FIRST, THE NEWS:
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CANCELS LUTHERAN DIALOGUE OVER GAY RIGHTS QUESTION
(11 Sep) Finnish and Russian attitudes to gay rights are poles apart, and that's helping to derail doctrinal dialogues between the two countries' largest religions. Archbishop Kari Mäkinen says that he was forced to cancel planned ecumenical dialogues when he met the Russia Patriarch Kiril in Moscow.
The Russian Orthodox Church wanted to agree to a statement in advance, as the meeting was scheduled to discuss anthropology - an area where sexuality was bound to come up. "Our church's line, which doesn't directly condemn homosexuality, is such that from their point of view they don't want to continue official ecumenical discussions," said Mäkinen.
Mäkinen said that the Russian side wanted to agree to a negative statement on homosexuality, but that the Lutheran church takes a different tack. In his opinion the end result of the talks should not be dictated in advance. "Discussions are discussions," said Mäkinen. When it became clear that an agreement in advance wasn't possible, the patriarch indicated that the discussions could not go ahead. Mäkinen says that ecumenical work will continue despite the setback. [read more...]
UZBEKISTAN: "WE WILL CONTINUE FINING YOU UNLESS YOU STOP STORING RELIGIOUS LITERATURE IN YOUR HOME"
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service
(18 Sep) The police officer who led the raid on the home of a Seventh-day Adventist couple in Samarkand told Forum 18 News Service that it is illegal for them to have religious literature since the Adventist community does not have registration in the city. Protestants believe the raid was a reprisal for lodging a new registration application as the community seeks to regain the registration stripped from it in 2007. Among books seized were a Koran and Bibles in Braille. Police also seized religious literature from individuals' homes elsewhere in Uzbekistan.
"We will continue fining you unless you stop storing religious literature in your home," Judge Oltinbek Mansurov warned Artur Alpayev in Navoi in early September after fining him six months' average local wages for having religious literature at home. Forum 18 can find no published law which broadly bans individuals from owning religious books or other materials, though materials intended to encourage people to change their beliefs or works which, in the state's interpretation, "distort religious canons" have been banned since January. [read more...]
PUTIN LIGHTS CANDLES FOR "DEFENDERS OF NOVOROSSIYA" IN MOSCOW CHURCH
(11 Sep) Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Life-Giving Trinity Church in the Vorobyovy Gory neighborhood in Moscow after voting in elections to the Moscow City Duma ahead of voting day, and lit candles for those who had suffered in the hostilities in the south-eastern part of Ukraine, which he defined as 'Novorossiya.' Asked why he had decided to visit this church and in whose favor he lit candles there, Putin replied, "I lit candles for those who suffered in defending people in Novorossiya." The church's dean Archpriest Andrey Novikov, recently came from Odessa, as he says, to escape persecution. Talking to journalists, Father Andrey said he had left Odessa on April 10 having served 12 years as a diocesan secretary.
He said an investigator had summoned him to Kiev as "a witness to ties with anti-Maidan activists in Odessa" and warned him that, during his questioning, his status could be changed to an accused defendant. "I was blamed for maintaining contacts with anti-Maidan leaders in Odessa. And besides, I know a lot of people in Moscow quite well and have long been writing a lot of articles on unity of the Russian world. A Security Service officer came to me on April 7 and demanded that I disclose the content of confessions by all anti-Maidan activists. Naturally, I refused to do so," he said. Father Andrey said he was perfectly aware of how "all Orthodox priests in Odessa were called without summons, and nobody returned after being questioned." [read more...]
BELARUS: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SURVEY, SEPTEMBER 2014
by Olga Glace, Forum 18 News Service
(16 Sep) Belarus continues to keep religious communities within an invisible ghetto of regulation, Forum 18 News Service has found. The state closely controls people meeting together to exercise their religious freedom, forcing many religious communities to keep out of sight. Officials are hostile towards followers of faiths they see as a threat, particularly the Protestantism of many of the regime's political opponents. However, Forum 18 also notes that Belarus has been more reluctant to crack down on freedom of religion and belief in recent years.
Yet people fear that without change to the legal framework and the attitudes of officials harsh actions could resume. Other issues include: strict controls on foreign citizens, including Catholic priests, who conduct religious activity; a Soviet-era network of KGB secret police and religious affairs officials; lack of provision for conscientious objection to military service; and obstruction of the religious freedom of prisoners, including prisoners of conscience and death-row prisoners. [read more...]
SPIRITUAL LEADERS IN UKRAINE AND RUSSIA IN ASSOCIATION CALL TO STOP VIOLENCE IN DONBAS
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(12 Sep) Heads and representatives of churches and religious organizations in Ukraine and Russia supported the efforts of the international community aiming "to halt the bloodshed, to establish peace in Ukraine on the basis of universally recognized principles of international relations." This was stated in the communiqué that was the result of open dialogue during the meetings of interfaith roundtable, held in the capital of Norway on September 11, 2014, according to the Institute for Religious Freedom.
"We deeply mourn and pray for all victims of the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, both among civilians and the military," states the final document. The delegates of the confessions of Ukraine and Russia stated that despite the presence of both common and different views about the causes, events and consequences of the current crisis, their purpose is witnessing the truth and service to attain peace.
"We call each of the conflict participants to avoid under any circumstances the actions that humiliate human dignity, not to use torture, to counter kidnappings, including for ransom, and to counter looting," the religious leaders of Ukraine and Russia stressed. Representatives of churches and religious organizations urged all believers to continue praying for peace in Ukraine and to promote peace to the extent possible. [read more...]
UKRAINE IS FLOWING WITH BLOOD, SAY BISHOPS, WARNING WORSE COULD COME
from Ecumenical News
(13 Sep) Ukrainian Greek-Catholic bishops from around the world, meeting in Lviv for their annual Holy Synod, have appealed to the international community to help restore peace in Ukraine. "Ukraine is flowing with blood!" the bishops began, noting the "direct military intervention" in Ukraine by Russia, Vatican Radio reported Friday.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of wanting to "eliminate" his country and restore the Soviet Union, the BBC reported Saturday. It said there were reports of heavy fighting near the airport in Donetsk, one of the main rebel-held cities despite there being an official ceasefire between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists. Yatsenyuk said Ukraine is "in a state of war" with the "key aggressor" being Russia. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
MOLDOVAN NEWSPAPER THREATENED OVER ORTHODOX METROPOLITAN'S VACATION PICS
from Eurasia Review
CRIMEA: THE UNBEARABLE BURDEN OF RE-REGISTRATION BY 1 JAN 2015
from Forum 18 News Service
RUSSIA, UKRAINE, BELARUS LINKED WITH INVINCIBLE SPIRITUAL BONDS - PATRIARCH KIRILL
HAD WE BEEN PERFECT, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO WAR
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
CHURCHES IN UKRAINE OVERWHELMED BUT NOT WITHOUT HELP
from Mission Network News
CRIMEA: CATHOLIC PRIEST FACES EXPLUSION, RESIDENCY PERMIT NOT RENEWED
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
METR. HILARION OF MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE CHALLENGES UNIATES' RIGHT TO EXIST
PUTIN HAS CALLED INTO QUESTION THE CORE 'HOLY RUS' MYTH OF RUSSIANS
from Window on Eurasia
COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS IN BELGRADE TO MARK CENTENARY OF BEGINNING OF WWI
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
JOURNEY BACK TO MY HOMELAND: SEEING HOPE THROUGH MY TEARS
from Russian Ministries
ARMENIAN CHURCH ON AKHTAMAR ISLAND HOSTS FIFTH SERVICE AFTER 100-YEAR HIATUS
from Public Radio of Armenia
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Our first news article RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CANCELS LUTHERAN DIALOGUE OVER GAY RIGHTS QUESTION might lead you to believe that the Finnish Lutheran Church approves of homosexual relations for members and clergy, as some liberal Protestant denominations do in the U.S. But this isn't quite the case: the Wikipedia article on the Finnish Lutheran Church explains that their clergy are permitted to pray with a homosexual couple either privately or publicly concerning their relationship, but this is not to be confused with a wedding ceremony or blessing the couple's relationship.
One wonders if the Russian Orthodox Church refuses communion or praying for Orthodox people who commit the sins of pride, gluttony, adultery, drunkenness, greed, laziness, etc. Homosexuality, one sin among many, is often singled out by conservative Christians, perhaps as a guilt projection, a way to cover up their own sins. This is not to excuse homosexuality, but neither should we turn a blind eye to those other sins: see the article behind our first news headline MOLDOVAN NEWSPAPER THREATENED OVER ORTHODOX METROPOLITAN'S VACATION PICS.
As you read the article behind our news headline PUTIN HAS CALLED INTO QUESTION THE CORE 'HOLY RUS' MYTH OF RUSSIANS, you might feel it something of an overstatement: "By his incautious remarks about the absence of a state tradition in Kazakhstan and his invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has unintentionally called attention to and cast doubt on one of the most fundamental myths of the Russian state and people, that they descended from Kyiv rather than - as is in fact the case - from the Mongol horde."
But we must remember that the Mongol horde controlled what is now Russia for much longer and more completely than it controlled what is now Ukraine. And the total of all the Eastern-Rite Christian parishes (UOC-MP, UOC-KP, UAOC and UGCC) is more than all the Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Russia. Add to this the fact that there are more Evangelical Protestant congregations in Ukraine than in Russia, even sending missionaries to "evangelize" Russia. All this indicates Ukraine is more vibrantly Christian than Russia.
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. The greatest advantage of speaking the truth is that you don't have to remember what you said.