August 27, 2014

Stalin, Russianness and Orthodoxy

stalin

AsiaNews, the Roman Catholic news service, looks at how some elements in Russian society are working to rehabilitate Stalin's reputation and sees the Russian Orthodox Church "co-opted" into this process. The makeover of Stalin’s image and the Soviet Era go together with an attempt by Russian rulers to restore the country’s cultural identity, an impossible mission without the cooptation of Russian Orthodoxy. The Moscow Patriarchate, in spite of itself, is much involved in this issue, and has often been accused of playing right into the Kremlin’s hands in order to gain cultural supremacy in Russian society. Aleksandr Cipko, a philosopher and editorial writer, from the pages of Nezavisimaja Gazeta on 15 September slammed the operation to revive the myth of Russia’s supremacy over the West. For him, there is a danger that Stalin will be seen as the embodiment of the original Russian project rather than Communism. The philosopher is angered by self-styled “true patriots” who … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion: Be like Christ

From an interview in the Russian publication Argumenty I Fakty, republished on the site of the Moscow Patriarchate. Worth reading in its entirety. Excerpts: Should the Church do something to attract young people? Should it seek a special approach to them? I believe that the search for real freedom is a worthy thing not only for young people but also for all those who are seeking the true life. The Church appreciates the aspiration of the young to freedom and independence, as Christians have never been the adherents of the submissiveness to the reality in which they live and which bears the apparent traces of sin. At the same time, the search for freedom, unfortunately, do not always bring people to their cherished goals. Young people often take permissiveness and nihilism for freedom. As a result, after a natural dependence of their parents up to a certain age they become slaves of consumers’ worldview and brute instincts that the slavery exploits. Therefore the Church … [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...]

Russian Orthodox history at risk in California?

Holy Trinity Chapel at Fort Ross

The AP has a story about Fort Ross Historic Park under threat of closure because of California state budget problems. (HT: George M.) Nearly two centuries ago, Russian colonists selected a patch of sloping grassland along California's rugged North Coast for a new settlement. It was from this spot about 80 miles north of San Francisco that they hoped to harvest Redwoods, grow crops and hunt seals for the lucrative fur trade. Today, Russian Americans throughout Northern California honor their past by visiting Fort Ross Historic State Park. Hundreds drive up a winding coastal highway to picnic at the park on holidays, and priests still hold occasional services inside the fort's reconstructed Russian Orthodox church. But the colonial outpost that claims to have established California's first shipyard and windmill is very much at risk of being abandoned by its current caretaker. Fort Ross is among 100 of California's 279 state parks that officials are considering shutting … [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...]

Archbishop Hilarion: Stalin a ‘Monster’

HT: ONet blog Russian archbishop's censure of Stalin as “a monster” makes waves By Sophia Kishkovsky Tuesday, 04 August 2009 23:00 MOSCOW (ENI) -— Comments by a senior official of the Russian Orthodox Church condemning Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, accusing him of genocide, shortly before a European security forum equated the crimes of Stalin and Hitler, have stirred heated debate in the Russian media and blogosphere. "I think that Stalin was a spiritually-deformed monster, who created a horrific, inhuman system of ruling the country," Archbishop Hilarion had said in a June interview with the news magazine Ekspert. "He unleashed a genocide against the people of his own country and bears personal responsibility for the death of millions of innocent people. In this respect Stalin is completely comparable to Hitler." … [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...]

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...]

Interview: A Mission in the World

The Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate distributed "A Mission in the World," an interview of Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk by Expert Magazine (Issue No. 23 (661) June 15, 2009). Expert Magazine Your Eminence, one hundred days have passed since the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. What has changed in church-society relations since? Have any new tendencies emerged? Archbishop Hilarion The man who ascended to the throne of the Moscow Patriarchate is one who has been known for many years for his focus on mission and his capacity to shed light on matters. He has long been in active co-operation with all parts of the society, hosting a TV programme of his own and making regular appearances in the print media. Even before he was elected Patriarch, he was known and loved by millions of Russian Orthodox faithful throughout the world. He has gained authority in broad public circles. Metropolitan Kirill accumulated a unique … [Read more...]

Bartholomew, Kirill Hold Patriarchal ‘Summit’ in Istanbul

A quick roundup: Andrei Zolotov, Jr., Chief Editor of Russia Profile and Deputy Director of the RIA Novosti Foreign Service, says that the recent Chambesy conference organized to discuss the "diaspora" resulted in Constantinople making concessions to Moscow. A report in the Kyiv Post says the patriarchs are putting on "a united front" despite the fact that they were to discuss the "sensitive issue of the churches in Ukraine and Estonia during the three-day visit to Turkey." The Greek news service ANA says "Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the need for unity within the Orthodox Church in order to meet the challenges of the times." Kathimerini reports that "the outcome of the meeting is keenly awaited by senior clerics both in Moscow and at the Vatican." Full text of Zolotov's analysis follows: A three-day visit by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to Istanbul is more than just his first official trip abroad as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church or than his first visit … [Read more...]