Putin sends Christmas greetings, Clinton doubts he has soul
President celebrates Christmas in Father Frost's hometown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PPC_...ls=org.mozilla
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent greetings to Orthodox believers and met Santa on the Russian Christmas Day Monday, as United States presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton claimed Putin had no soul. "This festival has for centuries brought the light of faith, hope and love," Putin said in the Christmas message released by the Kremlin on the Orthodox Christmas day, January 7. "It draws us towards primordial spiritual values uniting millions of people, values that play a special role in the history of Russia and nourish our national culture," Putin said. The Russian president also met "Grandfather Frost" in the snow-covered northern town of Veliky Ustyug where the Russian variation of Father Christmas is thought to reside, and visited a theme park.
He left his designated successor Dmitri Medvedev to cultivate his presidential image at a televised Christmas mass in Moscow, presided by Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox church. Putin has committed himself to the Orthodox faith despite his background in the KGB security service in the Soviet era, when Christianity was suppressed. Dressed entirely in black, the Russian leader joined overnight Christmas ceremonies at a church in Veliky Ustyug, where the temperature was about minus 17 degrees Celsius (one degree Fahrenheit). But as Russians and branches of the Orthodox faith in other countries celebrated Christmas, in the United States presidential candidate and former first lady Clinton made a cutting assessment of Putin's spirituality while campaigning in the state of New Hampshire.
Her remark that Putin had no soul came as she savaged President George W. Bush for his tactic of trying to forge warm personal bonds with foreign leaders. "This is the president that looked into the soul of Putin, I could have told him, he was a KGB agent, by definition he doesn't have a soul, I mean this is a waste of time, right, this is nonsense," Clinton said at a rally. Her comment reflected tense relations between Russia and the United States and came after a series of jibes against Putin by Republican candidate John McCain. Christian belief was formally anathema to the Soviet state in the last century, although the dictator Joseph Stalin came to an accommodation with the Church during the struggle to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II.
THE CZARS SECURED Russia’s recognition as an independent Patriachate of the Eastern Church in the 16th century. They then went further and "bribed the Patriarch of Constantinople to recognise Moscow as both equal to and independent of Byzantium (Istanbul)". During the reign of Czar Ivan’s son, Theodore, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremiah II, came to Moscow seeking help. The Patriarchate of Constantinople had been under the power of the Turks since 1453. It therefore needed powerful allies. This led it to recognise Bishop Job of Moscow as the first Patriarch of All Russia in 1589.
The Counter Reformation in Roman Catholic Poland was then in full swing. Poland was ruled by Sigismund III, a tool of the all-powerful Jesuits who set out to exploit the weakness of the Orthodox at that time. The Jesuits were responsible for the Cibgregatui ori Ecckesua Iruebtake (Congregation for the Eastern Church). This was a section of the Propaganda fide or Missionary wing of the Vatican, established in 1622. There were many nearby Orthodox Churches in southern Russia around Kiev and the Jesuits proselytised them in a cunning way which has its repercussions to this day.
The Jesuits, as always, achieved their ends by education. Very cleverly, they established the Greek or Uniate College of Saint Athanasios in Rome 1577 to train Orthodox Priests without charge. This was a subterfuge for promoting what is called Uniatism. Uniatism comes from the Latin word unio, meaning union. Uniatism is the union of Orthodox Christian communities with Rome through their acknowledging the Pope’s universal primacy. These Orthodox communities are subject to papal authority, whilst following their own Orthodox rites in worship.
Simply put, the idea of Uniatism implies that only those Orthodox Christians, who are in communion with, and subject to the authority of the Pope of Rome, are truly Orthodox, at least in Rome’s eyes. The rest of the Orthodox are schismatics. This view was clearly set out in the ‘Decree on the Eastern Churches of the Roman Council’ in 1962-65 (i.e. Vatican II), despite the objections of many eminent Roman Catholic and non-Roman Catholic theologians. The Vatican has until recently held steadfastly to the view that Uniatism is the least painful method of uniting the Orthodox with Roman Catholics.
Sigismund III of Poland gave carte balance to the Society of Jesus to impose Uniatism on the Orthodox slavs, not only in Poland but in Lithuania and the Ukraine, particularly after the despotic Uniate Synod of Brest-Litovsk (1956), during which the Orthodox Archbishop were obliged to sign the union. Those who refused suffered terrible persecution and the Orthodox. Church Archbishops were obliged to sign the union. Those who refused suffered terrible persecution and the Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe became violently divided. The Russian Orthodox Church has never forgotten this episode. The humiliation of Brest Litovsk is still a virulent political reality today, and exploited by Russian Orthodoxy to the maximum.
II Papa dell’Est
Following the collapse of Communism, John Paul II took the title II Papa dell ‘Est – The Pope of the east. Every eye was on Rome, expecting her to sweep into Russia despite Orthodox objections. Some readers may have seen the BBC2, The New Holy Roman Empire, which showed how, "The fall of Communism … has given the Pope opportunity to spread the word in eastern Europe … But the Russian Orthodox feel they are being invaded". The programme covered the hostility between Rome and the Russian Orthodox churches as it was then, but the subsequent decade has seen an increase in this hostility.
John Paul II, who can boast of so many firsts in relation to Islam and xxxry and who travelled to Communist Cuba in 1998, has still not visited Russia. Rome watches Mother Russia like a hawk, seeking for cracks in the Orthodox monolith. The present writer was first alerted to Putin’s existence through Rome watching, long before Putin was in the popular news. Rome watched her hopes of a "reformer" who would "drive a wedge between himself and the regime that generated him" gradually fade. The Russian Orthodox Church has taken Putin to its bosom, and the President has been pleased to reciprocate, to their mutual advantage. Yet he can still cultivate Rome when it suits him. Rome is ever on the outlook to seize such opportunities.
Putin cultivates the Church
2002 was a year of triumph for Russian Orthodoxy in regard to Putin. "On 6 January (Christmas in the Orthodox calendar) the President made a pilgrimage to Orthodox holy places. He visited the cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour in Pereslavl-Zalessky … The Rector told … Putin … about the history of the Cathedral, which used to be the burial-vault of the Pereslavl Princes in old times. "In the city of Vladimir the President attended the Christmas Divine service in the Cathedral of the Assumption, one of the oldest churches of Russia decorated with frescos by Andrey Rublyov. Thousands of the city inhabitants prayed together with the Head of State. On the very day of the Nativity of Christ President Putin visited the city of Maloyaroslavets … Archbishop Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk … noted that people have solemnly celebrated the Nativity of Christ from the earliest times and children have had a particular joy. Many tales and folk songs have been dedicated to the Nativity of Christ. All of them tell us about the triumph of good and the disgrace of evil forces." Putin was clearly overleaping the Communist era and appealing to the old traditions of Mother Russia in order to awaken the sleeping giant.
On 23 August 2001 Putin visited several Russian Orthodox monasteries including the 15th-century Solovetski monastery whilst on vacation in the northwest of the country. "Situated on the Solovetski archipelago in the western part of the White Sea, the monastery is a point of pilgrimage for many Orthodox believers. Patriarch Aleksei II, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church (with a vehement dislike for the Pope), greeted Putin and showed him around, later presenting the President with a wooden cross. Speaking to the press during his visit, Putin delivered something approaching a sermon on the importance of religion in public life."
To make it clear which religion he was referring to, Putin, "quoted the words of the 11th-century church leader Metropolitan Illarion, who once said God had saved all nations. If so, Putin said, all nations are equal in the eyes of God. This simple truth, he added, has made it possible to build a strong multiethnic state. The President went on to say that without Christianity, Russia would not have become an accomplished state. He said it is important for Russia to return to this source now, at a time when we are finding ourselves again and seeking moral foundations to life. Putin’s heavily religious tone would have come as no surprise to those accustomed to seeing the Russian president in an Orthodox Church or hearing stories of his deep religious faith."
Putin is said to have undergone a "conversion" after rescuing his two young daughters from a burning dacha four years ago. Another story says that his spiritual journey began after his mother gave him a cross, which he then blessed at a holy site in Jerusalem. In an interview with CNN last year, Putin himself told a story of how workers found the little cross lying in the ashes of his burned-down dacha. He claims to keep it with him at all times. Reliable Andrea Zolotov who covers religious affairs for the Moscow Times, and English-language newspaper, confirms that "Putin is appealing to the notion of Russian history that goes beyond, and is unbroken by, the Soviet period". And that includes the Brest Litovsk factor. Is Rome outmatched this time? We shall see in the next issue DV.
Putin's Reunited Russian Church
The Russian Orthodox Church was torn in two by revolution and regicide, by the enmity between communism and capitalism, nearly a century of fulmination and hatred. That all formally ended on Thursday in Moscow. Thousands of the Russian Orthodox faithful — including several hundred who flew in from New York — lined up under heavy rain to get into the Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. There, they witnessed the restoration of the "Canonical Communion and Reunification" of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which claims more than 70 million adherents, and the U.S.-based Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR), which is believed to be 1.5 million strong. Many among the clergy and laity wept at the end of the 86 year-old schism brought about by the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, and the ensuing murder of the dethroned Tsar and the forced emigration of hundred thousands Russians defeated in Civil war. While the sumptuous ritual was clearly an emotional and pious event, the reunification has political resonance as well because the Russian Orthodox Church is increasingly a symbol and projection of Russian nationalism.
Indeed, rather than first give thanks to God in his speech, the head of the ROC, Patriarch Alexy, paid homage to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Patriarch emphasized that the reunification could happen only because the ROCOR saw in Putin "a genuine Russian Orthodox human being." Putin responded in his speech that the reunification was a major event for the entire nation. Nationalism, based on the Orthodox faith, has been emerging as the Putin regime's major ideological resource. Thursday's rite sealed the four-year long effort by Putin, beginning in September 2003, to have the Moscow Patriarchate take over its rival American-based cousin and launch a new globalized Church as his state's main ideological arm and a vital foreign policy instrument. In February press conference, Putin equated Russia's "traditional confessions" to its nuclear shield, both, he said, being "components that strengthen Russian statehood and create necessary preconditions for internal and external security of the country." Professor Sergei Filatov, a top authority on Russian religious affairs notes that "traditional confessions" is the state's shorthand for the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Church's assertiveness and presence is growing — with little separation from the State. The Moscow City Court and the Prosecutor General's Office maintain Orthodox chapels on their premises. Only the Orthodox clergy are entitled to give ecclesiastic guidance to the military. Some provinces have included Russian Orthodox Culture classes in school curricula with students doing church chores. When Orthodox fundamentalists vandalized an art exhibition at the Moscow Andrei Sakharov Center as "an insult to the main religion of our country," the Moscow Court found the Center managers guilty of insulting the faith, and fined them $3,500 each. The ROC had an opera, based on a famous fairy tale by the poet Alexander Pushkin, censored to the point of cutting out the priest, who is the tale's main protagonist. "Of course, we have a separation of State and Church," Putin said during a visit to a Russian Orthodox monastery in January 2004. "But in the people's soul they're together." The resurgence of a Church in open disdain of the secular Constitution is only likely to exacerbate divisions in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russia.