FIRST, THE NEWS:
SEPARATISM AROSE IN DONBASS ALSO BECAUSE THE CHURCH FAILED TO FORM VALUES - DONETSK HISTORIAN
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(30 Sep) On September 29, at the opening of VII Ecumenical Social Week in Lviv, Ihor Todorov, Doctor of Historical Sciences, professor of international relations and foreign policy of Donetsk National University said: "The Church has never had any significant impact in Donetsk region. Even if some of iconic thinkers speak out, they are not from the church environment," journalist Sofia Kochmar reports to RISU. In Donbass the most popular are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and several Protestant denominations, the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches and Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate are present in small proportion. "There are many examples of conversion from the Moscow Patriarchate to Protestant communities, suggesting that the 'mother faith' was not so enrooted to remain in it," says Ihor Todorov.
"Donetsk region is a very complex area for the Church's work. Its population was formed by two waves of industrialization - the first one in the nineteenth century, consisting of immigrants from Russian provinces, and the Soviet one, when everyone was permitted to work in the mines even without documents. It accounts for the criminality rate," the academic says. "The Moscow Patriarchate has relied on external attributes: blessing Easter cakes is a custom, while regular confession and the Holy Communion are not. Most priests are not very anxious about it, because the main thing is money that the faithful regularly pay for funeral, christening, and wedding services. The church had no intention to become a moral authority in Donbass," says Ihor Todorov. [read more...]
UZBEKISTAN: REHABILITATION CENTER SUSPENDED, LEADERS UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service
(26 Sep) About 20 residents of a Protestant-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent were driven out during a 31 May raid by the police, secret police and tax office. Officials confiscated religious literature, office equipment and money before sealing the "Shelter Rehabilitation Center." An employee who taught metal-working to residents, Pyotr Tikhomirov, was fined for "illegally" storing religious literature "posing a threat to the peace and security of the population." Criminal cases were opened against him and the Center's founder, Vladislav Sekan, for allegedly not paying taxes on wages, not having a cash-register and exploiting residents by not paying them for clearing up after themselves.
"For twelve years of its work, large numbers of drug and alcohol addicts were freed from their harmful habits and restored to normal life in the Rehabilitation Center," Sekan told Forum 18 News Service. Anti-Terrorism Police Officer Jabbor Rizkulov, who led the May raid, refused to explain to Forum 18 why the Center had been raided or exactly what charges were brought against Tikhomirov and Sekan. Prosecutor's Office Investigator Sarvar Akhmedov refused to give Forum 18 details of the investigation or say when it will be completed. [read more...]
PATRIARCH KIRILL DENIES BEING VEHICLE OF KREMLIN POLICY
(25 Sep) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia rejected accusations of being a vehicle of the Kremlin's policy. "In some countries, - and the current situation in Ukraine exacerbates this issue, - the person of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia is linked to the Russian Federation alone and his principles are equated with the policy of the Russian government," Krill said at a meeting in Moscow with participants in the Faith and World festival of Orthodox media. No statements by the Patriarch or the Church are cited in leveling such accusations at him, he said.
"This is done indiscriminately, especially in Ukraine today by members of, to put it mildly, non-canonical Orthodox entities. They just indiscriminately represent the Patriarch as part of the state - he is a vehicle [of state policy], and so he mustn't be let in, and so he is all the bad things, and so forth," Patriarch Kirill said. He said he was responsible for Moscow Patriarchate-governed Orthodox communities in all countries where they exist, and not only in Russia. "The Patriarchate is not an entity within one specific country, it is not a church entity that covers one specific ethnos. It means canonical jurisdiction over part of the world," the Patriarch said. [read more...]
UKRAINE AT A CROSSROADS - FEBC STATION RECOVERS FROM DEATHS AND DESTRUCTION
from Mission Network News
(26 Sep) The Internally Displaced Persons from the Ukraine-Russia conflict number more than 300,000. That's the official figure, but UNHCR officials believe the real number is two to three times higher. Many simply find shelter with relatives or friends and don't alert anyone. Despite a ceasefire, the numbers keep rising. Meanwhile, rapidly-falling temperatures are causing increasing hardship for the many IDPs who fled with few possessions, thousands of whom are currently housed in temporary facilities that are ill equipped for winter conditions.
The Special Rapporteur called for the urgent adoption of an IDP law based on international human rights standards, as a vital element "to enable all actors to respond effectively to their needs with budgets in place." He insisted that adoption of a draft law, scheduled for 14 October, must not be further delayed and that other normative measures should be taken in the interim period. Churches and civil groups have been stepping up to the plate to meet these needs as best they can in light of a government that can't afford uniforms or helmets for its army. It's a herculean effort, considering many of these churches and ministries have experienced severe losses of their own.
Victor Akhterov, director of FEBC Russian Ministries, explains that four months ago, "Our studios were robbed. We are grateful to God that our studios are still basically intact. We just have to replace some equipment, but the tower went down and the transmitter with it." Then, last month, "Four people who were helping us were killed by the pro-Russian separatists. The people who were killing them were screaming, 'You evangelicals! We don't need to hear [this] on our land!'"
It was a devastating blow. Akhterov says most of the people they work with in the region have been Christians less than ten years. "Pray for the church. This is what usually is not said: many of them are on the verge of losing their faith, especially the new Christians. They were hoping that God would protect them, and then they see the pastor's kids being murdered. We need to pray for this young church in Ukraine." [read more...]
RUSSIAN CHURCH LEADER DEEMS CONTEMPORARY ART "FILTH AND STUPIDITY"
from ArtNet News
(25 Sep) The leader of Russia's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I, expressed his views about the state of contemporary art. As reported by the Moscow Times (via RIA Novosti), Kirill's remarks at an Orthodox festival on Wednesday included a scathing critique of the contemporary arts, which he believes "show some horrors, some nonsense, idiocy."
Kirill apparently doesn't want to be challenged by culture, and only acknowledges artistic merits in relationship to beauty, dismissing less aesthetically pleasing works as "filth and stupidity under the guise of art." The art cognoscenti, the Russian patriarch contends, try to make the average person feel "unenlightened" for not appreciating modern art. Kirill cites a Chicago symphony that he had recently attended as an example, claiming that what started out as as a "wonderful concert" quickly went downhill when the orchestra began playing "experimental music."
"Everyone sat. Their faces tense, their eyebrows pursed with the desire to understand what was happening," Kirill recounts. "But no one wants to be the one to say 'the emperor has no clothes.' Everyone was too afraid." [read more...]
VATICAN REPRESENTATIVE DECRIES RUSSIA'S 'UNDECLARED WAR' ON UKRAINE
(30 Sep) In a recent address to officials of the international humanitarian organization Aid to the Church in Need, the papal ambassador, or nuncio, to the Ukraine, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, an American from Sioux Falls, SD, said that even prior to Russian incursions, the Ukraine was already sorely tried by the "depredation of homegrown and foreign profiteers," who have torn apart its economic and social fabric, especially since independence in 1991. He also included "Russian aggression" as the joint cause of serious destabilization in the nation.
Russia's undeclared war on Ukraine has further destabilized a country that was struggling to overcome structures of servitude from its Soviet Communist past, said Gullickson, something which "other countries in Central and Eastern Europe were able to address" almost immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Russian aggressions have taken a particular toll on the Catholic Church in Ukraine, the archbishop said. This has included severe damage to Catholic churches due to the fighting, which he said will be costly to rebuild even after the fighting ends. Gullickson also noted that Catholic priests and the religious have been forced out of some areas like Crimea. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW IS ASKED TO SAVE THE UKRAINIAN CHURCH FROM THE 'RUSSIAN WORLD'
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
DISSENTERS TAKE OVER ORTHODOX CHURCH IN ROVNO REGION OF UKRAINE
7TH ECUMENICAL SOCIAL WEEK THEME: 'RESPONSIBILITY OF A CHRISTIAN IN MODERN SOCIETY'
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
REBEL MILITIAMEN WITH ANCIENT ICON BROUGHT FROM RUSSIA NOT ADMITTED TO DONETSK CATHEDRAL
MILITARY CHAPLAINS IN THE TRENCHES OF UKRAINE
from The Washington Times
SPECIAL INTER-ORTHODOX COMMISSION FOR PREPARING PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL BEGINS ITS WORK
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
RUSSIAN MINISTRIES ANNOUNCES NEW NAME: MISSION EURASIA
from Russian Ministries
CRIMEA IS NOT HISTORICALLY 'OURS,' RUSSIAN HISTORIAN SAYS IN 'VEDOMOSTI'
from Window on Eurasia
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
(← Click) For decades I've been reporting on the denial of religious freedom in communist and now former Soviet bloc countries. But it seems this phenomenon has now reached the U.S. and affected me personally. This Thursday morning I brought my car in for maintenance work, and sat down in the dealer's waiting area while the car was being worked on. When I connected to their "Cochran Guest Services" WiFi and navigated on my browser to http://www.agape-restoration-society.org/ that has a framed link to http://www.agape-biblia.org/biblia02/nz05/Deania17.htm [Acts 17], the attached red "Internet Security and Safety" warning popped up. (I expanded the lower frame to take this screenshot, so the warning could be seen better.)
It is extremely troubling that "Websense," Cochran's Internet filtering service, considers "Traditional Religions" to be offensive, placing Christianity and other traditional religions in the same categories as pornography, blogging, etc. Is Cochran or Websense actually anti-religion? I had no problem navigating to Facebook and most other websites while using their WiFi connection, and Facebook or other social media websites certainly contain more pornographic and offensive materials than the website shown in this picture. It appears that we are approaching the same sort of antireligious discrimination and repression here as in the former Soviet bloc and communist countries.
Our first news article today SEPARATISM AROSE IN DONBASS ALSO BECAUSE THE CHURCH FAILED TO FORM VALUES - DONETSK HISTORIAN illustrates the same point made in "Our Views" in the last issue: PUTIN HAS CALLED INTO QUESTION THE CORE 'HOLY RUS' MYTH OF RUSSIANS: The geographical space Russia now controls has been much less penetrated by the Christian Gospel than the rest of the geographical area of what's left of Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian-controlled areas contented itself with blessing Easter cakes, performing baptisms, weddings and funerals for a fee, and "had no intention to become a moral authority in Donbass," states Ihor Todorov.
And as our last "Other News Headline" CRIMEA IS NOT HISTORICALLY 'OURS,' RUSSIAN HISTORIAN SAYS IN 'VEDOMOSTI' explains, the Turkish Empire ruled over Crimea for 300 years. After that, the Russian Empire ruled Crimea for 134 years. But the USSR disavowed being the successor to the Russian Empire, so the USSR, led by the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and its legal successor the current Russian state, ruled over Crimea only 34 years. Then "the Ukrainian SSR and present-day Ukraine [ruled the area] 60 years (from 1954 to 2014)." Although Eastern Ukraine has a majority of Russian-language speakers (they were imported during the Russian Empire and Soviet periods), those who are Russian citizens or loyal to Russia are a minority: the majority of people there want to remain Ukrainian citizens. So Russia's claims both to Crimea and Eastern Ukraine are rather tenuous.
As our third news article UKRAINE AT A CROSSROADS - FEBC STATION RECOVERS FROM DEATHS AND DESTRUCTION explains, there are officially 300,000 and actually perhaps as many as 1,000,000 internally displaced people in Ukraine, refugees from the undeclared war going on there. Churches and other relief agencies are struggling to care for these refugees, while the Ukrainian government struggles to provision its own army to fight against the separatists and the invading Russians. Together with this, Christian churches and other Christian organizations are being plundered and destroyed and their workers are being brutally murdered.
The story behind our first "Other News Headline" PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW IS ASKED TO SAVE THE UKRAINIAN CHURCH FROM THE 'RUSSIAN WORLD' is that several intellectuals and leading political figures have appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to recognize "One Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church," uniting all Orthodox Christians in Ukraine in one Church under the Kiev Patriarch (UOC-KP). The appeal was signed by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, among others. But there exists already a "Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC)" that is under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople!
The UOC-KP and the UAOC need to come together, and perhaps even join with the UGCC to form one united "Ukrainian Christian Church" under both the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Roman Patriarch, as I have already suggested on 13 April and 11 May of this year. The Ecumenical Patriarch and the Roman Pope [Patriarch] are on good speaking terms, so it is time to begin re-uniting the Church in "Ukraine," which literally means "At the Border" - this geographical area at the border where East and West come together. Let's get it together! All it takes is the will to do it: you can work out the details once you decide to do it.
Please support Agape Restoration Society by e-check or credit/debit card: click on the "Donate" button there.
Let's keep the comments coming! When you've finished reading, leave your COMMENTS in our Hosken-News Blog below. Thanks!