Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Church news
From RISU, a Catholic news service in Ukraine:
Metropolitan of Kiev on Iraq war
Quotation: ‘...the church believes war to be evil, it accepts participation in war only for protection of one’s homeland or neighbor. The Orthodox Church believes that the military way of solving the conflict, with the use of powerful destructive weapons, is unacceptable, because it might be fraught with disastrous consequences for Iraqi civilians and the ecology of the whole region… The Ukrainian Orthodox Church [UOC-MP] is calling upon the United States of America and its allies to abstain from using military force in Iraq, because it will cause great civilian casualties and heavy losses among the elderly, women and children.’
+ Metropolitan Vladimir, Russian Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev

Patriarch of Moscow comments on Ukrainian Catholic Church
See my posting below from 17 March 'addressed to' Patriarch Alexis II. It's wrong of him to keep denying the Communist coercion behind the pseudo-sobor of 1946 (which outlawed the Ukrainian Catholic Church in its home territory, Galicia and the Carpathian Mountains, which the USSR had seized from Poland and Slovakia during World War II).

I agree with the patriarch in this sense: while the establishment of a Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate in Kiev (moving from L'vov, the main city of its home turf) is great news for the internal affairs of that church, it is disastrous for Catholic-Orthodox relations.

With the exception of the territory stolen in World War II, Ukraine is Russia: it is Russian-speaking and Russian Orthodox (most people are secular but the largest church is the RO). Россия, Украина и Белорусь - три России, един народ, едная Русь. Это был, есть и будет.

(Various forms of Protestantism - such as the Baptists, really Mennonite-inspired and of long standing - are the No. 2 faith in Ukraine behind the large nominal Russian Orthodox membership; the Catholic Church is the No. 3 faith but the country's second largest church. I think in Galicia and the Zakarpatska oblast' Ukrainian Catholics are 80% of the population.)

The fact is next to no Ukrainian Catholics live in Kiev. Moving there is a powerful symbol, an identification with the origins of Russian Christianity, which were in that city, the center of culture and power for the Russias until the Mongols destroyed it in 1240. (Also, the conversion of the Russias was before the split between Orthodox and Catholics.) The medieval Russian Church's center was Kiev, too - a metropolitan under the patriarch of Constantinople. After the 1240s, power moved north to Russia - Novgorod, then Moscow, whose metropolitan eventually was made a patriarch. Ukraine - except Galicia and the Carpathians - became part of the Russian Empire in 1667.

From the Ukrainian Catholic newspaper The Way (Шлях), 9 March 2003:
Patriarch of Moscow sees alleged apparition of St Theodosius of the Kiev Caves
In the Ukrainian newspaper Postup in L'vov, 17 December 2002, an article was published titled 'Miracle in Russian Orthodoxy' by Andrej Dubeckij.

On 28 October that year Patriarch Alexis II suffered a heart attack whilst visiting the eparchy (diocese) of Astrakhan. At first the Russian media connected his illness to the events in Moscow (Chechen terrorists seized a theatre full of people and many died during the rescue and capture). But an anonymous source close to the patriarch (www.ari.ru) said the cause was an apparition (vision).

According to this source, an old man in a monk's habit suddenly appeared to the patriarch, saying he was Abbot Theodosius of the Caves (he is a saint and was head of the Kievan Monastery of the Caves in the 11th century) and gave him this message: ‘You and many of your brothers have fallen away from God, and have joined the devil. And the rulers of Rus' are not rightly ruling but are falsely ruling. And the Church condones them. Thus all of you will not stand on the right side of Christ. A fiery torture and endless sufferings await all of you, till you come to your senses, O you, damned ones. The mercy of God is boundless, but the way for your help is very long that all of you may atone for your countless sins. Yet the hour of your accounting is near.’

(На русском: Отпали от Бога - ты и многие братья твои, и к диаволу припали. И правители Руси не правители уж суть, а кривители. И церковь потворствует им. И не стоять вам по правую руку от Христа. И ждет вас мука огненная, скрежет зубовный, страдания бесконечные, аще не опомнитесь, окаянные. Милость Господа нашего безгранична, но слишком долог для вас путь к спасению через искупление бесчисленных грехов ваших.)

After these words the vision disappeared and the patriarch stiffened up. Up to that point nothing like that happened, says the source. The patriarch regarded all kinds of miracles with skepticism.

Afterwards, the patriarch, while telling reporters from the newspaper Kommersant about his illness, described it as ‘a visit from God’ that gave him an opportunity ‘to reflect on my own life’. ‘I am grateful to God for this, His visit, as everyone should be grateful to God for his sorrows and joys.’ His own testimony attests that he saw something. The interview was published in the newspaper Izvestia and is a sort of confession of Alexis II, a person who towards the end of his life meditates on his fate and appraises the events in a new way.

As to the diagnosis, doctors expressed it as ‘hypertension with elements of dynamic irritations of the brain blood circulation’.