|FIRST, THE NEWS:||
NEW UKRAINIAN HEAD TO PROMOTE UNITY WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
from Kyiv Post
(6 Apr) The new head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, its youngest Bishop, said he believes the other Bishops elected him to promote unity within the Church and with other Christians. The 40-year-old Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, visiting Rome to meet Pope Benedict XVI, told CNS he believes he was elected "despite my age."
Ukrainian Bishops from around the world, who met in a synod in late March to elect a new major Archbishop for their Church, were looking for a leader who could "unite the Church in Ukraine and outside Ukraine," who could "promote the unity of Christians in Ukraine and establish some sort of dialogue with the new Ukrainian government," he told CNS on March 30 at the Ukrainian Church office in Rome. [read more...]
AZERBAIJAN: RIOT POLICE VERSUS WORSHIPPERS
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
(8 Apr) One of three religious communities in Azerbaijan's second city Gyanja banned from meeting for worship received a Sunday morning visit from ordinary police and riot police to prevent them worshiping, local Christians who asked not to be identified to prevent state reprisals told Forum 18 News Service. The worship bans were imposed in mid-March because the communities do not have state registration, local people who asked not to be identified for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18. However, Babek Sadykov, Senior Assistant to Gyanja's Police Chief, completely denied that any police had been sent to prevent anyone from worshiping. "There wasn't such a case," he told Forum 18 from the city on 6 April. "No one is being prevented from worshiping."
Trouble began for the three Gyanja communities in mid-March. State Committee local representative Kerimov told the local media on 29 March that he had warned the Star of the East Pentecostal Church and a Baptist congregation, as well as the New Apostolic Church not to meet for worship as they do not have state registration. He said two of the three had lodged registration applications, but were being "temporarily" closed down pending registration. He implied that the third had not applied for registration, and insisted that all religious communities functioning without registration will be closed down. [read more...]
COMMERCIALIZED MEDIA IS AN OBSTACLE TO RUSSIAN CIVIL SOCIETY, THE CHURCH BELIEVES
(5 Apr) Mass media in civil society should depend not only on market laws, but on social values, the Russian Orthodox Church official believes. "Today due to various reasons mass media has become a commercial product and mostly gives out a commercial product capable to attract maximum audience. Its social function is lost, media appears to depend on such terms as profit and ratings," head of the Synodal Information Department Vladimir Legoyda said.
According to him, in such conditions, when "dictation of the market and commercial profit substitute the dictation of state censorship, there is no question of mass media freedom. A person becomes a slave of consumer society, convincing himself that he is his own master. Constant dependence on advertizing, on customer's preferences - is it freedom?" [read more...]
BELARUS: AUTHORITIES "HAVE THE RIGHT" TO RAID UNREGISTERED WORSHIP
by Olga Glace, Forum 18 News Service
(30 Mar) Two separate Council of Churches Baptist congregations in Belarus were raided during worship on successive Sundays in February, as they told Forum 18 News Service. The pastor of one is awaiting administrative trial for "holding an unauthorised religious service" and religious literature confiscated from him has not been returned. Three members of the other congregation were officially warned that if they continue to worship without state registration they could face criminal prosecution and a possible two year prison term.
"Every registered organisation has a Charter and the authorities control how the community follows it. This is unacceptable for us," one of the three, Natalia Zavalei, told Forum 18. Ideology official Svetlana Starovoitova, who joined KGB officers in raiding Zavalei's congregation, insisted to Forum 18 that its worship was illegal. A religious affairs official in the capital Minsk, Mikhail Rybakov, told Forum 18 that for communities of any faith worshiping without registration "the authorities have the right to interrupt services". [read more...]
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH INTENDS TO MEET WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF ALL DENOMINATIONS BY EASTER
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(5 Apr) President Viktor Yanukovych told journalists on Tuesday, in Pavlohrad, that he intends to meet with representatives of all denominations, reports the Institute of Religious Freedom with reference to the press service of the head of the state. "It has long been my dream, but such a meeting with representatives of all denominations has not been held so far. I will make efforts to do it on Holy Thursday, April 21, on the eve of the Festival of Light, Easter," said the president.
Speaking about the relations between the state and church, the president stressed: "The role of the state is not to interfere in the affairs of the church. At the same time, we should provide equal conditions for the development of all denominations. State policy will always promote that." Let us remind our readers that during the last year, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations as well as a number of heads of churches repeatedly called Viktor Yanukovych to renew church-state dialogue at the highest level. [read more...]
KAZAKHSTAN: PUNISHMENTS FOR WORSHIP MEETINGS START AGAIN
from Forum 18 News Service
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE: RUSSIA'S MISSION IS TO BECOME HOLY RUS
KYIVAN PATRIARCHATE VIEWS POSITIVELY PRESIDENT'S INTENTION TO MEET WITH ALL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
AMERICAN EMBASSY HEARS INFORMATION ABOUT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN RUSSIA
METROPOLITAN HILARION: LIFE IS GIVEN FOR US TO EXERCISE IN VIRTUE
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS EASTER OUTREACHES
from Russian Ministries
SOME RUSSIAN ORTHODOX SEEK COMMON CAUSE WITH PROTESTANTS AGAINST ISLAM, RUSSIAN EVANGELICAL LEADER SAYS
from Window on Eurasia
IZHEVSK MP CLERGY'S LETTER TO MP PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW
from Mark of Ephesus
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
In the first news article above, the new head of the Ukrainian Catholic "Uniate" Church says he will try to "unite the Church." This requires a great deal of imagination, because the "Uniate" Church is quite a small minority in Ukraine. Its liturgy and theology are basically almost identical to Orthodoxy, it has married priests like the Orthodox Church, but it commemorates the Roman Pope in the liturgy instead of the Orthodox Patriarch. In our view, it is a fantasy to believe that the majority of Ukrainians will submit to the Roman Pope.
The last two "OTHER NEWS HEADLINES" articles require some explanation: the Russian Evangelical leader mentioned is actually opposed to the idea of an Orthodox-Evangelical joint effort against Islam. At the end of that article it mentions "recent events in Izhevsk," referring to the next article: three MP Orthodox clergy in Izhevsk signed a long letter to Patriarch Kirill, "categorically" asking for (demanding) a long list of changes in the Orthodox Church. At the end, they wrote: "We, the sinful, with humility will stop commemorating You during the services in accordance with the 15th Rule of the Double Council and the 3rd Rule of the Third Ecumenical Council." What that amounts to is that they no longer recognize Patriarch Kirill as their head, in essence trying to start a mini-Protestant Reformation. The swift answer from Moscow was to excommunicate them and change the locks on their church buildings.
At this time of year we celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This is the greatest Christian holiday! In our last issue, we emphasized the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Incarnate, and that both Islam and Socialism have "humanized" Him into at best merely another prophet, a great moral teacher. But "Without the Incarnation, there is no Salvation," - unless God Himself became fully man, unless it was God Incarnate who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, mankind cannot "become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4). Anything else leads to "humanized" religion, free-loading on the socialist-humanist gravy train... until the train runs out of steam.
As we wrote in our last Hosken-News, Humanism and Socialism in society militate against Christ's divinity. And because they reject the need for God to come down to mankind to redeem our fallen humanity and restore the image and likeness of God in us, they mistakenly believe in our ability to perfect ourselves all by ourselves. Only Christ, God Incarnate, can transform humanity into loving, serving and self-giving people: "For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don't use your freedom to gratify the flesh, but serve one another through love" (Gal. 5:13).
But Humanism and Socialism teach that freedom basically means you're free to do whatever you want. Fallen human nature left to itself, however, is motivated by selfish desires and greed, with many people trying to get as much as they can from the system while giving as little as possible into the system. See Democracy - The system that picks Barrabas over Jesus. Today's "Democracy" is more akin to Socialism than to the democratic principles that the United States was founded upon. The result is a society full of people who have become dependent upon the socialist state: "they" (the state, the "rich," the evil capitalist West, or Santa Claus) should give us free education, "they" should provide subsidized housing, "they" should free medical care, free food coupons, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
"Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" teaches that there is a rightful sphere of activity for the state - to preserve social order and prevent crime, and also a rightful sphere of activity for the Church - to train people in morality and how to "serve one another through love," to care for the poor, the sick and the elderly. Too often, though, Christians become totally involved in their church services and fellowship, and abdicate these social responsibilities to the state. We must realize that the state is not everything - we must not allow it to take over every sphere of human activity, but it is something: it requires some of our attention and effort - voting wisely in order to keep it in check. Otherwise, the Socialist-Humanist politically active minority will out-vote the "silent majority."
Both Islam and Socialism, however, attempt to take control of everything, every sphere of activity in society: ideology, education, welfare, housing and medicine, as well as preserving social order and preventing crime. The official or "soft" position of both Islam and Socialism toward Christianity is to limit its sphere of activity to the four walls of church buildings at specified times, usually only on Sunday mornings, to forbid any form of outreach or practical social ministry, and to treat Christianity as a fairy tale for foolish, feeble-minded people. Their unofficial or "hard line" position toward Christianity is often persecution and forced conversion or extermination. But the result is a society of parasitic, perpetually dependent people with little or no moral backbone waiting for their entitlements from the state that eventually goes bankrupt and disintegrates, after completely devouring or destroying the productivity and initiative of fewer and fewer working people.
The answer to this is found in Christ's "divine power [that] has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and virtue; by which He has granted to us His precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Pet. 1:3-4). Only His divine power is capable of transforming us by His own glory and virtue, not by our own efforts, to partake (koinonoi) of the divine nature, the divine-human Body and Blood of Christ. Only by this can we escape from our selfish desires that lead to personal and social corruption, and begin to live selflessly, to love others as much as we love ourselves. So, we must build up the koinonia-community, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.
The Fourth Lateran Council, in addition to what we mentioned in our last Hosken-News, forbade clergy from doing medical work - this was a big mistake! It created a disconnect between physical and spiritual spheres of human life, thus "kicking upstairs" the spiritual realm into a fairy-tale Never-Never Land of "pie-in-the-sky-bye-and-bye." We must re-join the arts of physical and spiritual healing: through Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection God has shown us that the material world is significant - it can and should be redeemed and restored to the glory that God created it to attain. But to achieve this, we must strive for holiness in body and soul: "Without holiness no one will see God" (Heb. 12:14). We must be ready to suffer with Christ: "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him" (Rom.8:17).
In the above "OTHER NEWS HEADLINES" article LIFE IS GIVEN FOR US TO EXERCISE IN VIRTUE, Metropolitan Hilarion says: "Everyone struggles with one's passions in one's own way. But the most terrible thing is one's reluctance to struggle with them and getting accustomed to them when one says to oneself: I am as I am. I cannot become different because God has made me such. God has created each of us for us to grow in the life of virtue. Every day and many times a day the Lord gives us an opportunity for good works but we refuse it often due to our laziness." Lent provides a fresh opportunity to struggle against our vices and to strengthen God-given virtues.
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Prayer and Praise:
S. Pray for real Christian unity among Ukrainian Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants on a practical grassroots level of social ministry.
M. Intercede for the congregation in Azerbaijan's second city Gyanja where riot police prevented them from worshiping.
T. Thank the Lord that Vladimir Legoyda spoke out against "dictation of the market and commercial profit" by the mass media.
W. Pray for the two unregistered Baptist congregations in Belarus that were raided during worship services in February.
T. Ask the Lord that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's meetings with all denominations will result in more religious liberty.
F. Pray that Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims in the former Soviet Union would be able to live together in peace.
S. Ask God to help people realize that only Christ's divine power is capable of transforming us by His own glory and virtue.
Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. How will we ever know how good we have it, if all we ever know is having it good?
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