June 11, 2015
(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
NEWS: Pope calls for peace in Putin talks
Pope Francis has met privately with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Vatican, using the talks to call for a "sincere and great effort" aimed at bringing peace to Ukraine. It was the men's second meeting since Francis became pope in 2013.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said their talks concentrated on the Ukraine conflict and the Middle East, where the Holy See is worried about the fate of the Christian minority. Fr Lombardi said Francis stressed the need to bring peace to Ukraine through dialogue and implementation of the Minsk accords. The pontiff also urged access for humanitarian aid.
CRUX ANALYSIS: Will Ukraine upset the odd-couple bond between Putin and the Pope?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
EXCERPT: Putin’s Calculated Revival of the Russian Orthodox Church
Putin, who served in the KGB during the waning years of Communism when atheism was state policy, has since embraced the church as a unifying force in Russian society. He revealed in 2012 that he was illicitly baptized as an infant, the rite performed in secret at the behest of his mother and against the wishes of his staunchly Communist father.
He has spoken very publicly about his Christian faith, with stories sometimes tending toward the miraculous, such as one he tells about a small aluminum cross, given to him by his mother that was recovered from the ashes of a burnt-out building.
Putin’s public religiosity should be seen as a sort of “construct” said Clifford Gaddy, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and the author of several books on Russia. Many of the stories are likely based in truth, but at the same time, are being used to remind the Russian people of Putin’s historical vision of a greater Russia with roots that extend far beyond its recent Communist past.
“One of his hallmarks is the way [Putin] rewrites history,” said Gaddy. “Everything that would suggest there were schisms or splits in Russian society…this is to be rejected.”
Many have suggested that Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and his increasing belligerence toward states on Russia’s borders suggests a desire to restore the former Soviet Union – the dissolution of which he has called a “tragedy.” But Communism does not seem to be Putin’s preference, as his efforts to rehabilitate the Orthodox Church show.
Since his ascent to power, Putin has overseen the reconstruction or refurbishing of some 23,000 Russian Orthodox churches that fell into disrepair or disuse under Communist rule. He has signed orders restoring to the church its massive landholdings that were seized under Communist rule, making the church one of the largest – and richest – landowners in Russia.
Increasingly, in the past few years, Putin has hewed ever closer to the church’s position on social issues, including conservative stances on homosexuality and abortion.
|English: Vladimir Putin meets the members of Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod: Patriarch Alexy II, Metropolitans Vladimir and Filaret (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, has publicly praised Putin’s rule over the country, calling it a “miracle from God.”
For his part, Putin also got plenty in return. Kirill has railed against Putin’s opponents and the specter of “Liberalism” in public remarks. The church has also reportedly used its influence in Ukraine to help advance Russia’s cause in both Crimea, which Russia forcibly “annexed” last year, and in the eastern Donbas region, where Russia-backed rebels are fighting for independence from the government in Kiev.
At an Easter Mass in April, Putin praised the Church for creating a “spirit of patriotism” in Russia.
In some respects, the return to influence of the Russian Church represents a reversion to normal for Russia. With the exception of the Communist era, the Church has historically played a major role in defining Russian society and, some would argue, the very idea of what it means to be Russian.
“Russian orthodoxy is central to the notion of Russianness,” said Gaddy.
RELATED ANALYSIS: Putin’s Orthodox Jihad
TRANSLATED PUTIN INTERVIEW: Putin to the Corriere della Sera: "I'm not an aggressor, pact with Europe and parity with the US
The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Humility
1. Antony was confused as he meditated upon the depths of God's judgments, and he asked God, 'Lord, how is it that some die young and others grow old and sick? Why are there some poor and some rich? Why are there those who are bad and rich and oppress the good poor?' He heard a voice saying to him, 'Antony, worry about yourself; these other matters are up to God, and it will not do you any good to know them.'
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