||FIRST, THE NEWS:
POPE, RUSSIAN PATRIARCH TO HOLD FIRST-EVER MEETING IN CUBA ON FEB. 12 - from Crux
(05 Feb) In a historic move, Pope Francis will meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, on Feb. 12 in Cuba as the pontiff is on his way to Mexico. The meeting, the first between a sitting pope and a Russian patriarch, will be an important step in mending the Great Schism that divided Eastern and Western Christianity in 1054.
“This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation ... will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches,” said a joint statement released by both churches Friday. The encounter between the two leaders, expected to last roughly two hours, will take place at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration. No details about the content of that agreement were released.
Kirill will be visiting the island nation as part of his first-ever official visit as patriarch of the Russian Church to Latin America. His tour will include stops in Brazil and Paraguay. According to a Vatican spokesman, Francis will be welcomed in Cuba by President Raúl Castro. It will mark a return engagement in Cuba for Francis, who made a three-day pastoral visit in September 2015 before his trip to the United States.
Metropolitan Hilarion, foreign policy chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, told reporters on Friday that there are still core disagreements between the Holy See and the Russian Church, in particular on various Orthodox churches in western Ukraine. Nonetheless, the two churches have found common ground in the persecution of Christians in several regions of the world. “The situation in the Middle East, in northern and central Africa, and in other regions where extremists are perpetrating a genocide of Christians requires immediate action and an even closer cooperation between Christian churches,” Hilarion said. “In this tragic situation, we need to put aside internal disagreements and pool efforts to save Christianity in the regions where it is subject to most severe persecution.” [read more...]
ADVENTIST YKLAS KABDUAKASOV TRANSFERRED FROM PRISON TO LABOR CAMP
by - Forum 18 News Service
(02 Feb) Adventist prisoner of conscience Kabduakasov was transferred on 27 January from the KNB secret police Investigation Prison in Astana to a general regime labour camp in Pavlodar, Pastor Andrei Teteryuk told Forum 18 from Astana on 29 January. The 54-year-old Kabduakasov has not yet lodged a final appeal to the Supreme Court. "We are preparing this now," Pastor Teteryuk added. Kabduakasov denied the accusations against him of inciting religious hatred on which he was convicted under Criminal Code Article 174, Part 1.
Members of other Christian churches in Astana told Forum 18 that they were "shocked" by the decision to increase Kabduakasov's punishment to a term of two years' imprisonment. "Yklas was punished for what he said about his faith and the state's ‘experts' distorted what he said," one told Forum 18 in late January. Astana's Saryarka Court No. 2 initially gave Kabduakasov a seven year sentence of restricted freedom at home. However, both he and the Prosecutor appealed against the sentence. On 28 December 2015 Astana City Court increased the punishment to two years' imprisonment in a general regime labour camp. The 12 weeks he spent in KNB secret police pre-trial detention will count towards his prison term [read more...]
UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PATRIARCH REMAINS HOPEFUL ABOUT MEETING BETWEEN THE POPE AND THE MOSCOW PATRIARCH
from - Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(05 Feb) The UGCC Media Department has released the following reaction of Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk to the announcement of the upcoming meeting of Pope Francis with Patriarch Kiril of Moscow, in Havana, Cuba: "I do not expect Pope Francis' meeting with Patriarch Kirill, scheduled for February 12, will bring about specific changes. Although it is good that the meeting will take place and I am glad that, finally, the ROC has come to understand that it is necessary to meet."
Patriarch Sviatoslav said that, over the years, the Russian Orthodox Church has refused such a meeting and called the Ukrainian Catholic Church an obstacle to dialogue. "The meeting can not be an end in itself but rather a tool, a necessary means for honest and open dialogue. We are very glad that we were no longer considered an obstacle and we are no longer cited as the reason for their reluctance to engage in such dialogue," said the patriarch.
He stressed that the meeting of two primates, actually being held on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Lviv pseudo-synod, which forcibly suppressed the UGCC [in Ukraine]. "The Russian Orthodox Church, unfortunately, has yet to condemn the conduct of the violent act committed by the Soviets. We hope that the meeting of the Pope and Patriarch create a new context for the movement towards historical justice," the patriarch stated. [read more...]
BELARUS: COLONEL CLAIMS CONSTITUTION "NONSENSE", HUMAN RIGHTS TREATIES "NOT IMPORTANT"
by Olga Glace - Forum 18 News Service
(05 Feb) Conscientious objector to military service, Dmitry Chorba, a member of the Jehovah's Witness sect, is still being called up despite an Alternative Service Law coming into force in Belarus on 1 July, he told Forum 18 News Service. Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Osipov of Rechitsa Military Conscription Office called him up despite the failure of one criminal case and two administrative cases he initiated against Chorba. In the second administrative case, the Colonel claimed in court in January that the Constitution is "nonsense" and international human rights treaties are "not important."
In the Mogilev Region of Belarus, two Baptists are being prosecuted for "not using living premises for their designated purpose" after a December raid on a religious meeting. And in Svetlogorsk in Gomel Region, Baptist Pastor Vladimir Daineko has had his car put under restraint and his computer confiscated to pay for a fine imposed for leading a meeting for worship without state permission. Appeals against the fine have proved fruitless. "Now we appeal to our supreme authority - God who will not leave us," Daineko told Forum 18. [read more...]
PATRIARCH KIRILL GOES ON TOUR OF LATIN AMERICA
from - Interfax-Religion
(05 Feb) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will take a tour of countries in Latin America on February 11-22. The patriarch is expected to visit Cuba, Paraguay and Brazil, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, said at a press conference in Moscow on Friday. The first point of the program will be the visit to Cuba at the invitation of Raul Castro, the head of Cuba's State Council. The metropolitan recalled that Patriarch Kirill had visited Cuba back when he was a metropolitan, and had met with the Cuban administration. He supervised the construction of a Russian church in Havana and he sanctified that church. The patriarch has planned a meeting with Fidel Castro and Raul Castro, a visit to a children's rehabilitation center, and a liturgy in the church in honor of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan in Havana.
Patriarch Kirill will also visit Paraguay at the invitation of the administration of the country. The visit to Brazil is timed to the 95th anniversary of the arrival of 1,217 Russian refugees from Gallipoli in Rio de Janeiro and also the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Argentinean and South American dioceses of the Russian Church. The patriarch will visit the capital, where he will meet with the country's president, and then he will visit Rio de Janeiro, where he will conduct a prayer service on Mount Corcovado, at the famous statute of Christ, will visit the Russian church and will meet with the local Catholic cardinal. He will also lead a liturgy in the St. Paul's Cathedral of the Antiochian Patriarchate. [read more...]
AMONG GLOBAL ORTHODOX LEADERS, UKRAINE IS A BONE OF CONTENTION
from - The Economist
(24 Jan) At the January 21-27 pan-Orthodox meeting in Geneva in preparation for the upcoming Great Council in June, Patriarch Kirill protested that 30 churches had been “violently” realigned from his authority to the Kiev hierarchy, and that at least ten other churches were “under threat of seizure by sectarians and [Ukrainian] nationalists, who then present what is happening as the supposedly voluntary transfer of a body of believers to the so-called Kiev Patriarchate.” The Russian prelate complained that certain bishops, claiming to be acting under Patriarch Bartholomew’s authority, had visited Ukraine and expressed their support for the Kiev hierarchy, hence creating “temptations” among the believers and clergy of Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill welcomed the fact that many of the world’s Orthodox churches had come out in clear support of Moscow’s position. His subliminal message was something like: don’t even think about offering succour or recognition to the Kiev hierarchy, or all further inter-Orthodox cooperation will be cancelled until further notice.
Religion-watchers saw the Russian Patriarch's warning as directed, above all, at Patriarch Bartholomew. There are many Ukrainians, in the homeland and the diaspora who dream of their country having a united Orthodox church which would look politically to Kiev and ecclesiastically to the ancient see of Constantinople, in other words to Patriarch Bartholomew. During a visit to Ukraine in 2008, Patriarch Bartholomew held a delicate balance, accepting the legality of the Moscow Patriarchate's authority in that part of the world but also giving heart to the Ukrainian yearning for a united, independent church. Patriarch Kirill was making it clear that if this happens, there could be a massive split within global Orthodoxy. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
from Mission Network News
PRESIDENT POROSHENKO'S ADDRESS TO THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH (MP)
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
UKRAINIAN CHURCH LEADER RESISTS USE OF UKRAINIAN IN LITURGY
from Religia v Ukraine
RUSSIAN CHURCH CALMS DOWN THE BELIEVERS WHO CONSIDER PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL 'ANTI-CHRIST'
MORE ARYAN THAN MOST GERMANS – THE MENNONITES QUESTION THEMSELVES
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
PATRIARCH KIRILL EMPHASIZES THE NECESSITY TO ESTABLISH EFFECTIVE SYSTEM OF DISTANCE LEARNING AT SEMINARIES
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
GEORGIA DIVIDED OVER “BLASPHEMY BILL”
ON THE GREAT COUNCIL OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
from First Things
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
In out last issue of Hosken-News, under the headline TOO EARLY TO SPEAK OF MEETING BETWEEN POPE, PATRIARCH - RUSSIAN CHURCH, we quoted Metropolitan Hilarion as saying - "The hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church have never denied such a possibility in general, but the objective conditions have so far not allowed for its realization. Such a meeting should be well-prepared. There is a need to reach agreements on the main issues in relations between the two churches, which will then be reflected in the joint statement of the patriarch and the pope." What was "too early to speak of" just two weeks ago, according to the Interfax-Religion headline, is about to take place within a week, when Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill plan to meet in Cuba.
The most frequently mentioned obstacle to such a meeting has been what the Moscow Patriarchate has perceived as historic Roman Catholic encroachment on its "canonical territory" which in their thinking includes Ukraine, the Baltic states and Belarus as well as Catholic proselytism in Russia. This has taken place over the centuries in the form of the Roman church coming in on the coat-tails of western military conquests, establishing western-rite Catholic churches as well as eastern-rite "Uniate" churches that recognize the Roman pope as their head although they continue to use the Eastern Orthodox liturgy and permit married priests to serve. So there must have taken place some behind-the-scenes negotiating to resolve this issue before this upcoming meeting could take place.
In a follow-up release to our first news article - POPE, RUSSIAN PATRIARCH TO HOLD FIRST-EVER MEETING IN CUBA ON FEB. 12, the Crux website has published another piece - Why a meeting between the pope and Russian patriarch is finally happening. Although Christians in both churches may welcome this meeting as a huge step toward spiritual unity, resolving the Great Schism of 1054 A.D. that divided Eastern and Western Christianity, there have always been political aspects involved. The Great Schism took place as the eastern half of the Roman Empire went into decline under the growing threat of Islam, while the western half was arising from the attacks of the Huns which it had absorbed and "Christianized." Now we are witnessing the rise of the East and the decline of the West.
This follow-up piece enumerated several reasons making possible this historic meeting: 1) the election as Patriarch in 2009 of Kirill, who had wide experience in ecumenical relations; 2) great progress "in relations between Catholicism and other Orthodox churches, especially the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but also Orthodox bodies in other nations, such as Armenia, Albania, Romania, and elsewhere"; 3) the Pan-Orthodox Council coming up in June, the first Great Council in over 1,000 years, where the Russian Church hopes to experience a great boost by this meeting with the pope; 4) Pope Francis who is from Latin America, not Europe where most of the disagreements with Orthodoxy has arisen, in the Fall of 2013 "joined forces with Vladimir Putin in successfully heading off a proposed Western military offensive in Syria to bring down the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad"; and 5) Putin's meeting with the Roman pope in the Vatican last June, as well as the pope's behind-the-scenes negotiations to encourage the U.S. to re-establish ties with Cuba in June, 2015.
Do a Google search on the words Pope Francis liberation theology, and you'll many articles documenting the new pope's warm feelings toward this Marxist-oriented theology, such as Catholic church warms to liberation theology as founder heads to Vatican. It bears looking into!
A brief quote from the "Other News Headline" ON THE GREAT COUNCIL OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH - at the recent pan-Orthodox meeting in Geneva, "Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underscored his historical and canonical right to respond to appeals or concerns from Orthodox faithful in Ukraine as the 'daughter church' of Constantinople."
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OLD THINGS AND NEW, PART 2
In Luke 5:36-39 we read - "Jesus also told a parable to them: 'No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old garment, or else he will tear the new, and also the piece from the new will not match the old. No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, "The old is better."'"
Matthew 9:22-23 and Mark 2:17-18 tell this same parable of Jesus, but they omit that last sentence: "No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, 'The old is better.'" This raises an interesting question: is the point of the parable that the new wine (the Gospel) is better - Matthew's and Mark's versions, or that the old wine (the law of Moses) is better - Luke's version?
The question goes deeper than that: should Christians worship in ways that stick to old forms of dress, language and music; or should they adopt new forms - blue jeans and Hawaiian shirts, recent slang expressions, and rock music? Certainly, Jesus Christ did not have the latter in mind when He spoke this parable! But to rephrase the question, is the Gospel of Christ a complete break with the Old Testament law, or does it carry over some aspects of the law of Moses? Let's take a look at some of the relevant Bible passages and writings of the Church Fathers:
Continue reading in our Hosken-News Blog.
Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. He who thinks he can fully comprehend God either has a very small god, or a very large head.