||FIRST, THE NEWS:
POPE WANTS TO MEET RUSSIAN PATRIARCH, BUT WON'T
from USA Today
(01 Dec) Pope Francis, returning from a meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, said he would like to have a historic meeting with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, but that is unlikely to happen. Political differences between the churches in Rome and Moscow create "very serious obstacles" to a meeting between the Catholic leader and the leader of the largest Orthodox community, papal historian George Weigel said. Russian Orthodox politics are so close to the Russian government and its policies that it behaves like "a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state," Weigel said. "How can you have a serious theological dialogue with people functioning as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's agents in Ukraine?"
Francis on Sunday admitted that he is skeptical that such a meeting could happen, listing the war in eastern Ukraine and theological differences, though he said both he and Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, would like to meet. "I said I'll go wherever you want - you call me and I'll go. And he also has the same desire," Francis said in response to a reporter's question while flying from Turkey back to Rome. "But with the problems of the war, the poor guy has so many problems, so a meeting with the pope will have to wait." [read more...]
UZBEKISTAN: NEW TESTAMENTS DESTROYED, PLANTED EVIDENCE AND WITNESS, LARGE FINES
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service
(29 Nov) Uzbekistan has continued to fine people for meeting to exercise their freedom of religion or belief, recently fining 15 Protestants and a non-Christian flat owner who rented her flat to Christians. The fines imposed varied between 10 and 55 times the minimum monthly salary, New Testaments and other religious material were ordered to be confiscated. In one case resulting in a fine of 55 times the minimum monthly salary it appears that police planted "evidence" and a witness.
One of the believers told the Court that a full Bible in Uzbek, personal diary, and a video-cassette tape the police claimed to have found did not belong to him or his fellow-Christians, and did not know how they appeared in his home. When asked by Forum 18 why he ordered the destruction of Christian holy scriptures, Judge Sherzod Yuldashev fell silent. When Forum 18 repeated the question he replied "I cannot explain these things to you over the phone" and then put the phone down. He also fined Durdona Abdullayeva and Ulugbek Kenzhayev, whose personal New Testaments they were, 30 times the minimum monthly salary.
CRIMEA HAS SACRED MEANING FOR RUSSIA - PUTIN
(04 Dec) Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian statehood began in Crimea and the region has a sacred meaning for Russia. In his address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday, Putin said the joining of Crimea to Russia has a special significance. "Our people live in Crimea and the territory is strategically important. The reason is that the spiritual origin of the formation of the centuries' old monolith of the Russian nation and the centralized Russian state is located there," Putin said.
He said, "Prince Vladimir, who later christened the entire Rus, was christened there, in ancient Kherson (Korsun)." The president said that "Christianity was a powerful spiritual uniting force, which made it possible for various tribes and tribal unions of the entire Eastern Slavic world to participate in the formation of the unified Russian nation and the formation of common statehood."
"That spiritual force enabled our ancestors to realize that they are one nation, once and for all," Putin said. "It gives us every reason to say that Crimea, ancient Korsun, Kherson and Sevastopol have a huge civilizational and sacred meaning for Russia, in the same way as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for Muslims and Jews. That's how we will feel about it. From now and for ever," Putin said. [read more...]
AZERBAIJAN: BAPTISTS AND ADVENTISTS TOLD TO LIQUIDATE THEMSELVES
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
(01 Dec) Azerbaijan's State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations has told the Baptist and Seventh-day Adventist churches on 16 October that they would be re-registered, having applied in 2009 and then been rejected. But State Committee officials now insist that if the Adventists and Baptists do not liquidate themselves, form new communities and lodge new applications by the end of 2014, the State Committee will go to court to liquidate them.
State Committee Deputy Chair Heydarov summoned the leaders of the Baptist and Seventh-day Adventist Churches on 16 October, Baptist leader Pastor Ilya Zenchenko told Forum 18 from Baku on 28 November. Both churches had lodged re-registration applications in 2009 and been rejected. "He told us he wanted to help and said we would finally get registration in November 2014," Pastor Zenchenko told Forum 18. "But when we brought our documents again they said we would have to liquidate ourselves as an existing community, form a new community and apply anew," Pastor Zenchenko stated. The Baptists and Adventists are unsure how serious the State Committee's intentions are. [read more...]
MINISTRY OF CULTURE SET UP A WORKING GROUP TO RESOLVE INTER-CHURCH CONFLICTS
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(02 Dec) The working group was initiated and designed to solve ambiguous situations that arise in the relationship is between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyivan Patriarchate), the two largest Orthodox bodies in Ukraine, said Andriy Yurash, Deputy director of the Department for Religions and Nationalities to the Ministry of Culture, as The Institute for Religious Freedom reported. The first meeting of the Working Group on the settlement of current interchurch conflicts was held at the Ministry of Culture on November 26, 2014.
"Presently, certain situations in interfaith relations that tend to exacerbate should be monitored at a state level," said Deputy Minister of Culture Oleksandr Zhuravchak. The participants discussed the results of monitoring of the instances of interchurch controversy based on the information made available to regional administrations. Particular conflict cases in Rivne and Khmelnytsky regions and their causes were also discussed in detail.
"The situation is very ambiguous and cannot be approached in one plane. There are specific issues related to the implementation of the law on freedom of conscience, i.e. changes in jurisdictional affiliation of the communities, and also a range of legal issues and personal problems. But it is a general political context that complicates the situation and cannot be disregarded," said Andriy Yurash. [read more...]
EIGHT MONTHS AFTER RUSSIA ANNEXED CRIMEA FROM UKRAINE, BISHOP KLIMENT IS WORRIED
from The Hamilton Spectator
(27 Nov) Eight months into the Russian annexation of the Black Sea resort region of Crimea, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has quickly become a haven for Ukrainian-speakers in Crimea, who can gather on Sunday mornings to gossip and to send up prayers in sanctuaries whose authorities sit in Kiev, not Moscow. But Archbishop Kliment, the leader of the church here, fears for his future. "I get up worried and I go to bed worried," he said, speaking in the converted school building in Simferopol that houses the church headquarters on this peninsula of 2.4 million. "They are closing down Ukrainian schools, Ukrainian newspapers. It's all closed, and the Ukrainian church is the only thing left." One poll taken when Crimea was still part of Ukraine found that about 12 percent of Crimean residents, or 280,000 people, identified as Ukrainian Orthodox.
Since the Russian takeover, the church leader says, pressure has forced him to close almost a third of his congregations. Several of his priests have fled. Archbishop Kliment finds himself a world away from the heady days he spent in Kiev in February, when he announced onstage to a crowd of battle-scarred protesters that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which broke away from Russian Orthodoxy after the fall of the Soviet Union, had withdrawn its support for then-President Viktor Yanukovych. That provoked cheers from the crowd. Within days, Yanukovych was toppled - and Russia was moving in on Crimea. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX SPOKESMAN COMMENTS ON POPE'S WISH FOR MEETING WITH PATRIARCH
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN RUSSIA, U.S. CAN IMPROVE COUNTRIES' RELATIONSHIP - PATRIARCH KIRILL
LESSER-KNOWN, BUT NOT NECESSARILY SMALLER, LUTHERANS
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
THE CHURCH AND THE RISE OF NATIONALISM IN RUSSIA
from Mission Network News
UKRAINIAN WEBSITES SHOW VIDEO OF ORTHODOX PRIEST BLESSING REBELS
from Religiia v Ukraine
RUSSIAN CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE TAKES PART IN DISCUSSION ON PROTECTION OF HOLY SITES
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL OUTREACH FOR A NATION IN CRISIS
from Russian Ministries
RUSSIA INTIMIDATING RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN UKRAINE
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Pope Francis' meeting with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, reported in POPE WANTS TO MEET RUSSIAN PATRIARCH, BUT WON'T, provided an opportunity for them to discuss the situation in Ukraine. We don't know the content of those discussions, but we can only hope that the two worked out some sort of agreement on how to increase cooperation between Ukrainian Christians and work toward peace there. Our first "Other News Headline" RUSSIAN ORTHODOX SPOKESMAN COMMENTS ON POPE'S WISH FOR MEETING WITH PATRIARCH describes Russian Orthodox Church's position that the Roman Catholic Church should stop taking sides with the Ukrainians: "if only they would back off, we could have our own way in Ukraine," to paraphrase the rather loquacious article.
In our final "Other News Headline" RUSSIA INTIMIDATING RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN UKRAINE you can read about how Russian security personnel are visiting non-Moscow-Patriarchate churches in Russian-occupied Crimea, taking photos and notes of the people present. This is very much the same way that the KGB behaved in the Soviet era - a sad flashback to the past. Let's hope and pray that this odious activity will soon cease!
For a full week I've spent most of my time revising the the menu system at our Discover Original Christianity website so that most of the time it doesn't take up space on the screen, but slides out when you want to use it. This should make the website more useable on small screens such as tablets and phones - take a look, and let us know what you think of it!
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. How will we ever know how good we have it, if all we ever know is having it good?