Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Eastern Churches news

Metropolitan Laurus

First hierarch of Russian Orthodox Church Abroad celebrates jubilee as priest
Поздравляем! Господь Бог да дасть ему и многая и благая лета!

I understand he is a very nice man (borne out in this photo-gallery link that Samer al-Batal sent me). A young woman recently told me, 'He used to baby-sit me'. The abbot of a thriving monastery made the time to be a child-minder.

Historical notes/corrections:

•Bulgaria has a good claim to be 'the cradle of Slavdom' as well.
•For all the Byzantine Catholics' problems historically, most of the good metropolitan's native land, far eastern Slovakia, and ethnos, Ruthenians (western Ukrainians without the nationalist bent), became BCs starting in 1646 because of pressure from their then-Protestant ruler, not RCs.
•A few families and villages like the Škurla family (the metropolitan's) remained Eastern Orthodox.
•Of course the Austrian Empire that owned Ruthenia encouraged the BCs - not different really from the religious conformity encouraged nearby in the Russian Empire. Minority faiths were treated relatively well by the Hapsburgs; religious liberty wasn't handed down in Russia until 1905.
•After the Austrian defeat in World War I, Ruthenia very briefly - less than a year? - was a nation complete with flag (dark blue horizontal stripe on top, red on the bottom) and national anthem, 'Подкарпатськи Русини' ('Subcarpathian Rusyns'), written in the 19th century by a BC priest, Fr Aleksandr Duchnovič. In 1919 Ruthenia voted to join Czechoslovakia and disappeared from the map.
•The Soviet Union annexed the eastern part of Ruthenia during World War II; this is still the Transcarpathian oblast' forming the far southwestern corner of the Ukraine. Its people are Ruthenian BCs, not Ukrainian Catholics. A former girlfriend's family came from here, immigrating to Ohio in America from Perečyn in 1905.
•The Communist puppet government of Czechoslovakia banned the BCs in 1950 (besides being anti-religious they feared a church controlled from outside the country that they thus couldn't co-opt); during the 'Prague Spring' of 1968, a break from Soviet control, almost everybody in far eastern Slovakia voluntarily became BC again.
•The metropolitan's early life resembles Pope John XXIII's, also remembered as being very joyful, who IIRC entered a junior seminary when he was 11.

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