"When the communism comes back..."

Discussion in 'Marian Apparitions' started by Basto, Dec 31, 2023.

  1. Basto

    Basto Archangels

    Yes this is true. And Russian hostility towards the Catholic Church long predates Soviet communism, it already existed during the time of the tsars, being in fact one "error" of Russia that goes back to before 1917... However, these most recent cases are very reminiscent of Stalinist religious policy.
    Luan Ribeiro, AED and Pax Prima like this.
  2. Basto

    Basto Archangels

    Shevchuk: Russian rededication of Catholic church for Orthodox faith a 'sacrilege'

    Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the worldwide Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, delivers the homily during a Mass of thanksgiving for Aid to the Church in Need at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City March 10, 2024. In a May 2 homily at at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv, the archbishop denounced as a "sacrilege" Russia's recent seizure of a Catholic church in occupied Kherson, which Russian clerics have now dedicated to the Russian Orthodox Church. (OSV News/Gina Christian)

    The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has denounced Russia's seizure of a Catholic church in Ukraine's Kherson region, calling the structure's rededication for the Russian Orthodox Church a "sacrilege."

    The Church of St. Archstrategist Michael, located in the village of Oleksandrivka in the occupied Kherson region, was captured and joined to the ROC during Holy Week of the Julian calendar, said Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk in a May 2 homily at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv. (The Julian calendar remains intact for the present in Ukraine until after 2025, when all Ukrainian Greek Catholic parishes will follow the Gregorian liturgical calendar.)

    The archbishop said that images of the confiscated church — which honors the archangel's role as leader of the heavenly host — evoked "the words of the prophet Elijah, who cried out to the Lord, saying: 'Lord, your prophets were killed, your altars were destroyed. I am left alone, and my life is being sought' (1 Kgs 19:14).

    Construction on the church began in 2017, some 11 years after the formerly Orthodox parish was officially received into the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

    The seizure is part of a steady campaign by Russia to suppress the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, along with Catholicism in general and other faiths, in occupied areas of Ukraine.

    In December 2022, Yevgeny Balitsky, the Kremlin-installed head of the area's military-civil administration in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, banned the UGCC, the Knights of Columbus and Caritas, the official humanitarian arm of the universal Catholic Church, denouncing all of them as agents of Western intelligence. The document confirming the ban came to the attention of UGCC only in December 2023.

    The Kyiv-based Institute for Religious Freedom reported March 23 that since the beginning of the year, Russian militants calling themselves "Cossacks" have seized UGCC churches and adjacent property in Ukraine's Donetsk region, while barring "believers of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to enter the churches and the territory for prayers and worship."

    Russian occupation officials in Donetsk have so far not responded to the requests for restored access, leaving Greek Catholics "deprived of the opportunity to visit their churches and perform divine services," the IRF said.

    Priests who had served the sealed churches "were expelled from the occupied territories," the institute noted.

    South of Ukraine's Donetsk region, two Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests were seized from their church in Berdiansk in November of 2022, one of whom now appears to have been illegally transferred to Russia, according to a human rights activist.

    Redemptorist Father Ivan Levitsky is likely being held in an investigation prison in Russia's Rostov region, according to Yevhen Zakharov of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

    Levitsky's fellow Redemptorist Father Bohdan Geleta, who served with him at the
    Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Berdiansk, is reported to be held in a separate investigation prison in Russian-occupied Crimea. Geleta is known to suffer from an acute form of diabetes.

    Shortly after Levitsky and Geleta were captured, Major Archbishop Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said he had received "the sad news that our priests are being tortured without mercy." The archbishop has continuously appealed for their release.

    Both priests had refused to leave their parishioners following Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, which continued attacks launched in 2014 against Ukraine.

    Two joint reports from the New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights have determined Russia's invasion constitutes genocide, with Ukraine reporting more than 131,325 war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine since February 2022.

    Over the last two years, Russian forces "have been responsible for damaging or destroying at least 660 churches and other religious structures, including at least 206 belonging to Protestants," said Russian history expert Mark Elliott at a Feb. 29 panel discussion hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "The lack of religious freedom in Russia is now being spread to Ukraine," said fellow panelist Metropolitan Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia during the CSIS presentation.

    "In Russia, religious institutions are able to function if they support Putin and the government," said Gudziak. "In the occupied territories, those that don't support actively the occupying regime are destined for annihilation."


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  3. Basto

    Basto Archangels

    Belarus detains two Polish-Belarusian missionaries for “sabotage”

    Two Polish-Belarusian Catholic missionaries have been detained in Belarus and are facing trial accused of “sabotage activities against the state”.

    In a statement on Friday, the Polish branch of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), a Catholic missionary religious congretation, announced that two of its missionaries, Andrzej Juchniewicz and Paweł Lemekh, had been detained in Belarus, where they had been serving at a sanctuary in Shumilina.

    “The monks are currently awaiting trial and are in Belarusian custody,” said the statement. “According to our information, the arrest was based on alleged sabotage activities against the Belarusian state.”

    The religious congregation noted that, when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Juchniewicz had “publicly expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian nation”.

    Soon after, Juchniewicz became chairman of the Major Superiors, Delegates and Representatives of Men’s and Women’s Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life in Belarus, they added.

    In a further interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP), a spokesman for the congregation, Paweł Gomulak, said that both of the clergymen hold Belarusian citizenship. Belarus has a large ethnic Polish community, which has faced growing repression from the Belarusian authorities in recent years.

    The superior general of the Rome-based OMI, Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, also announced that the congregation was “deeply concerned about the news of the imprisonment of two of our brothers in Belarus”.

    “May the Immaculate Virgin and our blessed saints lead our prayers for the swift release of our brothers,” he added.

    At the time of writing, Poland’s foreign ministry has not commented on the detentions.

    Last year, a leading figure in Belarus’s ethnic Polish community, Andrzej Poczobut, was sentenced to eight years in prison for “inciting hatred” and “the rehabilitation of Nazism”. Poland and the European Union have repeatedly appealed for his release of Poczobut, whom they see as a political prisoner.


  4. Basto

    Basto Archangels

    Russia’s crackdown on church leaders in Ukraine continues

    Church leaders in Russian-occupied Ukraine continue to face crackdowns, with one arrested for “missionary activities” and two others deported to Georgia.

    In occupied Luhansk Province, authorities on March 29 charged the Rev. Vladimir Rytikov, 64-year-old leader of the Sorokyne (Krasnodon) Council of Churches Baptist Church in Krasnodon, with “Russians conducting missionary activity” under Russian Administrative Code Article 5.26, Part 4, according to rights watchdog Forum 18.

    The arrest of Rytikov followed a raid on his Baptist church on Jan. 28, and the charges noted that he was leading that worship meeting. If found guilty, he could be fined between 5,000 to 50,000 Russian rubles (US $53 to US $530).

    When Forum 18 asked Col. Sergei Krupa, head of the occupation police in Krasnodon, to give reasons for prosecuting the pastor for a church meeting held at a home, he refused and hung up the phone.

    There was no court hearing scheduled as of April 12.

    Police had also questioned Rytikov on Feb. 2, asking why the church had not been registered and demanding to see church statutes, according to Forum 18.

    “I told them that our statute is the gospel,” Rytikov reportedly said.

    He told police that the church did not want registration and refused to give information about church members.

    Officers summoned him to the police station on March 25, but he refused. Police told him they summoned him to draw up charges to be presented to a court, and that the church was banned in Luhansk, Rytikov reportedly said.

    In the Jan. 28 raid, armed men interrupted the worship service of the church, founded in 1961.

    “They took out two of the elders, Vyacheslav Kollisnichenko and Mikhail Miknus,” local Baptists noted that day on Telegram, reported Forum 18. “They’re recording everything on camera! They’re letting no one out. They’re writing down the passport details of all those present.”

    The armed men released the two elders and allowed the worship meeting to end. Officers interrogated Yuliya Vitsenovskaya, owner of the home where the church met, at a local police station.

    Miknus and Oleg Vorotilin, another church leader, faced questioning at the church site before they were released later that day along with Vitsenovskaya, according to Forum 18.

    Rytikov was previously fined for leading unregistered worship meetings in 2018 and 2019. He faced charges by Russian occupiers of “extremism” in 2020 after his refusal to stop leading his church.

    In addition, Soviet authorities had jailed Rytikov from 1979 to 1982 for organizing a Christian children’s summer camp. His father, Pavel Rytikov, spent a decade in a Soviet Union jail for exercising his faith.

    Meantime, Russian occupiers have deported two Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) priests to Georgia. A Russian occupation forces’ court in Donetsk Region in September 2023 illegally fined the Rev. Khristofor Khrimli and the Rev. Andri Chui of “illegal missionary activity” under Russian law, noted Forum 18.

    Both priests received fines after their arrests in the occupied Donetsk Region in September. Officials transferred them to Russia in October, and then sent Khrimli to Georgia in February and likewise Chui in March. Both priests are now recovering in Ukrainian government-held Ukraine.

    When Forum 18 asked Russian court Bailiff Aleksandr Nikolenko why the priests are not allowed home in Russian-occupied Donetsk Region, he reportedly said, “Because they were ordered to leave the Russian Federation.”

    OCU priests such as Khrimli and Chui are suffering ongoing pressure to give allegiance to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Violations in Russia

    In Russia, authorities this month levied a hefty fine on an elderly church leader for repeatedly “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces, according to Forum 18.

    The Rev. Viktor Pivovarov, 87-year-old leader of the Holy Intercession and Tikhon Church in Slavyansk-on-Kuban, was charged at Slavyansk City Court in the southern Krasnodar Region on April 8. The fine of 150,000 rubles (US $1,592) equals eight months of an average local pension.

    The archbishop has previously said he is waiting “to be either killed or imprisoned” at the hands of Russian authorities, as previously reported by Christian Daily International.

    He had criticized Russian’s invasion as “satanic,” and soldiers armed with machine guns badly beat his assistant, the Rev. Hieromonk Iona Sigida, during a raid at the church on Oct. 3. Authorities were expected to use money they took from the church during the raid to go toward paying the fine.

    Forum 18 said the court punished Pivovarov under Criminal Code Article 280.3, Part 1, “Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.” He is reportedly the fifth person to receive a criminal conviction for criticizing Russia’s role in the invasion from a faith perspective.

    In July, researcher Dylan Schexnaydre of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said religious minorities had been systematically harassed since the invasion.

    In his report, “Religious Freedom Conditions in the Russian Federation,” Schexnaydre called the harassment the largest crackdown on independent civil society in decades.

    “Public security officials enforce vague, problematic legislation targeting missionary activities, alleged ‘extremism’ and terrorism, ‘undesirable organizations,’ and blasphemy, among others, to oppress religious communities and fine and imprison members for their religious activities,” Schexnaydre wrote.

    On March 1, USCIRF pushed for sanctions to be taken against Russian officials for abusing Freedom of Religious Belief (FoRB) prisoners.

    In a public statement, USCIRF confirmed “hundreds” of FoRB prisoners of conscience imprisoned by Russian authorities. The statement highlighted the brutal death of Ukrainian priest Stepan Podolchak, as reported by Christian Daily International.

    “Russia’s religious freedom violations continue to reach an unprecedented scale,” said USCIRF Commissioner Susie Gelman. “The U.S. government cannot allow Russia’s brutal crackdown on religious communities, human rights organizations, and other groups working on religious freedom and countering disinformation to succeed.”



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