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Russia Religion News Current News Items

Kiev patriarchate claims support of opposition


Interfax-Religiia, 7 February 2014


The self-proclaimed Kiev patriarchate issued a criticism against the Moscow patriarchate and Russian authorities. "The Moscow Kremlin does not support the president of Ukraine. It supports conflict instead, and the longer the sides are unable to reach agreement, the better it is for the Kremlin. In my view, the ideal scenario for Russian authorities is Transnistria, Abkhazia, and Ossetia, that is, the division of Ukraine," a representative of the Kiev patriarchate, Archbishop Evstraty Zoria, declared, whose words were quoted in Friday's edition of the newspaper Kommersant. He said that only this will give a firm guarantee "that Ukraine will not join the European Union."


E. Zoria also thinks that the Russian church supports the Kremlin side and not the Ukrainian people, "and therefore Maidan, inter alia, is making a shift in the religious field of Ukraine" in the direction of the Kiev patriarchate, he suggests.


E. Zoria also stated that his structure supports European integration, which in his opinion is "a realistic means for preserving the sovereignty of Ukraine." (tr. by PDS, posted 7 February 2014)


"The church supports European integration, although we understand that Europe is not paradise on earth"

Kommersant, 7 February 2014


In the days of confrontations on Grushevskii Street in Kiev priests of various Ukrainian churches prayed continually in the "buffer zone" between protesters and police, trying to stop violence. Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations regularly met in the days of political crisis with both President Viktor Yanukovich and leaders of the opposition fractions in the Supreme Soviet, and Russian President Vladimir Putin even accused one of the priests of inflaming nationalist feelings in the country.


Kommersant special correspondent Ilia Barabanov talked with representative of the three largest churches in the country, the chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate (UPTsMP), Metropolitan Antony, the secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate (UPTsKP), Archbishop of Chernigov and Nezhin Evstraty, and the director of the Department of Information of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGKT), Archpriest Igor Yatsiv, about the role of the church in negotiations for controlling the political crisis.


INTERVIEW: METROPOLITAN ANTONY, UPTsMP : "In cases where the church thinks it morally impermissible to submit to orders of the governing authorities, it reserves for itself the right to call its members to peaceful civil disobedience."


INTERVIEW: ARCHBISHOP EVSTRATY, UPTsKP : "A government that has power but which opposes God's law is perceived by the church as ordained by God."


INTERVIEW; ARCHPRIEST IGOR YATSIV, UGKT: "Priests are the peacemaking contingent of Maidan."


 Russia Religion News Current News Items

Pro-Moscow service repeats slanted "news" of American meddling in Ukraine


Interfax-Religiia, 7 February 2014


The heads of the self-proclaimed Kiev patriarchate and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Filaret Denisenko and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, met with American Vice-President Joe Biden in Washington. In the course of the meeting, which was held yesterday after the National Prayer Breakfast, Joe Biden congratulated F. Denisenko on his birthday and "wished him long years of life," the press service of the Kiev patriarchate reports.


"The conversation proceeded in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The sides discussed problems which are now disturbing Ukraine, and means for their solution," the report says.


As reported, earlier at a meeting with members of the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America, F. Denisenko asked USA authorities to help Ukraine in preserving territorial integrity, preventing default, and joining EU. He was supported by S. Shevchuk, who attended the meeting, and who noted that "protests in Ukraine are not political but are evoked by the choice of the future state." He also called USA authorities to be intermediaries in fixing the problems that are roiling Ukraine. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 February 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Kazan seminary issue undergoing civil and ecclesiastical review


by Vladimir Shushkin

Argumenty i fakty, 6 February 2014


The chairman of the Synodal Informational Department of the Moscow patriarchate, Vladimir Legoida, in an interview with, explained how laity may appeal to the General Ecclesiastical Court and also how its activity correlates with the secular judicial system.


V.Sh.—The General Ecclesiastical Court has issued its first statement in history. To whom was it addressed and what does it explain?


V.L.—The church judicial system, in essence, is making only its first steps (I remind you that it formally arose in 2008 and really began work only under Patriarch Kirill, that is, in 2009). The principles of its work are clear and understood, but its practice is just being formulated. Not everyone in the church today even knows that there exist a General Ecclesiastical Court and diocesan courts. And that it is possible to get justice there or if there is assurance and evidence that justice is violated. This is why the General Ecclesiastical Court was called to speak loudly about itself and to explain the procedure of its work and eliminate imprecision.


--The sharpest question which is being asked of the General Ecclesiastical Court, if you please: can it protect a layman if the latter thinks that a priest or bishop has been unjust toward him?


--There are people who are inclined to see a multitude of imperfections in people around them, including in clergy and bishops. As a rule, they write complaints to His Holiness the patriarch. Such people are few, but they are very active. If all of their appeals must be considered by a judicial procedure, then it will be necessary to create an enormous staff of personnel of the court, and the most important thing is that the majority of complaints will turn out, in lawyers' terms, without "an evidentiary basis." Therefore the appeals of laity to the General Ecclesiastical Court are substantially limited.


However in its present clarification the court has declared that in a number of cases it can accept for consideration even appeals from laity. This requires the decision of the chairman of the court. After all, it cannot be ruled out that there is a situation when a layman cannot protect himself in any other way than through the General Ecclesiastical Court.


--According to the Regulations on Ecclesiastical Courts, the General Ecclesiastical Court may consider a case if it has already been considered at the first and appellate instances of a diocesan court. However, as practice shows, it is the diocesan bishop who decides whether an appeal goes through the two instances. And if he is not interested in this, then what?


--As follows from the published explanation, there always is the possibility of appealing directly to the General Ecclesiastical Court. And to be heard.


At the same time I would like to add that your question presupposes that a) the bishop is unfair, and b) there is nothing you can do about it. I would still emphasize that the supreme dignity of a bishop should eliminate such "procedural games." The Regulations on Ecclesiastical Courts are oriented toward believing people who are called to remember that, in addition to the earthly court and the ecclesiastical court, there is the heavenly court. If someone is deliberately prepared to go against justice, then even the most perfect judicial procedure will not help. The secular judicial systems are much more developed than the church system but even they are impotent to prevent human sin, which is cured not by procedures but by repentance and the grace of God.


--Right now there is a lot of talk about the incident in Kazan, where complaints of seminary students against a prorector led to his removal from his position. Can this story have any kind of judicial continuation?


--As regards the situation in the Kazan seminary, I am able to respond quite officially to those who accuse the Moscow patriarchate of inaction: why does somebody decide that nothing is being done? There was a commission of the Academic Committee, and on the basis of the conclusions it made, other church instances are now working. This process never was and will not be public, including the pastoral relations both for the victims and for the accused. But the results of such work necessarily will come out, after careful investigation.


In addition, since we are talking about students who were in a dependant position, as far as I know an investigation is being conducted by investigative bodies of the state. One must keep in mind that church courts do not at all replace or supersede the law enforcement agencies and courts of the state.


--What do you see as the prospects for the development of the system of church courts?


--I think that in the future church courts are called to become a popular mechanism "for the restoration of the troubled order and structure of church life," as the Regulations on Ecclesiastical Courts say. However, for this it will take the time that is needed for the formation of this complex system that is unprecedented in modern church history. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 February 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Ukrainian religious leaders come to D.C. to pray with president


Interfax-Religiia, 6 February 2014


The head of the self-proclaimed Kiev patriarchate, Filaret Denisenko, during a trip to Washington urged the United Stats to intervene in the situation in Ukraine.


In particular, at a meeting with members of the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America he "asked the government of USA to help Ukraine in preserving its territorial integrity, preventing default, and, most importantly, the joining by Ukraine of the European Union," the press service of the Kiev patriarchate reports.


He was supported by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav, who attended the meeting and who noted that "protests in Ukraine are not political but are provoked by the choice of the future state." He also urged the government of USA "to be a mediator in fixing the problems that are roiling Ukraine," the report says.


F. Denisenko also participated in the annual National Prayer Breakfast, which included President Barak Obama, and he held a series of meetings with members of the Senate and Congress of USA. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 February 2014)


[tr. note: the title of this article represents the pejorative Russian words used by the pro-Moscow news source to designate the UPTsKP and UGKTs.]


RISU [English edition] 6 February 2014


The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk and head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) as well as government representatives and opposition leaders will attend today the National Prayer Breakfast, a traditional event held in Washington.

The U.S. Congress is the official host of the event which is held on the first Thursday of February each year for 62 years.

By tradition, the participants of this year’s event will be addressed by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Measles spreading among unregistered Baptists



In Tula a large family of Baptists was infected by measles, brought by their fellow believers of the Kursk province, where in January a widespread outbreak of this dangerous disease was recorded among adherents of this confession, the regional directorate of Rostrebnadzor reports.


In the period from 24 January to 4 February, in a family of 16 adherents of the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, residing in Tula, 12 persons were infected by measles, of whom 9 are children. The disease in the family was carried from the city of Zheleznogorsk of Kursk province. All patients had not been vaccinated against measles because of their refusal, the report notes.


However, the first cases of infection by measles in Tula province began to be registered back at the end of November of last year, when this disease was carried into a local settlement of gypsies. Since then, the diagnosis has been confirmed in a laboratory in 42 persons in the Lenin, Kireev, and Shchekin districts of the province and in Tula itself, the press release says.


In January an outbreak of measles was registered in Kursk province. There, according to information of the local Rospotrebhadzor, 190 became ill, almost all of them Baptists from the city of Zheleznogorsk and Zheleznogorsk district of the province.


As Rospotrebnadzor confirms, the members of the confession, under the influence of pastors, have refused to be vaccinated against measles themselves and to vaccinate their children, which creates the threat of further spread of infection, including beyond the bounds of the religious community. Moreover, several believers categorically refuse hospitalization of sick ones.


At the same time, the Baptists themselves insist that they have not been vaccinated because of personal considerations, since they do not trust vaccines, and religion has nothing to do with it.


As reported, the infection in Kursk province was brought from Moscow by the 20-year-old daughter of a pastor of the Baptist congregation. In the end the girl still was taken to the hospital, but before that she managed to infect her entire large family of eight people and in addition parishioners of the house of worship. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 February 2014)

Related article:

Baptists petition for Putin's protection
January 27, 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Official admits his anti-Jehovah's Witnesses action was mistake



The vice-governor of Murmansk province, A Vekshin, sent on 30 January to the heads of municipal bodies of the region a letter in which he asks "to consider as inoperative from the moment of signing" his instruction of 30 August 2013 "On the regional division of Jehovah's Witnesses," the press service of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia reported on 4 February.


The instruction contained a number of hostile attacks on the JW religion. On 27 December 2013 the Administrative Center of JW in Russia sent to the October district court of the city of Murmansk a request to find this instruction to be illegal and to require its author to rescind it.


On 21 January the plenipotentiary for human rights in RF, Vladimir Lukin, officially addressed the governor of Murmansk province: "I consider that the consequences to which implementation of the orders of this letter could lead are fraught with gross and widespread violations of the rights of citizens. . . and in light of this it should be cancelled. [ . . . ] Activity for increasing the number of adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses' religious organization is legal, and it cannot be equated with such criminally punishable actions as extremism. Such an incorrect approach can be perceived by believing citizens as an offense and disrespect to their religious feelings."


In a court session, a representative of the vice-governor declared his readiness to voluntarily eliminate the violation.


"We are thankful to the vice-governor for his courage to admit his mistake," says a representative of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Grigory Martynov. "Jehovah's Witnesses in Murmansk have never encountered problems with the law. The myths and fantasies about our fellow believers that were spread were the fault of this misunderstanding."


On its part, the Administrative Center of JW made the decision to drop its lawsuit against the proceeding that had been accepted by the court. On 31 January 2014 Judge V. Kis signed an order terminating this case. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 February 2014)

Related story:

Rights watchdog speaks in favor of Jehovah's Witnesses
January 30, 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Patriarch Kirill says opposition in Ukraine is war on Russia


Primate of RPTs brings Gifts of Mari to Volgograd and rewards families of police victims

by Elena Chinkova

Komsomolskaia Pravda, 4 February 2014


"Gifts of the Magi were greeted in Minsk on knees in snow drifts; we haven't seen that anywhere! In Kiev we received warnings that nationalists might swoop down, but fortunately people came from Maidan only to venerate. And in Sevastopol, 100,000 persons venerated the shrine in 15 hours. The ark was borne on a boat among the ships of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia and the Navy of Ukraine, after a procession of the cross and prayer service in the cruiser Moskva," the head of the press service for the planning committee for presenting the Gifts, Maria Korovina, described for me the journey of the shrine through historic Rus.


And Athos monks accompanying the ark walked alongside in updated style—they had been issued jackets and fur hats for the icy Russian winter. From the roiling Ukraine they returned to Russia for a visit to Volgograd. Here on the eve of the 40th day since the terrorist attack, Patriarch Kirill personally brought the Gifts on Monday morning for spiritual support. We recall that two explosions in the hero-city erupted before New Year's.


The primate of RPTs traveled with the Gifts from the airport to the Kazan cathedral of Volgograd, where they will stay for two days.


"Unbelieving people or those who are struggling against the church pose the question: if there were a god, would he really permit this trouble? If God appeared in the form of a tsar or a businessman, then his word would be worthless for you today. But he suffered more than anybody in all of human history. So that you and I would be armed with the ability to overcome suffering," His Holiness appealed to Volgograders. And he outlined the scale of modern challenges.


"Few people talk about this, but the patriarch must speak. They have declared an undeclared war on us. Perhaps now on the model of Syria we understand what our opponents want. They want to destroy Russia, the outpost of Orthodoxy, because without breaking her up they will not be able to attain power on a global scale. The whole population must be mobilized in readiness to help one another. We must not permit them to do what they are now doing in fraternal Ukraine," His Holiness urged.


The patriarch awarded the order of the Holy Pious Prince Dmitry of the Don, 1st degree, to the mother of senior police sergeant Dmitry Makovkin, who perished in the terrorist act. The 29-year-old Dmitry stopped the suicide bomber at the entrance to the railway station. Previously, by order of the president of Russia, he had been awarded the Order for Courage posthumously.


The patriarch bestowed the order of the Holy Pious Prince Dmitry of the Don, 2nd degree, on the widows of passenger screeners of the railway station, Sergei Nalivaiko and Denis Andreev.


Later, over a cup of tea with the families of the heroes, His Holiness noted how important it is to display mercy toward strangers who are in distress. And he told about his own grandfather who took an orphan girl into his family of eight. "When he was arrested for the second time (and for his faith he spent more than 20 years in prison), grandmother said: 'Who are you leaving us to?' The famine was just beginning at the time. 'A hair will not fall from the head of any one of you, because I am going to suffer for Christ,' he answered. And that is how it came out. And that girl outlived us all, 96 years, she is living in Saransk," the patriarch smiled.


On the same day he visited Mamai's hill and the railway station that has now been repaired, where he laid a bouquet of white roses on the site of the terrorist attack. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 February 2014)

Russian original posted on Interfax-Religiia site, 4 February 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

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