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Russia Religion News Current News Items

Violations of Muslim rights in Crimea increasing


RISU, 17 July 2014


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), along with the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People, intends to monitor the situation involving with the observation of the rights of Muslims in Crimea, the chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Refat Chubarov, said live on the television channel Gromadske TV.  He said that this suggestion was voiced during a meeting of Refat Chubarov and the leader of the Crimean Tatar People, Mustafa Dzhemilev, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish republic, Ahmet Davutoglu.


"This organization along with the Mejlis will follow attentively and monitor the situation connected with the rights of believing Muslims in Crimea," Chubarov said.


At a press conference in Kiev, Chubarov explained that now in Crimea an increase in repressions on the part of the Russian federation is being observed, which has taken on new forms.


The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice stated that it is doing everything possible jointly with public and rights advocacy organizations in order to defend justice and the rights of Crimean Tatars on the territory of the peninsula by means of judicial and diplomatic actions.


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization of Muslim countries that is the largest and most influential official governmental Muslim international organization. This was reported by Krym. Realii. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 July 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Released priest cannot talk


Invictory, 16 July 2014


The priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGKTs), Tikhon Sergii Kulbaka, who was captive to pro-Russian minded militants, described the conditions of his release, the Christian megaportal reports.


In a commentary for the News Department of UGKTs, Father Tikhon reported that militants released him under two conditions: that the priest must leave the territory of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic within 24 hours and that he must not describe what happened to him in captivity.


"They told me that if I do something they do not like, then my parishioners will suffer. And they know their family names and addresses. They call them their hostages," he explained.


Before this on his Facebook page the priest wrote that he is free, alive, but not well. "My dear friends. I am free. Alive. Not well. There will be no answers to questions Who? Where? When? Why? On this depend my life, health, and the safety of third persons. My bow to the earth and thanks until the grave to all who did not sleep nights, conducted negotiations, prayed, or simply feared and worried for me. I believe and know that it was only this that saved my life. I am now getting treatment, but with heart and soul I am with you," he said last evening.


We recall the priest disappeared on 3 July. It later became known that he was captive to the Russian Orthodox Army. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 July 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Russia stung by reports of anti-Orthodox attacks by militants


Blog of Maksim Vasin, 16 July 2014

Russian disciples of Goebbels, the virtuoso of the lie and nazi propaganda, have decided to leave their own yet more vile mark on the history of inhumanity. This time they have tried to lay upon Ukrainians guilt for the murder by Russian mercenaries under the leadership of Girkin (Strelkov) of four ministers of an evangelical church in Slaviansk.


They lied without special finesse. Instead of a routine fantastic interview with a female resident of Slaviansk or creepy revelations of other "eyewitnesses" of events, propagandists of the English-language radio service "The Voice of Russia" simply distorted the words of an adviser of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko.


About what did the Kremlin lie to the whole world?


Their article:


The mutilated bodies of two priests from Slavyansk and of two sons of one of them were found, confirmed the adviser of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko. "We found a grave of two priests from Slavyansk, who were tortured and killed by the Ukrainian nationalists. The whole country and the whole world will know about the terrible atrocities that terrorists conducted. You will learn about it from concrete evidence," said Gerashchenko.


1. The priests were killed for helping self-defense forces, i.e., pro-Russian separatists.

2. They were tortured and killed by Ukrainian nationalists-terrorists, about whose atrocities soon the whole world will learn from concrete proofs.


Actually, the advisor to the head of Ukrainian MVD said the complete opposite:


"The minister has instructed me to say that we have exhumed a grave in which were buried two priests from Slaviansk, as well as two sons of one of these two priests, who were tortured and killed only because they helped our soldiers and fed them. The whole country and the whole world will learn of terrible atrocities that the militants have done. You will learn about real atrocities not from tales or propaganda but with concrete proofs,"


In addition, it should be noted that they are talking about the two sons of Pastor Alexander Pavenko of the Transfiguration of the Lord Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith, Ruvim and Albert, and also about two deacons of this church, Viktor Brodarskii and Vladimir Velichko.


Militants of DPR abducted them on 8 June, on Trinity, right at the time of the festive worship service and took them to the former SBU building in Slaviansk that had been commandeered by separatists. This was reported by many news media, quoting the words of a female parishioner of this church.


At the time in Slaviansk one could not even talk about the Ukrainian army or National Guard or the Right Sector. After all the absolute authority was in the hands of the Russian Girkin-Strelkov, who had served in the FSB and GRU of the armed forces of Russia. It is on him that the responsibility for the atrocities of his troops and the murder of civilians lies.


There is yet another interesting detail in the lie of Russian propaganda.


"Voice of Russia" radio represents the murdered clergymen as representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate, about which the reader was supposed to draw the conclusion from the photo and further list of "persecutions" of the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine. It was in this vein that this article was reprinted by other publications.


Among the "persecutions" of UPTsMP they mentioned the arrest of the priest Vladimir Maretskii. But they forgot to explain that he was heading a group of armed militants who were engaged in stealing ballots and disrupting the presidential election in Luhansk province.


And for the sake of scale, Russian propagandists reported the kidnapping of a priest supposedly of the UPTsMP. Although in reality they were talking about the archpriest of the Kiev patriarchate Yuri Ivanov who was kidnapped in Donetsk by pro-Russian separatists.


But these manipulations of the facts do not prevent "Voice of Russia" from concluding the article about the murder of four parishioners of the Transfiguration evangelical protestant church with the conclusion that the Ukrainian government is intent upon "the physical destruction of the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine." . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)

Background articles:
Ukrainian Pentecostal leaders martyred by Orthodox rebels

July 16, 2014
Rebels kill two priests

July 14, 2014
Militants target Kiev patriarchate clergy

July 8, 2014
Orthodox priest still detained in Ukraine

June 11, 2014
Ukrainian troops capture priest among rebels

May 26, 2014
Kiev patriarchate condemns Moscow patriarchate's support of separatists

May 16, 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Roman Catholic clergy targeted in eastern Ukraine


Religiia v Ukraine, 16 July 2014


Militants of the Donetsk People's Republic detained Viktor Vonsovich, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine. According to news from Pastor Sergei Kosiak from Donetsk, the priest was detained at a checkpoint at the exit from Gorlovka, Donetsk province, Religiia v Ukraine reports, citing Invictory.


"Father Viktor was riding in his Opel Astra auto, wearing clerical clothing. He had on his person documents attesting his identity and priestly office. It is difficult to imagine what provoked the arrest of a minister of God by armed people," the Donetsk pastor wrote on his page.


We recall that yesterday it was learned that UGKTs priest Tikhon Kulbaka was released, who had been held captive by the Russian Orthodox Army.


Earlier, the Ukrainian interior ministry reported that a grave with two priests from Slaviansk, Donetsk province, who had been martyred by militants, was discovered. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Ukrainian Pentecostals intercede for homeland



In the concluding session of the Committee of the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine (TsKhVEU), which was held on 10 July in Zhitomir province, a decision was made to declare an all-Ukrainian fast and prayer for the situation in Ukraine and for the spiritual regeneration of the country, the Christian megaportal reports, citing the website of TsKhVEU.


Senior ministers agreed that every Friday in the period from 18 July to 1 September 2014, believers of all KhVE churches of Ukraine should unanimously pray and fast for the situation in Ukraine. These days include 18 and 25 July and 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 August.


"Today there is an acute need for prayers to God for preserving our territory, and for stopping bloodshed, aggression, and hostility, which we observe in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces (at the base of all this lies sin). It is necessary to pray that, as it is written: "we can lead a quiet and peaceful life."


Today, it seems, as never before, it has become obvious that Ukraine needs the intercessory prayer of the church for peace, unity, moral and material rebirth, and the spiritual awakening of our territory," the TsKhVEU website reports.


After the session, members of the committee visited the 17th congress of TsKhVEU youth, which was held in the "Youth" camp near Malin and they blessed its participants. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Item

Ukrainian Pentecostal leaders martyred by Orthodox rebels



"It has been learned from our brothers from Donbass that two deacons of the Transfiguration of the Lord Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (KhVE) of the city of Slaviansk died at the hand of separatists, as well as another two sons of the church's pastor, Alexander Pavenko," the senior bishops of the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine, Mikhail Panochko, reported.


On 8 June, after worship services, the so-called "militamen of the Donets People's Republic" (DPR) broke into the premises of the Transfiguration of the Lord Church and declared that they were arresting deacons Vladimir Velichko and Viktor Bradarskii, as well as two adult sons of the senior pastor, Ruvim and Albert Pavenko. Obviously their goal was to seize Alexander Pavenko himself also, who fortunately at the moment was not in the premises. He managed to exit from the city along with young children.


The terrorists accused the Christians of crime against DPR, specifically, support of the Ukrainian army.


For more than a month the families of the ministers waited with impatience and anxiety for the prisoners to be set free. Vladimir Velichko left a wife and eight children at home, and Viktor Bradarskii had three children. One of the Pavenko brothers was still single and the other left a wife.


As it turned out, the ministers had been tortured and killed on the next day, 9 June (according to testimony of one of the assistant prosecutors of Slaviansk who managed to escape from DPR captivity; he heard the screams of the brothers who were being tortured during interrogation).  Their bodies were found in one of the mass graves along with two dozen other martyrs. At the present time they are awaiting exhuming which will become possible to begin when the legitimate government starts work and all necessary structures are revived.


"The leadership of the All-Ukrainian Union of KhVE Churches of Ukraine expresses profound condolences to the families of the murdered innocent brothers and it appeals to all concerned Christian to prayerfully support their families in this extremely difficult time," Mikhail Panochko noted. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Anglican decision on women bishops alienates Moscow


Interfax-Religiia, 16 July 2014


The Moscow patriarchate regrets that the synod of the Church of England decided to ordain women to the rank of bishop.


"The Orthodox church is averse to the so-called female priesthood and female episcopacy. We see in this process a departure by the Anglican church and a whole series of protestant denominations from the original church structure, following modern liberal trends. We regret that such decisions have been made," the head of the synod's Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion, said Wednesday in an interview with Interfax-Religiia. He said that such steps do not close in on that unity "of which we once spoke at inter-Christians meetings as the goal of these meetings."


"The space for dialogue is narrowing, for which our partners are to blame, and we view this with great regret," the hierarch said.


He pointed out that according to church teaching, the succession of ecclesiastical authority passes through a direct chain of consecrations of bishops, and this chain traces back to the apostles.


"For us, the presence of women in the episcopate closes the door for any discussion of the topic of succession within the Anglican episcopate," the news agency's interlocutor declared, adding that the Russian church will continue dialogue with Anglicans, in the hope that its voice will be heard.


The Russian church began dialogue with the Anglican church back at the time of the formation of Anglicanism in the 16th century. Throughout history, Anglicans have often undertaken the most diverse steps toward convergence with Orthodox churches. However in the attempts of the Anglican Church to unite with the Orthodox Church, the practical aspects of the questions prevailed: immediate establishment of prayer communion without settling questions of doctrine.


The Russian Church has had close contacts with Anglicans, including in the USA, with the Episcopal Church, where the Russian ecclesiastical mission operated (in Alaska and on the Aleutian islands). The second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st were marked by a worsening of relations between Orthodox churches and the Anglican Communion. The first problems arose in 1976, after the decision of the Episcopal Church in USA to ordain women priests. At the end of the 1980s, the Episcopal Church in USA began practicing the episcopal ordination of women, and early in the 2000s it consecrated the openly homosexual Gene Robinson to the rank of bishop. The Moscow patriarchate then condemned this act as anti-Christian and blasphemous. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)



In its time, when the female priesthood was introduced, the Orthodox churches reacted negatively to this, but nevertheless dialogue, including theological dialogue, continued with a number of protestant churches. . . . But we continually had to reformulate these relations because whereas earlier we could discuss theological, ecclesiastical, and ethical problems, now this was becoming ever more difficult, because we were diverging ever further and further and the area of our cooperation was continually narrowing. We effectively removed from the agenda in dialogue with protestant confessions theological and ecclesiastical questions. We still were able to discuss ethical matters, but even in this area we had ever greater disagreements. The space for dialogue is narrowing, for which our partners are to blame, and we view this with great regret.


When I was still bishop of Vienna and Austria, I participated as an observer from the Russian Church in the Lambeth Conference, a conference of Anglican bishops that gathers once every ten years. At one of the round tables in this conference, I was asked: "Why do you speak against the female episcopacy if you in effect have 'swallowed' the female priesthood. Is there really a difference in principle?" Before that moment I had not thought about this. But when the question hit me in the gut, I answered that there is a difference in principle, because the succession of ecclesiastical authority is transmitted through the direct chain of the consecrations of bishops, and this chain traces back to the apostles. Priests do not have apostolic succession. Priests receive ordination from a bishop. So if we say that one or another bishop ordained some person improperly, from our point of view, this may at least be interpreted as a mistaken action of a bishop, but it does not affect the episcopate as such. But if within the episcopate itself violations occur that we consider unacceptable, then for us even the theoretical possibility of recognizing apostolic succession of the consecration within this episcopate disappears. After all this was one of the topics of the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue back in the 19th century, when the Anglicans proved that they possessed apostolic succession. Hypothetically, the issue of the convergence between our confessions could still arise, but now it cannot arise any longer, because for us, the presence of women in the episcopate closes the door for any discussion of the topic of succession within the Anglican episcopate. Here is what for us is the essential difference between the female priesthood and the female episcopacy. And this is why the introduction of the female episcopacy narrows still more the possibilities not only for convergence but even simply for dialogue. . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)


Russian original published on Interfax-Religiia site, 16 July 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Moscow professes hands-off of Ukrainian church election


Interfax-Religiia, 16 July 2014


Decisions at the bishops' council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 13 August, at which they will select its new primate, should be made freely and without pressure, the head of the synod's Department of External Church Relations, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion, declared.


"This should be a free, unhindered choice through secret ballot, in which each bishop takes part, following the voice of his own conscience exclusively, and not under pressure on the part of politicians or on the part of any secular structures," the metropolitan said Wednesday in an interview with Interfax-Religiia.


He is sure that the bishops will select the one who will be worthy of bearing the primatial ministry.


"And as it was in the Kharkkov Sobor of 1992 (when the late Metropolitan Vladimir was elected to the Kiev see—IF), so it will be now also. It would be completely incorrect and unethical on my part to comment with regard to possible candidates, to evaluate or to warn against mistakes. I am sure that there will be no mistakes and that a worthy candidate will be chosen," the news agency's interlocutor declared.


He recently returned from Kiev, where he represented Patriarch Kirill at the ceremony of the funeral and burial of Metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine Vladimir.


Metropolitan Ilarion reported that the trip came off without incident. "This time I crossed the border without hindrance. That matter was controlled by Petro Alekseevich Poroshenko personally" he explained.


In May, while passing through border control in Denpropetrovsk, Metropolitan Ilarion was informed of a ban on entry into Ukrainian territory. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 July 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

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