Welcome to , 06 Jul 2014
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:

PRO-RUSSIAN REBELS SHOOT MORTARS FROM BEHIND ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN UKRAINE
from
Breitbart

Select to see full-size! (28 Jun) Nothing is sacred for the pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine. A Russian Orthodox Church Abroad priest, who did not want to be named, said the rebels hide mortars behind the Orthodox churches. "Gunmen in Slovyansk hide mortars behind Orthodox churches and shoot from there at positions of the Ukrainian Army. And when, in response, the Ukrainian artillery strikes on militants firing positions, naturally, it shells and sometimes damages churches," the priest said in Slovyansk, as reported by Info Resist.

The priest told Info Resist that the rebels did not follow Kiev's ceasefire truce on June 21, choosing instead to attack the Ukrainian army from Mount Karachun. He also said the attack was coordinated with Moscow, and all the information was prepared in advance for the Russian media. He did not provide evidence to substantiate his claims. But the priest said his location is attacked every night by the rebels. "This seriously complicates fighting for Ukrainian soldiers, who are forced to restrain retaliation of the enemy fire, not to hit the church," he said. "However, it is not possible not to retaliate at all; too many Ukrainian soldiers died from shots from the church. As a result, unfortunately, some strikes hit the church." [read more...]


UZBEKISTAN: "LEGALLY" PREVENTING HUMAN RIGHTS
by Mushfig Bayram,
Forum 18 News Service

(04 Jul) Uzbekistan is formalizing harsher restrictions than those which formally already exist, Forum 18 News Service notes. A new Prevention Law, which enters into legal force on 15 August, automatically places people convicted by the courts on a Preventive Register, subjecting them to a variety of police "preventative measures" for one year or more. Many agencies are able to initiate placing individuals on the Preventive Register, from health care to nature protection agencies, allowing many possibilities for officials to arbitrarily arrange for people to stay on the Register for many years.

The Law also gives mahalla committees wide powers to let police, among other things, "take measures to prevent the activity of unregistered religious organizations." It also "legalizes unofficial informers," a legal expert from Tashkent noted to Forum 18. Heavy punishments continue to be imposed on people exercising freedom of religion or belief, a police officer in a recent raid insisting to Forum 18 that people "are allowed to gather and talk about their religion only in their communities' legally-registered addresses, but not outside those buildings or in private homes." [read more...]


NUMBER OF ORTHODOX UP IN RUSSIA BUT ONLY A FEW GO TO CHURCH, PRAY REGULARLY - POLL
from
Interfax-Religion

(04 Jul) The share of Russian citizens considering themselves Orthodox grew from 52% in 1997 to 68% in 2014, sociologists of the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) said citing a poll. According to the survey conducted in late May in 100 cities, towns and villages in 43 Russian regions and involving 1,500 respondents, 19% of Russians do not consider themselves religious, 6% are Muslims, and 1% refer to themselves as non-Orthodox Christian confessions (Catholics, Uniates, Baptists, other Protestants, etc.). Only 13% of the Orthodox believers go to church once a month or more, take communion regularly, know church prayers and read morning and evening prayers, the survey showed.

Moscow Orthodox respondents can be called half-church-going (29%) or little-church-going (27%), but in 2014 both groups decreased 4%, while the share of those little (from 16% to 22%) or very little church-goers (from 8% to 10%) grew, sociologists said. When asked "how often do you go to church?", 32% said they have never been there, 19% said they go to church several times a year, 18% one-two times a year, 14% less than once a year, and 8% go monthly. Russians take communion even less frequently - 63% respondents have never do it, 10% each - less than once year or once or twice a year, and 4% several times a year, the poll showed. [read more...]


CRIMEA: OLD AND NEW PLACE OF WORSHIP PROBLEMS, GREEK CATHOLIC CLERGY RESTRICTIONS
by Felix Corley,
Forum 18 News Service

(27 Jun) Crimean officials deny that a decree which will lead to a substantial rise in the rent the Kiev Patriarchate Ukrainian Orthodox Church pays on its nearly 20-year-old cathedral in the Crimean capital Simferopol is a targeted move. "There is no discrimination in relation to this particular church," Lyudmila Khorozova of Crimea's Property Fund, which owns the building, claimed to Forum 18 News Service. She was unable to explain why no decrees have been adopted relating to other religious communities.

Sevastopol's Roman Catholic community is less optimistic since March about being able to regain its historic church. It lodged a European Court of Human Rights case over earlier denials in 2001. Greek Catholic priests from elsewhere in Ukraine can serve in Crimea only for three months in any four. All 1,546 religious communities with Ukrainian registration will have to re-register under Russian law. [read more...]


RELATIONS BETWEEN UOC-KP AND UOC-MP WORSENED AFTER METROPOLITAN VOLODYMYR WITHDREW FROM CHURCH GOVERNANCE
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(02 Jul) In recent years, relations between the UOC-MP and the UOC-KP have improved, but after Metropolitan Volodymyr's withdrawal from active governance of the Church there have been tendencies towards enmity between the two confessions. This is stated in the commentary of the UOC-KP press center on the statement of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC-MP.

"Only in recent years due to the wise stance of UOC-MP Primate Metropolitan Volodymyr there has been a significant improvement in mutual relations, the first steps towards dialogue and understanding have been taken. However, it should be noted that after Metropolitan Volodymyr's withdrawal from active governance of the UOC-MP the tendency to feud with the Kyiv Patriarchate have intensified, reviving the rhetoric of mid-90s, and everyone who shared and supported the course of Metropolitan Volodymyr towards understanding and reconciliation experience pressure from the new leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). An example of this is the DECR itself in which a number of employees have been fired recently," the Kyiv Patriarchate states. [read more...]


BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER OF KAZAKHSTAN: 'WE ARE IN THE FOURTH GREAT CRISIS OF THE CHURCH'
from
Catholic Herald

(06 Jun) Liberals, collaborating with the "new paganism," are driving the Catholic Church towards a split, according to Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the liturgical specialist who is carrying on a rearguard fight against "abuses" in the Church. So serious are the problems, Bishop Schneider said in an interview last week, that this is the fourth great crisis in the history of the Church, comparable to the fourth-century Arian heresy in which a large part of the Church hierarchy was implicated.

If you have not heard of the Soviet-born bishop, you will. The sincere, scholarly clergyman is auxiliary bishop of the distant Archdiocese of St Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan. But this month he has received a rock star welcome from congregations across the country on his tour of England and he has embraced cyberspace to put over a trenchant, traditional defence of the Church. "Thanks be to God, the internet exists," he said. His views are not popular with everyone, especially not some of his liberal colleagues, or, he says, with the mainstream media of the secular world. But his audiences tell another story.... [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

METROPOLITAN OF ZAGREB AND LJUBLJANA SAYS HE IS COMING WITH OPEN HEART
from
Dalje.com

CRIMEA: RAIDS, VIOLENCE, THREATS - BUT WHAT PROTECTION DO VICTIMS GET?
from
Forum 18 News Service

SWISS AUTHORITIES THANK THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH FOR HELPING RELEASE OSCE OBSERVERS
from
Interfax-Religion

EU AGREEMENT, PRAYER, AND CEASEFIRE TOP UKRAINE TO-DO LIST
from
Mission Network News

ORTHODOX COUNCIL IS UNLIKELY TO BE CONVENED DUE TO UKRAINIAN SITUATION, SAYS ROMANIAN THEOLOGIAN
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

UOC-MP CLAIMS ITS PARISH IN TERNOPOL PROVINCE TRANSFERRED TO UOC-KP BY MEANS OF DECEPTION
from
Religiia v Ukraine

HUNGARY MULLS APPEAL AGAINST STRASBOURG RULE SUPPORTING SMALL CHURCHES
from
POLITICS.HU

PATRIARCH KIRILL PRAYS FOR NEGOTIATIONS TO SETTLE THE CRISIS IN UKRAINE
from
Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

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


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

Our first news article, PRO-RUSSIAN REBELS SHOOT MORTARS FROM BEHIND ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN UKRAINE, gives the real story, while several other news sources (from Russia) such as Ukrainian forces shell Slavyansk church during a Sunday service bewail the fact that Ukrainian forces - who were aiming just past the church - accidentally let a few artillery shells fall on church property. But they totally failed to report that pro-Russian rebels were firing at the Ukrainian forces from behind the church's territory.

And in the news article, NUMBER OF ORTHODOX UP IN RUSSIA BUT ONLY A FEW GO TO CHURCH, PRAY REGULARLY - POLL, we see that while the numbers of nominal Russian Orthodox people have increased, the numbers of real Orthodox Christians, those who attend church regularly, confess their sins and take communion, etc., has actually decreased. Just as in Poland and Italy where to be a "real Pole" or "real Italian" is to say you're Roman Catholic, to be a "real Russian" in Russia is to say you're Orthodox... whether you really practice your faith or not. This identifies religion as an aspect of ethnocentric nationalism. In official Orthodox doctrine, this is called the heresy of ethnophylitism.

And in our final news headline, PATRIARCH KIRILL PRAYS FOR NEGOTIATIONS TO SETTLE THE CRISIS IN UKRAINE, the Moscow Patriarch called on people to pray thusly: "God grant that the military confrontation may be ended forever, that the fratricide may not resume, that the sides may come to mutually acceptable decisions as soon as possible to ensure the rights and freedoms of all Ukrainian citizens regardless of their political views and value preferences. A call to prayer for Ukraine has been heard throughout the space of historical Rus'."

That last phrase, "the space of historical Rus'," identifies the reach of Kirill's wished-for domain: all the Slavic lands of ancient Rus' - Belarus, parts of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Moldova and of course all of Ukraine. In other words, "My children, behave yourselves, stop fighting and come back under my wings!" It appears that Russian Orthodoxy identifies itself not merely with the modern Russian state, but with the whole pre-revolutionary Russian Empire and the realm of all the Soviet bloc countries. Perhaps Patriarch Kirill should recall that the Russian Empire ended in 1917, 97 years ago, and the Soviet empire collapsed in 1989, 25 years ago. It's over. This is today. There's a new Empire rising - the Kingdom of Heaven.

On Monday we have an important meeting with the director of FOCUS+Pittsburgh where we volunteer to discuss adapting our plans for an Agape Restoration Center to fit one the available lots near the FOCUS center in the Hill District, a very needy part of the city. I've redrawn the basic floorplan to fit one of these lots, so we can minister to "the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind." Please pray with us about this meeting!


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


For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray that
pro-Russian rebels won't hide behind churches, forcing Ukrainian troops to engage the rebels there.
Mon. - Intecede against Uzbekistan's new ruling to prevent unregistered worship and legalize unofficial informers.
Tue. - Ask the Lord for an expansion of real Christianity in Russia, not just increased nominal Russian Orthodoxy.
Wed. - Pray for freedom of religion for Ukrainian Orthodox (KP), Greek Catholic and other churches in Crimea.
Thu. - Ask God that relations between the UOC-MP and the UOC-KP will improve again when the conflict in Ukraine ends.
Fri. - Thank God for Bishop Athanasius speaking out against Catholic liberals collaborating with the "new paganism."
Sat. - Pray that we all will care for the poor and sick, in order to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth.

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. The measure of a man isn't how much he has accumulated for himself, but how much he has done for others.


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