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Orthodox priest wounded by police battlefield weapons


RISU, 23 January 2014


A priest from Chernovtsy province lost an eye during confrontations on Grushevsky Street in Kiev as a result of a grenade. This happened on 22 January during the morning prayer for Ukraine, "Religiia v Ukraine" reported.


On 22 January, the primate of UPTs of the Kiev patriarchate, Filaret, celebrated his 85 birthday. A delegation of Bukovina priests, led by Metropolitan Daniil, came to Kiev. The patriarch cancelled all celebrations, and the priests went to pray on Grushevsky Street, where a confrontation between the protesters and "Berkuta" special forces was occurring.


A stun grenade exploded near the priest and struck him in the eyes. Earlier demonstrators told Kommersant that police officers were taping iron balls and metal bolts to the stun grenades. "These are not non-lethal devices; these are battlefield fragmentation grenades," they said indignantly. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 January 2013)

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Pro-Moscow news service reports patriarch's slight against president


Interfax-Religiia, 23 January 2014


The leader of the self-proclaimed Kiev patriarchate, Filaret Denisenko, rejected the "For Service" award that he was due by order of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on the occasion of the Day of Community and Freedom of Ukraine.


"From an official report on the website of the president of Ukraine, I learned about the order of the head of state for awarding me the order "For Service, 1st degree." . . . Under the circumstances which have developed today in Ukraine, when people have perished and fierce confrontation is continuing in the center of Kiev, I ask that you not bestow the award on me," a statement by F. Denisenko says, which was published on the website of his organization.


"Sharing pain and sorrow with the Ukrainian people, the church prays for peace and an end to strife, and it calls all believers to prayer. We also pray for the souls of those who perished, for relief from suffering, and for healing of the wounded. I bless the clergy of the Kiev patriarchate to perform prayers wherever people request it, to facilitate the calming of hatred," the head of Ukrainian schismatics said. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 January 2014)

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Western Ukrainian Orthodox clergy reject hierarchy's support for government


RISU, 23 January 2014


Many ordinary priests of Volhynia are upset by the statement of the abbot of the Kiev caves lavra, Metropolitan Pavel, who expressed support for Yanukovich and compared him with Jesus Christ. This was stated on his Facebook page by the press secretary of the Vladimir-Volhynia diocese of UPTs, Viktor Martynenko.


The archpriest writes: "I do not know whether the news media have transcribed exactly the words of Metropolitan Pavel, that were spoken today to Yanukovich, but the fact that our church resources have posted information about the 'worship' of those monsters and their attendance at the lavra arouses enormous shame within me. Today I talked with many of my friends, simply Volhynia priests, and from all I heard words of dismay."


"Master Pavel. Please, do not speak in the name of the whole church. We understand that you have common financial interests. Next time, just stand up and on camera kiss their ass, and do not do it for all of us," the press secretary of the Vladimir-Volhynia diocese of UPTs says in his post.


As was reported, the abbot of the Kiev caves lavra, Metropolitan of Chernobyl and Vyshgorod Pavel, after the liturgy in the Kiev caves lavra for the Day of Community addressed Yanukovich with the words: "Today you are bearing a heavy cross and the church is with you today to the end, as Simon the Cyrene helped Christ carry the cross to Golgotha." (tr. by PDS, posted 23 January 2014)

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Prosecutor enters controversy of homosexuality in church


Former prorector of Kazan seminary falls into prosecutor's field of vision

by Andrei Smirnov

Kommersant (Kazan), 22 January 2014


The prosecutor's office of Tatarstan has initiated an investigation with regard to the former prorector of the Kazan Ecclesiastical Seminary, Hegumen Kirill Iliukhin. A statement had reached the prosecutor's office earlier regarding sexual harassment on his part toward seminary students. If this information is confirmed, a criminal case may be opened against the priest.


Yesterday a bloger, a former teacher of the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy (MDA), Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, posted on the Internet a copy of a letter from the acting senior assistant prosecutor of Tatarstan, Saiyar Ziyatdinov, to the prosecutor's office of Aviastroitel district of Kazan. This document says that an "appeal that arrived through the Internet site from O.M. Glazova of 9 January 2014 about conducting an investigation with regard to the prorector for academic work of the Kazan Ecclesiastical Seminary of the Russian Orthodox Church, K. Iliukhin, is being sent" to the district prosecutor's office. The letter says: "I ask that you inform the sender about the results of a review of the appeal." Yesterday Mr. Ziyatdinov confirmed for journalists the existence of the appeal and he reported that they are talking about investigating the existence in Kirill Iliukhin's actions of evidence of the crime defined in article 133 of the Criminal Code of RF (coercion to perform actions of a sexual nature). We note that this article provides for up to five years incarceration.


A native of Sverdlovsk province, Kirill Iliukhin was appointed prorector of the Kazan Ecclesiastical Seminary in January 2004. Previously in 2001 he graduated from the Kostroma Ecclesiastical Seminary where he was, in particular, a cantor in the seminary church and also engaged in educational work in summer Orthodox children's camps.


The announcement of the investigation regarding Father Kirill most likely is connected with the sensational story involving him late last year. This happened after Archdeacon Kuraev, at the time an active employee of MDA, posted on his blog an alleged transcript of a speech to seminarians by Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Anastasy. In it the metropolitan called out the students because they had complained to a commission of the Russian Orthodox Church that had been sent to Kazan for an investigation about sexual harassment on the part of Father Kirill. "Enlightening you about what homosexuality is, Fr. Maksim (apparently one of the examiners—Kommersant) began explaining to you what it is and you began talking. Eight persons signed these statement that 'yes there were such incidents.' And why are you victims? Why did you not come to me earlier? While you were in the church school I did not see from you either an oral or written statement that someone raped you or that someone coerced you," the transcript says. After these notes appeared on the Internet, Father Kirill was fired.


Archdeacon Kuraev himself also was fired, because of, as noted in MDA, his "outrageous articles" and activity "in some cases controversial and provocative."


According to Mr. Ziyatdinov, Ms. Glazova's appeal regarding Father Kiril, most likely, was sent to the district prosecutor's office as an office of the investigative directorate of the Investigation Committee of Russia for Tatarstan, which is supposed to decide whether to open a criminal case or not.


Yesterday Kommersant did not succeed in getting a comment from Kirill Iliukhin; where he now works is not known exactly. One of the staff of the Kazan diocese, in conversation with Kommersant, spoke of him as a "smart and educated" person. He would not comment on suspicion of Father Kirill of possible sexual harassment. But he said of Archdeacon Kuraev that, in his opinion, "he writes complete nonsense in his blog," and he does not rule out that Father Kirill could become the victim of a "Moscow campaign." We note that previously the Kazan diocese reported that "there was no scandal," and Father Kirill had been released at his own request. (tr. by  PDS, posted 22 January 2014)

Russian original posted on Interfax-Religiia site, 22 January 2014

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Kuraev issue covered in major newspapers


by Tatiana Medvedeva

Vecherniaia Moskva, 22 January 2014


Revelations by Fr. Andrei Kuraev have evoked heated disputes both in news media and in the Internet community.


Since the scandal has stirred up many people and touches on profound problems that are roiling not ony RPTs but also society as a whole, we invited to participate in our "Hyde Park" not only the chairman of the synod's Department on Relations of Church and Society of the Moscow patriarchate Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, but also VM observers as well as the famous political scientist, journalist, and religious studies specialist Maksim Shevchenko.


Vsevolod Chaplin is sure that Andrei Kuraev "is hooked on spiritual narcotics—the frequency of mention in news media, support of information resources that hate the church, attracting attention by unusual statements." Several days ago on the "Soiuz" TV channel Fr. Vsevolod called Fr. Andrei to fold up his information campaign against RPTs and "to listen to God, not blog." His call has not been heeded.


The deacon who has fallen from grace has continued publishing "sedition" on his Internet resources.


Fulfilling his promise given to Vecherniaia Moskva, Fr. Vsevolod has commented on events that are on everyone's lips.


--Father Vsevolod, in recent days Deacon Andrei has made many attacks against you also. Will your duel continue?


--I am not conducting any duel. Everything that I wanted to say, I have said. Will I be heeded? I do not know. Judging by everything that is still being published, Fr. Andrei has decided to take a very dangerous path. The path of unsubstantiated accusations against people of vices, real or imagined.


When a person engages only in accusations against others and makes this just about the main content of his life, that is a dangerous path. His information campaign reflects his exaggerated interest in the topic of homosexuality. He has always had such an interest, although the current campaign began in December. At the time, many were saying that they were displeased with him at the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy. I do not rule out that he began this campaign because he understood the possibility of his dismissal. Naturally, after the dismissal it has continued.


I see in this an attempt at revenge. An attempt to get special treatment for himself. Incidentally, he always thought that he had a special place in the church, and he has the possibility of influencing personnel decision, including through political denunciations and public campaigns, as occurred in 1991.


--What is the conceptual and even theological substance of Deacon Andrei Kuraev's conflict with RPTs?


--I am pleased that after my statement Fr. Andrei began talking about what is important—just about theological questions. We see that many of his views and statements radically depart from Orthodox tradition, from the tradition that we consider sacred, on a par with scripture, with the Bible. His views do not coincide with the conciliar self-perception of the church which is expressed, inter alia, in documents of local and bishops' councils and in documents of the Holy Synod. They also have become a part of the tradition. Their authority is no less supreme as the authority of conciliar documents of the past.


--Does Deacon Andrei think that it is necessary to be guided more by scripture and not by tradition?


--He has tried to prove that tradition is not a guide to action for the modern Christian. Indeed, some elements of tradition pertain only to a specific time. But the doctrinal and moral elements of the tradition, including the teaching about the symphony of church and state, and the notion that the Christian should venerate sacred things and protect them and to ask for such protection from the state—all of this is an integral part of Orthodox teaching and worldview. We should try to live in accordance with this teaching. Even if the state or society does not understand this completely or is not ready to implement this teaching completely. It can be said that the entire sacred tradition is inspired by God. It is God's voice that guides his church. This also pertains to the church canons. This pertains to the principles of faith and ethics. And to attitude toward sacred things. Deacon Andrei Kuraev too often has rejected many doctrinal principles. He has mocked piety.


--There are many now who actively support Kuraev, but many also criticize. . . .


--I have heard criticism of his statement hundreds of times. From clergy, from laity, from Internet users. He is praised to the greater extent by either inveterate enemies of the church-- people who aggressively fight against the spirit of true Christianity, or by renovationists—people who would like to establish "democracy" in the church. While the church, in its nature, as well as the kingdom of God, is a hierarchical community. Andrei Kuraev himself, in my opinion, has become a renovationist, repeating those hackneyed phrases that have been refuted by life about which the so-called "Living Church" folk talked at the beginning of the 20th century and they were voiced by the notorious former priest Gleb Yakunin.


--There is a perception that Fr. Andrei will go to the end defending his views. Do you agree?


--Obviously Kuraev thinks that everybody should fear him. That decisions will be made on the basis of what he publishes. Such logic penetrated one of the interviews when he said that the smart persons will not dismiss his teaching because he has powerful information resources. I want to calm him down. Nobody fears him and he will not be feared. The majority of normal people have long since stopped reading his monolithic texts. He publishes only gossip that either he generates himself or he got from somewhere and reproduces. Christ said that the conviction of a sin must be confirmed by two or three witnesses. A witness, of course, cannot be anonymous. If a man in a mask arrived and brought an anonymous letter, the apostles and the ancient church would not have listened to him.


--What motivates Fr. Andrei?


--Behind his actions apparently there stand those who would like to get access to the mechanism of decision-making in the church, including personnel decisions, through the organization of Internet campaigns. At first these campaigns will deal with real or imaginary sins in the area of personal life. Then these forces can begin establishing political conditions and then doctrinal ones. This has happened, alas, many times in the West where many Christian or already post-Christian societies have knelt down having been forced to change them on the basis of the wishes of leaders of the "consumer society."


--Father Andrei maintains that church justice supposedly does not work and it cannot expose and remove unworthy bishops. Is this so?


--Church justice works. It is known that it has made many decisions, including those in favor of simple priests who had a dispute with bishops. But no court, including a church court, can act on the basis of gossip or anonymous Internet notes. Father Andrei has repeated many times that he does not want to go to a church court, because he does not trust it. Well! This just shows again that he is spreading accusations that cannot be proven.


--Father Andrei will continue his revelations. Will any measures be taken regarding him?


--He is a free man. He can say what he wants. But if his words and actions go beyond the limits of Orthodox teaching, both scripture and the church's tradition, and they are inconsistent with the mission that the church has in the world, then the church also is free to express its condemnation of him. I know that now no disciplinary measures with respect to him are being developed or applied. Although I have received a multitude of letters with calls to defrock him. A whole movement has arisen, "For a church without Kuraevshchina," and incidentally I do not agree with some of their suggestions. The path of repentance lies before Fr. Andrei just like before each Christian. For anything done incorrectly. And he has done much incorrectly. In a month and a half the Great Fast begins [Lent]. He will have a splendid opportunity to ask forgiveness of all whom he has offended. And he also has offended very many. Let's recall his extremely derogatory remarks about the fraternal Abkhazian people. We will hope that all these people will be able to forgive him. And Fr.Andrei also has the possibility of humble, peaceful church ministry.


--And if he does not repent?


--Then, unfortunately, a different path is very possible. To stand alongside such antichurch publicists as Nevzorov, Nikonov, Bychkov. I also would not want for his name to be added to the list of names of schismatics, such as Denisenko, Yakunin, Dziuban, Rusantsov.


--Many charge that Deacon Andrei does too much PR. . . .


--The spiritual narcotic on which he is hooked—frequency of mention in news media, support of information resources that do not like the church, calling attention with unusual statements. There is never enough of such a drug. If a person is dependent on it, he wants ever more and more. Lack of mention in news media causes withdrawal problems. But at such a time this drug is dropped or the dose becomes life threatening. What else can he do? Curse all forms of popular piety? Think up a "theological" justification for viewing pornography, as he earlier thought up a basis for using one swear word? To find gays right and left and then in the mirror, which also may lead to curious results? Really, I pity Fr. Andrei very much. The man, instead of serving God and people, has begun serving himself.


--Father Andrei launched the general expression "light-blue lobby of RPTs." Is there such a thing or not?


--I do not know of any kind of light-blue lobby. Perhaps Fr. Andrei wanted to replace it for orange. But for now there also is not that one. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 January 2014)

Ukrainian religious leaders vary in response to crisis


RISU, 22 January 2014


Members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (VSTsiRO), who differ among themselves in terms of confessional, religious, and even ethnic affiliation, called in an appeal on the occasion of the Ukrainian Day of Community, 22 January, for all believing citizens of the communal state of Ukraine to pray for unity, harmony, peace, and a noble future for the people of Ukraine. VSTsiRO also declared its readiness to facilitate the start of a constructive dialogue, and it called for preserving the territorial integrity of Ukraine and rejecting ideas of separatism or division.


Text of the appeal


Appeal of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations on the occasion of the Day of Community and Freedom of Ukraine


The Day of Community and Freedom of Ukraine is a special holiday that not only reminds us of the inviolable unity of the entire Ukrainian land in an independent, free state, but also symbolizes the unity of Ukrainians within diversity of opinions, views, and approaches to the creation of our future.


Today there continues in Ukraine a confrontation that in recent days, unfortunately, has acquired the character of sharp violence. In the center of Kiev there have occurred clashes between demonstrators and police, as a result of which hundreds of people have been wounded. The country actually appears on the brink of civil war.


Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine condemn in principle violent actions that lead to an escalation of the conflict. Today both the government, and opposition, and public activists should stop the violence and sit down at the negotiating table. All sides of the confrontation should realize their responsibility for preserving a united, communal Ukrainian state and begin a constructive dialogue with a goal of overcoming the social and political crisis. We hope that today's holiday of Community and Freedom of Ukraine will help us to find the way to reconciliation and harmony between the government and the people, and between various political forces and civil society.


We call for preserving the territorial integrity of Ukraine and for rejecting decisively any ideas of separatism or the division of our motherland, because we are one nation. It is necessary to display brotherly and sisterly love for fellow citizens, regardless of ancestry, language, religion, and the like. Inflaming hatred toward anyone because of ethnic and religious differences is impermissible.


We, members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, who differ among ourselves in confessional, religious, and even ethnic affiliation, call all believing citizens of our communal state to pray for unity, harmony, peace, and a noble future of the nation of Ukraine. We are prepared to facilitate the start of a constructive dialogue.


Great and only God, preserve Ukraine for us!

(tr. by PDS, posted 22 January 2014)



RISU, 22 January 2014


In connection with the latest events in Ukraine, on 22 January 2014 an extraordinary session of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (VSTsiRO) was held. At it a communiqué was adopted:


1. We harshly condemn incidents of murders for which everyone who participated in them will bear responsibility before God. Nobody is permitted to violate God's commandment "Do not kill."


2. We call for an immediate end to bloodshed.


3. We condemn the use of churches and religious organizations in political machinations.


4. We request an immediate meeting with both Ukrainian President V.F. Yanukovich and leaders of the opposition.


We call believers of the churches and religious organizations of Ukraine to fervent prayer and fasting for preserving the peace and integrity of the communal Ukrainian state.

(tr. by PDS, posted 22 January 2014)



RISU, 22 January 2014


The leader of the church of Seventh-Day Adventists in Ukraine, Viktor Alekseenko, published an appeal on 21 January regarding political events in Kiev. He called his believers "not to participate in events which may provoke the inflaming of enmity among people," and "to realize their civic position within the context of God's commandments about love for God and neighbor" and "not to permit themselves to be dragged into dubious actions and events which may cast a shadow on the reputation of the Christian and conscientious members of society, and also tarnish the good name of the church."


"Recent events in Kiev point to the fact that we should unite all efforts in prayer to God for Ukraine. In these days, and especially nights, when the passions of opposing sides achieve their boiling point, carrying within themselves a threat to people's lives, we call all believers to call out in prayers to the Lord, asking him for mercy for the people of Ukraine and for a peaceful settlement of the conflict; and for humility in the hearts of those in power and for wisdom for those who are responsible for the fates of their fellow citizens; and for proper conduct of those who assemble in peaceful actions; for common sense and a profound feeling of responsibility for their statements and actions on all sides of the confrontation.


We call you not to participate in events that may provoke the inflaming of hostility among people. Be tolerant of one another and of neighbors, regardless of their ideological, political, or religious views. Do not post offensive commentaries on forums and social networks. On the contrary, exhort and call for peace and the resolution of conflicts exclusively by peaceful means. After all, violence has never been a rational basis for constructing a new and bright future for either personal or society's life.


Having the right to express your own civic position, exercise it in the context of God's commandments about love for God and neighbor. Do not let yourself be drawn into dubious actions and events that may case a shadow on your reputations as a Christian and a conscientious member of society and also tarnish the good name of the church to which you belong. Be sane and sensible always, and especially in these days that are difficult for our country," the appeal says. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 January 2014)



In thick of confrontation in Kiev he compares Yanukovich with Christ, 22 January 2014


The vicar-abbot of the Kiev caves lavra, UPTsMP Metropolitan of Chernobyl and Vyshgorod Pavel, assured Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich of his support and compared him with Christ. Parishioners who attended the service of the metropolitan on 22 January, the Day of Community of Ukraine, reported this.


"Today you are bearing a heavy cross, and the church is with you today and to the end, like Simon the Cyrene helped Christ to carry his cross to Golgotha," he said, referring to Viktor Yanukovich during a holiday sermon in the Kiev caves lavra where he is vicar-abbot, reports.


Metropolitan Pavel is notorious for his eccentric and nonmonastic way of life. He has often been the subject of articles in news media about the extravagance of the senior hierarchy, he has threatened journalists, he has run for parliament from various parties, including two simultaneously that opposed each other, and he has blessed pro-Moscow processions from the lavra, then quickly condemned them. He originally supported the course for European integration of Ukraine, but late in November of last year, after President Yanukovich rejected this course, Pavel switched completely to the side of the incumbent president. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 January 2014)


Addition from RISU, 22 January 2014:   The service was attended, along with Yanukovich, by Andrei Kliuev, Viktor Pshonka, and other senior leaders of the country.


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