August 29, 2014

Mesmerizing talent

This video shows the winner of 2009’s " Ukraine ’s Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II. Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmeric to watch. The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about $75,000. … [Read more...]

Odds & Ends

-- A new book claims that the "Greek mafia" controlled not only the drug trade in Tarpon Springs but the local Greek Orthodox Church, too. Some say the book is "a bunch of garbage." -- Church of Greece bishops are anxious about the new Socialist government's plan to tax church property. Don't forget about property owned by the Roman Catholics and the Ecumenical Patriarch, the bishops helpfully remind. Separately, there's a question about those 1.2 million Euros. -- Archons make their case for the Ecumenical Patriarchate before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). -- "Among the comments that received most attention was Metropolitan Geevarghese Coorilos's suggestion to look at the reality of the church not only 'from above', but also 'from below', taking into account the daily experience of 'being church' in particular contexts, citing the example of his Dalit church in Kerala, India." Is this what we mean by "practiced incoherence"? -- While Moscow … [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...]

Ukrainian Orthodoxy ‘Very Politicized’

From the Religious Information Service of the Ukraine: MOSCOW—Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) expressed confidence that foreign structures will not interfere with church problems in Ukraine. In particular, they mean the Constantinople Patriarchate, which, according to the ROC representatives, the Ukrainian authorities hoped to engage in the establishment of a national church separate from the Moscow Patriarchate. “They (Constantinople Patriarchate) understand well that Ukraine is an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church, that there exists spiritual unity of nations – Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovians, Belarusians,” noted the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Ilarion (Alfeiev) of Volokolamsk, at a press conference in Moscow about the visit of the head of ROC to Istanbul in early July. News.ru reports that in the archbishop’s opinion, the very tone of the past negotiations shows that the … [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...]

Ukrainian Church ‘rent by divisions’

On the Get Relgion blog, Terry Mattingly describes a trip he made to Kiev to speak to Ukrainian journalists "about the challenges of covering religion news in mainstream press." He looks at the divisions among Orthodox Churches in the Ukraine, which is set against the long running antagonisms that exist between that country and Russia. "You see, right now almost anything can create tensions between Ukraine and Russia," Mattingly writes. "A ceremony with clergy linked to Moscow would create tensions in some circles. A ceremony without clergy linked to Moscow would create tensions in others. The symbolism has political content either way." He also writes about his trip to Kiev for his Scripps News column. Here's how he begins: Merely saying the forest's name -- Bykivnya -- can cause strong emotions for millions of Ukrainians. This is where the secret police of Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin buried 100,000 of their victims between 1937 and 1941 in a mass grave northeast of Kiev. … [Read more...]

A Brief Roundup

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Odds and ends: Patriarchal meetings; accusations of Uniatism; clerical sauna baths. What's it all about? President Victor Yuschenko of Ukraine met with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Patriarchal Residence in Tarabya, as part of the President's working visit to Turkey. The Archons site reports that "a cordial and whole-hearted discussion on issues of common concern" took place on May 20. Discussions were held on a representative office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate opening in Ukraine in the format of a churchyard or a cultural and informational center. The two leaders also addressed ways to step up contacts between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. President Yuschenko said he wants this dialogue to be intensified at all levels and confirmed his country's interest in establishing a local Orthodox Church in Ukraine. His Excellency also said he is convinced that "the Ecumenical Church and the personal wisdom and efforts of the Ecumenical … [Read more...]

Orthodox Christian Patriarchs Celebrate Baptism of Russia

Orthodox Churches have long been involved in ecumenical projects, such as the World Council of Churches, and affirm the Lord's mandate "that they all may be one" (John 17:21). Yet, I can't help thinking at times that the Orthodox Churches might work a little harder at unity in their own house. For that reason, it was encouraging to follow the progress of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios' recent visit to the Moscow Patriarchate and see Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I side by side with Patriarch Alexy II for the celebration of the baptism of Russia. The Greeks and the Russians have had some contentious moments of late, such as the controversy over who shall have jurisdiction for Orthodox Christians in Estonia. Good background here in an AP story on the tensions between the Ukrainians and Russians: Ukrainian officials are determined to use the events to lobby for autonomy for the local church from Russia, while the dominant Moscow Patriarchate will fight to retain … [Read more...]