Putin: Orthodox Bishops' Meetings Play "Invaluable Role" in Russian History Topic: Russian Church
Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin
President Vladimir Putin has credited regular episcopal assemblies of the Russian Orthodox Church with an "invaluable role" in Russian history.
"Bishops' assemblies have always played a great, truly invaluable role in the development of Orthodoxy, and in the many centuries of Russian history. Their decisions and their wise advice and assessments are still significant both for church and for public life," a statement from the president's office quoted Putin as saying in a message to a bishops' assembly that opened in Moscow on Saturday.
The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church meet with President Vladimir Putin in the Grand Kremlin Palace
"The Russian Orthodox Church has a significant voice in asserting ideals of humanism, virtue and mercy, and in bringing up younger generations on the basis of intransient moral values, patriotism and civil spirit," Putin said.
"It is my deep conviction that we need to make every effort to boost collaboration between Church and State in key areas such as addressing urgent social problems, promoting antireligious and interethnic dialogue, and imbuing young people with respect for the extremely rich historical, cultural and spiritual legacy of the peoples of Russia," he said.
Church Seeks to Restrict Access to Historic Monasteries Topic: Russian Church
Access to the Solovetsky islands, home to one of Russia's most important monasteries, could be restricted in a bid to preserve the archipelago's "special way of life," a top ranking clergyman said.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said Thursday that the Solovetsky islands in the White Sea and the Valaam islands in Lake Ladoga — both home to historic monasteries — were among several sites the church is pushing to reclassify as "religious-historical places."
"We are currently very carefully working in connection with the topic of Solovki; there is an idea to develop a full federal program. Meetings about this question are taking place practically every week, the questions under discussion are not simple," he told Interfax on Thursday.
In order to give Solovki, Valaam and other historic sites protected status, serious changes to the law are necessary, he said. The government's understanding of this is growing, he added.
"Places like Solovki, Valaam and several other monasteries are special places connected with traditional non-christian religions — it's not just the buildings and the land, it is a place where there is a special way of life, and this way of life is incompatible with mass tourism, building of entertainment and attractions, or noisy political or mass cultural events," he said.
Chaplin stressed that places like Solovki should remain open to both pilgrims and tourists, provided they "respect the internal atmosphere and special way of life — or they will simply be lost."
The monastery at Solovki, a world heritage site, was founded in the 15th century, and grew to become one of the richest and most prestigious religious centers in the Russian empire.
For 16 years in the 1920s and 1930s it served as a prison for political undesirables — becoming the model for the Gulag system of prison camps.
The monastery was restored to the Church in the early 1990s, and the islands have become and increasingly popular place of pilgrimage and secular tourism since the monastery was reopened. Today about 30,000 to 40,000 thousand tourists visit the islands each year.
Patriarch Kirill on Four Years as Patriarch Topic: Russian Church
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill served a liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on the fourth anniversary of his enthronement as patriarch.
"These four years were full of so many events that would be enough for forty years and even more," the patriarch said after the liturgy.
A lot was done by the entire church during his tenure as patriarch.
"We are not summing up the results and we are not making any joyful reports on what we have done. We realize with humility that a lot has not been done yet. But we thank the Lord for these four years, for the joys and sorrows, but above all for the mercy that our Lord, the head of our Church, has given all of us," Patriarch Kirill said.
Patriarch Kirill thanked archbishops for the accord among them, "for understanding the common goals and the importance of working on achieving these goals," and also thanked the clergy, monks, and all people. The patriarch said he is confident that "God will have mercy on all countries of the historical Rus" that are under the care of the Moscow Patriarchate and will keep the Church "united, spiritually strong, and unconquerable by the enemy" in response for labor and righteousness.
During his tenure as patriarch, Patriarch Kirill conducted large-scale church reforms, including the change of the diocese management by forming over thirty metropolias and almost ninety new dioceses and ordaining 88 bishops. Considerable changes took place in the administrative system of the church, including the revival of the inter-council presence and the foundation of the church graduate and doctoral programs. Qualitative changes also took place in the social service of the church.
In the four years of his tenure as patriarch, Patriarch Kirill visited more than 100 dioceses, some of which he visited more than once, and also visited Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Japan, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus.
200 Orthodox Churches to be Built in Moscow Topic: Russian Church
The implementation of a program for the construction of 200 Orthodox churches in Moscow may take 10 to 20 years, Vladimir Resin, an advisor to the Moscow mayor and a State Duma deputy, told journalists.
"I think the whole program may take 10 to 20 years. It is important not only to build them, but also make them habitable," Resin said.
The program will take such a long time as the construction is being financed only by donations, he said.
"Our goal in implementing the program is to commission at least 10 [churches] a year," Resin said.
Seventeen sites for the construction of Orthodox churches will be allotted on the territories of industrial zones being liquidated in Moscow, Resin said.
The constructions of new churches in Moscow does not include historic churches closed by the Soviets and later returned to the Moscow Patriarchate, and are currently under restoration.
In Tsarist times travelers described Moscow as a "magic city glittering with thousands of golden domes." In the 17th century Moscow had around 900 churches. More than 1,000 churches existed at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917.
During the Soviet years many churches were closed and/or demolished, while many others were desecrated and used for other purposes such as warehouses and even swimming poorls.
In 1990 there were only 155 working Orthodox churches in Moscow. Today, there are about 320 Russian Orthodox churches in the Russian capital.
Ankvab Receives Order of Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas Topic: Russian Church
President of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab has been awarded the Order of the Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas on behalf of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Hilarion, Vestnik Kavkaza reports.
The order was awarded for Ankvab's work in strengthening Orthodoxy and preserving Orthodox shrines in Abkhazia. Alexander Ankvab was also given a myrrh-streaming icon of Tsar Nicholas.
Holy Russia - Celebrates the Festival of Christmas Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 58 minutes, 54 seconds Topic: Russian Church
Today marks Christmas Day according to the Julian Calendar used by Orthodox Christians. This hour-long documentary was produced by Robin Scott and directed by Georges Gachot in 2006. It was filmed in the cathedrals, monasteries and sacred palaces in Moscow, the Golden Ring and New Jerusalem. The accompanying music is sung by the Moscow Chamber Choir and the Choir of Trinity St. Sergius Lavra. This wonderful documentary is presented here to all Orthodox Christians who visit the Royal Russia web site and blog, and to those who share a special interest and passion for all things Russian. It represents the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Saviour. "Christ is Born! Glorify Him!"
The spiritual culture of Russia is reflected in the beauty of churches and monasteries, in the paintings and frescoes that adorn them and - above all - in the sacred music that is sung in them.
The Russian Orthodox Church derives from that of Byzantium, which also inspired the 'onion-dome' style of church architecture. Many of the centers of ancient worship are contained within the high walls of kremlin fortresses, witnesses to a history of resistance to invasion.
The millennium of Christianity in Russia in 1988 coincided with the new age of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika' (openness and reconstruction), marking the beginning of the end for the Soviet state. For seventy years religious belief and practice had been discouraged, and hundreds of places of worship had been either destroyed or allowed to fall into almost hopeless disrepair.
A few of the very finest cathedrals and monasteries were maintained as museums, like those in the Kremlin in Moscow. Some monasteries miraculously survived. The Trinity St Sergius Monastery at Sergiev Posad (formerly Zagorsk) is the prime example.
Since 1988 many places of worship have been given back to the Orthodox Church, the 'established' church until the Revolution and regarded once again as Russia's national church. Massive restoration work has been accompanied by the return of sacred works of art hidden away for decades.
An aging congregation of believers - largely women - helped to keep Russian Orthodox Christianity alive. In recent years more and more young people have turned to the Church, not least for spiritual comfort and uplift. There has been a revival in choral singing and the rediscovery of many glorious works of sacred Russian music.
Even non-believers cannot fail to be moved by the orthodox liturgy in all its beauty; from the apparel of the priests, the pattern of the liturgy, the candle-lit icons, the responses of clergy, congregation and choir - to the devotion of the worshippers. It is this feeling of spiritual oneness in all its most Russian sense which Holy Russia seeks to reveal.
Christmas, (celebrated thirteen days after 'Western' Christmas under the old calendar) is one of the most important of the annual festivals of the Orthodox Church, the other two being the feast of Trinity (Pentecost) and, above all, Easter. The festival begins with the Christmas vigil and midnight liturgy on Christmas night (January 6 - 7) and ends twelve days later with Epiphany and the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ.
The Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) leads both of the main liturgies, parts of which are shown in Holy Russia, at the Epiphany (Yelokhovsky) and Assumption cathedrals in Moscow. Whereas the former remained a place of worship in the Soviet years, the latter (holiest of Russian cathedrals where Tsars were crowned) was only reopened for worship in 1989. At the Epiphany Cathedral the Patriarch is seen giving the final blessing (or 'dismissal') at the end of Christmas matins before beginning the midnight liturgy.
At the Cathedral of the Assumption (or Dormition) the Patriarch is seen completing the preparation of the bread and wine, which will be later consecrated for Holy Communion. The bread and the wine are carried then in procession from the offertory table to the altar for consecration. The Patriarch receives them; but before placing them on the altar he blesses the congregation as he offers them symbolically for the needs of the whole world. These are unique pictures never before shown in these surroundings.
Other services include part of the special Epiphany Liturgy at Kazan Cathedral at Kolomenskoye and an ordinary liturgy in the Church of the Resurrection at Kostroma (some three hundred kilometers from Moscow). The program ends with the Epiphany procession at the monastery of New Jerusalem and the great blessing of the waters.
This seventeenth century 'Holy City' was blown up by the retreating German Army in 1943 but is being gradually restored. The recently appointed Archdeacon leads a procession to the nearby - ice-cold - river for the blessing of the cross and symbolic bathing by some of the worshippers. It is the first time this ceremony has taken place since 1917.
The liturgy forms an important part of the program as does the music recorded by two of Russia's leading choirs: the Chamber Choir of Moscow conducted by Vladimir Minin and the Choir of Trinity St Sergius Monastery and Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary conducted by Archimandrite Mattheus. The choral singing is all a cappella (unaccompanied). It embraces a wide range of works, both traditional (for the monastic choir) and more modern for the essentially polyphonic singing of the Moscow Chamber Choir.
St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Nice Celebrates Centennial Anniversary Topic: Russian Church
December 19th marked the 100th anniversary of the consecration of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Nice. A special ceremony was held on this occasion, Voice of Russia reports. Russia is to fund a project to renovate the cathedral, Kremlin property manager Vladimir Kozhin announced at the ceremony. Construction work on the project is scheduled to start in 2013.
Built under the personal supervision by Emperor Nicholas II, the St. Nicholas Cathedral is one of the biggest Orthodox churches in Western Europe. It attracts a quarter million worshipers and sightseers each year.
From 1931 until December 15, 2011, the parish that occupied the cathedral was part of the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople.
From 2005 till December 2011, there was a protracted ownership and church jurisdictional dispute over the church building as well as control over the parish, between the existing administration of the Exarchate and the Russian government.
The Russian state, which in 2010 was recognized by the French court as the title-holder as the legal successor of the Russian Empire, made a decision in 2011 to turn the church building over to the Moscow Patriarchate. The dispute partly stemmed from a conflict between old Russian nobility who settled in Nice long ago and Russians who arrived in recent decades.
Bells Returning to St. Isaac's Cathedral after 80 Years of Silence Topic: Russian Church
Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg has got its first bell to interrupt the silence which had lasted for about 80 years. Under the Soviet government, the building was stripped of religious trappings. In 1931 it was used as a museum of atheism.
The first bell, cast in bronze and tin, weighs nearly 10 tons.
Ten more bells are still to be delivered from a bell-casting factory in Voronezh in 2013.
The bell will ring at midday, together with a cannon shot from the Naryshkin Bastion at the Peter and Paul Fortress. It will be sanctified Friday at a ceremony presided by Markell, Bishop of Peterhof.
Attacks on Church Pre-Revolution Reminder - Patriarch Topic: Russian Church
After the Revolution, the Bolsheviks led brutal attacks against the church in Russia that led to the looting and destruction of churches and monasteries, as well as the persecution and murder of thousands of clergy and Orthodox Christians
In a speech to a group of Cossack commanders, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned the recent string of attacks on the church is similar to what happened before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
“Just like now, back then they performed a reconnaissance by engagement – to see what will be the Orthodox Christians’ reaction. They performed acts of blasphemy, humiliation and provocation,” Patriarch Kirill told the heads of the Cossack hosts of Russia Ukraine and Belarus.
The Patriarch noted that the methods of the “enemies of the Church” (that he again did not name) were too uniform to his taste. “It is all the same, these accusations – in the beginning of the twentieth century, after the revolution and now “. However, he expressed hope that the people of Russia would understand the dangers that come with the attempts to resurrect the spectres of the past.
“The violations of religious rights are committed under an invented excuse of freedom of expression. We all know very well that there can be no freedom of expression if it violates the rights of ethnic groups but it is somehow possible, through the wrongly understood freedom of expression, to insult the believers, destroy their inner world and humiliate their dignity,” the top cleric added.
The Patriarch thanked the Cossacks for their vigilance for preventing many acts of blasphemy and called on them to continue their work to defend the church.
This was not the first time the representatives of the church accused some mysterious unnamed forces of launching a concerted attack against Christianity in Russia. These statements became more often after the mass media started reporting of the clergy’s growing interference in public life, as well as the impious and luxury lifestyles of some of the priests.
The public discussion led to the preparation of a bill that criminalized insults to believer, that is expected to be submitted for approval next year. Also the Church has officially allowed the clergy to take part in elections though their participation in political parties is still banned.