Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Russian Orthodox Church

Russia Loses the War of the Churches (37)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>



The ROC in Muscovy decides to form a new ROC staffed patriarchate for Russian speakers in Turkey, to compete against the Constantinople Patriarchate – effectively an ecclesiastical invasion of Turkish territory. This is a very Russian play, putting Turkey into the same category of other nations Russia labeled as part of the “Russian World” due to ethnic Russian minorities deemed to be oppressed and needing to be defended.

In Kyiv, the ROC’s Ukrainian branch office convenes an Episcopal Council, that then declines to meet with Pres Poroshenko on neutral ground, declines to participate in the new autonomous church, and self-anathematizes by breaking communion with the global Orthodox Church. Pres Poroshenko’s office describes the ROC’s behavior as issuing ultimatums to the President and scripted in Muscovy.

Religious studies scholar Sagan credits the ROC by laying the ground for the Russian invasion of Donbass in 2014, by radicalizing local people and promoting Muscovy agendas that are part of the “Russian World”  script. In an area as poorly educated and as impoverished as Donbass, the ROC had far greater influence than in more affluent and cosmopolitan parts of Ukraine.

In Russia persecution of the True Orthodox Church, a splinter church that refused to cooperate with Stalin and broke away to maintain their faith appears to continue unabated under Putin. Reports include the persecution of church members living outside Russia by the FSB.


Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Laying Groundwork for Alternative Patriarchate in Muslim Turkey

Paul Goble Staunton, November 12 – The Moscow Patriarchate is taking its battle against the Universal Patriarchate over Ukrainian autocephaly to a new level: it is seeking to organize Orthodox parishes in Turkey in order to set the stage for the creation of a new patriarchate in the backyard of Patriarch Bartholemew. When Moscow spoke about an Orthodox Patriarchate in Turkey a few weeks ago, many dismissed that as an absurdity because there are so few non-Muslims in that country; but in fact, many of the oldest patriarchates in the world are in places where there are very few Orthodox believers – and Moscow clearly plans to add another one to it as part of its geo-religious game. Metropolitan Ilarion who heads the Moscow Patriarchate’s office for external relations says that given the break with Constantinople Russia has “not other way out then to send priests of the Russian Orthodox Church to Turkey” and organize Orthodox parishes there (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=82345 andmospat.ru/ru/2018/11/12/news166483/). The Russian hierarch acknowledges that there are only about 2,000 Orthodox believers among Turkish citizens, but there are now “tens of thousands of Russian-speaking residents” of that country, “not counting the constant flow of Russian tourists.” They want to know where they should go to pray. Up to now, Illarion says, Moscow restrained from taking independent action out of deference to the Constantinople Patriarch but now that the latter has violated the canonical territory of Russia, Moscow no longer feels the need to hold back. Instead, it is sending its own priests to Turkey to support the faithful. Apparently, the first case of this took place yesterday when a priest from Russia held an Orthodox service in the church on the territory of the Russian consulate general in Istanbul. That church had been jointly consecrated by the two patriarchs, Kirill and Bartholemew, in 2009 (ahilla.ru/rpts-napravila-svyashhennika-v-turtsiyu-okormlyat-russkoyazychnyh-pravoslavnyh/).

Ukraine Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate not to partake in creation of autocephalous church | UNIAN

The Ukraine Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) will not to take part in the creation of a new, autocephalous church in Ukraine, as the council of UOC-MP bishops considers that granting the so-called tomos of autocephaly is artificial and forced from outside. The council of UOC-MP bishops gathered on November 13. The Ukraine Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) will not to take part in the creation of a new, autocephalous church in Ukraine, as the council of UOC-MP bishops considers that granting the so-called tomos of autocephaly is artificial and forced from outside. “The council of bishops declares that the process of granting the so-called tomos of autocephaly is artificial, forced from outside, does not reflect the church’s internal demand, will not bring real church unity and will only exacerbate the divide and feuds between [groups of] the Ukrainian nation,” the UOC-MP council said in a statement on Tuesday, November 13. “In this situation, we consider it impossible for the episcopate, the clergy and laypeople of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to join these processes,” it said. The Moscow Patriarchate considers it is “unacceptable for the [Ecumenical] Patriarchate of Constantinople to unlawfully interfere with the internal affairs of another local church and to try to resolve the Ukrainian church question with the involvement of the government and those taking part in the [Orthodox] schism, ignoring the voice of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” The UOC-MP bishops declare that UOC-MP members’ appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch “not to legitimize the split under the pretext of creating autocephaly was left without attention.”

The UOC-MP will not take part in the creation of an autocephalous church, – the decree of the bishops’ council

The Cathedral of the Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said that the decision of Constantinople regarding the Ukrainian church question “has no canonical force” and refused to participate in the creation of an autocephalous church. This is reported by Tsensor.NET with reference to the official message of the UOC-MP. The statement states that “the process of providing the so-called tomos of autocephaly is artificial, imposed from the outside,” as well as “does not reflect the internal church’s need, will not bring real church unity and deepen the division and intensify conflicts among the people of Ukraine.””Under such conditions, it is impossible to enter the bishopric, clergy, and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into these processes,” the statement reads. In addition, according to the UOC-MP, “the removal of anathema from the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate Filaret is a consequence of a distorted interpretation of the Orthodox canons.””The decision to establish the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the territory of Ukraine is the result of a speculative interpretation of church history, and the decision to remove the anathemas and other church prohibitions from the leaders of the split and the recognition of the reality of the pseudo-heirtonian that they made during the split is a consequence of the distorted interpretation of the Orthodox canons … “, – the statement said. Earlier, Archbishop of the UOC-KP Yevstratyi Zorya said that those invited to a meeting with Peter Poroshenko, the bishop of the UOC-MP, were sitting behind the closed doors at the Lavra. In the UOC-MP, in response, they announced that they had canceled a meeting with Poroshenko in the Ukrainian House, since, as the Council of Bishops, he decided that “it should take place in the church territory.”At the same time, on November 13, the Cathedral of the Bishops of the UOC-MP declared that the eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople was breaking. Recall that on October 11, according to the results of the meeting of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a decision was announced stating that Constantinople continues the procedure of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

The disruption of the meeting with the bishops of the UOC-MP is the Moscow scenario – Tsyogolko

The press service of the Presidential Administration responded to the refusal of the hierarchs of the UOC-MP to come to a meeting with Petro Poroshenko to the Ukrainian House. According to Censor.NET, the text was published by Facebook’s press secretary Svyatoslav Tsyogolko on Facebook. The text reads: “By consistently defending the unity of Ukraine in the pursuit of the unity of the Ukrainian Church, a few weeks ago, the President of Ukraine initiated a meeting with all the bishops of the UOC (MP), inviting them to the” Ukrainian House “.But he who does not want a result looks for reasons for refusal. So much of the bishops of the UOC (MP) began to look for an explanation in order not to come to a meeting: they say, the place is not suitable. Neither the language of ultimatum requirements nor the holding of a Synod meeting in the scenario allegedly sent from Moscow can not undermine the process of creating the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church. This process is supported by the absolute majority of citizens of our state. Therefore, to go against the will of our own people is obviously the way to nowhere. The President invited the bishops of the UOC (MP) to dialogue in order to hear firsthand the information about his talks with the Ecumenical Patriarch, the agreement between Ukraine and the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the readiness of the Ecumenical Council to facilitate the unification of the Council. The President of Ukraine is ready for dialogue. Doors of the Ukrainian House remain open. Earlier, Archbishop of the UOC-KP Yevstratyi Zorya said that those invited to a meeting with Peter Poroshenko, the bishop of the UOC-MP, were sitting behind the closed doors at the Lavra. In the UOC-MP, in response, they announced that they had canceled a meeting with Poroshenko in the Ukrainian House, since, as the Council of Bishops, he decided that “it should take place in the church territory.”At the same time, on November 13, the Cathedral of the Bishops of the UOC-MP declared that the eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople was breaking. Recall that on October 11, according to the results of the meeting of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a decision was announced stating that Constantinople continues the procedure of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

UOC-MP decided to break communion with Constantinople: “Impossible and canceled”

The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) has decided to stop eucharistic communication with the Constantinople Patriarchate.This is stated in the decision of the Council of Bishops of the UOC (MP), announced by the press service of the church, reports Tsensor. NET.”The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church believes that the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on October 11, 2018 concerning the Ukrainian church question is invalid and does not have any canonical force,” the report states.Read also: The refusal of the leadership of the UOC-MP to go for a meeting with Poroshenko is a demarche, designed to show disregard for the President, – Archbishop Yevstraty (Zorya)The council of bishops accused the Patriarchate of Constantinople of being divided, due to the fact that its decisions are “anti-canonical” and “recognize the splitters.” “In this regard, the eucharistic communication of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the Patriarchate of Constantinople is impossible and canceled at this time”, – it is the decision.Earlier, Archbishop of the UOC-KP Yevstratyi Zorya said that those invited to a meeting with Peter Poroshenko, the bishop of the UOC-MP, were sitting behind the closed doors at the Lavra.In the UOC-MP, in response, they announced that they had canceled a meeting with Poroshenko in the Ukrainian House, since, as the Council of Bishops, he decided that “it should take place in the church territory.”Recall that on October 11, according to the results of the meeting of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a decision was announced stating that Constantinople continues the procedure of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

Invited to meet Poroshenko, the bishops of the UOC-MP, are sitting behind closed doors in the Lavra – Archbishop Yevstraty (Zorya)

All those invited to meet Poroshenko are bishops of the UOC-MP sitting behind the closed doors in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, and those who leave the premises will immediately be removed from their posts.According to Censor.NET, Archbishop Yevstratii Zory, Archbishop of the UOC-KP, reported on Facebook.He noted: “At the time when at 14:00 in the Ukrainian House the meeting of the President of Ukraine with the bishopric of the Moscow Patriarchate should begin, the bishops invited to it sit at the closed doors at the Lavra.In the morning, the Synod of MPvU met. With an obvious hint: which of the bishops will not obey the order of the Metropolia (in fact, the instructions from Moscow) – that decision of the Synod today will get rid of posts. ” Recall that on October 11, according to the results of the meeting of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a decision was announced stating that Constantinople continues the procedure of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.In addition, the Synod’s letter of 1686 was canceled, after which the Kievan Metropolitanate fell under the jurisdiction of Moscow, the canonical status of the primate of the UOC-Kyivan Patriarchate Filaret and the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Macarius was restored.On November 3, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed an agreement on cooperation and cooperation between Ukraine and the Constantinople Patriarchate in Istanbul.As the Poroshenko meeting said, the agreement creates conditions for the “process of giving Tomos (on autocephaly – Ed.) To be carried out absolutely in strict conformity with the canons of the Orthodox Church.” The head of state called this day, November 3, historic.

UOC (MP) Episcopal Council ready to meet with Ukrainian President, but in church territory

The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) declares its readiness to hold a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, but only on the church territory. The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) declares its readiness to hold a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, but only on the church territory. “The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church confirms its readiness to meet with the president of Ukraine, but on the church territory,” the vouncil said in a statement adopted at the meeting on Tuesday. The statement also explains that the Council of Bishops of the UOC-MP decided to meet with the president, but not at the Ukrainian House, but on the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, which was immediately reported to the president. However, Poroshenko refused to meet, the UOC-MP states.

Poroshenko ready for dialogue on creating Ukrainian local church

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is ready for a dialogue in the “Ukrainian House” with the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) on the creation of the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church, as was suggested earlier, the presidential administration’s press service told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is ready for a dialogue in the “Ukrainian House” with the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) on the creation of the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church, as was suggested earlier, the presidential administration’s press service told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “The president invited the archbishops of the UOC-MP to dialogue so that they hear first-hand information about his talks with the Ecumenical Patriarch, about the agreement between Ukraine and the Patriarchate of Constantinople and about the readiness of the Ecumenical Throne to facilitate the Unification Council. President of Ukraine is ready for dialogue. Door of the “Ukrainian house” remains open,” the presidential press service reported.

Poroshenko meeting with hierarchs of Ukraine Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate on Tuesday – source | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is meeting with the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) on Tuesday, November 13. Ukraine is seeking the tomos, a document granting autocephaly to the local Orthodox church in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is meeting with the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) on Tuesday, November 13. The Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is expected to be the venue of the meeting, a well-informed source told UNIAN. Read alsoChurch of Moscow Patriarchate reportedly asks Poroshenko to meet (Document) Media earlier reported that the UOC-MP bishops planned to meet with Poroshenko on November 13. The participation of all UOC-MP diocesan and vicar bishops is said to be obligatory.

Poroshenko, Moscow Patriarchate episcopate to meet on November 13 – 112.international

Today, on November 13, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the episcopate of Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine will have a meeting, as Archbishop Eustratius, the press secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate, wrote on Facebook. “I wish Petro Olexiyovych wisdom and inspiration while negotiating. And those Moscow Patriarchate bishops, who actually support Ukraine and unity of the church, I wish them to be brave enough to say that at the meeting and show that Moscow is no longer in control of Kyiv,” he said.

Religious scholar Oleksandr Sagan accuses Moscow Patriarchate of outbreak of war in Donbas | UNIAN

Leading researcher at the Department of Religious Studies of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Oleksandr Sagan has said the war in Donbas was a result of the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. According to the religious scholar, the liberation of Ukraine from the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate will actually introduce a redistribution of world Orthodoxy. Leading researcher at the Department of Religious Studies of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Oleksandr Sagan has said the war in Donbas was a result of the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv, he said the development of a local Orthodox church in Ukraine was “in fact a condition for the country’s survival today.” “The problem of educating people is superimposed on the problem of the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas. We see who educated them, what kind of Orthodox armies are running in Donbas, what ideas prevail there today. These are the ideas of the so-called ‘Russian world’ that came to Ukraine through the church,” he said, according to an UNIAN correspondent. The religious scholar believes that Orthodoxy by the Moscow Patriarchate is away from the ideal of the very Orthodoxy, degenerating into political Orthodoxy. “It is now beginning to dominate not only in the territory of the Russian Federation, but also in Ukraine. This is a big problem since today the Moscow Patriarchate is beginning to drift from world Orthodoxy,” he stressed. According to Sagan, the Ukrainian Orthodoxy has a chance to break out of this political Orthodoxy and join world Orthodoxy, which, in turn, has received another chance to be reborn through the tomos on autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church. According to the religious scholar, the liberation of Ukraine from the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate will actually introduce a redistribution of world Orthodoxy. “We expect that Ukrainian Orthodoxy will change at the ecclesiological, organizational, institutional and other levels,” he added. According to Sagan, “the Ukrainian mentality is often lost under the pressure of not only Russian TV, Russian movies, but also church media: sermons in churches, upbringing of children and young people. What do they teach in Sunday schools in churches of the Moscow Patriarchate? They teach us to love Russia, and then we wonder why some of our fellow Ukrainians took up arms to fight against Ukraine — because there is supposedly no such country as they have been told since their early age in churches that this is a ‘random political education’ that claims to be some kind of ‘artificial’ language.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Teaching Old Church Slavonic in Schools Absurd and Mercifully Unrealizable, Spitsyn Says

Paul Goble Staunton, Last week, Viktor Sadovnichy, the rector of Moscow State University, called for the introduction of Old Church Slavonic as an elective in Russian schools, an idea Yevgeny Spitsyn, a historian and educator says is absurd and mercifully unrealizable: Russian pupils need to study Russian more, and there simply isn’t anyone to teach the other language. In a comment for the Nakanune news agency, Spitsyn says that such a proposal is absurd given the catastrophic state of Russian language instruction in Russian schools. “The level of literacy is falling” because “the number of hours of Russian language classes leaves much to be desired” (http://nakanune.ru/articles/114552/). In fact, he continues, “in certain schools the amount of instruction in foreign languages is much greater than in Russian,” with two foreign languages being obligatory in some schools already. In Moscow, most students study foreign languages for twice as many hours a week as they do Russian.” This is a tragedy that shouldn’t be compounded, Spitsyn says. “Language is the foundation of the nation and the study of language is directly connected with the study of literature. By my own experience,” he continues, “I had problems with Russian.” They were overcome only by studying the language and reading literature. That is true for others too. But fortunately, this bad idea isn’t going anywhere, the historian says. There simply aren’t going to be enough teachers to make it happen and “cadres decide everything.” But the proposal reflects a dangerous trend, a desire to retreat into the past and away from the modern world and a scientific understanding of that world, a pulling back no country can afford. Others have been equally savage. Igor Yakovenko, for example, noted that “not a single scientific work was ever written in Old Church Slavonic simply because up to the 18th century there wasn’t any science, and when it appeared or more precisely was imported by Peter from Europe, the language of Russian science was all the same Latin” (http://ej2018.ru/?a=note&id=33108). Learning additional languages, even “dead” ones like Latin or Greek, is a useful intellectual discipline, the commentator says; but introducing ones without any obvious utility beyond church services at the expense of learning one’s own national language or other disciplines is about as wrongheaded as can be.

Russia’s Next Weapon: A Church | The National Interest

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces. Meet Vladimir Putin’s newest weapon: a church. The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces. Construction will soon begin of the Main Church of the Armed Forces, to be erected in Patriot Park outside Moscow, according to Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, deputy defense minister and chief of the armed forces’ Main Military-Political Directorate, a new organization responsible for political education of the troops. The “new church will be one more example of the people’s unity around the idea of patriotism, love, and devotion to our Motherland,” Kartapolov told Russian journalists. To say the church, dubbed by some as the “Khaki Temple,” will have a martial air would be an understatement. “The walls of the military church are really made in the color of the standard Russian missile system and armored vehicle,” according to the Russian newspaper The Independent [Google English translation here ] “…From the inside, the walls are decorated with paintings with battle scenes from military history and texts from the Holy Scriptures. The projected height is 95 meters [104 feet] and is designed for 6,000 people.” “Kartapolov is convinced that the modern Russian serviceman cannot be shaped without shaping lofty spirituality in him,” Russian media said. “Speaking about ideology, the deputy head of the military department pointed out that this will be based on knowledge of the history of our Motherland and people and on historical and cultural traditions.” “Even though the Russian constitution states that ‘no ideology may be established as state or obligatory,’ the Kremlin continues to search for a unifying set of beliefs,” notes the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office.

Kyiv Patriarchate refutes Russian fake news on Christmas date change in Ukraine | UNIAN

Press secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya) has said the local autocephalous church does not consider the official Christmas celebrations date shift from January 7 to December 25. The very idea remains controversial, the Ukrainian clerics believe.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate denies plans to switch Christmas for December 25 – 112.international

The messages on this topic are informational provocation of Moscow origin. Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate (KP) claimed that the United Local Church does not consider the issue of the transfer of the celebration of Christmas from January 7 to December 25.

Ukraine transfers noted church to Constantinople patriarch

MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine has turned over one of the most famous Orthodox churches in the capital for permanent use by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The law transferring the use of St. Andrew’s Church went into effect on Saturday. The move comes after the patriarchate, whose leader is regarded as “first among equals” for Orthodox Christians, moved to allow the Orthodox church in Ukraine to become independent of the Russian Orthodox Church. The baroque St. Andrew’s Church, noted for its blue-and-white spires and cupola, is one of Kiev’s most visible landmarks. It was designed by the same architect responsible for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and is part of a state preservation complex.

Ukraine transfers noted church to Constantinople patriarch

November 10, 2018 at 5:48 PM CST – Updated November 10 at 5:48 PM MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine has turned over one of the most famous Orthodox churches in the capital for permanent use by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The law transferring the use of St. Andrew’s Church went into effect on Saturday. The move comes after the patriarchate, whose leader is regarded as “first among equals” for Orthodox Christians, moved to allow the Orthodox church in Ukraine to become independent of the Russian Orthodox Church. The baroque St. Andrew’s Church, noted for its blue-and-white spires and cupola, is one of Kiev’s most visible landmarks. It was designed by the same architect responsible for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and is part of a state preservation complex.

Victor Gaetan | New Cold War by Proxy? Religious Conflict on Ukrainian Territory [NOT NEUTRAL]

Pope Francis cautions Catholics not to ‘meddle’ in ecclesiological conflict between the Orthodox Church of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church. The accelerating dispute in Ukraine between two Orthodox Churches — the Church of Constantinople, a historic Church with spiritual prestige, and the 140-million-member Russian Orthodox Church, a powerhouse in terms of membership muscle, political clout and wealth — is ominous because it forecasts conflict in a country already suffering a “fratricidal” war, to use Pope Francis’ term. The Russian Orthodox Church broke Eucharistic communion with the Church of Constantinople Oct. 15 in response to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople’s Oct. 11 decision to recognize a new, independent (“autocephalous”) Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which Russia doesn’t think Constantinople has the right to engineer, based on canon law. The schism reminds Catholic faithful how consistently our last five popes have prioritized improved relations with our Orthodox brethren. Recovering Catholic-Orthodox Unity Pope St. Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras’ landmark meeting in the Holy Land in 1964 started a new era between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. A year later, in a breathtaking act of historical revision, the two men canceled reciprocal excommunications that ruptured the one faith into East and West in 1054. Every pope since has advanced the goal of Catholic-Orthodox reconciliation. Not only has Pope Francis developed a friendship with Bartholomew, the Holy Father expanded outreach to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) when he met Patriarch Kirill two years ago. Francis was the first pope to meet a Russian patriarch in the Moscow Patriarchate’s 1,030-year history, a reunion prayerfully sought since Pope St. John Paul II. Meanwhile, the Holy See maintains communication with both sides of this complex dispute. In May, Pope Francis warned Catholics — including Ukrainian Greek Catholics, living mainly in western Ukraine — not to “meddle” in Orthodox affairs when he met with Metropolitan Hilarion, ROC chairman for external church relations, having met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew days before.

Years in gulag helped make Ukrainian dissident a Catholic

A Ukrainian found his faith in a Soviet gulag.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Another Tragic Soviet Continuity in Putin’s Russia – the Catacomb Church Still Suffers

Paul Goble Staunton, November 10 – Many of the religious groups in Russia now suffering government oppression, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, did experience a brief reprise from that between Gorbachev’s time and a few years ago; but one group never got that respite – the True Orthodox – who have remained a catacomb church since tsarist times. As in Soviet times, some of the followers of this church have been killed, others jailed, and the rest in hiding. A few like Viacheslav Demin have escaped abroad to tell the story of what is happening to a church known to have given rise to the greatest number of saints. I am grateful to him for sharing two of his recent appeals on the behalf of those in the catacombs. In a few cases, Demin says, people in the West know what has happened to their fellow believers but most often the authorities release no information lest the sufferings of these Christians attract attention and lead other Christians to condemn what the Kremlin continues to do to those who want only to believe and serve their Lord. Among the horrors visited upon the True Orthodox is the punitive use of psychiatry. In Tyumen today, there is a special “therapeutic” colony for True Orthodox believers. Among those incarcerated and mistreated by police officers in white coats are Nikolai Volkov and Vladimir Melikhov. There are others, but their names are not known. Many of the True Orthodox are Cossacks, and not surprisingly, they are victims of various forms of repression in Putin’s Russia. Most of the victims whose names are known are people from central Russia. How many more there are beyond that region staggers the imagination since the True Orthodox were historically stronger on the periphery. Among the True Orthodox who have been forced to flee abroad are Archbishop Amrosiy Sivers, Yevgeny Tupikin, Aleksandr Portnenko, Nikolay Smolentsev-Sobol, Yevgeny Smirnov, Viktor Matyukhin, Oleg Butusin, Sergey Azhinov, Dmitry Savvin, Aleksey Kutalov, Tatyana Kungurova and Yuri Gorsky. Their lives are hard and few of them have the opportunity to speak out. Consequently, over the last year, they have regularly appealed to the international community and to Christians around the world to protest what the combined forces of the Russian state and the Moscow Patriarchate have been doing – and continue to do. “Our brothers and sisters in Christ place their hopes in you,” one appeal reads. They “are waiting for the results of Christian solidarity and mercy. The Free World can stop this arbitrariness, violence and repression, prevent others from becoming victims, and ease the fate of the unfortunate.” Over the past year, the situation for the True Orthodox has become worse in Russia, and the FSB has even gone after those members of the faith who have managed to flee abroad. “Isn’t it time,” Demin asks, “to stop this carnage” and allow Christians to practice their faith in their own country freely? Unfortunately, he reports, none of the national and international organizations he has appealed to have responded to him. He prayerfully hopes that will change, that people of good will around the world will see that defending the True Orthodox in the catacomb church in Russia is their duty to God and man. Those who want to help should contact him at Viacheslav Demin, 4405 S. Donald Ct., Spokane, WA 88223 USA; 509-218-8706; or demin-nimed@mail.ru.

Catacomb Church – Wikipedia

True Orthodoxy – Wikipedia

Advertisements