RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH RISKS SCHISM OVER CONFLICT IN UKRAINE
from The Moscow Times
(02 Sep) On the last day of summer [31 Aug. by Russian tradition - ed.], a Russian Orthodox priest imposed against his parishioners who had fought in Ukraine's "fratricidal war" a 20-year ban on receiving communion. Those deemed to have only promoted the conflict raging in Ukraine's east, either verbally or in writing, will be hit with an 11-year ban, Father Grigory Mikhnov-Voitenko told his congregation in the small northern town of Staraya Russa.
Father Grigory is somewhat of an anomaly in the Russian Orthodox Church, which has remained surprisingly tight-lipped through the months of bloodshed in eastern Ukraine. The silence is surprising, given the church's recent track record of vocal support for the Kremlin, which itself has endorsed the pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine, who - for their part - are mostly radical conservatives claiming to be fighting in the name of God.
Ukraine has three separate Orthodox churches, only one of which - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-MP - is subordinate to Moscow. And the Moscow Patriarchate must remain on the fence if it wants to retain its already slippery grasp on that church, religious experts said Tuesday. "If the Moscow Patriarch is too pro-Moscow, then Moscow is all he'll be left with," quipped Maxim Goryunov, a prominent philosopher and acquaintance of Mikhnov-Voitenko. [read more...]
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As our first news article RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH RISKS SCHISM OVER CONFLICT IN UKRAINE states, the Moscow Patriarchate has only a "slippery grasp" on the UOC-MP, and "If the Moscow Patriarch is too pro-Moscow, then Moscow is all he'll be left with," says one commentator. Many in the UOC-MP, including its new metropolitan, support the new government in Kiev's drive for political independence from Moscow. So if the Moscow Patriarch pushes too hard for the Kremlin's position, he could easily lose control of the UOC-MP. Pray for peace and a harmonious settlement between Christian Churches in Ukraine and Russia!
Our last news article LEADERS OF UKRAINE, RUSSIA SAY CEASEFIRE HOLDING, MORE STEPS NEEDED reports on what we hope is an end to the violence there. It appears, however, that the current ceasefire in Ukraine will result in another "frozen conflict" in which Russia will play the role of arbitrator. Of the 28 former Soviet Bloc countries - Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - there are now "frozen conflicts" in Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Kosovo, Georgia and Azerbaijan, in which Russia plays a significant role, making these countries semi-dependent on Russia to allow these open wounds to heal.
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