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Clergy intervene to halt violence between police and protesters in Kiev


Interfax-Religiia, 21 January 2014


At dawn on Tuesday, priests came to the territory separating protestors and police special forces troops not far from the Dinamo stadium in Kiev, and they began reading prayers. As an Interfax correspondent reported, the priests were holding a cross in their hands with which they sanctified the site of the clashes.


After their appearance, "combat" actions ceased. Several dozen protesters settled behind a barricade that had been built on a foundation of burned-out police buses. In their turn, law enforcement agents set up a cordon at a distance of several dozen meters, covering themselves with metal shields. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 January 2014)

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Protestant leaders address Ukrainian violence


Religiia v Ukraine, 20 January 2014


The Ukrainian Inter-church Council (UMS), uniting Christian protestant organizations, called representatives of the government and opposition to find a constructive path for a way out of the acute crisis in Ukraine. This is said in an appeal that was signed by the president of UMS, Aleksei Demidovich, and secretary, Sergei Ubogov, Religiia v Ukraine reports, citing Invictory.


"In video footage of confrontations at the 'Dinamo' stadium, one can see fierce fighting and the use of explosive devices and one can hear crude vulgarity, swearing, and the belching of horrible curses. This is not pleasing to God! Thus we call representatives of the government and opposition to reach understanding and to find a constructive path to take the country out of acute crisis," the appeal notes.


UMS also calls Christians to pray that a good conscience will be awakened in politicians, public leaders, and representatives of the government and power structures. "Let's continue intense prayer that the Lord will protect of nation from strife and all sorts of turmoil. And let's pray now that God's will will be fulfilled regarding when presidential, parliamentary, and local elections are held in Ukraine, and regarding who will win. 'He changes times and seasons, he removes kings and sets up king; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding' (Dan. 2.21)," the appeal emphasizes.


"As representatives of the church of Christ we call both activists of the civil resistance and representatives of law enforcement structures not to permit violence, aggression, and other illegal actions," the appeal notes.


We recall, earlier young leaders of evangelical churches of Ukraine, after discussion at a round table "Maidan and the church: civic mission of the Christian," adopted a similar resolution.


On Sunday, 19 January, in Kiev a regular national veche (assembly) was held that gathered together by various estimates from 100 to several hundred thousands of persons, which began traditionally with prayer. After the event, some activists went to the police lines encircling the government quarter. On Grushevsky Street near the Dinamo stadium, young people in helmets began storming police lines. Radically minded youth began beating law enforcement busses, pelting them with ticks and stones. In response, policy used stun grenades and tear gas. Later Molotov cocktails were used. .  . .  Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich promised on Monday morning to create a commission of representatives of the presidential administration, cabinet of ministers, and representatives of the opposition, which will deal with a resolution of the crisis situation in the country. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 January 2014)

Former ROCOR bishop speaks up for Kuraev



"I have begun taking a piece for Archdeacon Andrei at each Eucharist. The sacred task he has begun exceeds human ability, but it is extremely necessary," RPTsMP Bishop Evtikhy wrote on 15 January in the social network VKontakte. As a correspondent reports, as of today he is the only hierarch of the RPTsMP who has supported the campaign for exposing the "light-blue lobby" that was started by Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev just before New Year's.


Bishop Evtikhy has been retired since 2012; before that, from 2007, he was the bishop of Domodedovo, a vicar bishop of the Moscow diocese who guided seven Russian parishes that had previously been members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and that supported the act of its subordination to the Moscow patriarchate that was signed on 17 May 2007. An absolute majority of Russian parishes of ROCOR did not support this act; they have been in various jurisdictions and are referred to as "fragments of the Church Abroad." The act specifically provided for a five-year transition period for the integration of the Russian parishes of ROCOR into corresponding dioceses of RPTsMP, upon the expiration of which Bishop Evtikhy lost his see, but he retained the right of ministry in the cathedral of the Epiphany in Ishim, Tiumen province, with which he left the RPTsMP in 1990. He became a ROCOR bishop in 1994.


Bishop Evtikhy is distinguished by his extreme behavior in which his supporters perceive sign of holy foolishness: in particular, he lives in a belltower, he sleeps in a trunk, and he likes to haul coal in a cart, although there is no particular need for doing so.


Orthodox publicist Mikhail Tiurenkov, who supports the official RPTsMP, sharply condemned Bishop Evtikhy's position on 19 January in his blog. "For me personally," he admitted, "such enthusiastic support by the bishop of the most popular rumor monger and gossip of recent weeks is bitterly perplexing." The publicist is especially hurt by the expression "sacred task" that refers, in his opinion, to spreading gossip about innocent bishops and monks.


The unrestrained growth of debauchery and particularly of sodomy among bishops of RPTsMP was one of the reasons that the then-hegumen Evtikhy separated from the Moscow patriarchate in 1989. Mikhail Tiurenkov's church service is much more modest. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 January 2014)

Kuraev and his critics


by Tatiana Medvedeva

Vecherniaia Moskva, 19 January 2014


We recall that this topic arose late last year when the "light-blue" scandal in a Kazan seminary was reported. A number of seminary students complained about harassment on the part of the administration of this ecclesiastical academic institution. Archpriest Maksim Kozlov arrived in Kazan from Moscow and conducted his investigation. As Deacon Kuraev has maintained, at first RPTs wanted not to give publicity to this case. But it was leaked to the press. Later ensued the dismissal of Fr. Andrei from Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy. Since then the deacon who has fallen from grace has not calmed down and has begun writing in his blog about the gay lobby in RPTs and giving interviews with liberal news media.


We are giving the floor to him and to his opponents.


V.M.—Father Andrei, why is it now that you have decided to talk about the gay lobby in RPTs?


--This very topic has called attention to itself for a long time within church circles. Priests, bishops, and seminarians have talked with me about it bitterly. But these conversations have invariably been accompanied by the request: "Oh, just don't talk with anybody about this. Don't quote me." Then in December appeared the complaints of the Kazan seminarians about harassment. These complaints convinced the commission of the Moscow patriarchate that such a problem existed and the traces of the work of this commission itself reached the Kazan press. These complaints could have been suppressed by the gay lobby. And I decided to support the patriarchate's commission and to make the topic sufficiently public that it would be impossible to hush it up. I simply wanted to help these particular fellows from this seminary. But the subsequent reaction turned out to be more than expected. I was driven from the Moscow academy, and today Father Vsevolod Chaplin has been threatening me with excommunication from the church. Two weeks after my article about the homosexual bishops' lobby, the patriarchate is silent. I supposed that it could choose from four possibilities: 1) remain silent; 2) begin a struggle for the moral cleansing of the church; 3) punish both me and the homosexual bishops "symmetrically;" 4) open fire on me only as a violator of the conspiracy of silence. Today it has become clear that the choice has been made that is worst for the future of the church. The passion for vengeance turned out to be higher than reason.


--You have mentioned that around 50 bishops out of 300 belong to the gay lobby. Is it really that many?


--According to the complaints that I have received, yes, that's the number of bishops. But the lobby itself is much larger. The lobby includes not only people who themselves practice this sin but also those who are silent about it and who cover it up. Let's say there is a straight bishop who is ascetic and disciplined. But he is afraid to be linked with gay, career-minded priests who have connections in the Moscow hierarchy. So he rewards them, he advances them, giving good references for them, although in his heart he of course despises them. So it turns out that the man becomes a hostage and ally to the work of this gay lobby.


--You have even named a few names. There was an episode when under Patriarch Alexis several bishops were removed, but under Patriarch Kirill they returned. These were Gury, Savva, and Nikon. Why did they return?


--I do not know. That is a question for the patriarch. And the trouble is that the patriarchate has not even made attempts to explain to people. There is a church rule formulated already by the Apostle Paul that "a bishop should have a good testimony from outsiders," to say nothing about church folk. In this case we are talking about people who have a bad reputation. Whether that is true or not is another subject. But their reputation is bad. And the reputation is a fact influencing the perception of the person by a multitude of people. And it was necessary to first rectify the reputation for the good and to explain to people, and then to appoint. Behind such a decision is an authoritarian style of management of the church. And simply contempt for people. We want someone; we appoint him. And your opinion is worth nothing to us.


--And Gury, Savva, and Nikon—what kind of position do they now occupy?


--It seems that Nikon is a vicar of the Perm diocese. Savva is in Prednestrov. Gury is in Kazakhstan.


--And Anastasy, who also has been mentioned; where is he?


--He stayed at his home in Kazan. He was formerly the metropolitan. He even threatens priests: "If you go against me, you will get what Kuraev did." And for him everything is fine. The accused prorector was transferred from Kazan to Tver—Hegumen Kirill Iliukhin. But from what the Kazan seminarians told me, the trouble is that in Kazan the whole administration is involved in this sin. And the proper removal of one person does not solve this problem.


--There is a report that during soviet times gay priests were specifically injected into the RPTs.  Is that so? Or have they always been there?


--They were always there. But in the soviet years the KGB helped their career. A compromised man is easy to control.


--Regarding the Metropolitan of Leningrad Nikodim Rotov, Patriarch Kirill's teacher, there have always been many rumors. Now everything has come to the surface. Did he definitely have a gay orientation?


--One can talk about only one thing definitely. This was his reputation—that is a fact of modern church history. From my first years of study in the seminary upon mention of his name immediately both monks and priests used the term "sin of Nikodim." And everybody understood what we were talking about. But again, a person and his reputation are not always one and the same thing. Nevertheless, the existence of a particular reputation becomes a significant factor in the biography of a particular person.


--Ivan Okhlobystin has proposed restoring criminal penalties for sodomy. Will a witch hunt begin in the church?


--Today's interview with Vsevolod Chaplin shows that I have been given the role of the witch. And there's nobody else. Okhlobystin is a single person and he is not a leader of church politics.


--Have many careerists now come to the church?


--Yes. Now some people perceive the church as one of the career elevators. A multitude of new dioceses are being opened and this gives the possibility of a multitude of sinecures for lemmings in cassocks. It is possible to sit next to a bishop who is formally considered a monk but who really does not take the fulfillment of monastic vows seriously. There is such a problem in our church life. And when a young man is next to a bishop and does not have serious work, prayer, physical tasks, and he eats high on the hog at banquets for the bishop and his sponsors—The life of such a careerist is profoundly immoral by definition. All the time he is seeking how to do something to please his boss. There is an enormous risk that such a person will get carried away into something very bad.


--Aren't you afraid of revenge for your revelations?


--Everything is possible. But in the next room my seven-month-old grandson is crawling. And it is already time for me to think about what I will tell him. I intend to tell him legends, fairy tales, heroic stories about warriors and bogatyrs. And if he ever asks me: "Grandpa, did you yourself ever fight?" I will tell him: "You know, a light-blue dragon hissed at me. I got scared and hid in a hut." That would be uncomfortable for me. The time has come for me to give an answer to the classical question: "What kind of example will you give to children?"


--Some critics have accused you of playing on the same team with a fifth column. You are supposedly trying to shake our fragile church.


--Our church has been growing quietly for 20 years now. The church is nationwide. It is one of the supports of the political system. The church is strong and healthy enough to notice its own problems and to resolve them independently. We have a tranquil situation. There are no wars. The state treats the church benevolently. These are ideal greenhouse conditions. If in these conditions one puts off the operation. . . . Like in football, it is necessary to decide to renew the team, even at the expense of one losing season. And there will be gigantic respect—well done! We solved the problem ourselves. As regards my political position—I simply do not have one. All the time they are trying to assign me to some party. But I have one identity. I am a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. I do not need party identities. They say to me you dared to go to a meeting with the girls from Pussy Riot. Have you read what I said to them? The very fact of a meeting is being discussed. I will say in the words of Alexander Galich: "Don't worry, I have not left. Don't be hopeful, I will not leave." I am remaining in Russia and in the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill is my patriarch. Even if he defrocks me.


--Is there such a risk.


--Patriarch Kirill is a free man and therefore he is unpredictable.


--Are you planning joint actions with Pussy Riot?


--We have finished a meeting on what should be done to help people who are incarcerated. And I myself visit prisons. But in order for me to have access to prisoners it is necessary that the administration of the colony or zone not see me as some kind of agent. That I am who I am. I arrive, I talk about spirit, about faith, about Christ, about the Gospel. It is important for me to preserve my purely church identity. So as to do just one thing, to work outside the boundaries of the church, in the zones or universities themselves.


--Do you have personal enemies in RPTs? Who is fighting against you?


--I do not keep such a file.


--Have they cut off your possibilities of speaking out?


--Yes, now the career oriented priests and bishops have forgotten my telephone number. They have destroyed photographs with me. Everything will be. We will survive.


--How do you predict the development of this scandal?


--With every year the terrible gap in our calendars becomes more obvious. The world is living in the 21st century, but our church is in "enlightened absolutism" with serfdom to boot. In our church a system has been established which can be called "xenocracy," the rule of aliens. The elite has prescribed for itself an entirely different law than exists for us. It is like the caste of secretaries of regional committees under Brezhnev—unaccountable and irreplaceable—a corporation of bishops. When even for an obvious crime they are not defrocked, but are sent into proper retirement, with pay, and later they return. The leaders and the people are traveling in on-coming lanes within the church. And the current "strengthening of discipline" is only aggravating the general crisis.


After the blog notes, many representatives of RPTs spoke out in approximately the same vein, declaring that Fr. Andrei is over-dramatizing and slandering. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin expressed his attitude toward him. He called Fr. Andrei to repent, stating the phrase that now is being quoted actively and which, judging by everything, has become the new insistent expression profound in meaning: "We must serve God, not blog." Vsevolod Chaplin thinks that Deacon Kuraev is motivated by a feeling of vengeance and pride, but that he has a chance of reforming himself "because in Father Andrei's life there are many inspirational, evangelistic, preaching, and writing successes." Many clergymen have suggested that Vsevolod Chaplin's statements have formulated the official position of RPTs to this controversial matter extremely succinctly and clearly.


Father Tikhon Shevkunov:


T.S.—I do not want to discuss this subject. I have already spoken on TV channel "Soiuz."  They showed it all. I don't even want to climb in this mud.


Father Maksim Kozlov:


--Father Maksim, how can you comment on Andrei Kuraev's statements?


--I can only associate myself with the words of Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin. He addressed him paternally. He addressed him as a responsible church pastor, both sternly and lovingly. And he pointed out his mistakes. And he gave the sinner the opportunity to repent. On the whole I support the position of my elder colleague and brother.


--Will the church investigate the facts that Deacon Kuraev is talking about?


--We clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church trust our patriarch and our synod. And we know that these problems that exist in the church are being resolved and will be resolved in future.


--Is what Fr. Andrei said about the Kazan seminary the truth?


--All problems in the Kazan seminary will be solved. Measures are always taken in situations where someone needs to be exhorted or punished. But such decisions are not made by means of voting on the Internet.


--How will Father Andrei Kuraev act in the future?


--I sincerely hope that Fr. Andrei as a man, who has stood for many years at God's altar, will certainly overcome his temporary internal difficulties. And he will recognize that the most important thing for a sacred minister is his sacred ministry. Fr. Vsevolod spoke so clearly: "We must serve God, not blog." We hope that he will devote the rest of his life to God's service.


Evgeny Nikiforov, Radio Radonezh:


--The facts that Fr. Andrei talks about were and are. This is a shameful stain on the church, and the church should more aggressively rid itself of the people who are shaming it. Considering the general fallenness of our human nature, alas, such stories will occur in the future. Our task is that the church preserve its identity. It will be true to itself when it is holy, conciliar, and apostolic. The church is cleansing itself and will cleanse itself. We are now living in the information society. It is impossible to hide anything. Previously, when there were cases of violation of church ethics, both among Catholics and among us, people with such a defect were transferred somewhere far away, to some distant parishes. And there was hope of their reform. Sometimes this reform happened. Sometimes not. If they continued to devote themselves to the vice, they were inhibited from ministry. But the point is that the sin of slander is also widespread. People are inclined to believe the bad, evil, more than the good. As long as the church does not have clear facts with regard to several bishops it will not yield to public opinion, scandal, or the journalists. What motivates Deacon Kuraev?  That is his personal problem. He does not have a proper understanding of his place in the church; he has "star fever." Behind this stands extreme pride. A desire to expose everything. In our church everything is done on the basis of duty. Even elders do not simply act as elders. They respect the hierarchy. Father Andrei assumed for himself the role of purger of the church. When such a self-proclaimed person appears, this is distrust toward the very essence of the church, as a community, to be able to deal with its existing problems. His passion is connected with his personal characteristics and spiritual imperfection.


Maksim Shevchenko:


--Maksim Leonardovich, what do you think about Deacon Kuraev's challenge to RPTs to purge itself of the gay lobby?


--What Deacon Andrei Kuraev is talking about should be considered by the Holy Synod. What many are writing about I must dispute. I think that the church should be purged of everybody who disgraces the clerical rank, regarding whom there is some suspicion. This all should be decided by a church court. Fr. Andrei has assumed a very heavy mission, the conversation about a gay lobby in RPTs. I understand what the students were referring to, the fellows from Kazan seminary. Father Andrei could not go against his conscience or against Christ. He apparently gave his word. And he swore to himself, perhaps. Or his spiritual director told him: "Stay to the end." Fr. Andrei is wrong about only one thing—he began appealing to the liberal public. In all the rest he is absolutely correct.


--He speaks about 50 gay bishops out of 300. Do you agree with these figures?


--I do not know anything about numbers. It is necessary to focus on specific fates. If there are specific people about whom there are specific accusations and evidence, then it is necessary to purge these people. It is not necessary to take any statistics and generalizations into account. It is necessary to investigate each specific case. There simply should be a church court. There is a complaint—it is necessary to investigate it. Sometimes even slander may occur—terrible and discrediting a person. There is a subject about the Kazan seminary. It is necessary to deal with the Kazan seminary. But thinking "in general"—that is not a Christian affair.


--Do you agree that there is a problem of careerists, functionaries, who have come to the church?


--There always were, are, and will be careerists. The clerical structure is an administrative structure. In the church there is only one career—it is the career of Jesus Christ. It is a career of suffering and war with the spirit of this age. It is the spirit of this age that Fr.Andrei has begun to challenge. Fr. Andrei's career will be that he will be subjected to persecution. That he will be subjected to humiliation and reviling. But this is a Christian "career." And another career, whatever it may be, whether in KGB, or in church, or the housing commission, or the ministry of agriculture. It is all exactly the same. The patriarchate is simply a bureaucratic, administrative structure. If people come for the sake of a career to such a structure, that is a characteristic of human nature. It is all the heritage from the synodal and soviet times.


--Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin has besieged Fr. Andrei, if I can state it that way, and urged him to serve God and not blog, and to repent for his revelations. What do you think about this?


--I usually agree with Fr. Vsevolod. I love him as a person. And I know him well. In this case, Fr. Vsevolod is acting on the side of the official clerical structure, the bureaucratic structure. Fr. Andrei has raised a topic from which the church has groaned for a long time. This topic has been discussed since the end of the 80s, beginning of 90s. Everything has been said. I recall the Ekaterinburg scandal, when a labor camp and prisons rebelled against a bishop, refusing to accept him and accusing him of being gay. I appreciate Fr. Andrei's statement as extremely courageous and Christian. He is facing great problems. And they will grow. But evidently he gave his word that he will stand to the end. I respect such a position. As is known, in the history of Christianity people have said: "Here I stand; I can do no other." Mud was thrown on them; they were thrown into bonfires. But it is this way that Christianity has lived in history. None of us is without sin. And one may reproach Fr. Andrei for much. For his chat with Pussy Riot—I criticize him and I will criticize. But his courage in the struggle with evil—it can only evoke respect for him.


--Some think that he has undermined the authority of the church and hung dirty linen out. They say the church should deal with things itself.


--Who should deal with them? I am Orthodox. My wife is Orthodox. There are another 80 million Orthodox in the country. Will you conduct a survey among 80 million: "Do you want for some priests in RPTs to be sodomites?" And you get a representative sample. I am sure that the overwhelming majority will say: "No, We do not want that." That means it is necessary to fight with this. This defect involves a tiny proportion. The basic mass of Orthodox believers, monks, and priests are worthy people. They consider themselves sinners. That is accepted in Orthodoxy. The more strictly a person lives, the more he talks about his sins. Monasteries, parishes—the overwhelming majority of people are above reproach. But there are bad sheep in the herd. They need to be purged. This is obvious and unambiguous. And here there cannot be compromises. It is not necessary to climb into every person's life. Let him deal with his own spiritual director. But if cases are known of active pursuit of youth as reported about the Kazan seminary—this is a crime. Such people must be put on leave. An investigation should be conducted. Fr. Andrei has not discredited the church and he has not smeared it with black paint. He is working for the cleansing of the church. He has chosen a very heavy mission. He will be hounded and discredited. But imagine Christ in his place. If the Kazan seminary students told Christ about what was happening there, would he put up with this? So the Sanhedrin condemned Christ when he accused the Pharisees and officials of the Sanhedrin of being "a brood of vipers." Orthodox believers should pray for Fr. Andrei, that the Lord will strengthen him and our church.


--Now many are talking about the homosexuality of Nikodim Rotov, Patriarch Kirill's mentor. What do you know about that?


--That is absolute slander. This should not even be discussed. Sombody wants to discredit the dead. This is complete nonsense. I know many of Master Nikodim's students—they are outstanding priests and bishops of our church. They have done much for its creation. Their names are on everybody's lips. It is one thing to investigate the situation in the Kazan seminary; it is another thing to discredit the name of one of the outstanding theologians, thinkers, and builders of the church in the soviet era.


--Why has Patriarch Kirill still not spoken out about the Andrei Kuraev affair?


--I do not think that Patriarch Kirill should comment on the deacon's revelations. We should not go there. His Holiness the patriarch is aware of this conflict. Fr. Vsevolod cleared his statement with the patriarch. In any case, the Spirit of God breathes in the church. The church will resolve this scandal in historical perspective, as it must, and not in human commotion. I am sure that the patriarch will have his say when the results of the investigation are known for certain. A church investigation is a slow affair. Everything must be thoroughly examined so that there be no mistakes. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 January 2014)

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