case in European court
RUSSIA'S REFUSAL TO REGISTER SALVATION ARMY IS ILLEGAL, COURT RULES
The Associated Press, 5 October 2006
Russia's refusal to register a Moscow branch of the Salvation Army
violated the religious organization's rights to freedom of religion and
association under Europe's human rights convention, a European court
The European Court of Human Rights said the Moscow authorities "did not
act in good faith" when they refused to register the Salvation Army in
1999, and awarded the organization €10,000 (US$12,700) in damages.
The Moscow branch of the Salvation Army was officially registered as a
religious organization in 1992. But after a new Russian law on
religious associations took effect in 1997, the Moscow Justice
Department did not re-register the branch on the grounds that its
founders were foreign nationals.
The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 by English Methodist minister
William Booth and has its international headquarters in London.
A Moscow district then ruled on the Salvation Army's appeal, saying the
branch should be denied registration as a religious body because it was
a 'paramilitary organization' whose members wore uniforms and served in
The human rights court ruled there was no reason for Russia to treat
foreign nationals differently from Russians when it comes to their
ability to exercise freedom of religion.
It also ruled that although members of the Salvation Army — an
organization best known as a charity — wore uniforms, "it could not be
seriously maintained" that it was a paramilitary organization
advocating violence or undermining the integrity or security of the
The European Court of Human Rights deals with violations of civil
liberties under the European Convention of Human Rights, a treaty
legally binding on all 46 members of the Council of Europe. (posted 15
See related article at Forum 18 News Service: "Will
Salvation Army's Europoean court victory set a precedent
Pentecostal leader fights back
PUBLIC CHAMBER MEMBER AND PENTECOSTAL LEADER FILES SUIT AGAINST
"SECT-SCHOLAR" ALEXANDER DVORKIN FOR ACCUSATION OF "PLANNING AN ORANGE
Press Release, Slavic Legal Center, 10 October 2006
Sergei Riakhovsky, a member of the Russian Public Chamber and leader of
the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith
(ROSKhVE), is prepared to file suit in court to defend his honor and
dignity and professional reputation against the leader of the Irenaeus
of Lyons Center, the "sect-scholar" Alexander Dvorkin. Sergei
Riakhovsky reported this to the press service of the Slavic Legal
Center. The occasion for the suit was Dvorkin's statement about him in
which the "sect-scholar" maintained that Sergei Riakhovsky is
supposedly "planning an Orange Revolution." The accusation was
broadcast on 30 September 2006 on the "Russia" TV station's program
"National Interest," which was conducted by the famous reporter Dmitry
Kiselev. The broadcast included the following:
Dvorkin: "If one speaks of sects in positions of power, this
pertains not only to Ukraine. The chief Neopentecostal of Russia is a
member of the president's council for relations with religious
organizations and of the Public Chamber."
Kiselev: "Who is that?"
Dvorkin: "Sergei Riakhovsky, who is planning an orange
revolution, just like the Neopentecostals of Ukraine participated in
the orange revolution."
Sergei Riakhovsky intends to ask the court to find Dvorkin's statement
to be baseless and not in accordance with reality and as slander
against his honor and dignity, since Sergei Riakhovsky is not planning
any kind of revolution nor planning the liquidation of the existing
system and he is totally opposed to any kind of revolutions. In
addition he wants the court to require that the defendant broadcast a
denial relative to the untrustworthy and slanderous information
broadcast by the "National Interest."
Sergei Riakhovsky noted that over the course of many years, the
"sect-scholar" Dvorkin, in his interviews and his articles, has often
spread false and explicitly slanderous information about not only
Riakhovsky personally but also about evangelical churches that are
members of ROSKhVE. According to Riakhovsky, believers are tired of the
continuous flow of "filth" which comes out of Dvorkin and which are all
fantasies that the "sect-scholar" devises about Christian churches,
which do not so much offend and denigrate evangelical believers as they
denigrate the "sect-scholar" himself. However this time Dvorkin has
tried to accuse one of the leaders of the protestant community of
Russia, Sergei Riakhovsky, of activity that violates the law, and that
means he wished to discredit the evangelical movement, which has taken
an active part in Russian civil society as a whole.
The "sect-scholar" Dvorkin has not paid attention to the fact that
Sergei Riakhovsky has often cautioned Christian churches of Ukraine not
to participate in political activity. On 28 December 2005 Sergei
Riakhovsky noted in an interview with Portal-credo.ru: "I cannot
evaluate the political situation in Ukraine. However, even before the
Ukrainian presidential elections and afterwards, ROSKhVE issued special
statements in which participation by Ukrainian evangelical churches in
political disputes is called a great mistake. This must be viewed as a
temptation and spiritual seduction. Any citizen who is a parishioner of
any church may participate in demonstrations, but only representing
himself and his own political views, not his church. The Christian
church must represent exclusively its Lord Jesus Christ and not the
camp of the opposition. In this case the church as the "embassy of God"
has ignored its ministry for the preservation of souls in favor of
political ambitions. It is well known that revolution devours its own
children. And that has happened in Ukraine."
An interview with Interfax on 13 June 2005 by Sergei Riakhovsky was
entitled "Pentecostals will not become an instrument of the orange
revolution." In it the head of ROSKhVE stated directly that often in
the country political passions are enflamed artificially. In
Riakhovsky's opinion, "Somebody is trying nowadays to damage the
authority of the leadership of Russia and Moscow, for political ends.
They are trying to cause the authority to be diminished in the eyes of
both Russians and the western public." Thus, Riakhovsky
emphasized, "activity is going on by certain institutions of the
so-called 'sect-fighters,' who are trying to create a mood among the
public and officials that is directed against protestants, and
specifically against Pentecostals, in a number of Russian provinces."
Sergei Riakhovsky's suit will be submitted to court in the near future.
In it the member of the Russian Public Chamber has no intention of
demanding from the "sect-scholar" Dvorkin any kind of
compensation for moral harm, since the unscrupulousness and falsehoods
which have become ever more evident will cause moral harm only to
Alexander Dvorkin himself. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 October 2006)
Religion News Current News Items
Catholic-Orthodox tensions remain
CATHOLIC BISHOP FROM SARATOV OPPOSES CONSTRUCTION OF ORTHODOX CHURCH IN
13 October 2006
Catholic Bishop Klemens Pikkel of Saratov criticized the plan of the
Russian Orthodox church to build a church building at the site of the
"It is important to take into account what the parents themselves want
and the churches should not have the last word. And it is obvious that
they do not want something more established here," the bishop stated in
a recent telephone interview with the CNS Catholic news services.
He also mentioned that in the gymnasium, where the greatest number of
victims perished, there already has been a large cross for a long time.
However, in Pikkel's opinion, the majority of parents of victims are
non-Christian and he personally was a witness to how some of them
brought various pagan symbols to the graves, such as vessels with water.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of September representatives of the
episcopate of the Russian Orthodox church stated in an interview with
Interfax that the decision regarding the construction of an Orthodox
church building in Beslan had been adopted by a majority of residents
of the city, including mothers of the dead children after frequent
meetings and votes, and now a collection of signatures in support of
construction of an Orthodox church memorial is being conducted in
In his turn, Pikkel noted that he had heard nothing about any
voting. "No matter what kind of monument is built there, it will
last a long time, and thus it would be good if it would be designated
as a house of worship. But Northern Ossetia is neither Orthodox nor
Muslim, and it would be inappropriate to erect here an exclusively
Christian monument," the Catholic bishop declared. (tr. by PDS,
posted 13 October 2006)
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IS SURPRISED AT CATHOLIC CRITICISM AGAINST
BUILDING A CHURCH IN BESLAN
Interfax, 13 October 2006
The Moscow Patriarchate is surprised at the protest expressed by
Catholic Bishop Clemens Pickel of Saratov against the plan to build an
Orthodox church at the site of the Beslan tragedy.
‘It is not clear why a Catholic bishop is so vigorously against the
construction of an Orthodox church in Russia, seeing something negative
in it’, Rev. Igor Vyzhanov, responsible for inter-Christian relations
at the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations,
Earlier this week, Bishop Pickel, in an interview to the Catholic News
Service, made this statement about the plan to build a memorial church
at the site of the ruined school: ‘It is essential to accept what the
parents want - it's they, not the churches, who should be given the
last word. And it's clear they don't want anything more here.’
He also reminded that the school's sports hall, where most hostages
died, was currently marked by a large cross.
Moreover, Bishop Pickel believes that most parents of the dead children
are non-Christians and he himself saw some of them bringing animist
symbols like water to their children's graves.
‘If Bishop Pickel really holds this opinion, and these quotations are
not fruits of misunderstanding between him and journalists, then such
statements certainly puzzle us’, the representative of the Moscow
Patriarchate told Interfax.
Father Igor recalled that ‘from the very first hours of the tragedy,
representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, beginning from ordinary
priests to the ruling bishop of the North Caucasus, took an active part
in the efforts to help the victims’.
‘The comforting and healing role of the Russian Church in the Beslan
tragedy was obvious, and when representatives of the Moscow
Patriarchate say the plan to build a memorial church in Beslan was
supported by people, there is no reason to doubt it’, Father Igor
stressed. (posted 13 October 2006)
NEW CCEE PRESIDENT POINTS TO RAPID DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Interfax, 13 October 2006
Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences
in Europe (CCEE), pointed to some cardinal changes in religious life in
In his interview to Svet Evangelia, a Catholic newspaper in Russia, he
said that along with a discussion (at the recent CCEE assembly in St.
Petersburg - IF) on problems very important for all Europe, some
Western bishops discovered a new reality. It is the rapidly developing
Catholic Church in Russia, overcrowded churches, a living faith and
Last week, a plenary assembly of presidents of European Episcopal
Conferences took place in St. Petersburg. The forum, which was the
first to be held in Russia, was attended by 34 ministers from 22
European countries, who summed up the recent developments and outlined
further thrusts in the work of the CCEE.
Commenting on the problems discussed, Cardinal Erdo said that the
participants had to state with bitterness the general and rather deep
crisis of the institution of family in Europe, the tendency to
marginalize the right to freedom of religion by giving an ungrounded
and therefore distorted interpretation of the notion of equality.
He stressed that attempts to secure legally the principle of equality
in all areas of life leads to an equality of norm and deviation, virtue
and sin, the sacral and the profane. As a result the fundamental human
rights including religious rights are violated.
Christians, he said, cannot let this principle of equality violate the
church canons and the actions of the Ecumenical Councils when in the
name of equality a priest may be appointed not by a bishop but secular
authorities and the holy mass may be celebrated by anyone who fancies
At the same time, the CCEE president remarked that he was looking into
the future with optimism and this optimism was prompted first of all by
the opportunity for common Christian witness in Europe.
‘Christians in Europe can and must be united in defending the values of
the gospel. Therefore, we, participants in the assembly, were very much
gratified by the call to common witness in the message of the primate
of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All
Russia’, Cardinal Erdo added. (posted 13 October 2006)
Religion News Current News Items
Antisemitism remains in Russia
ISRAELI AMBASSADOR: KOPTSEV’S ATTACK ON THE WORSHIPPERS IN MOSCOW
SYNAGOGUE EVIDENCED GRASSROOTS ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE COUNTRY
Interfax, 12 October 2006
Israeli Ambassador to Russia Arkady Mil-Man says that grassroots
anti-Semitism in the country is a social reason for Alexander Koptsev’s
attack on people in the Moscow synagogue.
‘Grassroots anti-Semitism is still to be seen in the new Russia.
Koptsev’s crime demonstrated this phenomenon,’ the Ambassador said in
his interview to Interfax.
He regrets that law enforcement agencies ‘do not always take effective
measures’ to combat this phenomenon. The diplomat thinks that these
measures may include sequestration of publications of ‘blatant
anti-Semitic nature openly sold in Moscow.’
Mil-Man remarked that the most important thing is that Russia is
lacking the notion of the state anti-Semitism. ‘The new Russia has not
left behind the state anti-Semitism that had existed both in the
Imperial and Soviet Russia,’ the interviewee underscored.
On September 15, the Moscow City Court found Koptsev guilty on charges
of fomenting ethnic and religious hatred and attempted murder of two
and more persons and sentenced him to sixteen years in a strict regime
colony. Nine persons were injured because of his attack on 11 January
2006. (posted 12 october 2006)
CHIEF RABBI: CONDITION OF JEWS IN RUSSIA IMPROVING
Interfax, 11 October 2006
The condition of Jews in Russia has improved and Russian-Israeli
economic and cultural relations have expanded, Russia's Chief Rabbi
Berel Lazar said.
"Russia and Israel have developed close economic relations in various
areas - from telecommunications to gas, and from high technology to
agriculture," Lazar said in a statement circulated by his press service
Hundreds of Israeli businessmen are freely investing in Russia, and
about as many Russian businessmen are freely working on the Israeli
market, Lazar said. The two countries' special services are also
cooperating actively, he said.
"We remember that only about twenty years ago that, in the eyes of Jews
in Israel and the rest of the world, the USSR was above all a sponsor
of radical Arab regimes and organizations, which were seeking to
eliminate the Jewish state. Everybody knew that Israel was waging wars
for its existence not only against Arab counties but also against
Soviet weapons, military advisors, and special services," he said.
When Jews were leaving the USSR for Israel, they all thought they were
doing so forever, "there would be no ties, and if so, why build a
Jewish community [in the USSR] and why set up an infrastructure for
it!" Lazar said.
"Now a Jew can live in Russia and lead a Jewish life, observe all
commandments, and eat kosher food. Nobody is limiting them - on the
contrary, their neighbors respect their special traditions just as much
as they respect traditions of the Russian people and other peoples
living in Russia," the chief rabbi said. (posted 12 October 2006)
Critic of church in court
TRIAL BEGINS IN MOSCOW OF BYCHKOV SUIT AGAINST CHAPLIN
Interfax, 10 October 2006
The Preobrazhensky district court of Moscow began on Tuesday the review
of the substance of the suit by journalist Sergei Bychkov against the
vice-chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the
Moscow patriarchate, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin.
During the hearing, testimony from three witnesses for the defendant
were heard: Archpriest Boris Razveev, soviet dissident Alexander
Orogodnikov, and Professor Alexander Dvorkin of the Moscow St. Tikhon's
"We may conclude that not a single one of the claims of the plaintiff
was supported in today's judicial investigation," the attorney for Fr
Vsevolod, Mikhail Kuznetsov, told journalists after the session.
He reported that the next session will be held 24 November because the
plaintiff filed a petition for questioning witnesses for his side, and
the court, on its own initiative, decided to summon to the session a
representative of one of the Russian radio stations, "to the extent
that the interests of a third person (the radio station) may be
affected by the court's decision."
For his part, Fr Vsevolod told reporters that "one can fight against a
lie only with the truth, the truth of what this man (Sergei Bychkov)
has done. He has exploited fears to a great extent and he has
threatened many people with writing dirty and false articles about
them," the priest noted. He said that, unfortunately, people fear
this journalist and the "chief result of the trial" will be that
"nobody will refear Mr. Bychkov any more."
On his part, attorney for the plaintiff, Mikhail Voronin, noted that
the "confusion, chance, and emotional outbursts" are obvious.
"Father Vsevolod is a very intelligent man and everybody has a right to
his own position. The main point is that people should reach mutual
understanding and then we will build civil society," the attorney said.
During the session representatives of the Orthodox student population
of Moscow distributed in the courtroom pamphlets which said, in
particular: "we are deeply disturbed by the overtly anti-church
position of several slanderous articles and by the very fact of the
discrediting of democratic values by the idea of freedom of speech."
The writers of the pamphlets are concerned that the plaintiff, in their
opinion, tries in his articles "to denigrate Orthodoxy by striking a
blow against those who, out of Christian humility, never give public
answer to an outright lie." (tr. by PDS, posted 10 October 2006)
SERGEY BYCHKOV’S SUIT AGAINST FATHER VSEVOLOD CHAPLIN TO BE HEARD IN
COURT ON SEPTEMBER 25
Interfax, 14 September 2006
The Preobrazhensky District Court in Moscow will have a preliminary
hearing of journalist Sergey Bychkov’s suit against Archpriest Vsevolod
Chaplin, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for
external church relations, at 15:00 on September 25.
As Father Vsevolod explained to journalists on Thursday, it will be a
judge’s preliminary talk with the parties behind closed doors to be
followed by open sessions to consider the case on its merit.
Late last July, the priest subjected Bychkov to strong criticism for
his regular articles about the Russian Orthodox Church as scandalous,
discrediting and provoking utterly negative responses among the
Father Vsevolod believes ‘one should not hesitate to tell the truth
about his man (Bychkov - IF) considering the lies he keeps circulating
in his articles’ and ‘publishing only gossip, foul things and falsehood
about the Church to solve his inner intricate problems’.
Bychkov, on his part, denied all the accusations brought against him by
the priest, considering them to be ‘slander’.
Commenting on the upcoming hearing in court, Father Vsevolod has stated
today that ‘Mr. Bychkov commits political suicide by letting a court
consider his nightmarish past and his so-called journalism’.
‘I am glad that he has nowhere to retreat now. I am sorry for you, Mr.
Bychkov. What you have tried to avoid and conceal all your life will
finally become a subject of public discussion. People should know the
truth about you’, the priest said.
Meanwhile, his opponent has refused to tell Interfax what he feels
about the upcoming court hearing. ‘Never call me again. All the best to
you’, Bychkov said in a telephone talk. (posted 10 October 2006)
WAR ELEPHANT IN THE DOCK. WHY IS THE ORTHODOX PRIEST SO AGGRESSIVE?
By Peter Sergeev
Moskovskii Komsomolets, 27 September 2006
At the beginning of the week the first hearing was held in
Preobrazhensky court on the suit for the defense of the honor and
dignity of Moskovskii Komsomolets journalist Sergei Bychkov against the
priest Vsevolod Chaplin. On air with "Echo of Moscow" radio Chaplin
called the MK journalist "an insane denunciator." With this
recent event the extreme foolishness of Mr. Chaplin has exceeded all
bounds. On Friday, on air in the ATV program, he called the priest
Mikhail Ardov "a member of the pedophile sect."
On the eve of the judicial hearings, the Orthodox guild of reporters
issued an extremely rational judgment: "One hears the opinion
that journalists supposedly do not have the right to comment upon
inner-church life. This is not so. If the church has declared its
desire to play a substantial, and ever growing, role in the life of
Russian society, then it cannot be closed to the news media. And under
the circumstances that the religious factor is playing an ever greater
role not only in public life but also in world politics as a whole, the
professional requirements of journalism regarding religion expand many
At a preliminary hearing, Fr Chaplin arrived in an official black
"Volga" accompanied by his attorney and a small group of supporters.
For some reason, the attorney did not deliver to the court any
documents, although he promised that he will certainly produce them at
the next session. Federal Judge Olga Ulianova gave the impression of a
calm and restrained professional. The hysteria that has developed on
web sites under the control of Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and
Kaliningrad has still produced no results. And the fact that it is
Master Kirill who has inspired his "war elephant" is beyond doubt.
The presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the religious forum
in Astan in the middle of September again confirmed the accuracy of the
MK journalist, who reported the low level of the professionalism of the
staff of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian
church. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 October 2006)
on Credo.ru site, 27 September 2006
Religion News Current News Items
Russians favor religion in schools
MORE THAN HALF O F PARENTS WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO STUDY FOUNDATIONS OF
Interfax, 10 October 2006
More than half (51.7%) of parents surveyed by the independent research
company "Bashkirova i partnery," in the course of a study of the
opinion of Russians regarding teaching "Foundations of Orthodox
Culture," supported the academic subject.
At the same time, 23.6% opposed the study of Foundations while almost a
quarter of those surveyed had difficulty answering the question, the
company's Internet site reported on Tuesday.
The greatest proportion of supporters of "Foundations of Orthodox
Culture," according to data of the survey, now live in Nizhny Novgorod
(60.5%) and Novosibirsk (60%), while the greatest proportion of
opponents live in Moscow (28.9%).
The survey conducted by "Bashkirova i partnery" in September 2006
questioned 500 residents of eight large cities of the country aged 18
and older. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 October 2006)
Religion News Current News Items
Russia as monoconfessional Orthodox country
WELL-KNOWN ORTHODOX PRIEST CALLS AN ASSERTION OF MULTICONFESSIONAL
RUSSIA A MYTH
Interfax, 10 October 2006
The chairman of the Moscow patriarchate synodal department on relations
with the Army and Law Enforcement agencies Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov
calls a statement that Russia is a multiconfessional country a myth.
Speaking at the ‘round table’ meeting in the State Duma on Tuesday he
said that the mass media are ‘inculcating myths that have no scholarly
‘For instance, a myth that Russia is a multinational country. UNESCO
asserts that if 60% of the population represents one ethnos, it is a
mononational country. 84% of people belong to one ethnos in Russia, yet
we are told that it is a multinational country,’ the priest remarked.
According to him, statements that Russia is a multiconfessional country
are also groundless. Rev. Dimitry said: ‘Let us take a country that is
not multinational, for instance, Armenia. The Orthodox, Buddhists,
Judaists and even Baptists live there, but no one would ever say that
Armenia is a multiconfessional country. They say it only about Russia,’
He refuted a statement that Russia has allegedly inherited its
multiconfessional character from the USSR.
‘Indeed, the USSR was such a country, but half of the population has
left Russia, and we are now a mononational and monoconfessional
country, as in 1913. Certainly, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists live here.
Incidentally, they can be neither offended, nor oppressed according to
the Orthodox tradition,’ Rev. Dimitry underscored. (posed 10 October
Religion News Current News Items
Catholic administrator praises Orthodox cooperation
LETTER BY METROPOLITAN TADEUSZ KONDRUSIEWICZ TO METROPOLITAN OF ST.
PETERSBURG AND LADOGA VLADIMIR KOTLIAROV
To His Eminence Metropolitan of St. Peersburg and Ladoga Vladimir
We view the broad representation of the Russian Orthodox church at the
plenary Assembly of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe,
which was held successfully on 5-8 October at the St. Petersburg "Mary
Queen of the Apostles" Advanced Ecclesiastical Seminary, as a clear
sign of a substantial "thaw" in Orthodox-Catholic relations.
The forum of hierarchs in St. Petersburg is an official recognition
that the small Catholic community in Russia has become sufficiently
mature and developed so that it could organize such an important event
and actively participate in ecumenical dialogue, which was conducted in
an effort at unity of Christians.
The warm and heartfelt greetings from Patriarch Alexis of Moscow and
all-Rus, which were read at the forum by the rector of the St.
Petersburg Ecclesiastical Schools, Archbishop Konstantin, and the large
delegation from the Department of External Church Relations of the
Moscow patriarchate, headed by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, and the
open discussion of problems and a readiness for cooperation, which at
the time of the assembly was manifested by both sides, permit us to
hope in reliance on the Lord for a rapid and irreversible improvement
in relations between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches.
There is no doubt that the service of Your Eminence in this matter was
great. We thank you for your openness and honesty in regard to Catholic
structures that are functioning on the territory of St. Petersburg and
the region, for your attention to our problems, and also for support in
this difficult moment and for manifestation of solidarity in the face
of the challenges of the contemporary world.
Please be assured of our steadfast prayers for Your Eminence's health
and for the granting of God's grace, that is so necessary in your very
With prayers to the Lord,
Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz
RUSSIA NEEDS AID IN EVANGELIZATION - SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE COUNCIL
OF EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES IN EUROPE
Interfax, 9 October 2006
Monsignor Aldo Giordano, secretary general of the Council of Episcopal
Conferences in Europe (CCEE), has stated that Russia needs aid in
‘Russia certainly has a great tradition of spirituality and a great
cultural tradition tied with religion, but on the other hand, Russia
has also realized recently what we in the West call the presence of
secularism’, he said in an interview to Vatican Radio, which has been
published in Russian by the Agnuz Catholic news service.
Therefore, Mgr. Giordano continued, a certain alienation from the
Church, ‘a certain ignorance’ with regard to Christianity is felt in
Russia. also as a result of the long years of communism.
‘So, it is important to understand that aid is needed here in the field
of evangelization and to ask how can we carry on cooperation in this
great task’, he said.
Speaking about Russia, the CCEE secretary general also pointed to the
need to clarify what authentic evangelization is, ‘what it means to
serve the Catholics of this country and, on the contrary, what
proselytism understood negatively means’. (posted 9 October 2006)
COOPERATION BETWEEN THE ORTHODOX AND CATHOLICS IS NECESSARY FOR
SPIRITUAL REVIVAL OF EUROPE - MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE
Interfax, 6 October 2006
The dialogue between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches
is necessary both for them and the contemporary European society, the
deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external
church relations archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin is convinced.
‘I am confident that our two Churches need cooperation today. Even more
this cooperation is needed by people seeking spiritual truth in many
European countries, in the west of the continent in particular,’ Rev.
Vsevolod told Interfax in the intermission of the plenary session of
the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) being held in the
Catholic seminary in St. Petersburg.
He congratulated the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia and its
president bishop Joseph Wert on the success of the CCEE plenary session
‘This assembly is an unexampled one in our country, as so many Catholic
hierarchs, eleven cardinals including, never gathered at one place and
at one time in Russia,’ Rev. Vsevolod underscored.
He remarked that Russia is experiencing religious revival, which can be
also seen in that even more people adhere to church traditions, keep
the fast, read religious literature and keep religious symbols and
icons at home. He recalled the words of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II
of Moscow and All Russia: ‘Undoubtedly, elderly women are in minority
among the believers today.’
‘We must make this spiritual revival the property of the entire
Europe,’ said the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church and
added that there are many fields of cooperation between the Orthodox
and the Catholics today, for instance, ‘witness about Christian moral
values, dialogue with the authorities at the European and national
levels, support of the family life and many others.’
According to Rev. Vsevolod, one cannot say that there are no problems
in the relations between the two Churches at present. He recalled that
these relations ‘arrived at their climax in the 1960-70s, but,
unfortunately, retrogressed in the late 1980s and in 1990s.’
‘Certain external religious forces attempted to see the territory of
the former Soviet Union as a spiritual desert that may be subjected to
their religious influence very soon,’ the Moscow Patriarchate’s
He added that certain problems had surfaced in Western Ukraine at that
time. ‘Nationalistic groups attempted to settle difficult relations
between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics by force.’
‘Many Orthodox Christians have been saddened with the behaviour of
Catholic missionaries, in particular when children baptized in the
Orthodox Church or of the Orthodox background were raised and educated
in the Catholic orphanages.’
The similar feelings of the Orthodox are provoked by the situations in
which ‘the missionaries treat Orthodox culture and Russian culture as a
whole with disdain, saying openly that they would have liked to change
the religious and cultural code of the country.’
‘Certainly, the acute problems of the early 1990s are not so tense at
present. However, we must exert our efforts so that the believers do
not feel pain that may stand in the way of our cooperation,’ the
representative of the Moscow Patriarchate said. (posted 9 October 2006)
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE OFFICIAL THANKS CARDINAL TETTAMANZI FOR CLEAR
DENUNCIATION OF PROSELYTISM
Interfax, 9 october 2006
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate
department for external church relations, thanked the Catholic
Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, for his
clearly-voiced disapproval of the incorrect missionary policy that had
been pursued by some Westerners in the 1990s in Russia and Eastern
During his meeting with Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia on
October 2, Cardinal Tettamanzi said in particular that the intensified
activity of some Western missionaries at that time did not always
looked ‘ecumenically correct’ and sometimes proved even ‘offensive’ for
the Russian Orthodox Church, ‘which had historically and continues to
have the gift of proclaiming the gospel in this land and the mission of
witness in it’, and stated that proselytism today ‘is denounced by
many, not only Orthodox Christians but also Catholics’.
‘I would like to express gratitude for so clearly stated a position.
Then other high-ranking hierarchs of the Roman Catholic church,
expressing the Vatican’s official position on this matter, also stated
on numerous occasions that it was not the intention of their Church to
carry out mission among the Orthodox wherever they may be’, Father
Vsevolod told Interfax on Monday.
He also stressed that in his comments on the Archbishop of Milan’s
statements, he proceeded from the theses the archbishop ‘had sent to
His Holiness before their meeting’.
‘It is important of course that the details of this attitude should be
clarified, and it is my conviction that in this case the matter
concerns all those who were baptized in the Orthodox Church and all
those who are tied with Orthodoxy by their family and historical
roots’, the Moscow Patriarchate spokesman stated.
He also expressed the wish ‘that this official attitude (of a
representative of the Roman Catholic Church - IF) be always practiced
by the priests and monastics who work in various countries’. (posted 9
Religion News Current News Items
Metropolitan compares current Orthodox rifts with
CHURCH CALLS FOR NOT YIELDING TO PROVOCATIONS OF SCHISM PROMOTERS
Mir religii, 9
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad warned of the danger
for the life of the Russian nation of attempts to compromise the
Orthodox church in the eyes of the people.
"Up to now there have been those who, under the guise of regenerating
the church, have been prepared to weaken its life and to compromise the
hierarchy in the eyes of the peole and engender internal division," the
metropolitan said, in response to letters of TV viewers in one of the
recent programs of "Pastor's Word," broadcase on the first channel,
Interfax reported today.
According to the metropolitan, today there also are "other 'sages,' who
under the guise of special purity of Orthodoxy and a struggle for
Orthodoxy are inciting schism," and who are publishing newspapers and
distributing them at monasteries, attempting to provoke division within
"On the pages of these newspapers one may read that some bishops are
good and others are evil, and that it is necessary to support some and
to act against others. Even under the slogans of struggle for the
purity of Orthodoxy, if you are summoned to fight against someone
within the church, you must remembers that this one is an enemy," the
In his opinion, "there is no difference between the new false prophets
and provocateurs and those who destroyed the unity of the church in the
horrible years of the twenties."
In this regard he mentioned the personality of one of the leaders of
"renovationism, " "Metropolitan" Alexander Vvedensky who, "in
accordance with the orders of the state did whatever he was instructed
to do." His chief work, "and not only his, but all the leaders of
'renovationism,'" Metropolitan Kirill said, consisted in proving the
"counterrevolutionary" essence of the Orthodox church and clergy, under
the leadership of Patriarch Tikhon.
"In tandem they composed denunciations for GPU, as a result of which
bishops, priests, and theologians were arrested and shot. This was not
some harmless game within 'renovationism.' This was an attempt at a
bloody revolution within the church. Gut is the judge of these people;
it is not for us to judge them, but we should know about these horrible
deeds," the Orthodox hierarch noted.
He said that "the enemy of humankind" was not trying for either the
first or last time through Russian "renovationism" to deal a blow
against the unity of the church. "He tried for neither the first nor
last time to compromise the church in the eyes of the people and to
engender confrontations and weaken church life. These attempts arise
occasionally here and there. And our time is no exception,"
Metropolitan Kirill thinks.
Calling the church the spiritual supporter of Russian, he noted that a
split in church unity means a "horrible blow against national life and
the weakening of the most important support for our national existence."
However, the metropolitan continued, the Russian Orthodox church, by
God's mercy and by the prayers of the martyrs, "including even the
'renovationists' who composed those denunciations, will preserve its
unity, responding to provocations from the right and left." (translated
by PDS, posted 9 October 2006)
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Harassment of Georgian services in Moscow
ID CHECKS CONDUCTED AT GEORGIAN CHURCH IN MOSCOW
Interfax, 9 October 2006
Moscow law enforcement services checked
the IDs of visitors of the city's St. George Cathedral, which belongs
to the Georgian Orthodox Church, on October 7, Mamuka Putkaradze,
spokesman for Metropolitan of Tskhum-Abkhazia Daniil, told Interfax.
"A police car was parked outside the church. All people who entered had
their ID documents checked, regardless of whether they were citizens of
Russia or Georgia. The information contained in the documents was
copied," he said.
Two church choir singers were detained ahead of the religious service,
"although they had valid documents and one-year invitations,"
Putkaradze said. "The choir is made up mostly of Georgian citizens.
Religious services are conducted in the Georgian language," he said.
"They were not released until the church's clergy stepped in. As a
result, the service started 40 minutes late. The church's senior
priest, Father Fyodor Krechetov, called the Presnenskoye interior
affairs department and asked them to remove the picket. However, police
units could be seen even on Sunday. But no ID checks were conducted,"
The church was due to host a funeral service, but the deceased's
relatives, having learned of the ID checks, "said they did not want to
endanger people who would attend the service," Putkaradze said.
(posted 9 October 2006)
Religion News Current News Items
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