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Russia Religion News Current News Items

Kuraev fights back


RIA Novosti, 18 January 2014


The famous Orthodox blogger and evangelist Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev called baseless the accusation that he has spread rumors about cases of homosexuality among clergymen "for revenge" and he stated that even in the event of his defrocking he will remain within the Russian Orthodox Church.


On Friday the head of the synod's Department for Relations of Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, stated that Kuraev's latest statements about alleged instances of homosexuality known to him within church circles are gossip being spread for revenge for his dismissal from the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy and he urged the evangelist to repent and warned him against going into schism.


"As regards my church plans, they are unchanged. These days I often repeat the words of Alexander Galich: 'Don't worry, I haven't left, and don't be hopeful, I will not leave.' That is, even in the event of my defrocking, I will remain within the Russian Orthodox Church, and I will recognize Patriarch Kirill—both now and in future—as my canonical patriarch, and I will not go into any kind of schisms and I certainly do not intend to organize them," Kuraev told RIA Novosti on Saturday.


He also refuted the notion that he supposedly is acting for revenge. "I am appalled that Chaplin's colleagues cannot even imagine that a minister of the church can act simply on the basis of conscience and on the basis of Christian conviction," the news agency's interlocutor said.


The evangelist also assessed Chaplin's video broadcast of yesterday as "explicit preparation for injecting into people's minds a notion similar to the Catholic dogma about papal infallibility," explaining that here he has in mind the notion about the absolute correctness of official persons of RPTs.  "I am not talking about doctrinal matters but about commentary on some current events in public, cultural, and political life. The church has never claimed to require unanimity in this area, but now the opposite is happening. . . . If the notion is now going to be imposed that through actual documents, orders, instruction, and commentaries on a whole spectrum of matters, including political ones, God himself is speaking through the lips of the first hierarch, then this would be an innovation unprecedented in the history not only of the Orthodox Church, but even of the Catholic Church," Kuraev declared.


He thinks that if things developed this way, "schism within the church will be inevitable," since from a theological point of view this would be heresy, and that is the only thing that could force the evangelist "to leave, officially slamming the door." Nevertheless, Kuraev hopes that the church will be able "to defend its right to be a communal body."


The archdeacon also plans to continue his teaching activity. "I have invitations from several universities, so I am not faced with the problem of knowing what to do with myself. I will even be able to select," he said.


Earlier Kuraev, who was dismissed on 30 December of last year as a professor of the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy for disgraceful behavior on social networks and news media, published in his blog on LiveJournal several anonymous letters he had received containing statements about the presence within RPTs of homosexual clergymen. He also connected his dismissal from MDA with, among other things, his statements about homosexual scandals within church circles, although in the academic institution itself this information was denied. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Baptists say they are not like Jehovah's Witnesses



Representatives of Baptists of the Urals responded to Sverdlovsk police who had accused them of going about homes and pestering citizens. The Baptists say that they do not at all have a practice of going around apartments.


That Baptists along with Jehovah's Witnesses pester people of Sverdlovsk by their constant visits to apartments of citizens, the deputy director of the press service of the State Directorate of the Ministry for Internal Affairs (GUMVD) for Sverdlovak province, Nina Pelevina, told the "Politsovet" Information Agency yesterday.


"Precinct officers will collect information about persons who are conducting religious conversations. If they do, then with whom and what are they like. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses, just like the Baptists, pester everybody very much," Pelevina declared, explaining details of the action "Know your precinct officer."


However, the Baptists themselves deny this information, and they have requested not to confuse them with Jehovah's Witnesses.


"We do not send evangelists to apartments. Our church has existed sufficiently long in Ekaterinburg—to be precise, 15 years—and we have developed as a strong congregation. It should be said that we do not consider Jehovah's Witnesses to be Christians, and we have nothing in common with them. Moreover, because of their activity questions to us often arise on the part of law enforcement, although the administration of the city knows us well. Five Baptist churches are functioning in Ekaterinburg," the director of the Associated Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists for Sverdlovsk province, Bishop Anatoly Cherksov, told "Politsovet."


It should be added that even the Russian Orthodox Church treats Baptists much more hospitably than Jehovah's Witnesses. "Evangelical Christians Baptists are our traditional partner," declared Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the synodal RPTs Department for Relations with Society. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Long-time critic of patriarchate cheers for Kuraev


"Patriarch Kirill is hardly able to make an effective pushback to Kuraev's campaign"

by Valerii Stepanov, 17 January 2014  Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev's campaign against the "gay lobby" in the administration of RPTsMP has evoked an enormous resonance. What kind of consequences can this move have for the RPTsMP as a whole?


Priest Gleb Yakunin: By fighting with the "light-blue lobby," Andrei Kuraev has struck a blow against the monolithic RPTsMP of such force that its preservation requires urgent capital repair. Is Patriarch Kirill up to this? Hardly. By his stormy reaction to his expulsion from among the lavra's professors, Andrei Kuraev has put his boss into a stalemated position. In addition, Archdeacon Andrei apparently does not understand what kind of personal insult he delivered to Patriarch Kirill by his televised tea party with Alekhina and Tolokonnikova. Because it was Patriarch Kirill, and not President Putin, who categorically insisted upon judicial reprisal against "Pussy Riot."


--You and Fr. Andrei Kuraev practically simultaneously spoke out on the topic of the dominant influence of the "homosexual hierarchy" in RPTsMP. Why did his campaign evoke such a broad resonance while there has been almost no public responses to yours?


--As regards the coincidence of our statements as to topic and time, this was entirely surprising to me. The absence of a public reaction to my statement is explained by the fact that I have been a church dissident for many years, I was suspended from ministry twice, and in the end I was finally "excommunicated from the church." During my whole church life  I have tried unsuccessfully to break down the great Chinese wall of the RPTsMP. Thus it seems to me that any criticism from me is perceived as something that is natural and usual.


According to the laws of "political resistance," a blow to the system from within is many times more effective than a blow from outside. Apparently, the extent of iniquity in RPTsMP has overflowed the cup of divine patience. The cause of the overwhelming public resonance to Kuraev's action I see, first of all, in the fact that he for the first time gave broad publicity to the long standing, but still hidden from many, church illness and he posed the question of the necessity of urgent and radical measures for its healing.


--Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev stated that the "light-blue lobby" in the administration of RPTsMP consists of no fewer than 50 bishops out of 300. How do you feel about this quantitative calculation?


--I think that Kuraev has named the correct numbers, but they are completely backwards: the "nonblue group" consists of no more than 50 out of 300. I cannot help noting with what polemical brilliance and literary talent he has conducted his battle against the mighty "homosexual Leviathan."


--Do you wish Fr. Kuraev victory in his battle against the light-blue lobby?


--Yes, I do. The most important thing is that he not flinch and not turn away in this unequal struggle. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Ukrainian opposition deputies protect Greek Catholics


Security service of Ukraine complains about Greek Catholic activity

by Iuliia Riabchun

Kommersant—Ukraina, 16 January 2014


Yesterday the Supreme Soviet's Committee on Affairs of Culture and Spirituality reviewed the conflict between the Ministry of Culture and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGKTs). As is known, officials declared that UGKTs worship services on Maidan were conducted without permission of local authorities, and they threatened to ban them by means of a court. Yesterday representatives of the ministry explained that they acted, in particular, in response to a corresponding appeal from the Ukrainian security service. This acknowledgement outraged members of the committee and they demanded the dismissal of Minister of Culture Leonid Novokhatko.


The question regarding "pressure on the part of the Ministry of Culture on religious organizations, including on UGKTs" was first on the agenda of the session of the Committee on Affairs of Culture and Spirituality. As is known, the Ministry of Culture sent to UGKTs a letter which said that priests of the church do not have the right to conduct worship services on the main square of Kiev without permission of the capital authorities. The document reported that "noncompliance with the prescriptions" can be a reason for terminating the activity "of the corresponding religious organization" by judicial procedure.


"The committee was outraged by the unprecedented attempts to put pressure on UGKTs and it considers its [i.e., the church's—tr.] activity to be completely legal. In order to relieve the tension, the Ministry of Culture should rescind its letter," the head of the committee, Viacheslav Kirilenko ("Fatherland"), stated.


The director of the Department for Affairs of Religions and Nationalities of the ministry, Mikhail Moshkola, tried to give a justification: "Your concern is baseless. The letter does not contain a word about the Ministry of Culture's restricting UGKTs. The reason was that we received appeals from religious organizations and law enforcement agencies testifying that the prayer tent on Maidan was set up illegally, without permission of local authorities."


"Did representatives of the True Greek Catholic Church contact you?" asked the vice-chairman of the committee, Leontii Martyniuk ("Freedom").


After receiving an affirmative answer he continued: "That is not even a church. It is a sect, and they are outside the law. Why did you consider their appeal? What if a tramp or group of underground satanists appealed to you?"


Mr. Moshkola stated again that he acted not only upon the appeal of the True Greek Catholics. The situation escalated.


"Who else appealed to you? Present to us these appeals," the secretary of the committee, Maria Matios (UDAR), demanded.


--"Law enforcement agencies and the security service. As an addition to their letter there was the conclusion of the Department of Culture of the Kiev city administration, which said that UGKTs had not asked them for permission," Mikhail Moshkola said. After he spoke there was a short disturbance in the room, although the argument continued with new force.


"The hounding of UGKTs is connected with the fact that Ukraine has switched from European integration to a course into the Customs Union. Since when does the security service deal with inspecting prayer tents?" the head of the subcommittee on matters of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage, Alexander Briginets ("Fatherland") asked.


"It is now clear on whose instructions the letter was prepared. UGKTs has always obeyed the law, and we consider the suggestion to rescind the letter to be appropriate," the director of the Department for External Church Relations of UGKTs, Archpriest Oleksa Petriv, concluded.


"The rights of religious organizations should be restricted only when they threaten the freedom or health of other people. For example, as was the case with the 'White Brotherhood' sect," said the secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate, Archbishop Evstraty.


After the two-hour discussion the committee drew up a draft of a decision. In particular, it was recommended that the Ministry of Culture rescind its letter and provide the committee copies of the appeals on the basis of which it had been written. In addition, it was decided to prepare a draft of an order for the dismissal of Minister of Culture Leonid Novokhatko, and to ask the security service for an explanation relative to incidents of persecution of UGKTs. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Police support church's version of monk's death; against Kuraev


Segodnya, 17 January 2014


The autopsy did not find either drugs or alcohol in the blood of the minister of the Holy Iberia monastery.


In Odessa the results of a forensic autopsy of a clergyman, Hieromonk Domentian Moskalenko, a resident of the Holy Iberia monastery, were published. "According to the results of the autopsy of the 28-year-old man died as the result of a major heart attack. Drugs and alcohol were not found in his blood," an employee of the press service of the city internal affairs department, Tatiana Khmelnitskaia, told Segodnya.


We recall, a scandal surrounding the sudden death of a hieromonk erupted after Russian theologian Andrei Kuraev, citing the journalist Sergei Bychkov, who is well known for his negative attitude toward the church, wrote in his blog that "during a three-day drinking binge the hieromonk Dometian died. He was an extremely strange clergyman—he practically never served and if he was seen during a service, he was usually drunk. Despite the fact that the police took the hieromonk's body for autopsy, Metropolitan Agafangel strove with all his might to hush up the scandal. Although it already had become known that a large quantity of cocaine was found in the deceased hieromonk's blood." (tr. by PDS, posted 17 January 2014)

Related article:

Ukrainian church reports monk's alleged heart attack
January 15, 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Patriarchate's mouthpiece broadcasts biting attack on Andrei Kuraev


Interfax-Religiia, 17 January 2014


The Moscow patriarchate thinks that behind the information barrage by Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev regarding the "gay lobby" in the church lies a passion for revenge and self-promotion. "No judgment can be made on the basis of gossip or rumors or on the basis of a campaign which is clearly determined by the revenge of a fired church school teacher," declared the head of the synod's Department for Relations of Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, in a broadcast of the program "Commentaries of the week" on the Orthodox TV channel "Soiuz."


He said that the archdeacon who was dismissed late in December from the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy has devoted the greater part of his time, including Christmas holidays, to spreading Internet gossip and anonymous articles that do not contain "either proof of guilt of one or another person or officially formulated accusations."


The priest emphasized that if the sin of sodomy really exists within the church environment, it should be rebuked and punished in accordance with the moral principles of the church, but for this a church court is needed and it must be guided by the testimonies of two or three witnesses, which cannot in any case be anonymous.


The church's representative called A. Kuraev's blog "a poisoned and impure spring," which cannot benefit the church's life precisely because of the author's attitude toward the church. He considers that this blog is being effectively ignored by believing people and it has had no impact on the church's self-image and it now is feeding only those who experience bad feelings toward the church, and "he is trying to reform the church contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the heritage of the holy fathers."


According to Father Vsevolod, A. Kuraev understood that "the majority of hierarchs, pastors, and laity do not hold much truck with what he is saying and doing," but his response to this is not repentance "but a desire for revenge and insistence that he is not like other people and that he can count on a completely special attitude because he has in his hands certain information opportunities and he can hurl some loud accusations."


The priest thinks that the dismissal of the archdeacon from MDA was the logical development of events "toward which Father Andrei was moving over many years, ever more isolating himself from the church's organism and surrounding himself with yes-men" from among representatives of church and parachurch youth and those to whom he was useful as a man "who seems to be within the church" while expressing disagreement with much of what it is doing.


In the priest's opinion, it is necessary for A. Kuraev to repent and "he probably still has a chance to do so because in Father Andrei's life there have been many inspiring, evangelistic, preaching, and writing successes." He hoped for the archdeacon to be restored spiritually "without revenge, blackmail, and spite" and he warned against increasing the ranks of schismatics who "just in their time have left the church and begun destroying it, explaining their words and deeds with good talk."


Father Vsevolod also said he has heard many times complaints from teachers and students of all academic institutions in which Father Andrei has taught against some of his statements. In particular, this pertained to his assessment of the blasphemous action by "Pussy Riot" in the church of Christ the Savior, "and talk to the effect that Christians do not have the right to call upon the state to restrict evil and support good by force of authority and law," and his disrespectful attitude toward many sacred things "that sometimes borders on blasphemy."


In his opinion, Father Andrei's information campaign was aimed at avoiding his dismissal from MDA and warning "do not dare to touch me." "I am not like other people, I am special, and I demand special treatment. This idea has been very strongly present in Father Andrei Kuraev's life over many years," Father Vsevolod declared. He cited an example of how when Father Andrei was a student at MDA he spent a substantial part of the time in the rector's waiting room or in the corridor in order to propose some kind of projects or texts, that is, "to apple polish or to prove he was special or to get special treatment."


The priest said that in 1991, after A. Kuraev had become an advisor to Patriarch Alexis II he "practically immediately set about intrigues." So when the coup attempt failed, he circulated among journalists liberal articles that he wrote that he offered as publications over someone else's signature. The goal was removal from office of many hierarchs on accusations of alleged cooperation with the coup makers and their replacement by people loyal to A. Kuraev. He then was removed from the position of advisor. "So were heard complaints and talk to the effect that he knows a lot and should be feared," Father Vsevolod recalled. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items


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