Pope Francis meets Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion days after split with Greek Orthodox Churc

Discussion in 'GARABANDAL LIBRARY' started by non sum dignus, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. Don_D

    Don_D ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/czar-v...s-want-to-bring-back-the-monarchy-11544732680

    Czar Vladimir? Putin Acolytes Want to Bring Back the Monarchy
    Pro-Kremlin activists want to restore Russian traditions—and hope for a longer reign for Mr. Putin

    Czar Nicholas II of Russia, left, abdicated the throne in 1917; Right, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Associated Press; Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Zuma Press

    By
    Thomas Grove
    Dec. 13, 2018 3:24 p.m. ET
    SPAS-TESHILOVO, Russia—The last time term limits forced Russian leader Vladimir Putin to step down from the presidency, he became prime minister for a few years.

    This time around, a group of pro-Kremlin activists have a different idea: Proclaim him Czar Vladimir.

    [​IMG]
    “We will do everything possible to make sure Putin stays in power as long as possible,” Konstantin Malofeyev, a politically active businessman, said recently to thunderous applause from hundreds of Russian Orthodox priests and members of the country’s top political parties gathered at a conference outside Moscow. They were united by one cause—to return the monarchy to Russia.

    While there are no plans to crown a new Emperor and Sovereign of All the Russias, as part of the royal title once went, the idea raises the possibility Mr. Putin could stay beyond the two-term limit the constitution allows.

    The Kremlin has given little sign of who may succeed Mr. Putin when his six-year term ends in 2024, leaving many to speculate, sometimes wildly, about what’s next.

    [​IMG]
    Konstantin Malofeyev wants to restore Russia’s monarchy. Photo: Press Office of Konstantin Malofeyev

    Even among those who want a monarchy, however, there are splits over what kind it should be. Is an absolute monarchy better than a constitutional monarchy? Should a blood line be established or should the czar be elected? For those who favor male succession, would it be a problem that Mr. Putin reportedly only has two daughters? Some have even suggested others besides Mr. Putin should accede to the throne.

    Over tea and biscuits at the conference last month, members of the Double-Headed Eagle, a group dedicated to restoring the Russian monarchy, discussed the finer points.

    “Monarchy is only about blood by definition,” said Yevgeniy Nikofoforov, general director of a radio station dedicated to the Russian Orthodox Church. “No, absolutely not,” shot back Andrey Afanasiev, a presenter at Mr. Malofeyev’s internet channel Tsargrad.

    [​IMG]
    A sculpture of a double-headed eagle, a national symbol of Russia. Photo: Peter Kovalev/Reuters
    “What has Russia done in the last 30 years; it’s resurrected an empire and chosen an emperor,” said Mr. Afanasiev, adding that Mr. Putin’s lack of a noble birth wasn’t a problem.

    Serge Kapnist was born and raised in France, but claims the title of count in Russia from his ancestors who he says fled revolutionary Russia. He said no matter how it starts, you have to make sure it continues. “Sustainability is the most important thing here,” he said.

    “You have as many different kinds of monarchies as you have monarchs,” said Mr. Malofeyev.

    Russia hasn’t had a ruling czar since 1917, when Nicholas II abdicated the throne under pressure from revolutionaries.

    Mr. Malofeyev says his Double-Headed Eagle group, named after a symbol on Russia’s coat of arms, is flourishing; the number of regional branches grew by almost half this year to more than 50. Started in 2016, the group says it wants to enlighten people about Russia’s pre-Soviet past and resurrect Russian traditions. It is trying to bring back czarist-era names of towns and streets, as well as the monarchy.


    “We are a very paternalistic society,” said Mr. Malofeyev, adding that Russians are returning to their historical roots.

    Lt. Gen. Leonid Reshetnikov, a one-time member of the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence service who is now deputy chairman of the Double-Headed Eagle, said he had a conversation about monarchy last year with Mr. Putin.

    [​IMG]
    Leonid Reshetnikov, deputy chairman of the Double-Headed Eagle group. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/PlanetPix/Zuma Press
    In the conversation, Mr. Putin described the idea as “beautiful,” said Mr. Reshetnikov. But he worried monarchy could lead to “zastoi,” or stagnation, a term used to describe the economic torpor of the late Soviet years and now increasingly used in reference to sluggish growth rates under Mr. Putin.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr. Putin doesn’t like the idea of bringing back monarchy, but didn’t comment on the exchange with Mr. Reshetnikov.

    Mr. Reshetnikov said he didn’t propose the idea to Mr. Putin directly that he should become czar.

    “He wasn’t talking about it in terms of practical application; our conversation was more about history,” he said, but added he would love to be around to see Mr. Putin’s coronation.

    Mr. Putin’s popularity declined to 66% in October, said Moscow-based independent polling group Levada, from levels as high as 89% in 2015.

    [​IMG]
    Mr. Putin in 1999. Photo: Agence France Presse/Getty Images
    Spain re-established its monarchy under the regime of Fascist dictator Francisco Franco, who tapped an heir to the abolished throne, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon, to succeed him in 1969. The British restored their monarchy after its brief overthrow in the 17th century.

    In Russia, the last royal family, the Romanovs, were executed in 1918, and people claiming royal ancestry haveargued over who is more legitimate to claim to be the head of the imperial house.

    Anton Bakov, a businessman in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, has tried to advocate his own brand of monarchy around the resurrection of the Romanov House. Mr. Bakov, who isn’t a Romanov, said there were still about 200 members of the family left. “If we want to restore the monarchy, it’s to restore the one we know,” he said.

    Some Russian political observers expect Mr. Putin to endorse a hand-selected successor who would take over for him the way he took over for Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin on New Year’s Eve 1999. Others have floated the idea of a kind of state oversight committee that would have at least one very important member to direct the policies of the government and new president.


    Many in the Double-Headed Eagle hope Mr. Putin will come around to their idea.

    Yelena Sharoykina, a member of the Double-Headed Eagle and a presenter at the internet news station Tsargrad, said it may just be a matter of time.

    “You never know what he’s going to think in five years,” she said. “The Putin of five years ago is different from the Putin of today, and you never know if he’ll change his mind.”

    Write to Thomas Grove at thomas.grove@wsj.com

    Appeared in the December 14, 2018, print edition as 'Putin Acolytes Want a Crowning Achievement.'
     
  2. gracia

    gracia Archangels

    That is my hope, too. That Christ will bring something good and blessed out of this tangle. I have no idea who's "more right". The Orthodox have their own perspectives and ecclesiology which don't make much sense to me. Union with Rome just seems simpler.
     
    Carol55 likes this.
  3. Don_D

    Don_D ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

    Kremlin refrains from intervening in church affairs in Ukraine, sees politics behind schismatic activities - Peskov
    Moscow, December 17, Interfax - The Kremlin does not see fit to intervene in ecclesiastical affairs in Ukraine and sees politics behind the schismatic processes taking place there, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

    "Our Russian Orthodox Church's attitude toward those processes is very well known, and you know that we are talking about inter-church relations. In this particular case, we do not see fit to intervene in these processes," Peskov said when asked about the Kremlin's attitude toward the establishment of an autocephalous church in Ukraine.

    "At the same time, we see that those processes and schismatic activities in Ukraine are tightly intertwined with politics there, which, of course, is hardly acceptable under church canons," he said.

    "On the other hand, we know that schismatics do not really follow church canons," Peskov said.

    Asked what he meant by saying about politics behind ecclesiastical affairs in Ukraine, Peskov replied, "Exactly what is taking place there. The Ukrainian president's direct involvement in this process, and so on and so forth."

    Peskov said he was unaware whether the church schism in Ukraine could be addressed at a Russian Security Council session on Monday. "This is exactly why we do not announce the agenda before the session but do it afterwards," he said.
     
  4. Seems to reveal just how much Putin (and former leaders of course) still relies upon the Church as a weapon to use when necessary for his secular purposes/goals for the nation. If it's just the Church or the essence of the Orthodox Faith that has such deep meaning for life itself then why torture the brother Orthodox in that neighboring country which has declared its independence from the Russian State? Since that neighbor expresses fear of their former controllers then that is part of their being forced to go independent within their own Faith since they know how the Orthodox Church can and has been used throughout history. So the move is not necessarily political but is only interpreted that way by those who ARE now on the push back for a change which can be seen as a weakening of their power, based on "religion".
     
    SteveD likes this.
  5. Carol55

    Carol55 Ave Maria

    Tensions appear to be escalating between Ukraine and Russia.

    New Ukrainian Church Marks a Victory for President, Setback for Moscow
    Poroshenko calls founding the day ‘we finally attained our…independence from Russia’

    [​IMG]
    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, the new head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy, center, and Metropolitan Emmanuel attend a synod at the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev on Dec. 15. Photo: Mikhail Palinchak/Associated Press
    By James Marson | Dec. 16, 2018 | https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-uk...-for-president-setback-for-moscow-11544985607
    KIEV—For 27 years of Ukraine’s independence, its only internationally recognized Orthodox Church was controlled by Russia, a pillar of the Kremlin’s continued influence in its former vassal.

    But 4½ years into an armed conflict against Russia and separatists in the country’s east, Ukraine on Saturday founded its own national church, endorsed by the foremost leader of global Orthodoxy.

    “We will get out from under Moscow’s hoof,” said Viktor Kolesnyk, a 67-year-old retiree who was among several thousand people gathered near St. Sophia Cathedral, where bishops from three Orthodox churches met for a Unification Council.

    The creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a signature victory for U.S.-backed President Petro Poroshenko, whose country has lost control over parts of its territory in the conflict, which has left more than 10,000 people dead. Mr. Poroshenko, who faces an election in March, told the crowd that “today we finally attained our Ukrainian independence from Russia.”

    The move is a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has used the countries’ shared cultures and pasts to justify his efforts to keep Ukraine in the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. The Moscow Patriarchate, the Ukrainian arm of the Russian Orthodox Church, has long been a proponent of close ties with Russia, supporting politicians favored by Moscow and, in recent years, giving mostly vague statements calling for peace without condemning Mr. Putin.

    Russia has claimed dominion for its church in Ukraine for centuries. After Ukraine declared independence in 1991, a group called the Kiev Patriarchate split from the Russian church, but its calls for recognition went unheeded. The popularity of the Kiev Patriarchate surged after Russia annexed Crimea and launched covert military interventions in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

    Mr. Poroshenko, senior officials and Ukrainian bishops shuttled back and forth to Istanbul to coordinate with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the first among equals of Orthodox leaders, and his advisers. In granting the new Ukrainian church official, self-governing status, Bartholomew is asserting his authority in the second-largest Christian denomination, which Moscow has sought to challenge with its wealth and political clout.

    To be sure, the new church’s path is fraught with obstacles: Russia has opposed its creation, and the Ukrainian church will face a battle to attract clergymen and congregations from the Moscow Patriarchate.

    Russia and pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine have warned of potential bloodshed if the Ukrainian government and the new church try to take control of religious buildings that the Moscow Patriarchate uses. Ukraine’s security service has raided several of the church’s religious buildings in recent weeks as part of investigations into spreading religious hatred. The Moscow Patriarchate called it an unfounded pressure campaign. [emphasis added]

    The official status of the new Ukrainian church “is a convincing argument for those who want to move over, but some will remain with their convictions,” Metropolitan Oleksandr, one of two Moscow Patriarchate bishops to take part in the council, said in an interview. He said he had joined the new church.

    Thousands from across the country gathered from 9 a.m. outside the 11th-century St. Sophia Cathedral where the council was taking place. Many were veterans of a 2014 revolution that ousted a pro-Russian president.

    The council, which brought together around 200 clergy and laity, was supposed to start at 10 a.m., but last-minute disputes and maneuvering delayed the start until just after 1 p.m.

    Amid freezing temperatures, the crowd listened to performances and speeches, including prayers from a group of military chaplains and music played on the bandura, a traditional Ukrainian string instrument. As darkness fell around 5 p.m., bells rang to signal that a leader for the new church had been elected.

    Mr. Poroshenko took the stage alongside the new leader, Metropolitan Epifaniy, a 39-year-old who learned Greek while studying in Athens and is a close ally of Kiev Patriarchate leader Filaret.

    Mr. Poroshenko gave a lengthy, booming speech, shaking his fist and shouting, “Glory to Ukraine!”

    “It’s a church without Putin,” Mr. Poroshenko said. “It’s a church without prayers for the Russian government and Russian army. Because the Russian government and Russian army are killing Ukrainians.”

    Mr. Poroshenko has placed the church issue at the center of his re-election campaign, but polls place him third amid anger over corruption and economic inequality.

    Mr. Kolesnyk, a former brewery technician who said he didn’t support Mr. Poroshenko, said there are two churches in his village outside Kiev, one of which belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate. He said he hoped his neighbors would now realize the affiliation of that church, which has styled itself the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    “People who go to Russian churches will be embarrassed to look in the eyes of Ukrainians,” he said.

    Epifaniy, who will visit Istanbul on Jan. 6 to receive a decree from Bartholomew granting self-governance, held his first liturgy as head of the new church on Sunday and offered to welcome Moscow Patriarchate members “with fraternal love and mutual respect.”

    Appeared in the December 17, 2018, print edition as 'New Ukraine Church Is Rebuff to Russia.'
    ***
    [​IMG]
    Russia condemns U.N. resolution on Crimea, Ukraine

    Dec. 18 (UPI) --Russia on Tuesday lashed out against the United Nations for passing a resolution that criticized its militarization of Crimea and the occupation of Ukraine.

    Moscow has said the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was a "reunification" with Russia and has recently moved advanced missiles and other weaponry there.

    "We regret the latest vote," Russia's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said of the resolution. "The Kiev regime thus receives new signals that it's allowed everything and all will be forgiven, while Russia will be unconditionally blamed in advance for all its sins and crimes."

    The U.N. General Assembly adopted the resolution Monday voicing "grave concern" over the military build up in Crimea and called on Russia to end its "temporary occupation" of Ukrainian territory. The resolution also condemned Russia's building of a bridge connecting the mainland to the annexed Ukrainian peninsula. The U.N. is also demanding that Russia release the Ukrainian sailors and warships seized last month in the Kerch Strait.

    RELATED Russia deploys fighter jets to Crimea in ongoing dispute with Ukraine

    The assembly voted 66-19 to approve the resolution.

    There were 72 countries that abstained from the vote, which Polyansky called "heartening" because they're not "wanting to have anything to do with the harmful Ukrainian idea." He criticized the "bloc discipline" of the 66 countries that backed the resolution, including NATO and EU member states.

    "No matter how many deceitful resolutions are adopted along with your Western sponsors and those who are afraid to cross them, this will not change anything in Crimea or around it," Polyansky said. "The key to solving all regional problems lies in Kiev, or rather -- in Washington where Kiev is controlled."

    RELATED Ukraine splits from Russian Orthodox church

    Before the vote, the General Assembly rejected amendments from Iran and Syria that called for a thorough investigation into the Kerch Strait incident, where Russia boats rammed Ukraine boats and seized them. The amendment also called for both countries to respect each other sovereign borders.

    RELATED U.S. conducts 'extraordinary flight' over Ukraine after Russia ship seizure

    ***

     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    Don_D likes this.
  6. Don_D

    Don_D ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

    Thank you Carol. What do you think about the premises of these articles? I think that this division will not be good for either the President or the newly formed UOC.
    Interesting that Ukraine has been so quickly rewarded by its masters at the IMF. That should give people pause for reflection.
     
  7. Carol55

    Carol55 Ave Maria

    Don, You're welcome. I can't claim to have a deep understanding of what is occurring between the Ukraine and Russia but I think that Putin has a plan and he continues to go forward with it. I am going to modify my post above because I deleted two links to get it to post and it is bothering me that I did so, I will need to move one article here in order to do so - the one on the IMF. I don't claim to understand how the IMF works but the Ukraine appears to be strapped financially and I suppose it is good that they bailed them out and I wonder if this will anger Putin more. Russia appears to be putting a strangle hold on the Ukraine anyway that they possibly can, annihilation of nations comes to mind. I will also post a BBC article which helps explain what I am referring to.
    I think that the UPI articles generally present the facts and that is all, I also think that the other articles that I posted are doing the same but at the bottom of this post I will see if I can fit some articles that are more opinion based, if you are interested read them otherwise just skip them.


    upload_2018-12-19_14-10-52.jpeg
    Ukraine Wins New I.M.F. Support as Tensions Rise With Russia
    MOSCOW — Ukraine won a new lending commitment from the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, a lifeline from the West for a country whose economy has been sapped by corruption and war with Russian-backed separatists. ...
    The New York Times · December 18, 2018​

    ***
    Russia-Ukraine sea clash leaves Mariupol port deserted
    By Zhanna Bezpiatchuk BBC Ukrainian, Mariupol
    16 December 2018 | https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46551464
    [​IMG]
    Image caption There was little activity at Mariupol this week

    Times are hard at Ukraine's major trading port at Mariupol. In fact, it's almost dead - and workers say things have not been this bad for decades.

    "If it carries on like this, the number of shipping companies working with us will plummet next year," says engineer Maryna Pereshyvatlova, who has worked here for 32 years.

    Ever since conflict broke out in the east when pro-Russian separatists seized parts of the Donbas region, the port has been starved of coal shipments.

    Then the Russians built a bridge over the Kerch Strait to Crimea, limiting the types of merchant ships that could enter the Sea of Azov.

    [​IMG]
    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption The bridge from Russia to annexed Crimea opened in May and heightened tensions with Ukraine


    But the final and most painful blow to the local economy came last month.

    Three Ukrainian ships were fired on and seized near the strait in international waters off Crimea.

    Three of the crew were wounded, and all 24 are being held in Moscow at the centre of an international row.

    [​IMG]

    For more than a week afterwards, Russia stopped commercial vessels at the entry point to the Kerch Strait from sailing to Mariupol and another Ukrainian port to the west, Berdyansk.

    Eventually, they let vessels pass the strait, but the reprieve came too late.
    "There are almost no ships now," says port director Oleksandr Oleynyk.

    And then there are the inspections.

    [​IMG]
    Jonah Fisher talks to a commander of the Ukrainian Navy about the tensions in the Azov Sea

    Russian officials do not tell their Ukrainian counterparts when inspections will take place, which boats they will hold, or for how long.

    Each day of delay costs the shipping companies between $15,000 and $20,000 (£12,000-£16,000).

    "After such big losses, companies don't want to sail here any more. This uncertainty is especially hard for us," Mr Oleynyk says.

    [​IMG]
    Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption Normally, dozens of ships come through the port each day


    I watched as a single solitary vessel was loaded with sunflower products, in a port that used to host dozens of ships every day.

    For the crew an unknown journey awaits as they set off from Mariupol for the Kerch Strait and beyond. They do not know how long they will be held at the entry point to the strait, or how much money they might lose.

    The port administration says it has lost around 40% of its metal shipments in the past few weeks.

    For Mariupol's port workers, too, the situation is desperate. The jobs of 4,000 workers at the port are directly threatened by Russia's actions.

    They need a political solution to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

    [​IMG]
    Why tensions between Russia and Ukraine are so high

    Many here accuse Russia of deliberately strangling this port and worsening the situation in eastern Ukraine.

    So far, the port has escaped layoffs, but nobody can predict how long it can survive with trade at such a slow pace.

    "We just hope for international pressure on Russia. We need to set off alarm bells," says engineer Maryna Pereshyvatlova.

    The port's new neighbours are the Ukrainian navy.

    [​IMG]
    Image copyright AFP
    Image caption A navy ship overlooks the construction of a new terminal - but not much else is going on

    Two naval vessels that managed to get through the Kerch Strait in September are now anchored next to the trade terminals.

    They sailed from Mariupol to meet their colleagues on 25 November, but the three boats never arrived.

    "It was very sad for us when we realised they would not come," Captain Oleksandr Grygorevsky says.

    Mariupol was already struggling before the flare-up in the sea.

    Only 20km (12 miles) away lies the frontline in a conflict that has dragged on for four years between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

    Now the situation at the port is so bleak that any future for this industrial stronghold in the Sea of Azov looks uncertain.

    When Russia seized the three Ukrainian boats, Ukraine's president imposed martial law in this region and several others.

    But locals here are far more worried for their future lifeline to the sea than by the restrictions from Kiev.
    ***

    Kasparov: Russia Increasingly Losing Its Standing On World Stage 12/14/2018
    https://www.rferl.org/a/kasparov-russia-increasingly-losing-its-standing-on-world-stage/29657002.html

    How many wake up calls about Putin do we need? 12/17/2018
    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/how-many-wake-up-calls-about-putin-do-we-need-1.3733063?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep 12/16/2018
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/16/new-report-russian-disinformation-prepared-senate-shows-operations-scale-sweep/?utm_term=.cc657b02a3b0

    upload_2018-12-19_14-22-47.png
    https://twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews/status/1068155984353390592

    Kremlin-sponsored mercenaries go to International Criminal Court to prove Russia is deploying them in Ukraine & Syria 12/4/2018
    http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1543252935
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    SteveD likes this.
  8. Interesting how the "institutional" Church is being exposed at its very heart.....no matter the "model". Is it with Christ or with the "State"? Is it now so dependent or even fearful of the State that it will change the Gospel for permission to exist in the public square? Just how has the Body of Christ been used for material and finite purposes? We can look at those regions where Christianity has been practically wiped out to view the real Body in its suffering. The measure of the outer shells is being taken in comparison with the real mission intended from the beginning of the Body of Christ and how that was intended to spread from that beginning through the "energy" of the Holy Spirit rather than to become stagnant due to external forms that now house corruption while dressed in the acceptable and comfortable accoutrements.

    But now the time has finally arrived for "revelation".....which includes obviously the public revelation of the permitted rottenness of sin and that "smoke" which was ignored until the trusted "powers" at the top have themselves been overwhelmed by the fallen ones. The one sent for the rehab work is the one methodically ignored since the modern substitute body became the model.....and that is She, clothed with the sun.....revealing the Creator's continuing purpose for her humble service, currently in many places throughout the corrupt world but not yet the coming revelation of her Queenship over the world and the universe. When that occurs it will be the time that the "child" (or the solid ones), being birthed in great travail in this present moment, will be "taken up" due to its Faithfulness amid the trials, as scripture reveals, rather than be swallowed by the waiting Dragon. Just how is the current institutional form of the Church helping to form or increase these "solid ones"? If they have rejected the Mother, they can do nothing. In fact, recognizing the extreme desert and drought that now is offered by her Church, what her children are being instructed to do in such times is to form the inner person where the presence of Christ should rule all intentions; detach from such a finite world and its comfortable and addictive enticements so as not to be so easily influenced by the coming controls where supernatural powers make themselves materially known in this world before its complete renewal; attend only to the truths of scripture and traditions. Could such concerns and warnings be pointing to the eventual material "crack up"/destruction of the "institutions" themselves? Will their politics save them then? "Put not your trust in man"!
     
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  9. SteveD

    SteveD Powers

    A Ukrainian Catholic bishop warned his Church could lose its legal status in Crimea under Russian rule and pledged to use “all possible means in the international arena” to defend it.

    “Greek Catholic communities like ours are denied rights in the Russian Federation, which we see as a violation of freedom of conscience and religion,” said Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, secretary-general of the Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops.

    “We hoped these restrictions wouldn’t be applied to our Church in Crimea, but we’ve been told all religious communities must now re-register there. This means the local government usurps the power to reject those it sees as a threat. After the recent ethnic cleansing, this will amount to religious cleansing.”

    Bishop Dzyurakh spoke to Catholic News Service in early April as pro-Russian protesters stormed Ukrainian government buildings in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv, raising fears of a new Russian military intervention after the March annexation of Crimea.

    He said the situation in Crimea remained “tense and dangerous” for Catholic clergy, after one priest was arrested and threatened with prison, and others were branded “Vatican agents” and warned to leave.

    “Catholics are still leaving Crimea — hardly anyone remains in some communities, and it’s hard to see how our pastoral work can survive,” he said.

    “We’re consulting legal experts about our rights under international law, since these are issues of fundamental religious freedom too important to be left in the hands of local officials.”

    The bishop said two Redemptorist priests were currently running the Church in Crimea, and plans had been made to replace clergy with families with unmarried pastors from religious orders.

    In Crimea, “the threats and accusations against us recall Soviet propaganda from when our Church was suppressed in 1945-46, and we’ve no illusions as to what this portends,” Bishop Dzyurakh said.

    “Catholics who support Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity are being viewed as enemies. Priests’ families are also being mistreated by people influenced by Russian propaganda, which has succeeded in fuelling aggression between citizens who previously lived in peace.”

    The Ukrainian Catholic Church, a Byzantine rite, was outlawed under Soviet rule from 1946 to 1989, when many clergy were imprisoned and most Church properties seized by the state or transferred to Russian Orthodox possession.

    Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on April 3 that his government also was concerned about religious freedom violations among the two million Ukrainians living in Russia.

    However, he added that churches and properties belonging to Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate had already been seized by Russian Orthodox groups in Crimea, while pressure also was being exerted on parishes belonging to the peninsula’s Latin-rite Catholic vicariate.

    Ukrainian newspapers said Russian pressure on Ukraine was likely to exacerbate Catholic-Orthodox ties, as leaders of both churches found themselves on opposing sides.

    Ukraine’s Council of Churches and Religious Organisations, whose 18 member-denominations includes Catholics and Orthodox, condemned the “artificial provocation and incitement of religious hatred and intolerance” in an April 4 statement.

    The Ukrainian government said on April 3 it had been forced to cancel beneficial energy rates for religious communities after Russia doubled the price of gas supplies.

    Bishop Dzyurakh said his Church had been heartened by expressions of support from Pope Francis and Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide.

    “Ukraine has given the world an example of self-organisation and self-sacrifice in defending human rights and fundamental values,” the bishop said.

    “A free democratic Ukraine will be a good partner for both its Western and its Eastern neighbors. All churches and religious communities are united with the nation and praying God will save our country.”
     
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