||FIRST, THE NEWS:
PUTIN IS SPENDING $10 MILLION TO CELEBRATE 1,000-YEAR-OLD PRINCE VLADIMIR
from Business Insider
(22 May) Russia is planning to spend billions of rubles on a slavic Prince and a national holiday honoring the 1,000-year anniversary of his death. Why? It might have a lot to do with President Vladimir Putin’s campaign to spread patriotism in the name of the Russian Orthodox Church. Prince Vladimir, or Vladimir the Great, historically marks the era of Christianity after the era of paganism in Russia. He is one of the most highly revered saints in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. His ancestor Oleg of Novgorod conquered the province of Kiev and consolidated it into the state of Kievan Rus'.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted at the reason why this holiday is such a big deal in a speech to the Federal Assembly in 2014 not long after he had annexed Crimea from Ukraine in the name of ethnic Russian pride. He said Crimea was where Prince Vladimir “received Holy Baptism and then christened the whole of Rus.’” He then waxed poetic about the importance of Christianity as a “powerful spiritual uniting force” in the Eastern Slavic world that “inspired our ancestors to realize once and forever that they are one nation.”
One can see the crossover between Prince Vladimir’s history of uniting states and Putin’s vision of uniting ethnic Russians under one leader. The Russian Orthodox Church has become more political in recent years, with Putin reviving its role in Russian society. The church’s role has become mostly about pumping up patriotism in the blood of Russians and, many would argue, quashing dissent.[read more...]
KYRGYZSTAN: WILL STATE OFFICIALS OBEY THE LAW?
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service
(22 May) State officials in Kyrgyzstan have repeatedly used registration of religious or belief communities as a means to restrict the numbers of such communities legally allowed to exist, as well as where in the country they are allowed to operate. Even after a Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court decision legally removing two of the major obstacles, state officials are illegally refusing to obey the Chamber's decision.
The State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA) Deputy Head, Tabyldy Orozaliyev claimed to Forum 18 from the capital Bishkek: "We are observing the present Religion Law until the Constitutional Chamber’s decision is integrated into it. You need to ask Parliament about changes to the Law." However, Judge Mukambet Kasymaliyev, Chair of the Constitutional Chamber, told Forum 18: "Everyone must abide by the Court’s decisions as they become part of the law immediately after they are passed." Asked what he thinks of local officials and the SCRA ignoring this legal requirement, Judge Kasymaliyev replied: "I cannot evaluate the actions of those officials. But it seems to me that they do not know Kyrgyzstan's laws and must study them." [read more...]
DOZENS OF PRIESTS LEAVE UKRAINE, 19 CHURCHES OF MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE SEIZED
(18 May) Dozens of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) are leaving Ukraine in fear of persecutions, the head of interreligious liaisons at the Russian Orthodox Church's Synodal Department for External Church Relations Priest Dimitry Safonov told on Monday. "There are dozens of priests who had to leave Ukraine. The exact statistic is currently impossible. They are pressured into leaving Ukraine. Their families are getting death threats, they themselves are facing the threat of physical violence," he told an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on combating the intolerance and discrimination towards Christians in Vienna.
A total of 77 churches and monasteries have been damaged or demolished during the military conflict in eastern Ukraine, the priest said. "By now there have been credible reports about 19 churches of the Moscow Patriarchate having been violently seized by the so-called 'Kiev Patriarchate.' This religious organization was formed in Ukraine in 1992 and has not been recognized by any of the Orthodox Churches worldwide," the priest said. Earlier the UOC(MP) chancellor Metropolitan Anthony of Borispol and Brovary complained to the Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko about the seizure of the churches. [read more...]
FAITH DEFENDER: ORTHODOX POLITICIAN SEEKS OMBUDSMAN POST FOR TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS
from Russia Today
(21 May) A staunchly Christian St. Petersburg MP known for his anti-gay statements has prepared a bill to create the position of an "ombudsman for believers' rights" who would defend followers of Russian Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. MP of the St. Petersburg City legislature Vitaly Milonov told Izvestia daily that Russia had a lot of officials responsible for various aspects of human rights and defending various social groups. However, the authorities have never considered a special representative for the rights of believers, even though religious people can be described as the most numerous social group in Russia.
Milonov said that in recent years believers in Russia had suffered regular attacks and provocations by various malcontents who wanted to start a religious strife and instigate hatred towards certain religions. “The Church remains one of the most unprotected institutes in the community. There is no mechanism in the country that defends the rights of religious communities and individual believers,” the lawmaker said. He added that currently most people preferred to fight against the various manifestations of disrespect towards religion without paying attention to the root of the problem. [read more...]
UAOC COMMUNITIES MOVE TO UOC-KP WITHOUT WAITING FOR LOCAL COUNCIL
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(21 May) About 20 communities of the UAOC in Ternopil region have moved to the UOC-KP or have intended to do so from the beginning of 2015, as reported by Ternopil Diocese. Moreover, on decree of Archbishop Nestor (Pysyk) of Ternopil, Kremenets and Bucha of the UOC-KP as of 16 May this year, all the UAOC parishes of Berezhany dean’s district were accepted by the UOC-KP.
Requests to join the UOC-KP have been filed in Ternopil region by faithful of the UAOC and its priests, deputy chief of administration services of Ternopil diocese UOC-KP Father Oleg Gakh assured RISU journalist. “This year about 20 parishes in Ternopil region have joined the Kyiv Patriarchate or have intended to do so,” he said. “Currently, nine of them have been already issued necessary documents. Seven of them are in Berezhany district, two in Lanivtsi. More than 10 parishes are in the process of affiliation. People understand that the One Local Church is the factor that can protect from external aggression.” [read more...]
REFORMED CHURCH SUES ROMANIAN STATE IN STRASBOURG OVER RE-NATIONALIZATION OF DORMITORY
from Hungary Today
(21 May) The Transylvanian diocese of the Hungarian Reformed Church has turned to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over an ownership dispute between the church and the Romanian state concerning the building of the “Szekely Miko Kollegium”, a historic secondary school dormitory of the Reformed Church in the town of Sfantu Gheorghe (Hungarian: Sepsiszentgyorgy) in the Szekler Land.
The diocese’s legal experts claim that the church was stripped of the property’s ownership under an unfair legal procedure. Bela Kato, the diocese’s bishop, said that while it is “unfortunate” that the church is forced to turn to a court outside of Romania in a legal dispute with the state, no other method remains to settle the ownership rights of the properties concerned. The building was nationalised from the Reformed church in 1948 and was returned to the church after the fall of Communism. However, a Romanian court ruled in November 2014 that the return of the property seized by the state under Communism was illegal and handed suspended prison sentences to three members of the body that ordered its return to the church in 2002. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
UOC(MP) PARISH OF SHEPETOVKA DIOCESE TRANSFERS TO KIEV PATRIARCHATE
from Press Service of Khmelnitsky Diocese
HEAD OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH(MP) CALLS FOR HALT OF INFOWAR BETWEEN UKRAINE AND RUSSIA
OSCE FORUM PITS INFORMATION ABOUT UKRAINE AGAINST RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
UOC(MP) FAITHFUL FROM ZAPORIZHIA BITTERLY UPSET BY PRIMATE’S ACTIONS AT THE PARLIAMENT
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
METROPOLITAN ONUFRY OF KIEV ATTENDS CELEBRATIONS MARKING 1150TH ANNIVERSARY OF BULGARIA'S BAPTISM
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
OVER 80% OF RUSSIANS AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGES
from Russia Beyond the Headlines
UKRAINIAN PASTOR TARGETED BY RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS TELLS STORY
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
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Our first news article PUTIN IS SPENDING $10 MILLION TO CELEBRATE 1,000-YEAR-OLD PRINCE VLADIMIR illustrates the current close connection between church and state in Russia. State funds are being used to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of St. Vladimir's death. Orthodox Christians typically celebrate the date of a saint's death as that saint's day. St. Vladimir is recognized as the one who established Orthodox Christianity as the religion of the Slavic people. Much water has gone over the dam, however, in the past thousand years: the ancient Slavonic language has now developed into several distinct and separate languages, and the Slavic people are now divided into several nation-states: Poland, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It is quite a stretch to imagine "once and forever that they are one nation.”
Dozens of UOC(MP) priests have fled Ukraine, and about 19 UOC(MP) churches have been taken over by the UOC(KP) according to our third article DOZENS OF PRIESTS LEAVE UKRAINE, 19 CHURCHES OF MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE SEIZED - whether "violently" or otherwise is open to question. What's clear is that public sympathy in Ukraine is shifting strongly away from the Moscow Patriarchate, as the Ukrainian conflict sharpens that nation-state's sense of national identity.
Our fifth news article UAOC COMMUNITIES MOVE TO UOC-KP WITHOUT WAITING FOR LOCAL COUNCIL highlights the trend toward unity of all Eastern rite Christians in Ukraine. The "local council" referred to is the meeting of the UAOC scheduled for June 4-5 which will clarify its position on unification with the UOC(KP). There have also been movements of some parts of the UAOC to unite with the Eastern rite Greek Catholic Church. With the Moscow Patriarchate priests fleeing and their churches switching to the UOC(KP), we could see the emergence of a "United Ukrainian Christian Church" in the near future.
And our final news article REFORMED CHURCH SUES ROMANIAN STATE IN STRASBOURG OVER RE-NATIONALIZATION OF DORMITORY again illustrates how much of the conflicts between religious groups is rooted in disputes over real estate, one group grabbing the property of another group, and the latter going to court in an attempt to take its property back. Often these property siezures are facilitated openly or under the table by branches of government. We have seen during our many years in Russia how an outside group can steal or forge a church's official seal and use it to validate a phony "meeting of the church council" that deeds the property to another organization. Such crimes are not uncommon in Russia and Ukraine.
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. The majority of the mob outvotes the prudence of the wise.