NEWS ABOUT RELIGION IN RUSSIA

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Registration of religious organizations

NOTHING HAS CHANGED
Nezavisimaia gazeta--religiia, 15 April 1998

New rules for registration forbid violations of law

Almost a half year from the day the federal law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" took effect, the agencies of justice, citing the absence of rules for registration, has not reviewed the applications for registration and reregistration of religious organizations. Representatives of the administration of the presidency of Russia and the government of the Russian federation frequently, though for some reason most often abroad, have declared that the rules for registration and other substatutory acts whose adoption were provided by the current federal law should provide clarifications for all the contradictory provisions of the new law and, in the end, there will be no violations of the rights of religious organizations.

So finally on 16 February 1998, rules for the review of applications for state registration of religious organizations with agencies of justice of the Russian federation were approved by edict of the Ministry of Justice of RF and were registered on 5 March 1998. (English text of the rules)

Vladimir Vasilevich Riakkhovsky, president of the Christian Legal Center, were the hopes of religious organizations, who had come under the operation of the unconstitutional provisions of point 3, article 27 of the new law, that with the adoption of the rules on registration their problems would be resolved satisfied?

Of course not. How could any rules in general resolve the contradicitons in the federal law? No. According to point 1, article 11 of the federal law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations," the state registration of religious organizations is conducted by the federal agency of justice and agencies of justice of the component elements of the Russian federation according to a procedure established in accordance with civil legislation and the current federal law. In accordance with point 1, article 51 of the civil code of RF a legal entity is liable to state registration by the procedure established by the law on registration of legal entities. Inasmuch as the law on registration of legal entities, including religious organizations, has not yet been adopted, then the only legislative standards that regulate the procedure of registration of religious organizations must be considered to be the general provisions on legal entities of the civil code and corresponding articles of the law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations." The rules regarding the review of applications for state registration of religious organizations within the agencies of justice of the Russian federation are simply the administrative regulatory act of the Ministry of Justice, which does not define a procedure for registering religious organizations but only a precedure for reviewing applications for registration, the procedure of submission of documents, requirements of their form, procedure for transmittal of documents, adoption of decision regarding them, and so on. Moreover, these rules, as regulatory and substatutory acts, not only should not, but may not, interpret federal law. The right of official interpretation of a law belongs exclusively to the legislators themselves. The Ministry of Justice of RF is not such a body.

Thus it would of course be mistaken to say that the adoption of rules for the review of applications could clarify the situation on the implementation of the provisions of point 3, article 27, of the federal law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations," dealing with religious organizations that do not have a "document" confirming their activity on the respective territory for at least fifteen years. Only the constitutional court of RF can deal with the issue of the constitutionality of point 3, article 27 of the law. These provisions of the law already have been applied by agencies of the procuracy in regard to several religious organizations in specific instances and thus in the near future an appeal will be presented to the constitutional court of RF over the violation of the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens by point 3, article 27 of the law.

Nevertheless , those who developed the rules for review of applications deserve their due. Being bound by the text of the overtly discriminatory point 3 of article 27 of the law, they nevertheless made the attempt to remove its contradiction with articles 9 and 13. Thus, in accordance with point 3 of the rules, religious organizations that do not have the document regarding fifteen years of activity, but which are members of a centralized religious organization, are not required to undergo annual reregistration. Unfortunately, those who worked out the rules were not able to go any further; that would become interpretation of the law. Although by logical extension it would seem that religious organizations that are members of a centralized organization suffer no restrictions of their rights, regardless of the length of their activity.

I think that it would be worthwhile to determine in the rules for review of applications the procedure for informing agencies of local administration regarding the establishment and commendement of the activity of a religious group as well as the procedure for a religious association's receiving appropriate confirmation. These questions, although not directly connected with the procedure for review of applications for registration by agencies of justice, nevertheless have direct pertinence to this procedure.

Failure to regulate these matters at the federal level has already led to arbitrary interpretation by agencies of local administration of the provision of point 2, article 7 of the law. Thus, the administration of Vladivostok required all religious groups operating on the territory of Vladivostok and not registered with the department of justice of the Primore territory to submit a written notice to the mayor regarding their activity with the addition of a list of all members of the group, the leadership staff, and indication of the place and time of its meetings. The admininstration of Ekaterinburg also is adopting rules for giving notice of the beginning of the activity of religious groups. In accordance with this regulatory act, notification about the commencement of the activity of a religious group is in no way different from state registration of a religious organization; it is necessary to present a list of ten participants of the group and the bylaws of its activity with an indication of the structure of the group and the form of its activity, information about the fundamentals of its doctrine, the conclusions of the expert panel of the administration of Ekaterinburg, certification of the religious character of the activity of the group, and, strangely, a document confirming its legal address. In the course of three months the administration will review such "notification" and render its decision.

And these are only the first fruits of the legislative actions of local administrations. Tomorrow the administrations of villages and towns will begin to adopt their rules. Perhaps it is still not too late to regulate this matter that directly affects the rights and freedoms of citizens at the federal level. In my view the rules on review of applications arbitrarily include a list of the information that is contained in the consolidated state register (appendix 3). It is not clear why religious organizations, distinct from all other legal entities, now have a one month period to inform the registering agency about changes in their leadership? Where does such "special attention" on the part of the state to religious associations "that are separated from it" come from? (tr. by PDS)

Russian text: Nichego ne izmenilos

(posted 5 May 1998)


Muscovite Orthodox believer opposes canonization of last tsar

EMPEROR NICHOLAS II IS UNWORTHY OF CANONIZATION
by Marina Silonova
Izvestiia, 23 April 1998

Whom do people call saints? Those whom they hold in their memories and hearts and to whom they turn with their requests for intercession with God. Saints are people who exemplify Christ's love, meakness, and faithfulness to God. Saints have manifested by their goodness and gentleness, self-sacrificing service to God and neighbor, and life the fruits which Christianity should provide. "Contemplating the life of saints we are instructed in the way of supreme faithfulness, by following which each person can achieve union with Christ in keeping with one's own status and situation." The saints include many martyrs for the faith of Christ, who showed loyalty to Christ even unto death.

There also are objective signs which should confirm the candidate in sainthood: the presence of miracles associated with the name of the nominee for canonization and of uncorrupted relics. However these objective signs are not always manifest.

The commission on the canonization of the Russian Orthodox church has recently added to the list of saints a number of martyrs who suffered for the faith in the period of communist rule: Metropolitan Vladimir, Bishop Veniamin, Metropolitan Serafim Chichagov, and many, many others.

At the present time the commission is discussing the matter of the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II. With what is the name of the last Russian tsar associated in the minds of a majority of Russian people? With the tragedy of Khodyn Field on the day of his coronation, with the defeat in the war with Japan in 1904, with Bloody Sunday of 1905, with his love affair with the ballerina Ksesinskaia, and, finally, with his abdication from the throne at the most difficult moment for the fatherland. It appears that in his act of abdication the emperor was not thinking of the Russian Orthodox church, whose head he was considered to be.

People who know the history of Russia of the twentieth century, besides this, recall that Nicholas II refused to summon a local council of RPTs for more than a decade and the preparation for one was drawn out. As one knows, if a council of the Russian Orthodox church had been conducted not in 1917-1918 but in 1906, as proposed, our Orthodox church would have awakened from the trance of which Dostoevsky wrote and would have resolved its painful questions and could have used the force of its spiritual authority to influence the fate of Russia in a radical way. The October revolt would not have happened, and the subsequent deaths of tens of millions of people and the destruction of Russia would have been prevented.

The horrible death of the emperor and the family cannot but evoke grief and sympathy. But it does not provide a basis to consider the emperor a saint.

The notion of the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II is far-fetched. The purpose of this action is to divert attention of Orthodox Christians from the really sore problems of the contemporary life of the church in Russia. This issue is useful to the nationalist and monarchist forces in order to deal with their political, but by no means Christian, agenda, in particular for transforming RPTs into an ideological institution and for using RPTs as an ideological lever in leading the popular masses.

The death of Nicholas II was one of the first in a series of many millions of deaths which were brought on as the results of the two decades of his rule in Russia. In some sense his abdication was a blessing for the church that he forget in the moment of his abdication, since it permitted the provisional government in a brief period to summon the local council which managed to adopt very important measures that fortified the will of the Orthodox people for its heirs and for Orthodoxy, before its descent into the chaos and terror that transformed Russia into a concentration camp and the Orthodox church into a handmaiden of KGB. But even the law on tolerance of 1906 that was important for the church, which Nicholas II adopted, and the horrible death of the emperor do not make him a saint in the eyes of many, many Russian people. "Contemplation of his life" does not facilitate our union with Christ.

We applaud the efforts of the RPTs commission on canonization, which has recently beatified many clergymen who genuinely suffered for the Christian faith at the hands of the atheist authorities. One hopes that these efforts continue. At the same time one hopes that the commission will attend to the presence of another Russian saint who is worthy of canonization, a genuine Christian Orthodox martyr, who devoted herself to service to her neighbors and voluntarily went to her death in the gas chamber of the fascist concentration camp as a young partisan. I have in mind Mother Maria Skobtsev. The Constantinople patriarch is preparing her canonization. But she was a Russian Orthodox Christian woman, and her name is in the hearts and memories of millions of Russian people. She should be glorified in the first rank of the Russian Orthodox church. But the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II, if its follows, will be an offense against the Christian consicence of many believing people. (tr. by PDS)

Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii

(posted 4 May 1998)


Clergyman offended by pantyhose

PRIEST ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPT TO PLACE CROSS ON BILLBOARD
Moskovskii komsomolets, 24 April 1998

They delivered to the police department for "profanation" of a billboard on Wednesday afternoon . . . an Orthodox priest.

The priest was arrested when he painted the statement, "Luzhkov is the mayor of Sodom and Gomorrah," on an advertisement for women's pantyhose, which was placed at the intersection of Komsomol prospect and Khamovnichesky rampart.

As it turned out, Father Alexis, who works in the church of the Savior-not-made-by-hand in the village of Prokhorovo, Chekhov district, in the suburbs of Moscow, is the head of the public movement for the removal of the advertisement. However he was totally unable to achieve the removal by peaceful means, by letters to the major and the duma. And this drove the priest to direct action.

Incidentally, he did not act alone. When the reporter from MK arrived at the place of the action, the police department, a whole demonstration in defense of Fr Alexis had already gathered. Besides parishioners, another two priests took his defense. And the mood of the crowd was rather militant. When the reporters reached for their cameras, both insults and fists came into play. The policemen had a hard time restraining the fanatics. Fortunately, the matter did not come to blows. The priest was released after questioning. An investigation will be conducted in the next ten days regarding the damage to the billboard and then the procurator will determine the priest's degree of guilt. (tr by PDS)

Russian text at Pravoslavia v Rossii

(posted 4 May 1998)


Asauliakite sect condemned

ARCHBISHOP OF SUMY EXCOMMUNICATES OLGA ASAULIAK AND FOLLOWERS

SUMY, 28 April. The pseudoreligious, occultic "School of Spiritual Achievements" of Olga Asauliak has existed in Sumy and several other Ukrainian cities for several years. Articles about it have appeared in the press and several books also have been published in which the teachings of the new sect are set forth. Clergy of the city and the region have had to talk continuously with people who have fallen into the web of the sect. The pages of the diocesan newspaper "Pravoslavna Sumshchina" have carried an Orthodox analysis of Olga Asuliak's teachings. The ruling bishop of Sumy diocese named the School of Spiritual Achievements in his Christmas letter as one of a number of occultic anti-Orthodox sects.

Full text of the excommunication letter:

OPEN LETTER OF ARCHBISHOP IOANAFAN OF SUMY AND AKHTYRKA

Dear brothers and sisters!

"Watch and pray that you not fall into temptation"--this precious command we have received from the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, eternal Son of God, incarnated of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who suffered crucifixion "for our sake and for our salvation" and through whose redemptive sacrifice we have been made children of God and partakers of the grace of the ineffable divinity of the Holy United and Undivided Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom be glory and honor forever and ever.

This mystery of our partaking of the grace of the invisible and ineffable essence of divinity has been accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ, in the bosom of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox church, outside of which, according to the teaching of saints and divine fathers, there is no salvation. The holy apostles, prophets, martyrs, and confessors, the entire company of God's saints, and even more the most blessed and pure Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ our God, like heavenly guide stars show us the way to the salvation of our souls and to eternal life. May they be blessed by all Christian people for ever and ever.

But the enemy of our salvation, the devil, who from the beginning incites envy and slander, wishes to turn the weak and ignorant from the royal path of salvation by embuing them with false doctrine, directing their feet to a "far country," away from the deeds of faith and obedience to Orthodox truth, and inclining their ears to false and destructive designs so as eternally to deprive them of the sweet nurture of divine grace in the Kingdom which the Lord has prepared for all who love him.

According to the wisdom of God, having been made by the Holy Spirit overseer (bishop) of saving grace in Sumy diocese in order to "shepherd the church of the Lord and God, which he purchased by his own blood" (Ac 20.28) and "to refute those who oppose sound doctrine" and "to silence" those who "for dishonest gain" teach what "they ought not to teach" (Ti 1.9-11), we inform our God-fearing Orthodox flock by this letter that after diligent and thorough investigation of the new false teaching, which appeared within the boundaries of our diocese and has been spread by a certain Olga Asauliak and her disciples, we declare it in all its essentials to be occultic, magical, theosophistic superstition, which is contrary to divine revelation and the wisdom of the writings of the holy father and teachers of the Orthodox church.

Therefore, by the power given to us by succession through the holy apostles from God, who said "What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," we declare:
1. the teaching of Olga Asauliak is heretical, non-Orthodox, and destructive, and, as such, we condemn and anathematize it.
2. that Olga Asauliak, as well as all of those who follow her false teaching and spread it, have separated themselves from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and are outside the saving Orthodox church of Christ until they perform complete and sincere repentance at holy confession.
3. that all Orthodox clergy of Sumy diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox church are forbidden, by the power of Christ and under pain of removal from the ministry and commission of mortal sin, to minister the holy sacraments of the church of Christ to the Asauliakite heretics.
4. And we inform all faithful servants of the Orthodox church in Sumy diocese that spiritual fellowship with the Asauliakite heretics, as well as attending their meetings, will exclude them from the church of Christ. Let all Orthodox Christians know that such people place themselves in danger of losing eternal blessing and fellowship with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom. For there cannot be any fellowship of Light with darkness, as the holy scriptures teach (2 Co 6.14).
5. Our present letter will be sent to the primate of UPTs and to all ruling bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. At the same time I invoke the blessing and grace of God upon all faithful servants of the Orthodox church who abide in life among themselves and in obedience to the truth through the Spirit who purify their souls for unfeigned brotherly love as those who have been born again by the imperishable word of God, which abides forever (1 Pe 1. 22-25).

May we all, as newborn babes, love with our whole heart the pure milk of the teaching of the Orthodox church, so that by it we may grow into salvation; for we have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious, as living stones we are being built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, in order to offer always spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pe 2.4-5).

The grace of the Lord be with you all. Amen. (tr. by PDS)

Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii (letter)

(posted 4 May 1998)


Implementing the law: Protestants suffer restrictions

PENTECOSTALS, BAPTISTS, ADVENTISTS LOSE RENTED MOVIE HOUSES

BARNAUL, 28 APRIL. The "New Life" church of Christians of Evangelical Faith in Barnaul was expelled from a rented movie theatre. The pertinent order arrived from the city department of culture. According to Stanislav Savchuk, bishop of the churches of Christians of Evangelical Faith for the West Siberian region, officials based their decisions on the claim that the believers' meetings interfered with the work of discussion groups. However, those groups usually meet in classrooms and not in the auditorium. Thus the real causes for this step by the city authorities remain a matter of speculation.

We add that the expulsion was not only an extremely unexpected surprise for the church but also it created a substantial loss. The point is that by agreement with the director of the theatre the parishioners had made capital repairs on the building at their own expense, which amounted to about 50 million old rubles. In return they got the right to rent for five years. But it turned out that the believers have been left without their premises and without their money. True, the director promised to return it, but when will a poor institution of culture get such a sum?

After the sad experience Stanislav Savchuk tried to meet with someone of the leadership of Barnaul, with the mayor or his assistant on relations with religious organizations. An appointment was made but then it was unexpectedly cancelled on the basis that they were tied up. Thus Stanislav Savchuk was able only to assemble all ministers of the city churches of various confessions for united fellowship and prayer. Many brothers at this meeting agreed that the main problem which is bothering them at present is the restrictions on churches from the side of the authorities. True, by contrast with recent experience these now seem mild. In conclusion the brothers prayed, inter alia, for unity and that the churches of various confessions would not condemn but support and bless one another.

It remains to say that the New Life church has reached an agreement with another theatre for rent of the auditorium. We shall follow the development of these events and we recall that a similar story recently unfolded in Novokuznetsk, where the church of Christians of Evangelical Faith also experienced a sudden eviction from a movie theatre. (Vadim Akentiev, Kemerovo)

MOSCOW, 29 April. On 28 April the pastor of the "Source of Life" Christian Center congregation in Moscow was denied use of premises based on the claim that they pray in various tongues and the services are unlike the services of the Russian Orthodox church. This was explained to the pastor by the director of the Molodezhny movie theatre, specifying that he had been phoned by the new prefect of the region, who had visited the movie theatres and demanded the cancellation of the lease for the premises which the church had contracted for their meeting. He claimed that there were complaints from residents of the region who did not like the services of the Pentecostal church. "We are not frustrated by this," Pastor Laine Arens told the Radiotserkov reported in an interview; "we trust the Lord and believe that he has a better alternative for us." (Liliia Solomonova, Moscow)

VENEV, TULA REGION, 23 April (Radiotserkov). The administration of the Venev district has issued an order forbidding the use of buildings and premises that are governmental property for religious services. This prohibition pertains to all religious confessions, but its initial applications have affected two local congregations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists and Seventh-day Adventists. Until recently their services have been conducted in the premises of the city movie theatre.

Such stern measures are justified by the local authorities on the basis of the provisions of the new federal law on freedom of conscience. For example, the commissioner for religious questions of the administration of Tula region, Igor Shelopaev, was irritated by the fact that in the past few years "protestants have turned educational and instructional institutions into religious center." However it is more likely that the cause arises from the fact that local budgets do not get a kopek from the rent of premises inasmuch as all agreements are oral, that is, semilegal. (Dmitry Suslov, Kazan). (tr. by PDS)

Link to Russian text at Radiotserkov

(posted 1 May 1998)


Partial statistics document religious growth

MORE THAN 65 RELIGIONS IN UKRAINE

MOSCOW, 27 April (Radiotserkov). Based on the magazine Watchtower one can conclude that the total number of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and Ukraine is approaching a half million. Each year their numbers are growing at a rate of 28 and 20 percent, respectively. In 1997, the total number of people at the Evening of Remembrance was 324,710.

According to information of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, its members in Russia number 5,000, united in seven missions. (Liliia Solomonova, Moscow).

SLAVIANSK, UKRAINE, 22 April (Radiotserkov). The committee on religious affairs of Ukraine published statistical data according to which at present more than 20,000 religious organizations are operating in the country, belonging to 65 confessions and denominations. Around 50 percent of all religious societies of Ukraine are Orthodox. Numerically, the next group after the Orthodox is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, which number more than 3,000 societies. [summary of state data]

Third and fourth place, numerically and in terms of influence on the population of Ukraine, are occupied by the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (around 2,000 organizations) and the Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, to which more than 1,000 Christian congregations belong. Besides this, the committee of religious affairs noted that in the past year the number of "Full Gospel" charismatic churches has grown, as well as of the students of religious educational institutions belonging to these churches. According to statistical data, the rate of growth of their congregations is greatest for the charismatic churches among all religious organizations of Ukraine. (Svetlana Stepanenko, Slaviansk) (tr. by PDS)

Link to Russian text at Radiotserkov

(posted 1 May 1998)


Easter celebrations become routine public holiday

EASTER CELEBRATED IN MOSCOW AND GROZNY [CHECHNIA]

In his Holy Day message the patriarch expressed concern for the needs of Russians and criticized the government

by Maxim Shevchenko
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 21 April 1998

Last Sunday the entire Orthodox world marked the highest church holy day, the day of the Glorious Resurrection of Christ, Pascha. The most holy patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus, Alexis II, celebrated the vigil in the Epiphany cathedral church, which was attended by Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and former premier Viktor Chernomyrdin.

In his Easter message [English translation on patriarchal Web site] Patriarch Alexis II devoted substantial attention to social and political problems. He noted expecially that "as before many people who have worked honestly and worthily for the national good are on the threshold of poverty." In the patriarch's opinion, the concern of the government for retirees, families with several children, and orphans remains "inadequate," and many refugees and displaced persons forced from their homes as a result of interethnic conflicts "have become persons without a future because of the indifference of the government." The patriarchal letter describes extremely sharply and decisively the moral state of society in which "aggressive immorality, which defiles human souls with vices, hatred, and dishonesty are being spread ." This is being facilitated by "certain mass media," which, the patriarch said, "accompany the propaganda of the harmlessness of sin with attacks upon the church."

The patriarch's letter indirectly touched upon the newly appearing, zealous opponents of the "heresy of ecumenism," when the primate of RPTs emphasized that "in her social ministry the Church embraces in love even those of a different religious confession or outlook and makes her useful contribution to the building of society and state." [see "Antiecumenism in Sergiev Posad"]

The holy days proceeded throughout the entire territory of the former USSR. Even in regions where Orthodox do not constitute a majority, authorities paid attention to the church celebration. For example, in Sharaite Chechnia, Sunday 19 April was declared a nonworking day for all Orthodox inhabitants of the republic and President Aslan Maskahdov even extended to them greetings in which, in particular, he wished "for all compatriots the blessing of the Almighty and Merciful God, mutual human understanding, respect for one another, piety, deeds of devotion, and pure and good intents." In advance of the holiday Orthodox Chechnians, besides words, received extensive material aid from fellow believers: from Stavropol, with the blessing of Metropolitan Gedeon of Stavropol and Baku, a caravan carrying 60 tons of gifts, groceries, clothing, and medicines.

In Orthodox Belarus, where Bright Monday was set aside as a day off, President Lukashenko spoke on Easter night in the Minsk cathedral church of the Holy Spirit and stressed that the government of Belarus "will do everything possible to revive spirituality in society in the name of unity and stability of the nation and to establish peace and calm on the Belarussian land." Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, the patriarchal exarch for Belarus, expressed the hope that the question about Bright Monday as a day off in the future can again be discussed with the government.

In Moscow Easter passed festively and calmly. According to eyewitnesses, the churches were overflowing and in the suburbs (for example, in Bibirev) thousands of people filled the church yards, and in the Don monastery, church authorities even set up loudspeakers outside so that those who were not able to get into the church could participate in the general observance.

That the public and official attitude toward the Orthodox church has changed was demonstrated by the general tone of the media reports about the holiday. For example, in the news on ORT there were news items about the procession of the holy flame in the Jerusalem church of the Sepulchre of the Lord and the ITAR-TASS report about the service in Epiphany cathedral seemed more like poetry. It is to be regreted, however, that many correspondents and reporters persistently and mistakenly referred to the patriarch in the vocative case, "vladyko," rather than "vladyka."

According to police reports, the 97 churches in the capital, in which according to the ministry of internal affairs "solemn Eastern services were held," were attended not by a million Muscovites but only 111,000. Of these, police officials noted, 71,000 were "participators," and 40,000 "were located on the church grounds." Thus, in the opinion of the police, each church on average had fewer than 1,000 "participators." However, these figures seem to be excessively approximate. (tr. by PDS)

Russian text: Paskhu prazdovali

(posted 30 April 1998)


. . . but also occasion church-state conflict

WHO CAN GO TO CHURCH?

Almaty police try to set Cossacks against archbishop

by Sergei Kozlov
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 30 April 1998

Every year when the Orthodox of Kazakhstan mark their chief holy day, the Resurrestion of Christ, the "Cossack question" breaks out, in which the Cossacks and the authorities make mutual accusations against one another. As a rule, this regards the traditional clothing of Cossacks; the agencies of law enforcement consider the wearing of such clothing a violation of Kazakh legislation that forbids "creation of military groups." The Cossacks maintain that the authorities are looking for any, even the most absurd, pretense to discredit the representatives of Cossackdom and to achieve its complete eradication from Kazakhstan.

The current Orthodox Easter turned out to be no exception, during which on 19 April Almaty police did not permit the Semireche Cossacks to enter the main church of the city, Holy Ascension cathedral church, for the celebration of Easter liturgy. At the same time, along with the Cossacks, who were dressed in traditional Cossack uniform but not carrying any weapons, members of their families who were dressed like all the rest of the believers coming to church also were not admitted.

Representatives of law enforcement agencies cited several orders by the head of the administration of Almaty, Viktor Khrapunov. But the Cossacks were not told directly that the reason for the detention was their military uniforms.

"Because we have been regenerated on the principles of Orthodoxy," the assistant to the ataman of the Union of Semireche Cossacks, Vladimir Shikhotov, told reporters, "and this is the greatest Orthodox holy day, we cannot come not wearing festive clothing, our Cossack clothing."

The head of the department for relations with public organizations of the chief administration of internal affairs of Almaty, Lt. Col. Alikhan Bektasov, made a curious declaration placing the blame for the great uproar: "The question of whom to admit to the church and whom not to permit was not decided by the government head but by the bishop; church hierarchs decided it."

In the lieutenant colonel's version, the archbishop of Alma-Ata and Semipalatinsk, Alexis, who was conducting the Easter liturgy in Ascension cathedral, supposedly appealed himself to the Semireche Cossacks not to come to church in military uniforms. Alikhan Bektasov called the appearance of Cossacks in military uniform a provocation against the Orthodox church.

However literally the next day the incident between the Cossacks and the law enforcement agencies took a completely unexpected turn. Archbishop Alexis completely refuted Bektasov's declaration: "It was complete news to me that the police did not admit people into the entries because they were dressed in Cossack clothing. I did not give any such orders. . . ."

The master categorically denied Lt. Col. Bektasov's version that the Cossacks, in putting on their traditional uniforms, were somehow going against Orthodoxy or were provoking the leadership of the church to forbid their attending churches; Cossack clothing has no significance for the Lord, the archbishop thinks.

The situation is also curious because this was the first time that Archbishop Alexis, in the seven years of his serving in his current post in Almaty, openly raised his voice against local authorities. Ordinarily the local diocese has silently distanced itself from the activities of the Cossacks and in November 1994 it even condemned their statement in defense of their rights. Obviously there is some basis for the point of view that Bektasov quite reasonably counted on the silence of Archbishop Alexis as a way of deflecting criticism from the administrative head of Almaty, Viktor Khrapunov.

But the head of the Orthodox church of Kazakhstan did not remain silent, which has amazed many here, and he gave new premises for accusations against such a despicable and scandalous figure as Lt. Col. Bektasov, who for several years has been courting Cossack opposition by regularly provoking Cossacks and forcing a conflict between them and the diocese.

True, it still remains unclear whose orders the officers of law enforcement were fulfilling when they trailed the Cossacks and prevented their entering the church. (tr. by PDS)

Russian text: Komu vxodit v khram?

(posted 30 April 1998)


Major growth of Catholic administration in Russia

TWO BISHOPS ARE GOOD BUT FOUR ARE BETTER
Nezavisimaia gazeta--religiia, 15 April 1998

The official newspaper of the Vatican, Osservatore Romano, reported on 23 March that the Roman pope had named two new bishops in Russia. Such a decisive fortifying of the structure of the Catholic church in Russia may be called without exaggeration one of the biggest events of religious life of the year. However even a month later the report has remained without comment in Russia.

A brief informational memo from the Vatican embassy in Russia noted that the "main motive for these nominations was profoundly pastoral . . . as the Holy See wishes thereby to help the two apostolic administrators in the spiritual nurturing of individual and continuously developing congregations." Archbishop Tadeus Kondrusevich, the head of the apostolic administration of the European portion of Russia, explained that he is the only Catholic bishop in a territory of 4.5 million square kilometers. Catholic parishes are scattered throughout practically the whole of this territory and the bishop is physically incapable of visiting his flock often. The problem is that the number of Catholic parishes is small and visiting them during the week is senseless, so all visits must be on Saturday and Sunday. Archbishop Kondrusevich thinks that this is a substantial impediment to serious pastoral work.

The appointment of a new bishop lies exclusively within the authority of the Roman pope, although candidates may be suggested by the nuncio of the Vatican embassy within the country of appointment. The choice of a bishop is made secretly, while three candidates are supposed to be proposed. In the Catholic church every priest may become a bishop and, according to canon law, none of the candidates knows that his name is on the list. Only subsequently does the new appointee have the possibility of declining the bishopric and his refusal also will be kept secret. The future Russian bishops are foreigners, but they have work experience within the countries of the CIS. Klemens Pikel, 37, was born in Germany and was ordained a priest in Drezden in 1986. Since the end of the 1980s he has worked in the CIS, first in Dushanbe and then in the Volga region. In recent times he was the rector of the church in the city of Marx and the dean of Catholic parishes in the south of Russia.

Ezhi Mazur, 45, was born in Poland and graduated from the Catholic university in Lublin and the Papal Gregorian university in Rome and he is a member of the Society of the Divine Word. Since 1992 he has worked in Belarus and lately was the rector of the church in Baranovichi.

By tradition, vicar bishops have the title of sees that disappeared in the early centuries. Klemens Pikel is designated a bishop of Kuzir and Ezhi Mazur, bishop of Tabuni. The Vatican embassy was not able to specify where these cities actually were located. It is known only that it was somewhere in northern Africa.

Poles constitute an absolute majority of Catholic priests in Russia, but the Vatican is not trying to strengthen the "Polish party." The Polish bishop has a German vicar and the German bishop will have a Polish vicar. The candidature of Ezhi Mazur should not be viewed as a struggle of the "Polish party" for power. In all likelihood he was chosen as one of the most experienced missionaries working in Russia. Several years ago Mazur was appointed coordinator of the Divine Word missionaries in eastern Europe, or in other words he has headed up one of the most important movements of Catholic missionary activity in recent years.

The titular bishops have no specific administrative jurisdictions or dioceses. Actually they are aides to ruling bishops and they are responsible for specific assignments of work and represent the ruling bishops in separate regions. The papal nuncio, Archbishop John Bukovsky, has been absent from Moscow and we have not been able to get official comment on these appointments. However his secretary Monsignor Marek Solchinsky answered several questions from NG-R. We managed to learn that one of the new bishops will travel in the south of the country, primarily in the Caucasus and along the Volga, and the other will be in the Far East. The initiative for the appointment of the new bishops came from the head of the apostolic administrations operating in Russia, who have often appealed to the nuncio on this matter. The time has come and the "Holy See has responded positively" to the local initiative.

Monsignor Solchinsky did not rule out the possibility of the appointment of new Catholic bishops in Russia, although he stipulated that this depends on whether the new bishops are able to cope with their responsibilities. "If they need help, then of course. We always have in mind purely the pastoral need."

This is the first time since the opening of the apostolic administrations in 1991 that the Vatican has decided to strengthen substantially its presence in Russia. At the time the Vatican's decision evoked a negative response from the Russian Orthodox church. The new appointments, in all likelihood, passed through certain agreements. We have learned that Patriarch Alexis II was personally informed about the intended appointments. Besides this, the Russian Orthodox church was notified by an official letter from the papal council on Christian unity. Archbishop Kondrusevich called the Orthodox reaction "normal," although he noted that the nuncio had been engaged in contacts with the Russian Orthodox church. The Moscow patriarchate refused to comment on the position of the Russian Orthodox church.

As is known, the Catholic structures that exist in Russia are not permanent. The Catholics themselves call them "transitional," since the basic form of church adminsitration is the diocese, while in Russia only apostolic administrations are operating. In the official version, the transformation of administrations into dioceses is being held up by the impossibility of creating effective administrative structures. But the main reason, apparently, is the sharply negative attitude toward this on the part of the Russian Orthodox church. The creation of Catholic dioceses within Russia is viewed as proselytism, which is condemned by both Catholics and Orthodox. The appointment of titular bishops is a skillful diplomatic move which will permit killing two birds with one stone: continuing the development of church structures and not damaging relations with the Russian Orthodox church. The consecration of the new Catholic bishops in Russia is scheduled for the end of May or beginning of June. In all likelihood, it will occur in the cities of Marx and Novosibirsk. Catholics do not rule out the possibility that representatives of the Russian Orthodox church will be invited to the ceremonies. Despite the tense official relations, contacts on a personal level remain cordial. (tr. by PDS)

Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii

(posted 29 April 1998)


American conservatives sponsor critique of religion law

RIGHTS DEFENDERS AGAINST THE LAW

They see the Russian Orthodox church as the main threat to society

by Maxim Shevchenko
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 16 April 1998

The Moscow representation of the influential American conservative Heritage Foundation conducted a round table on the burning issue "The Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations: Experience of Practical Implementation." Participants included all those who have taken principal roles in the business of preparing and implementing the law (representatives of the presidential administration, Andrei Loginov, the governmental administration, Andrei Sebentsov, and the ministry of justice) and in the business of resisting the law and critiquing its basic provisions (Gleb Yakunin, Sergei Kovalev, Yuri Rozenbaum). There also were attorneys who have prepared the appeal to the Constitutional Court on the claim of the incompatibility of several articles of the law with the standards of the constitution (Vladimir Riakovsky, Anatoly Pchelintsev).

The round table began with a speech by Andrei Loginov who briefly set forth the views of the presidential administration on the situation which has developed in the country after the law's adoption. This situation, in his words, gives assurance that finally in Russia the preconditions for the organization of a legal religious space have been established. Mr. Loginov's claim evoked a stormy reaction from the perpetual dissenters. Sergei Kovalev and Yuri Rozenbaum began to demand from him specific names of people who, in their words, had "put the president up to" the new law, implying that it was Loginov himself, who enumerated a long list of names of representatives of the confessions who worked on amending the law.

Then the floor was given to duma deputy Sergei Kovalev. Having called his colleagues in the duma, who had adopted the law, ignorant, he immediately demonstrated his own erudition by expressing the thought that "some times in its history the Russian Orthodox church has bowed not before Christ but antichrist." Such a line also was supported by other participants of the discussion. On the whole the speeches of the perpetual rights defenders created the impression that for them the entire issue of the implementation of the law comes down to the desire to express their opinion as sharply and persistently as possible about the Moscow patriarchate in particular and RPTs as a whole and to "shield society from the totalitarian influence of the church." The address by Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, who stressed that from the point of view of "tens of millions" of Orthodox the old law on freedom of conscience of 1990 did not express the true situation in the country and required change, was met with the obstructionist retorts from Gleb Yakunin and Sergei Kovalev and some others who are less overt and offensive opponents of the Orthodox church.

It fell to the lot of one of the authors of the old law, Andrei Sebentsov, who was accused of virtual juridical incompetence, to support Loginov's opinion that on the whole the law was good, though he admitted that several provisions of the law need reworking. He also justly pointed out the absence from the round table of the president of the duma committee on relations with public and religious organizations, Viktor Zorkaltsev, who would be able to elucidate many nuances. Against the general background of criticism of the law, the speech of attorney Vladimir Riakovsky represented an exception who, in contrast to many, did not address a word of criticism against RPTs but adduced concrete examples of ignorance and illegal actions by Russian civil officials with regard to representatives of several Russian confessions. (tr by PDS)

Russian text: Pravozashchitniki protiv zakona

(posted 24 April 1998)


North American scholar defends Father Kochetkov

PROFESSOR POSPIELOVSKY SENDS OPEN LETTER TO PATRIARCH ALEXIS

In March of this year Professor Dmitry Pospielovsky of the University of West Ontario, author of one of the definitive histories of the Orthodox church under the soviet regime, sent a letter to Patriarch Alexis II expressing his alarm about the treatment of some priests and Orthodox believers, including Fr Georgy Kochetkov. After several weeks in which he received no response, Professor Pospielovsky made the letter available to RRN and it appears here, followed by a commentary written by a Russian scholar who is one of Fr Georgy's associates. Both Professor Pospielovsky and Andrei Platonov made the commentary available to RRN. (PDS)

OPEN LETTER

Moscow Chisty pereulok,
5 Moskovskaia patriarkhiia

His most holiness, patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus, Alexis

Your most holiness, dear Master

Having written the following letter, as a cry from the heart, I offer it as a personal message to you and as a continuation of that (mostly one-sdied, to be sure) correspondence which has been taking place following your kind reception of me two and a half years ago. But the deepening of the crisis within the church, expressed in the unjust removal of the remarkable pastor Fr Pavel Vishnevsky from the rectorship of St. Theodore's church in Nikitki, which was restored from the ruins by him and his community, and the threat of ecclesiastical punishment hanging over Fr Vladimir Lapshin along with his community that selflesslely restored the church building, and the risk that many of the letters sent to you were not delivered by your entourage as intended--all of this forces me to make the letter public in the hope that the newspaper in which it appears will reach you personally.

I wrote the letter on the first day of Lent and now it already is Easter. Christ is risen! And he is risen in order to give us liberty and not for petty censorship that reduces the essence of ministry for God to a strict homogeneity of every ritual and an absolutizing of such elements of the service as language, reading prayers aloud or silently, and so on. May the Lord grant you immediately to get to the essence of the problem and put an end to it with magnimity and deep and broad love!

Your most holiness, dear Master!

One's heart bleeds with each new report of persecutions against the very best, the most evangelistically active and successful pastors of the Russian Orthodox church and against the fruits of their spiritual, educational, and missionary work. And what is most horrifying is that the persecutors turn out to be not KGB or some other kind of forces of militant atheism but you, the primate of the Russian church. One wishes to believe that you are doing this out of ignorance, as one deceived by some kind of evil forces in your entourage. But still you have the possibility of personally confirming the facts and accessing reliable information or at least becoming acquainted with the evidence of the other side before pursuing and forbidding. If only you would visit the services of such pastors. Unfortunately, with regard to Fr Georgy this is not possible so long as he is under ban.

Recall how two years ago you assured me that under no circumstances would you interfere in the evangelistic and educational activity of Fr Georgy Kochetkov and agreed with me that in this area his activity was positive and distinctive and that perhaps no single pastor of RPTs was bringing new members into the church through such a persistent and exhaustive process of catechesis as that of Fr Kochetkov. But now in the past year, on the basis of the slander coming from one side only, the psychologically ill priest Mikhail Dubovitsky and those who incited him to provocative acts (Shevkunov and company), you have banned Fr Georgy from the ministry; incidentally, literally on the eve of the procurator's recognition that the accusations against him were insubstantial and the psychiatric examiners' recognition that Mikhail Dubovitsky was psyhologically ill. So that in your name the trial turned out to be a [Dmitry] Shemiaka case (will not future historians liken it to the trial of Maxim Grek in the sixteenth century?) or, as I wrote to you last spring, a Buratino case: you were robbed, which means you are guilty.

Very tardily because of the slowness of the post, the other day I received the sad news about the unjust retraction of your approval of all the schools founded and directed by Fr Georgy, that is, the removal of these schools from the educational system of the Moscow patriarchate. At a time when there is an extreme shortfall, both quantitatively and qualitatively, of educational institutions in RPTs, while the majority of its seminaries--to say nothing of the religious schools--are at a very low academic level and the overwhelming majority of the clergy are theologically illiterate and ignorant and, instead of religious training and planting the seeds of the love of Christ, are occupied with terrorizing their flocks with all sorts of myths about the hostile world and the mythological Jewish-masonic conspiracy. You will agree that these myths and the spirit of hatred and suspicion, which are being spread by those who by vocation should be teaching love and general forgiveness, are much more dangerous both for the human individual, who is corrupted by such pastors and such "teaching," and for Russian society as a whole than is anything that you may not like in the pastoral activity or liturgical practices of Fr Georgy. Nonetheless, he is under your ban (and so too now is his school) and his two-thousand member flock is deprived of its shepherd and church building, which now stands empty under the new rector in contrast to the way it overflowed under Fr Georgy with educated youth and new converts; but the obscurantist priests are prospering and in their churches the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are being distributed, which were removed from the shops under Nicholas II at Stolypin's insistance because they were a fabrication, along with the misanthropic pamphlets of the ilk of "Antichrist in Moscow," and Radonezh magazine, and such journalistic trash.

Do you really not understand that the actions of the obscurantists are threating to place you in the same situation as that of the Georgian patriarchate? That such church politics are inexorably leading RPTs down the path of marginalization in society?

As you know, I have traveled a great deal about Russia and have lectured not only in seminaries but also in state educational institutions and I have seen the ordinary life of the church, not the filled and overflowing buildings that accompany your visits and ministry. I have observed with sorrow the increasing disinterest in the Orthodox church. People are going over to the protestant and Catholic missionaries not because they are aggressive but because people who are seeking the way to God are not finding it in our mediocre parishes. I have had occasion to talk on the subject with several students, some of whom have become Catholics and others, protestants. They all start by saying they went to the Orthodox church and some even were baptized there, but they found no place for themselves there: they could not understand the Slavonic services, neither the priests nor parish paid them any attention, nobody tried to educate them or incorporate them into church life. So they left. In Krasnodar, for example, I visited the local Catholic monastic society. There I met many (relative to the Catholic population and in contrast with the situation in the Orthodox cathedral) young students who were recent Catholic converts. They have a library and a musical group and classes for religious self-instruction. The first time they happened upon a Catholic church, they heard divine worship in a living Russian language and they were approached and given a lot of attention, surrounded with love and given the possibilities for spiritual growth with the help of amiable and well educated young pastors. This is the heart of the matter.

I found a similar attitude toward the flock and newcomers within the RPTs only in the following churches: Fr Georgy Kochetkov's, the church of Kosma and Damian on Stoleshnikov lane, the Bobrenevsky monastery of Fr Ignaty, Fr Pavel Vishnevsky's in Malaia Nikitka, and to a certain extent in the church of St. Tikhon the Patriarch in Klin. But now one of these rare communities, which have successfully attracted not only converts but also drawn former sectarians into Orthodoxy, has been liquidated by you or in your name. Are the others next?

I am sad and pained that I must write such a bitter letter on the first day of Lent, the time of repentance and aspiration for inner spiritual harmony. Forgive me, Master, mercifully, if I have offended somehow. But contrition and repentance are first of all a purging of the self and now by this letter I have tried to purge my soul before you by laying out what is most painful.

I beseech your archpastoral prayers and I remain the unworthy

Dmitry Pospielovsky.

2.III.1998

(Russian text)

COMMENTARY
by Andrei Platonov

"A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country"

On the first day of Lent the well-known historian of the contemporary Russian church, Professor Dmitry Vladimirovich Pospielovsky of the University of West Ontario, Canada, sent a letter to Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow. In the past weeks no answer has been forthcoming but, on the contrary, more events confirmed the historian's most grim predictions.

The letter condemns the profound spiritual sickness of our church and identifies its chief problems. The historian writes about how, to the detriment of Orthodoxy and the nation, within the church itself openness to the needs of society is being suppressed and the educational and evangelistic activity of its best pastors is being hindered while at the same time a schismatic spirit of exclusion, misanthropy, and self-adulation is gathering force.

D.V. Pospielovsky reminds the patriarch of his promise not to interfere in the ministry of Fr Georgy Kochetkov and defends him and other active priests who have successfully created fraternal and congregational life in their parishes. Speaking of the ban on the ministry of Fr Georgy Kochetkov, and the persecution of his community, the historian writes: "one of those rare communities which have successfully attracted not only converts but also drawn former sectarians to Orthodoxy has now been liquidated by you or in your name. Are the others next?"

There are two opinions about history. The skeptical one says that nobody learns anything from history. The contrary proposition suggests that in the knowledge of history lies the key to the future. Both are coming true: the historian's letter has changed nothing for those who consider themselves the masters of life and rulers of the people and events, and it seems to us that the historian can see through not only the past but also the future; he can predict.

In the course of the past week two priests mentioned in Pospelovsky's letter were summoned to the bishops' council, two priests who were accused of admitting to their parish the community of Fr Georgy Kochetkov, which was expelled from its church building, two completely different persons who acted not on political or clannish bases but because their Christian conscience called them not to do evil by scattering and ruining Christ's people. Father Vladimir Lapshin of the church of the Dormition in Uspensky (Gazetnyi lane; who earlier had ministered in the church of Kosma and Damian) was subjected to the most crude inquisitorial examination and he resigned for fear of being banned from ministry. "We'll simply toss you out the door," said Archbishop Arseny (cf. Russkaia mysl, 26 March-1 April 1998). And although after some time he was permitted to remain rector of his own community, Fr Vladimir was compelled to promise to terminate his radio broadcasts. Father Pavel Vishnevsky of the church of Theodore the Studite in Nikitka, appointed to the parish eight years ago on the request of the community that has restored the church, was dismissed from his post as rector without explanation.

This suppression of the educational-congregational movement in our church began with the murder of Fr Alexander Men. Less well known priests were simply banned and squeezed out. In 1994 Fr Georgy Kochetkov was removed from Vladimir cathedral and the community was dispersed. In 1996 came the ban on the ministry of the remarkable icon painter Archimandrite Zinon Teodor and in 1997-98 the ban on Fr Georgy Kochetkov and subsequently the replacement of the rectors Fr Ilia Dorogoichenko in Znamensky and a number of priests in Kherson and Tomsk region. The subversion of the brilliant rector of Krutitsy annex, Fr Valentin Chaplin, is continuing. Fr Georgy Kochetkov's community continues to be subjected to persecutions. Back in September the procurator had established that there was no evidence of "violence" as charged by the church commission (see NG, 27 Feb 1998). Nevertheless twelve assistants of Fr Georgy Kochetkov, as previously, were deprived of Holy Communion, which is so very important for the Christian, and he himself remains under ban. Without basis or proof the Saint Filaret's school was accused of schism from the church and was deprived of patriarchal approval and now they are trying to finish it off through state agencies.

In the events and phenomena of which Pospelovsky writes and in the latest actions of a number of bishops we see a profound profanation of the consciousness of many church members, including even clergy. The principles are worthy of Tuchkov's department. Spread by two priests who occupied the church building belonging to Fr Georgy Kochetkov's community, Hegumen Tikhon Shevkunov and Fr Oleg Klemyshev, and the renegade Fr Konstantin Bufeev of Kochetkov's community, their sloguns sound something like this: "they don't tell us about such communities in the seminary," and "it's leading the communities into schism." The people of Christ have no rights and the leaders have no rights and communities are unnecessary. There is no understanding of the value of each human individual, there is no love, and there is no liberty.

What is it that they need? An obedient, silent flock--this is the very essence of that totalitarian sectarianism with which our hierarchy supposedly is fighting. It turns out that they are not fighting against the suppression of the personality as such, but simply for the right to rule this flock. For example, there is a parishioner of Hegumen Tikhon, an educated woman, who is the director of a department in a library. When colleagues asked her about various traditions in Orthodoxy she answered: " I don't question such things. If one begins to think about them, you begin to doubt."

The blessed Augustine, one of the western saints who are admired by Orthodox, expressed the principle of the life of the church: "In essential matters, unity; in debatable matters, liberty; in everything, love." This is why we have so little love and liberty; there is no unity in the essentials. And what is essential for a person in this world and in the church may be read in the Bible, in the Old and New Testaments: "Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength," and "love your neighbor as yourself." Here the horizon is opened and a basis is laid for revealing the human personality. It requires both will and reason and physical activity, and in love and respect for the neighbor lies the guarantee of human freedom.

In our church there is almost no knowledge; not only the people, the laity, but even the clergy frequently do not know what is essential in our Christian faith. This was significantly demonstrated by Mother Maria Skobtsov in a recently discovered manuscript, "Types of Religious Life," published in the Vestnik of the Russian Christian Movement, no. 176. Words that were spoken in 1937 in Paris regarding the Russian Orthodox church have been revealed to us right now when they are most needed. These words and her faith Mother Maria confirmed by her Christian testimony and martyr's death in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944. Mother Maria clearly and intelligently describes the synodal, regular, esthetic, and ascetic types of religious life. The "idols" of the state religion, the bylaws, estheticism, or self-satisfied asceticism obscure our neighbor's suffering and free personality from us. Mother Maria shows how each of these tendencies in its own way replaces Christ and deprives the salt of the earth, the faith of Christ, of its evangelical force, love, and liberty, and deprives the church of its future. Only by overcoming these temptations can the church, by the writings, feats, and the entire lives of our new martyrs, eternally renew the Christian evangelical faith.

It is only on the basis of this hope, and not for stirring up enmity within our church, and for awakening the will for unity in what is essential that this letter of the historian D.V. Pospelovsky is being published.

(tr. by PDS)

(posted 23 April 1994)


Memorial to atheism's victims

EASTER AT CHURCH DEDICATED TO RUSSIA'S NEW MARTYRS

by Andrei Zolotov

Butovo, Russia, 22 April (ENI)--As churches across Russia - from tiny chapels to huge cathedrals - celebrated Orthodox Easter last weekend, one of the most significant celebrations in the post-communist country took place in a small church in Butovo, just outside Moscow.

Full text stories: Easter offers resurrection from Stalin's terror, by Andrei Zolotov Jr., Moscow Times, April 18, 1998

(posted 23 April 1998)


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