As one who happens to greatly respect and revere the rights to freedom of speech and artistic freedom, I am utterly perplexed by the attacks on the Russian Orthodox Church and President Vladimir Putin by the western elite as well as by a mixture of Western Christians and secularists alike. The problem has arisen from a twisted and obscene group of women in Moscow who thought their freedom of speech included the right to desecrate Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
To be sure, these women have the right to freedom of speech. They do not have the right to express themselveson thealtar of a Church whose purpose is to worship Christ and not give expression to secular political agendas. This group could have expressed themselves anywhere else such as a public park or street.
Now we have the hysteria of Russophobes in the West. As a Greek Orthodox American very proud of American values such as freedom of speechand artistic а а freedom, my sympathies are with President Putin on this matter. Worshippers in Moscow have a right to freedom of religion and a right for their holy places not to be desecrated by semi pornographic groups chanting obscenities. The message being sent to Orthodox Christians the world over is that the West cares nothing about the violation of the sanctity of places of worship, which is the real crime perpetrated by this specific group, and for which yes they should be criminally charged for committing.
The Western press is now conducting its own secular Crusade against Orthodox Russia. The New York Post in an editorial has slandered his holiness Patriarch Kyril who is a very pious cleric who in contrast to the editorial's assertions was freely elected by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. In contrast to the assertions of Russophobes, the Church of Russia is not an instrument of the Russian government. Russia, like Greece and other traditional Orthodox countries is based on the Justinian model of "Symphonia" (harmony) which defines the Church-State relationship.
Yes, in Eastern Orthodox countries Church-State relationships are close. That is the business of the people in those countries to decide for themselves. In most Orthodox countries, God is still revered. Even in Greece, which is routinely mocked and ridiculed by buffoons in the western media, the Orthodox Church has the respect and admiration of the people. Churches are still bringing people in on Sundays and on various feasts.
During the winter of 2011, when shoppers on the West coast began the Christmas season on black Friday by gathering in stores at midnight to assault other shoppers with pepper spray, the Russian people were venerating the holy belt once worn by the Mother of God in Russian Churches. That holy belt had been taken to Russia by an Abbot of one of the Orthodox Monasteries on Mount Athos in the Greek province of Macedonia. The Russian people were out in droves to venerate the belt and express their love for the Mother of God.
Why then the attacks on Russia? Since the downfall of Communism, there has been a remarkable spiritual revival in Russia. The false idols of Marx and Lenin have been cast aside and the Cross has been triumphant. This should be a cause for great joy and celebration among Western Christians as well as Orthodox Christians. Russia suffered the longest under the Communist yoke during the twentieth century, and the Cathedral which was profaned in Moscow was rebuilt as its predecessor was destroyed on the orders of Josef Stalin in 1930.
For the record, Russia is the protector of Eastern Christianity. As an Orthodox Christian, I am grateful for the support that the Russian Church and Government have been giving to Greece in its present state of misery. While Greece is mocked and ridiculed by illiterates in the West, the Russian Church has gathered funds from throughout Russia to give to support their brothers in Greece. Most Russians have their own difficulties, and so their generosity in giving to the people of Greece shows that Russians deserve to be praised and admired.
The Russian Orthodox Church has given support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople which has been nearly decimated because of American and European pro-Turkish policies during the twentieth century. The presence of Russian Bishops and officials at the Patriarchal liturgies in Trebizond and Cappadocia is indicative of Russia's efforts to revive Christianity where it has been dormant.
The Russian Church has also held conferences to discuss the problems of Christians in the Middle East. Furthermore, Russia has been a protector of the Armenians who are caught in a difficult position with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Armenian Genocide Resolution which has been introduced in Congress on many occasions has been blocked by every living Secretary of State who are basically pro-Turkish flunkies. The Republic of Cyprus whose territory has been occupied by Turkey since 1974 has been the victim of American and European efforts to bestow official recognition on the Turkish occupied territories.
The last major effort to bestow recognition on the Turkish occupation came in 2004 and Russian diplomats at the United Nations helped to defeat it. In occupied Cyprus, over five hundred Greek Churches have been destroyed. The Russian Orthodox Church has long taken an interest in occupied Cyprus and the destroyed Churches in contrast to the West. Russia has also been criticized for its pro-Serbian positions on Kosovo. The Russians were always more knowledgeable about the Balkans than the West was. We have seen what the West achieved in Kosovo where Orthodox Serbs have been ethnically cleansed from their homes in Kosovo and where Serbian Orthodox Churches and shrines have been destroyed in full view of United Nations and NATO officials.
Russia must be accepted as a partner by the West and cease complaining about Russia's form of Christianity which is essentially what this criticism of Russia is really about. Russia was a partner of the West in two World Wars and suffered especially in the Second World War. Russia deserves the honor and respect of being treated as a great and sovereign nation, its foreign interests in the Balkans and the Middle East where Orthodox Christians are affected respected, and the West should mind its own business.
The National Herald