April 16, 2014

Patriarch Kirill’s birthday greetings to Metropolitan Jonah

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia congratulates the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America on his 50th birthday. Source: Moscow Patriarchate. Your Beatitude, Beloved Brother and Concelebrant in the Lord: I wholeheartedly greet and congratulate you on the your 50th birthday. On this day, I lift up an ardent prayer to God for you and remember with warmth the moments of our fraternal fellowship during your official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church, which enabled us to experience once again the spiritual and historical kindred of our two Churches. Your jubilee is a feast not only for the Orthodox Church in America but also for the Moscow Patriarchate tied with the life of the American Orthodox by historical bonds. May the Lord Who has place on you the heavy burden of primatial service of the Orthodox Church in America bless your primatial efforts and multiply and strengthen your God-loving flock. I prayerfully wish you good health and inexhaustible … [Read more...]

Moscow: No meeting with pope in the works

From Interfax (Oct. 7): Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk has denied reports that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia might visit the Vatican in the near future. "No preparations are being made for the Patriarch's trip to the Vatican and his meeting with the Pope at any particular place or at any particular time," Archbishop Hilarion said while taking questions from journalists in Moscow. The possibility of the Pope's visit to Russia in the near future is not being discussed, either, he said. "The matter may imply a meeting on neutral ground, as they say now," he said. Archbishop Hilarion insisted that the main purpose of a dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church is not so much a meeting between their heads as such as "radical improvement in our relations and the overcoming of the existing problems." He mentioned among such problems proselytism, a too … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill: Happy Birthday to Putin

Highlights from Reuters: The "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" daily published an "Ode to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin" written in a style typical of poems devoted to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. "The country is again at a crossroads wondering whether it might perish or not," the ditty reads. "We congratulate you comrade Putin and ask God to give you another 120 years." [ ... ] Putin handed over the presidency in May 2008 to handpicked successor Dmitry Medvedev. He took the more junior post of prime minister but he is widely believed to make all key decisions. The former KGB spy has become a devout believer since the collapse of communism and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was among the first to congratulate Putin on his birthday. "Wisdom based on rich political experience, typical for you, is a guarantee of stability in our state," Kirill wrote in a congratulatory message carried by Russian news agencies. [ ... ] Igor Yurgens, who heads a think-tank working for … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill: Russia needs nuclear weapons

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, September 11 (RIA Novosti) - The head of Russia's Orthodox Church said on Friday that Russia needed nuclear weapons. Speaking in the Volga Region town of Sarov, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said that while the Church was in favor of "a world without weapons," Russia required nuclear arms to ensure that it was able to "remain a sovereign state." Sarov is the center of Russia's nuclear weapon industry and closed to foreigners. Speaking before several thousand young people, the patriarch said "the reason for war is sin and evil in man's heart," and that peace can only be guaranteed by "fighting against sin." "You can have excellently developed systems of international law, international organizations, but fall into the abyss of war," he added. This is not the first time the Orthodox Church has shown its support for weapons of mass destruction. In 2007, a prayer service was held in central Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to celebrate the … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill wants monastery that was Gulag to be spiritual center

The towers of Solovki Monastery in the winter of about 1930, when it was a concentration camp

From Ecumenical News International (26 August 2009): By Sophia Kishkovsky Moscow, 26 August (ENI)--The Solovetsky Islands off the coast of Russia's northern Arkhangelsk region – settled by monks in the 15th century – became in the 20th century a center for the Soviet Gulag system of prison camps. Now the monastery archipelago should become a spiritual center not only for Russia but for all of Europe, said Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church when he visited the area in August. The Patriarch's grandfather, a priest, was a prisoner in the island camp, whose cruelty was immortalized in dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book, "The Gulag Archipelago". Kirill said it was a miracle that his grandfather, Vasily Gundyayev, had survived, and at a 22 August memorial service, the Patriarch spoke of the spiritual strength that was demonstrated on the islands during the Soviet era. "We believe that these sufferings and torments have strengthened the power of the Church as … [Read more...]

Russia Today: Patriarch Kirill’s Trip to Ukraine

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Patriarch Kirill in Ukraine

A lot of news, in the mainstream press and on Orthodox sites, about Patriarch Kirill's current visit to Ukraine. The best analysis I've seen so far is from Andrei Zolotov Jr. of Russia Profile. Zolotov says that Kirill and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew "appear to have reached some agreement on Ukraine, which has not been revealed to the public." From the article: For an outsider who is not familiar with the intricacies of Ukrainian history, it is not easy to understand the complexity of the church situation in Ukraine. Over the centuries, the heirs to Prince Vladimir’s baptismal font have repeatedly found themselves in different states and different Churches, while the numerous wars that have rolled over this part of Europe inevitably turned out to be civil wars for the ancestors of those who make up the people of Ukraine today. It was only within the framework of the Soviet Union that Ukraine’s current borders were set. When the Soviet Union disintegrated and Ukraine became … [Read more...]

Medvedev Supports Religion Education in Schools

Patriarch Kirill offers a caution. From RIA Novosti: BARVIKHA, July 21 -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday expressed his support for a proposal to teach religious education in Russian state schools. He also backed the suggestion that chaplains should be employed in Russia's armed forces. "I decided to support both proposals," the president said at a special meeting on the subject. The proposals had been made by religious leaders from Russia's main faiths. The president said a pilot project would be launched in 18 Russian regions until 2012, and later across the whole of Russia. The first lessons, to involve 256,000 children and 44,000 teachers, could begin next spring. "It could be the basics of Orthodox or Islamic culture, as well as Judaism and Buddhism. Students and their parents should make this choice for themselves," he said. A course on Russia's four largest religions, as well a course on secular ethics will also be available as an option, … [Read more...]

Stealing, Lying, Cheating and the ‘New Sins’

The Economist surveys recent commentary by religious leaders on economics and the environment, focusing on Pope Benedict XVI's recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I gets a nod for his upcoming symposium on the Mississippi. The Economist does a passable job of summing up these issues as viewed through the lens of faith, but does recoil a bit at more "purist" sentiments, such as when the pope invokes life issues. A good line here: Globalization, technology and growth are in themselves neither positive or negative; they are whatever humanity makes of them. And to make them good and for the glory of God and his Creation, we need more "purist" notions like the Christian virtues. Text follows: New sins, new virtues Jul 9th 2009 | ISTANBUL AND ROME As the world heats up and economic dislocation ravages the poor, religious leaders offer up their diagnoses and prescriptions Globalization, technology and growth are in themselves neither … [Read more...]

Radio Free Europe: The Price Of Influence

Writing on the RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty Power Vertical blog, Brian Whitmore suggests that there may be a little too much symphonia in a recent move by Russian Patriarch Kirill to work closely with the United Russia political party. Whitmore: What motivated United Russia and Patriarch Kirill I to reach an agreement giving the Russian Orthodox Church an unprecedented voice in the legislative work of the State Duma? Aleksei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center tackles the issue in today's issue of "Nezavisimaya Gazeta." He begins by asking why the ruling party would want to enter into such an arrangement: Why? Because United Russia desperately lacks something despite its triumphs in elections throughout the country and the overwhelming majority in the lower house of the parliament. And what does it lack? It lacks society's respect. It lacks recognition as a genuine political party and not just an organization founded and coddled by the Kremlin. Because … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill Meets with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

Report from the Department of External Relations, Moscow Patriarchate: The head of the Turkish Government expressed satisfaction at Patriarch Kirill’s visit and the fact that he visited not only Istanbul but also the Turkish capital city of Ankara. The sides noted with satisfaction the developing relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation. Mr. Erdogan spoke about his experience of contacts with Russian leaders and the development of bilateral relations including in economy and tourism, pointing out that about three million Russian tourists had visited Turkey in the previous year alone. His Holiness Kirill stressed that the Republic of Turkey is Russia’s friendly neighbouring country and expressed the conviction that the development of relations between Turkey, on one hand, and Russia, Ukraine and other nations nourished spiritually by the Moscow Patriarchate, on the other, may help promote not only the ‘beach’ tourism but also religious tourism … [Read more...]

‘Istanbul is anxious’

Lots of press attention being paid to the possible reopening of the Halki Seminary in the wake of Patriarch Kirill's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (The patriarch is now back in Moscow where he met with President Obama.) In his analysis of the Bartholomew-Kirill meeting for Today's Zaman, Ali Murat Yel argues for a reopening of the seminary (known to Turks as Heybeliada) if the Turkish state "wishes to be counted among the civilized and democratic countries in the world." The writer also said that "Istanbul is anxious about the revival and renaissance of the Russian Church, as its weight and power might lead it to claim the overarching leadership of the Orthodox Church in the near future. The claim would not be groundless because the Patriarchate of Moscow has some 95 million followers, which constitute more than one third of the 250 million Orthodox worldwide." Then there's the problem of where to find Turkish clergy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate: The closure of the … [Read more...]