Welcome to , 02 Mar 2014
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRELATE DECRIES POLITICAL PRESSURE ON CHURCH IN UKRAINE
from
CatholicCulture.org

Moscow Patriarch Kirill (24 Feb) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has made a plea for peace in Ukraine, and denounced "attempts to use political power to resolve the question of the Church in Ukraine." The Russian prelate spoke on February 23 about the "tragic division of our Church" in Ukraine, and called for an end to the bloodshed wrought in that country by "minds clouded by violence." The Russian Patriarch, whose message was read in all the churches of the Moscow patriarchate, said that "political power should not interfere in ecclesiastical matters," and insisted that the splintered Orthodox community of Ukraine should unite.

In a potentially important related development, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate [UOC-MP] elected a new leader, to replace Metropolitan Vladimir, who is hospitalized. The Synod announced that because Metropolitan Vladimir was determined to be "medically incapacitated," and incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities, the Synod had elected Metropolitan Onufry to act as primate.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate [UOC-MP], which is allied with the Russian Orthodox Church, is one of three different bodies competing for recognition as representative of the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate [UOC-KP] is led by Patriarch Filaret, who was excommunicated by the Moscow patriarchate when he sought to set up an autonomous Orthodox hierarchy in Ukraine after the country regained its independence from Russia. A third, smaller body, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church [UAOC], has ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. [read more...]


"WE DEEPLY SYMPATHIZE WITH ONGOING EVENTS IN FRATERNAL UKRAINE" - PATRIARCH KIRILL, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP
from
The Voice of Russia

Patriarch Kirill with staff(27 Feb) The Russian Orthodox Church has been gravely concerned about what Ukrainian believers have been reporting in the past few days, namely the attempted taking by force of churches and monasteries by schismatics. On February 26th, the Russian Orthodox Church's Supreme Church Council adopted a statement due to a threat of the use of violence against the canonical Church of Ukraine.

"We appeal to all Orthodox Christians of Ukraine, whatever their political preferences, to prevent the infringement on sanctuaries. As we are praying for an end to the strife amid the fraternal people of Ukraine, we urge everyone to understand that the path to civil peace in Ukraine rules out any religious standoff, or introduction of discord in churches or monasteries", the statement points out. All Russians are gravely concerned about the future of Ukraine's canonical Orthodoxy, as well as about the future of believers in Ukraine," Patriarch Kirill said.

"We are currently feeling deeply for the events under way in the fraternal Ukraine as if this were going on in our own country, or the families of each one of us; because we do not only share the bonds of spiritual kinship, but we also share the ties of blood, common history, common suffering and common joys. The biggest threat is, perhaps, the fact that innocent blood is being shed, that the value of human life becomes negligible."

Religious activists are currently guarding every single church in Ukraine around the clock for fear that the schismatics under the self-proclaimed head of the Kiev Patriarchate, Filaret Denisenko, may take these by force. Disturbing messages have been arriving from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (of the Kiev Cave Monastery) and from the Pochaev Lavolta of the Dormition, as well as from Sumy and other bishoprics, the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia. [read more...]


KYRGYZSTAN: FREEING BELIEF COMMUNITIES FROM STATE INTERFERENCE "A MISTAKE"
by Felix Corley,
Forum 18 News Service

(27 Feb) A meeting chaired by Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev has described as a "mistake" the constitutionally-enshrined "distancing state bodies from regulating processes in the religious sphere." Following the meeting, a presidential Decree prepares the way for increased state control over Christian and Muslim groups. The Decree also announces the preparation of legal changes. One Kyrgyz commentator told Forum 18 News Service that "many of the proposals emerging now contradict the Constitution."

The commentator - who asked not to be identified - stated: "many religious communities are afraid that under any new legal changes they will be stripped of state registration." Despite the proposed heavy state controls over various aspects of the Muslim Board, its press secretary Asan Saipov told Forum 18 that "our government doesn't seek to control us." Asked why Christian and Muslim groups could not choose their own leaders and verify their qualifications without state interference, Saipov responded: "The state needs to know who the imams are and where they were educated."

State Commission for Religious Affairs head Moldaliyev - who has been in office since 17 January - told journalists after the meeting that legal changes would focus in particular on the state registration of religious organisations. "There are religious organisations which are unregistered. All this must be put right," local news agency Akipress quoted him as declaring. Moldaliyev complained about what he saw as the influx of "pseudo-Christian, pseudo-Orthodox religious ideas" after the country's independence - without explaining what ecxactly he meant. He expressed backing for the Hanafi school of Islam and the Russian Orthodox Church. [read more...]


NEW LOCUM TENENS OF KIEVAN METROPOLITANATE SKEPTICAL ABOUT PROSPECTS OF DIALOGUE WITH SCHISMATICS
from
Interfax-Religion

(26 Feb) Locum tenens of the Kievan Metropolitan See Metropolitan Onufry of Chernovtsy and Bukoviny [UOC-MP] is reserved about prospects of the dialogue with schismatics. "Dialogue is possible, but its result is not known. We can make concessions in economics, but not in spiritual rules and canons as there is one teaching and there can't be another!" the metropolitan said at the meeting with chairman of the Verkhovnaya Rada acting president Alexander Turchinov with representatives of All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, writes the Ukrainian edition of the Kommersant daily on Wednesday.

According to the locum tenens, "the Church should be set up on the foundation of love, not pressure. Nothing good will be established in such time of trouble. Positive things appear when peace is established." He also noted that if a religious war is unleashed in Ukraine, if churches are captured, "it will be more terrible than economic war." As was reported, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church set up a commission for the dialogue with two schismatic structures - the so-called Kievan Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: CRIMINAL CONVICTION, LARGE "MORAL DAMAGES" - AND NEW CRIMINAL CASE
by Felix Corley,
Forum 18 News Service

(17 Feb) Retired Presbyterian Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was this afternoon (17 February) handed a four-year suspended prison term in Kazakhstan's capital Astana. He was convicted under Criminal Code Article 103 ("Intentional inflicting of serious harm to health") of harming the health of a church member, even though that church member has insisted to state authorities, Forum 18 News Service and others that her health was not harmed. He also has to pay his alleged "victim" large "moral damages" of 2 Million Tenge (about 7,900 Euros or 10,800 US Dollars).

Lyazzat Almenova, the only person whose heath the state claims was harmed told Forum 18 in July 2013 that Kashkumbayev is "totally innocent and has not harmed my health at all" (see F18News 26 July 2013). She had earlier written to to Astana Prosecutor's Office to say she is psychiatrically healthy, that a 2012 assessment of her was conducted illegally, and calling for the case to be abandoned. [read more...]


COUNCIL OF CHURCHES EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR LEGITIMATE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(27 Feb) The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO), which over the past three months has consistently defended the peaceful protests against the use of force and punishment, issued a statement on February 26 following a meeting with the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It the statement, the church representatives declare their readiness to work with the new government, strongly condemn any attempt to divide Ukraine, and stress the importance of preserving religious peace in the country.

The AUCCRO also called on citizens of Ukraine to "faithfully perform their official and public duties, respecting the current legislation and rejecting excessive emotion or fear of changes, which can only be for a better future," reads the AUCCRO statement, the Institute for Religious Freedom reports. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

UKRAINE NAMES BAPTIST PASTOR AS ACTING PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF VERKHOVNA RADA
from
Christianity Today

VERKHOVNA RADA CHAIRMAN OLEKSANDR TURCHYNOV TO CLERICS: WISDOM OF GOD'S WORD WILL HELP US REVIVE UKRAINE
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

THE UKRAINIAN STATE WILL PROTECT ALL CITIZENS NO MATTER IN WHICH REGION THEY LIVE IN OR WHICH CHURCH THEY ATTEND
from
SFGate

WORLD RUSSIAN PEOPLE'S COUNCIL THREATENS WITH LEGAL PROSECUTION THOSE WHO TRY TO CAPTURE CHURCHES IN UKRAINE
from
Interfax-Religion

CHURCHES, DIPLOMATS CALL FOR RECONCILIATION
from
Mission Network News

HEAD OF UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLICS ACCUSES RUSSIA OF INCITING CIVIL WAR IN UKRAINE
from
NewsRU.com

PROPOSED LAW TO ALLOW RUSSIA TO EXPAND COULD LEAD TO ITS DESTRUCTION, MURTAZIN SAYS
from
Window on Eurasia

LEADERS OF CHRISTIAN CHURCHES FROM THIRTEEN COUNTRIES CALL TO PEACE IN UKRAINE
from
Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

RUSSIA'S PARLIAMENT APPROVES MILITARY ACTION IN UKRAINE
from
BosNewsLife

KYRGYZSTAN: WHO CAN BE A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR?
from
Forum 18 News Service

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

We are being bombarded by a massive propaganda campaign of half-truths and lies. In reading the above news articles and headlines, one must carefully consider the sources: official Russian political and religious sources of course take the side of the Russian government, but similar Ukrainian sources take the side of their country. The problem, however, is that in information warfare as in military warfare, the most powerful side tends to win. The Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (ROC-MP) emphasizes that its "daughter" church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), is the "canonical" Orthodox body in Ukraine. The other side, however, emphasizes that Moscow is violating long-established church canons by not allowing an independent country to have its own autonomous Orthodox Church. Also, historically speaking, the early Orthodox Church in Ukraine is the "mother" church and Moscow is her "daughter" church: just the opposite of what Moscow would like the world to think. And if all the Eastern Rite Christians in Ukraine were to unite, they would form a Church larger than the ROC-MP.

Ukraine's new Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, who is also a Baptist pastor, stated today: "Ukraine is on the edge of disaster." As we've written in recent issues, the name "Ukraine" literally means "on the edge," because Ukraine is located on the edge of both the East and the West, so it is pulled in two directions. The eastern part has more Russian-speaking people, and the western part has mostly Ukrainian-speaking along with smaller numbers of Polish, Slovak, Hungarian and Romanian people. On the whole, Ukraine consists of 41,000,000 ethnic Ukrainians and just 7,000,000 ethnic Russians - only in Crimea is the Russian population a majority: 58%; but also many Ukrainians, Cossacks and Crimean Tatars were formerly living in peace there with each other and with the ethnic Russians. This is true of most Ukrainian citizens: they want to live in peace with each other regardless of each person's religion or ethnicity in their own independent country of Ukraine, and not be split in two.

Paul Goble, a renowned expert on Russia and Central Asia, recently wrote in his 09 Feb. 2014 Window On Eurasia that a federated Ukraine would be the best solution. He refers to an article by Vadim Shteppa, a leading regionalist in the Russian Federation, who advances the idea that federalism would allow those eastern areas of Ukraine to have closer relations with Russia, while also allowing Ukraine's western areas to be more closely aligned with western Europe. Federalism would not, as some argue, lead to the Russification or the dissolution of Ukraine, but rather it would let all Ukrainians remain united while at the same time living according to their respective religious and cultural heritages.

On a more personal note, our work at FOCUS+Pittsburgh is becoming a greater "focus" of our lives here in this city. The Center will be opening a free medical clinic this month, and Cheryl will work there part-time: she's in the process of transferring her Registered Nurse credentials from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. I continue to update the "Homes and Jobs" web page (click on the above link) that I've built for FOCUS+Pittsburgh, and just yesterday I added an online resume template so that when people finish creating their resumes, we can easily move their resumes from one "public" cloud storage to the Center's "private" cloud storage. The next steps will be adding templates for cover letters and references to this system. It has taken me weeks of researching free online resources to locate just what we need to accomplish this.

Due to the decline of the coal and steel industries here, Pittsburgh has seen its population drop by 40% in the last few decades, which has left many people jobless and sometimes homeless. While on the whole the city is now vibrant and thriving, there are still some neighborhoods with many abandoned houses and businesses. Poor people need jobs now. Sometimes, though, people are "too busy fighting the alligators that they don't take time to drain the swamp." It is a challenge to help people with limited educational and financial resources take time to acquire the technical skills needed in today's society so they can qualify for, learn how to search for, and find decent-paying work. We are convinced, though, this is what's needed: to "drain the swamp" and solve poverty, not just "fight the alligators" - "manage" poverty by giving people free food and clothing.

Let's keep the comments coming! When you've finished reading, leave your COMMENTS in our Hosken-News Blog below. Thanks!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray against
attempts to use force to resolve the question of the Church in Ukraine, as Patr. Kirill said.
Mon. - Intercede for the innocent blood that was shed, and that the value of human life became negligible in Kiev.
Tue. - Ask God to distance state bodies from regulating processes in the religious sphere in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere.
Wed. - Pray that the Church in Ukraine would be set up on the foundation of love, not pressure, per Metr. Onufry.
Thu. - Ask the Lord that Kazakhstan Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev's $10,800 fine will be reduced or eliminated.
Fri. - Thank God the Ukrainian Council of Churches called for peace and condemned any attempt to divide Ukraine.
Sat. - Pray that genuine Christians will understand and practice the right relation between church and state.

Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. Be fishers of men: you catch them - He'll clean them.


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