Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) died in England yesterday at the age of 87. He had a great gift in the effort to bring eastern and western Christians closer together

    We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.” ― Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way. This great British theologian, a convert to Orthodoxy, died yesterday at the age of 87. He will be sorely missed. Let us dedicate ourselves to carrying on the work that he pursued with such charity and diligence throughout his life

    “The forces of evil are united. The forces of good are divided.” —Bishop Fulton Sheen in a 1947 radio broadcast, cited by a reader who emailed the words to me this morning. The conclusion one would seemingly draw from these words: that men of good will must unite in these times


    Letter #108, 2022, Thursday, August 25: Kallistos    

    I began yesterday’s letter by writing “I am too tired, and too sad at heart, to write anything of my own.”

    I felt sad at heart because the world, following the death in a car bombing of a young woman in Russia — which led in the days that have followed to calls for revenge and an even greater intensity of violence in pursuing the war in Ukraine — now, at the end of August 2022, seems to be once again on the eve of a global war (as Pope Francis, 85, as well as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 81, have both been warning for many months now).

    And because no one seems capable of arranging even the presuppositions for any sort of negotiated settlement.

    Of course, my own experience as a father, with two sons, makes me sensitive and sympathetic to all parents, fathers and mothers, who lose their children, whether in war, or in an accident, or from illness, because the children are our future. If we consume our own children — as we did so profligately in World War I, when millions of young men died in the trenches of Flanders — we consume our own future, and are left with a desolate horizon, a horizon that, being without children, is bereft of all natural hope.


    Also, having made more than 20 trips to Russia and Ukraine over the past 23 years (the first trip was in December of 1999), and after seeing and even helping to bring about some exchanges on the cultural level between once-Soviet Russia and the West (wonderful concerts, thoughtful lectures, moving common pilgrimages) a hope had been conceived in me that we might not need to “go backward” into recrimination, division, iron curtains, violence, and even war, but that we might find in those many things that we share a possible “way forward” toward peace, prosperity, and the common good which we all long for: a safe world for our children.


    Several readers wrote kind emails to me, for which I am deeply grateful, and I include some of their letters below.

    But the matter is serious. I have just received word from a source I trust that this present war in Ukraine is killing and wounding tens of thousands (perusing the internet and mainstream news reports, it seems we have no accurate reporting of casualties, and estimates range all over the map.) Ukraine, my source advises me, has suffered an estimated 250,000 casualties thus far, with estimated deaths in excess of 50,000. (My source says Russian deaths are also about 50,000). But if the war spreads, if missiles are launched outside of Ukraine and the war expands, and so will the number of wounded and killed.


    This was the source of my sadness yesterday: that I have hoped for 25 years that these conflicts in the east (which always seemed to be simmering) might not erupt, and that I have tried to engage in a number of small initiatives to help construct possible “bridges” to offer a possibility for the initiation of talks based on trust, rather than the use of pure force — and now tens of thousands dead… and yet there is as yet no sign that any agreement will be reached until the logic of force plays its final cards.


    There must be another way, my reason tells me.

    But what we now see is a scenario that leads, almost inevitably in human terms, to a terrible end, filled with bloodshed, tears, despair, and death.

    May God help us, and the Blessed Virgin, yet to find a different way.


    Then, earlier today, I received a report from my friend Peter Anderson, who has worked for a lifetime for better relations between Catholic and Orthodox Christians, informing me of the death of the great British Orthodox scholar, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (photo above).

    He died yesterday in England at the age of 87.

    Kallistos, a brilliant scholar, strove throughout his life to proclaim the Christian message, and he did so always with a great respect for the human person and human reason, though no one was more aware than he that the faith is a matter that transcends the limits of our human reason, while not negating or contradicting our reason.

    In this regard he wrote in his great work The Orthodox Way:    

    “In the Christian context, we do not mean by a ‘mystery’ merely that which is baffling and mysterious, an enigma or insoluble problem. A mystery is, on the contrary, something that is revealed for our understanding, but which we never understand exhaustively because it leads into the depth or the darkness of God. The eyes are closed—but they are also opened.” (emphasis mine)

    He believed that “thanksgiving,” gratitude, for life and for all things, was the “way” leading toward knowledge of God and of ourselves. He wrote:

    “If I do not feel a sense of joy in God’s creation, if I forget to offer the world back to God with thankfulness, I have advanced very little upon the Way. I have not yet learnt to be truly human. For it is only through thanksgiving that I can become myself.”

    And Kallistos Ware believed that love — especially sacrificial love, love that one gives to the other, whether the beloved, or even the enemy, even at the cost of one’s one comfort, or health, or life — could change, could transform, our world, and he believed that Christ’s love, on the cross, showed us that, but did even more than show us, “transforming” us inwardly so that we, incapable of living out such love of our own selves, our own nature, could be able to live out such love, and transform reality itself, as Christ did.

    Kallistos wrote:

    “Love and hatred are not merely subjective feelings, affecting the inward universe of those who experience them, but they are also objective forces, altering the world outside ourselves…if this is true of my love, it is true to an incomparably greater extent of Christ’s love. The victory of his suffering love upon the Cross does not merely set me an example, showing me what I myself may achieve if by my own efforts I imitate him. Much more than this, his suffering love has a creative effect upon me, transforming my own heart and will, releasing me from bondage, making me whole, rendering it possible for me to love in a way that would lie altogether beyond my powers, had I not first been loved by him.”


    It is this “ontological” essence in Christian faith that is the most profound truth that Kallistos is hear revealing to us: that in our very being itself, in the very being of persons at the heart of their personhood, there is an actual, a real, transformation that can occur, a deepening, we might say, or a heightening, which goes beyond our possibilities — a “theosis,” that is, a “divinization” which takes what we are, imperfect, fragile, with a tendency toward selfishness, egoism, sin, and makes of us something different, better, higher, deeper, more loving, more alive, without annihilating or eliminating our humanity, pr our personhood, but transforming it, conforming it to Christ.

    And this is the end and meaning of all of our striving, in this life.

    May Kallistos Ware rest in peace, and may eternal light shine upon him. —RM    

    Farewell to Metropolitan Kallistos

    By Peter Anderson

    [Note: Peter Anderson is a retired Catholic attorney who lives in Seattle, Washington. He has labored for 50 years now to build better relations between Catholics and Orthodox, including hosting Russian Orthodox Church leaders in his city when they required medical care. He is one of the world’s leading observers and analysts of Catholic-Orthodox relations. —RM]



    Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), a renowned bishop of the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, died yesterday, August 24 at about 1 a.m., at the age of 87. (link)

    Kallistos Ware (born Timothy Richard Ware on September 11, 1934) was an English bishop and theologian of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    Since 1982, he held the titular bishopric of Diokleia in Phrygia, later made a titular metropolitan bishopric in 2007, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. He was one of the best-known modern Eastern Orthodox hierarchs and theologians. For 35 years, from 1966 to 2001, he was Spalding Lecturer of Eastern Orthodox Studies at the University of Oxford.


    An outstanding professor at Oxford, he was greatly respected by Christians of all denominations.

    His books on Orthodoxy often serve as the first introduction for non-Orthodox to the Orthodox faith.

    He lectured in many places in the world and delighted his audiences with his knowledge and good humor.

    I attended one of his lectures at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle USA, a number of years ago. The University is operated by the Free Methodist Church and has a strong religious orientation. The lecture was held in a large auditorium which was packed with many students. The audience of prominently Protestants was simply enthralled by this man as demonstrated their great attention, applause, and laughter. They truly loved him.

    Metropolitan Kallistos had a great gift of bringing Christians closer together. He headed the Orthodox side of the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue for many years. He was an extremely valuable member of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches and played a major role in bringing about agreement on the very important Ravenna document.

    The final days

    The last two days of the life of Metropolitan Kallistos became a symbol of love between divided Christians.

    His death overcame the barriers and tensions between the Ecumenical and Moscow Patriarchates for a short period of time.

    Although the Moscow Patriarchate has severed communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest and Hungary (Moscow Patriarchate) flew from Budapest to Oxford to be with his former teacher and mentor for the last days of his life.

    Metropolitan Hilarion has just posted on his Telegram channel a short video describing the death of Metropolitan Kallistos (link).

    The remarks by Metropolitan Hilarion have already been transcribed and posted at (link).

    The following is a Google translation of Metropolitan Hilarion’s remarks:

    “During the last months of his life, Metropolitan Kallistos was seriously ill. I was by his side during the last two days of his earthly life.

    “On the morning of August 23rd I celebrated Divine Liturgy at the bed of suffering, and then I communicated him to the Lord’s sacred and holy mysteries.

    “Metropolitan Kallistos fell asleep around 01:00 in the early morning of August 24th.

    “A few minutes later, accompanied by the rector of the Oxford parish of the Diocese of Sourozh, Father Stephen (Platt), I performed the first Trisagion at the bed of the deceased.”

    May the memory of Metropolitan Kallistos be eternal!

    —Peter Anderson, Seattle USA


    I now share some of the letters I received after my email of yesterday.

    Letters from Readers

    Dr. Moynihan:

    God Bless you. Your first sentence mirrors my own feelings and the feelings of many of your readers. We live in very dispiriting times. We are promised ultimate victory. We are also promised great tribulation. It is a mystery of salvific suffering of which John Paul II spoke.

    Please pray for me as I will pray for you.


    Let the peace of Christ reign in your heart.


    Dr. Robert,

    I wanted to reply to your words in Letter #107: “I am too tired, and too sad at heart, to write anything of my own.”

    Of course, I know not what prompted it. For your edification, I wanted to share a 3rd essay to append to your article, for your consideration, by Bishop Fulton Sheen, given in a January 26th, 1947 radio broadcast. Use the link below to listen to the broadcast: (link)

    Text of the speech: (link)

    This speech could have been delivered yesterday at Notre Dame, or in Steubenville, or in Rome, and it would be more true than ever.

    God granted Sheen a prophetic vision of the near future, and he gave us a marvelous reflection, which I offer to you for consideration — and for hope in the storm that blasts our beloved Church.

    Some quotes from Sheen’s speech:

        “Only those who live by faith know what is happening in the world.”

        “We have come to the end of post-Renaissance history which made man the measure of all things.”

        “The three basic dogmas of the modern world are dissolving before our very eyes.”

    These three dogmas are:

  • Man has “no other function in life than to produce and acquire wealth”;
  • Man is naturally good and “has no need of a God to give him rights, or a Redeemer to salvage him from guilt, because progress is automatic thanks to science, education, and evolution, which will one day make man a kind of god.”
  • Reason isn’t for discovering “the meaning and goal of life, namely the salvation of the soul, but merely to devise new technical advances to make on this earth a city of man to displace the city of God.”

        “We are definitely at the end of a non-religious era of civilization, which regarded religion as an addendum to life, a pious extra, a morale-builder for the individual but of no social relevance, an ambulance that took care of the wrecks of the social order until science reached a point where there would be no more wrecks; which called on God only as a defender of national ideals, or as a silent partner… but who had nothing to say about how the business should be run.”

        [here is the really shocking part] “The new era into which we are entering is what might be called the religious phase of human history.”

  • This doesn’t mean men will “turn to God”; rather, it will lead men to have a passionate need for “an absolute”.
  • The struggle will be “for the souls of men… The conflict of the future [I would argue it is our present conflict] is between the absolute who is the God-man, and the absolute which is the man god; the God Who became man and the man who makes himself God [same as the sin of Adam]; between brothers in Christ and comrades in anti-Christ.”

        “God will not allow unrighteousness to become eternal. Revolution, disintegration, chaos, must be reminders that our thinking has been wrong, our dreams have been unholy.”

        [Possibly my favorite quote in a speech rich with quotables] “Moral truth is vindicated by the ruin that follows when it has been repudiated.

        “The disintegration following an abandonment of God thus becomes a triumph of meaning, a reaffirmation of purpose… Adversity is the expression of God’s condemnation of evil, the registering of Divine Judgment.”

        “Catastrophe reveals that evil is self-defeating; we cannot turn from God without hurting ourselves.”[Now Sheen turns to the Church] “Mediocrity and compromise characterize the lives of many Christians.” Not a stretch to figure out who he’s talking about. We have too many Stewards of Gondor and too few Gandalfs and Aragorns.

  • “There is no longer the conflict and opposition which is supposed to characterize us. We are influencing the world less than the world influences us. There is no apartness.” Hammer, meet nail.

        [a sign of hope] “Evil must come to reject us, to despise us, to hate us, to persecute us, and then shall we define our loyalties, affirm our fidelities and state on whose side we stand. How shall the strong and weak trees be manifested unless the wind blows?  Our quantity will decrease, but our quality will increase. [here Sheen mirrors a sentiment expressed ~40 years later by Cardinal Ratzinger] Then shall be verified the words of Our Master: ‘whoever does not gather with me, scatters’.” (Matthew 12:30)

  • “Every now and then in history the devil is given a long rope, for we must never forget that Our Lord said to Judas and his band: This is your hour. God has his day, but evil has its hour when the Shepherd shall be struck and the sheep dispersed.”

    Here are Sheen’s recommendations, filled with HOPE:

  • Christians “must realize that a moment of crisis is not a time of despair, but of opportunity. The more we can anticipate the doom, the more we can avoid it. Once we recognize we are under Divine Wrath, we become eligible for Divine Mercy. It was because of famine the prodigal said: ‘I will arise, and will go to my father.’ The very disciplines of God create hope. The thief on the right came to God by crucifixion. The Christian finds a basis for optimism in the most thorough-going pessimism, for his Easter is within three days of Good Friday.”
  • “One of the surprises of Heaven will be to see how many saints were made in the midst of chaos, and war and revolution.”
  • After Our Divine Lord had pictured the catastrophes that would fall upon a morally disordered civilization… he did not say ‘Fear,’ but ‘when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.’” (Luke 21:28)
  • Jews, Catholics, Americans… the world is serving your souls with an awful summons — the summons to heroic efforts at spiritualization.  Catholics ought to stir up their faith, hang a crucifix in their homes to remind them that we too have to carry a cross, gather every night to recite a Rosary that through corporate prayer might be intercession for the world…”
  • “The forces of evil are united. The forces of good are divided. We may not be able to meet in the same pew — would to God that we did – but we can meet on our knees.” A call to the power of prayer!!!
  • “Those who have the faith had better keep in a state of grace.”
  • The only way out of this crisis is spiritual, because the trouble is not in the way we keep our books, but in the way we keep our souls.”

    There is so much to unpack in Fulton’s speech… and I have to get back to work. Wanted to offer my curation of Sheen quotes to you as a sign of hope. I am very hopeful, and reflecting on this speech confirms what I am receiving in prayer. Saints are being made as we speak all over the world. This is a time of a massive unleashing of Grace. Our Lady is active; St. Michael is active; Jesus Himself is as active as ever. Do you think He is any less powerful and true than He has ever been? Miracles and Martyrs are reported all over the world, if you look for them.

    Once in prayer it occurred to me that there are, in reality, two Churches: the Natural and the Supernatural. The Natural Church is the buildings, the priests and bishops – the organizational structure, convents and colleges. The Supernatural Church is the Holy Spirit unleashed by Jesus Christ onto the world, the Communion of Saints, the miracles, the grace, the Union of True Believers in prayer. In my life of discipleship and prayer, I have chosen to focus on the Supernatural Church because it is the one true church, the bride of Jesus Christ. It is perfect as He is perfect. Once people in the natural church figure that out and grow ever closer to the contemplation of the source and summit of our faith, the Holy Eucharist, natural and supernatural will be joined in tandem again, and all believers will find what we long for – meaning, purpose, spiritual food for human life and hope for life after death.

    Peace and blessings to you and your ITV family, with my gratitude for your excellent journalistic work. Keep the faith! You bring more hope than you can ever know to those who read your work.

    Sincerely yours,

    Tommy Esposito

    Newark, DE USA

    A Rilke poem

    I also received a copy of a poem written by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), entitled “Go to the limits of your longing.”

    Born in Austria, Rilke traveled in France, Italy and Russia, before dying of leukemia in Switzerland at the relatively young age of 51.

    In his poetic effort, he became one of the most lyrical and mystical of poets in the German language.

    He entitled his three complete cycles of poems The Book of Hours (Das Stunden-Buch). They were published in April 1905, when he was just 30.

    These poems explore the Christian search for God and the nature of prayer, using symbolism from St. Francis and Rilke’s observation of Orthodox Christianity during his travels in Russia in the early years of the 20th century. (link)

    Rilke began writing the “Duino Elegies” in 1912 while a guest of Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis (1855–1934) at Duino Castle, near Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. During this 10-year period, the elegies languished incomplete for long stretches of time as Rilke suffered frequently from severe depression, some of which was caused by the events of World War I and his conscripted military service. Aside from brief episodes of writing in 1913 and 1915, Rilke did not return to the work until a few years after the war ended. With a sudden, renewed inspiration – writing in a frantic pace he described as “a savage creative storm” – he completed the collection in February 1922 while staying at Château de Muzot in Veyras, in Switzerland’s Rhône Valley. After their publication and his death shortly thereafter, the “Duino Elegies” were recognized by critics and scholars as Rilke’s most important work. (link)

    Here is the letter I received:


    Dear Dr Robert,

    I am too tired, and too sad at heart, to write anything of my own. The words don’t come.”

    I am sure I am by far and away not the only one to deeply appreciate what you do and to be thinking of you.

    I’ve recently found great solace in a poem of Rilke’s and thought I would share it with you as a small but heart felt thank you for all of the wonderful things you share with so many of us,

    God bless you and keep you joyful and hopeful,

    Warmest regards,

    —Karen, Cambridge, UK


    Go to the Limits of Your Longing

    Written by Rainer Maria Rilke
    Translated and read by Joanna Macy

    God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
    then walks with us silently out of the night.

    These are the words we dimly hear:

    You, sent out beyond your recall,
    go to the limits of your longing.

    Embody me.

    Flare up like a flame
    and make big shadows I can move in.

    Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

    Just keep going. No feeling is final.

    Don’t let yourself lose me.

    Nearby is the country they call life.
    You will know it by its seriousness.

    Give me your hand.

    —Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59



    Poetic exegesis is not my specialty. That being said, I am reminded of the solemnity of the Byzantine liturgy, which has also been noted by Pope Francis, as I have written many times. That liturgy is not regarded as “an action of the people,” but rather, an “entering-into” an eschatological reality… the ongoing work of salvation by God which is His doing… and yet He invites us in to be present and to praise Him, even as we do not fully understand… He imbues us with the longing for Him, and then offers us the Way to satisfy that longing, if we embrace, enter into, the life He has given us, full of both “beauty and terror.” True life in Christ is what we discover, the only real life, the only life that is not an illusion, or a parody. —RM

   Dr. Moynihan

    All can lament the tragic death of anyone so deprived of life for no apparent reason, or from a mistaken identity, such as the young Darya.

    But to use this as the occasion to wax eloquently (grind the axe) of anti-European, and particularly in our day, anti-Ukrainian life, is a opportunist at best. She died because someone, or ones, tired of having their nations systematically and unjustly bombarded by the Russian state’s overwhelming military attacks, executed a strike back at a political foil in the process. A small battle in a big war. Taking out a misidentified civilian target. It’s (fallen) human nature at work.

    The essay that decries Europe’s loss of its spiritual bearings has some worthy notes regarding the roots of European Christianity. But the perspective from a Russian Orthodox cleric imbued with Alexander Dugin’s philosophies that have lead to the Russian view of ‘Russkiy mir’ bears much more resemblance to Communist Russia than Kyivan Orthodox Christianity. Here’s a gem:

    “we can also see the same insularity, the same nationalist reluctance to accept others”

    ‘Acceptance of others?’ This comes from a Russian (and formerly Communist) state that intentionally, deliberately and systematically sought to eliminate the national existence of an entire people – Ukrainians through the Holodomor. And now that state implements the very same action – killing, maiming tens of thousands of innocents not unlike Darya – all toward the same goal of exterminating a people – the Ukrainians.

    The Communist leopard did not change its spots, nor does its fraudulent pawn, the Russian clergy who hold to the heresy of phyletism decried throughout Orthodoxy particularly in light of ‘Russkiy Mir’ which has led to the current carnage.  Much more could be said.

    Europe is in trouble. Looking to Russia is to peer into the abyss of Hell – don’t look there, let alone go there.



    [End Letters from Readers]

    More on Metropolitan Hilarion in Budapest

    [Note: The following is a brief note from Peter Anderson regarding the ceremony on August 19 commemorating the 35th anniversary of Metropolitan Hilarion‘s ordination as a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church.—RM]

    By Peter Anderson

    On August 20 at 11:00 a.m., the website of the Department of External Relations (DECR) (of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate in Moscow) posted a very nice article relating to the celebration in the Dormition Cathedral in Budapest of the 35thanniversary of the ordination of Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest and Hungary (link).

    Approximately, one hour later, the same article was posted on the Patriarch’s website (link).

    The article stressed that bishops from six Local Orthodox Churches (Jerusalem, Moscow, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Czech Lands and Slovakia) participated in the Liturgy. At the end of the Liturgy, congratulations were conveyed to Metropolitan Hilarion.

    This is reflected in the following quotations from the article:

    Metropolitan Timothy [Jerusalem Patriarchate] conveyed to the jubilarian congratulations and good wishes from His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine.”

    Bishop Irinej of Backa [Serbian Patriarchate] conveyed congratulations from His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia.”

    Bishop Siluan of Dula [Romanian Patriarchate] from His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania.”

    Archbishop Michael of Prague and the Czech Lands [Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia] congratulated the jubilarian on behalf of His Beatitude Metropolitan Rastislav of Czech Lands and Slovakia, presenting him with the Order of Hieromartyr Gorazd (1st class).

    “On behalf of the believers of the Berlin-Germany Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion was congratulated by Archbishop Tikhon of Ruza.”

    This presents an interesting contrast.

    Although congratulations were conveyed from four primates of Local Orthodox Churches, no congratulations were announced from Metropolitan Hilarion’s own primate, Patriarch Kirill.

    Faced with this somewhat embarrassing omission, Archbishop Tikhon of the Moscow Patriarchate announced congratulations from the “believers” of his own Berlin-Germany diocese.

    The omission must have been very apparent to the visiting bishops and to Metropolitan Hilarion himself.

    One is left to speculate as the reason for no mention of congratulations from Patriarch Kirill.

    If Kirill had been aware that Hilarion would receive congratulations from several very important primates, would he have conveyed congratulations himself?

    If Hilarion had been transferred to Budapest as the result of directions from an outside authority, perhaps that authority would not be pleased with Kirill congratulating Hilarion and therefore congratulations were not extended.

    There is also the reality that Hilarion continues to be very favorably and extensively treated by the website of the DECR after his transfer to Budapest. For example, there is an article concerning Hilarion meeting in Budapest on August 17 with representatives of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (link). That is not an important event, but still it is covered by the website of the DECR.

    In the DECR article about the 35th anniversary, there is a link to the YouTube video posting by Portal Jesus (a site very closely connected with Hilarion) showing Hilarion giving his final remarks after the congratulations by the bishops had been extended (link). In just one day, there have been over 94,000 views of his 12-minute video.

    All of this indicates that Hilarion is not viewed with disfavor at the DECR and that Patriarch Kirill may be allowing this positive treatment by the DECR to continue. Again, this may be an indication of an outside influence being the source of the transfer.


   And here is a New York Times article saying that Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will not meet in mid-September in Kazakhstan, as Kirill will not attend the event as had been expected… Thus, once again, the chance for a direct dialogue between a leading figure in the West (the Pope) and in Russia (Patriarch Kirill) will not end up being a chance, and no meeting will be held… —RM


    The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church won’t meet the pope next month, a Church official says. (link)

    August 24, 2022, New York Times

    By Gaia Pianigiani and Matt Surman

    Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, will not attend a gathering of religious leaders in Kazakhstan next month where he had been expected to meet Pope Francis, the Russian state news agency reported on Wednesday, highlighting a rift between the western and eastern churches that appears to have been aggravated by the war.

    Such a move, reported by RIA Novosti, would be a blow to the pope’s efforts to keep a dialogue open with Kirill, the chief religious backer of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as he tries to mend a split between the two churches that stretches back to 1054.

    The Russian agency quoted a senior Russian Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, as saying that the Russian Orthodox Church would be represented by an official delegation and that Kirill would not attend the gathering or hold a meeting with the pope on the sidelines.

    The two leaders met in Cuba in 2016, in what was the first meeting between a pope and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The pope said in an interview with a Spanish-language broadcaster last month that he planned to meet with Kirill again at the gathering in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, but the Vatican had not made a formal announcement.

    After the war in Ukraine began, the pope and Kirill had a conversation via Zoom in which Kirill spent 20 minutes reading prepared remarks. Recounting the conversation, Francis told an Italian newspaper that he had told Kirill that the men were not “clerics of the state” and said that the patriarch could not be “Putin’s altar boy.”

    Earlier Wednesday, Francis called Daria Dugina, the Russian ultranationalist commentator killed over the weekend, a “poor girl blown up by a car bomb,” prompting criticism from Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See.

    In a speech on Ukraine’s Independence Day and the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion in which he called for “concrete steps” to end the fighting, the pontiff referred to Ms. Dugina as an innocent victim of war.

    “The madness of war,” he said at his weekly general audience. “The innocent pay for war — the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other, ‘War is madness.’”

    Ms. Dugina, 29, was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a prominent figure in Russian ultranationalist circles and a supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine. At a televised memorial service on Tuesday in Moscow, mourners called for vengeance and said her death would strengthen Russian resolve in Ukraine.

    Russian authorities have accused the Ukrainian special services of ordering and planning Ms. Dugina’s killing in a car bombing on a highway in a wealthy district outside Moscow. Ukrainian officials have denied the claim and accused Russia’s intelligence agency, the F.S.B., of carrying out the bombing.

    The Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, said on Twitter that the pope’s comments were “disappointing” and that Ms. Dugina was not an innocent victim but an “ideologist” of Russian imperialism. He accused Russia of killing her as a “sacred victim.”

    Vatican watchers noted that Francis often has words of sympathy for victims and has treaded a careful line on discussing Russian aggression. Pontiffs have traditionally avoided picking sides in conflict to better preserve the church’s chances of playing a constructive role in potential peace talks.

    “Voluntarily, or just speaking off-the-cuff, the pope expressed the position of the Holy See here,” Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert with the daily newspaper La Repubblica, said in a phone interview. “The Vatican has condemned the Russian aggression, but has not taken sides. Their position aims at keeping the diplomatic channels open with the goal of a peace process.”

    — Gaia Pianigiani and Matt Surman

    Last, a piece today from the Haaretz newspaper in Israel which details how, in Russia, the death last Saturday of Darya Dugina in a car bombing is turning the young woman into a martyr in the eyes of many Russian nationalists. In other words, the death is becoming one more cause to intensify the war effort, not to find a negotiated peace… —RM


    Opinion | For Russia’s Fascists, Darya Dugina’s Death Is Rallying Cry for Ukraine ‘Apocalypse’ (link)

    Sanctified as a martyr overnight, the death by car bomb of Darya Dugin, daughter of a key ideologue of Russian fascism, is transforming into a frenzied justification for unbridled violence against Ukraine and the West

    By Ian Gardener

    August 25, 2022

    “Ours is a just cause! The enemy will be destroyed!” reads the caption in a post showing a monochrome image of Darya Dugin’s face melding in the cloudy background, describing “a unique, incredibly empathetic person made from pure joy, warmth, and light.”

    Dugina was the 29-year-old daughter of the prominent radical far-right thinker Alexandr Dugin, and was transformed overnight into a saint after she was killed in a car bombing last week in Moscow. It appears she’s destined to play the role of martyr par excellence for Russia’s far-right state and it’s supporters like in the post above.

    It has often been overstated in the West that her father, Alexandr Dugin, has exerted influence on Russia’s president with headlines dubbing him “Putin’s brain,” which he is not, nor has he ever acted as his advisor. However, from the fringes of the ruling clique, Dugin has exerted a wide influence on Russians’ political culture. He has given lectures at an array of universities, schools, and military institutes. His prolific back catalog of books, some of which have been used in school syllabuses, is widely available.

    Dugin worked as the editor of a radical Orthodox channel called Tsargrad, which was launched in 2015, receiving millions of viewers. Using a vast network of interconnected groups on the social media network VK, Dugin has in recent years—and especially since the invasion of Ukraine—been able to connect with his followers directly online.

    Dugin used his network to spread an overt brand of Russian fascism. His “philosophy,” as he calls it, draws on a hodgepodge of ideas from 19th and 20th century nationalist thinkers, mystics, and occultists. At the core of his work is the idea that an apocalyptic third world war will bring about a new world order. From the chaos of war, he supposes, a Eurasian empire led by and providing “great room” for ethnic Russians will arise. The hegemonic Eurasian power will easily counter deleterious Western influence.

    In this world of fascist, nationalist, and Orthodox imagery, war and sacrifice are essential components of Russia’s path toward its messianic historical fate. Indeed, Dugin released an essay on his VK page after the February invasion welcoming the new war as a moment of “apocalypse.” He has made repeated public calls for the killing of Ukrainians, suggesting that they are dirty degenerates impeding Russia’s global ascendance.

    Darya Dugina followed closely in her father’s footsteps. A youthful and photogenic embodiment of the next generation of Russian fascism, with her writings and TV appearances no less extreme than her father’s. In recent months she has claimed that the killings in Bucha were a faked Western provocation and gave talks advocating genocide to youth groups. In the last of her regular appearances on state television, mere days before her death, she referred to Ukrainians as nelyudi — “unpeople.”

    The ideas are extreme, but it’s easy to spot them on Russia’s state media when presenters and pundits call for nuclear strikes on the West, assert that World War III has broken out, or suggest that the Russian fallen are sure to ascend to heaven. Indeed, it is in the veneration of death that the Dugins’ thinking intersects with Russia’s chief religions, the Russian Orthodox Church and the cult of World War II, both of which make saints out of their military martyrs and encourage believers to strive to emulate these fallen idols.

    In death, and regardless of the true circumstances behind her murder, a sanctified Dugina is able to participate in more than a mere war of words. Within hours of her passing, nationalist groups were leading the charge to transform Dugina into a new, civilian saint. Vekhi, a fringe right-wing journal inspired by Aleksandr Dugin’s thinking, rapidly uploaded sombre images of a smiling, blonde and youthful Dugina alongside the dates of her birth and death and the caption “The Joan of Arc of the New Russia.” Depictions of Dugina circled with a halo and rendered in retro Soviet-style pen and ink flooded nationalist social media channels.

    Dugin himself led the sanctification effort with a funeral oration that claimed her first words were “Russia” and “our empire.” [link] In this obviously absurd story, Dugina, like the Orthodox saints of yore, is supposedly touched by an ordained saintliness from birth. The Eurasian Youth Union, an extremist youth group founded by Dugin himself and to which Darya belonged to as a child, has flooded its online community with tributes to the martyr.

    The group’s leaders praise the “smiling, youthful” Darya, who died in “a war in which we all, whether we like it or not, are taking part. There is no front and no rear…We are certain that Darya’s martyrdom will not be in vain.” At last, they claim, Russians will understand that “We are all in another Great Patriotic War!” The group, whose members seem to be emotionally overcome, has erected a shrine and held a vigil at the site of Dugina’s death in Moscow.

    The language of Dugina’s military martyrdom has spread through the Russian information sphere from top to bottom. The Kremlin has already awarded the slain writer the Order of Bravery, which is more often reserved for fallen soldiers. Margarita Simonyan, the firebrand editor of the Russia Today channel, has paid numerous tributes on her Telegram feed, which has over 350,000 followers: “Young, intelligent, beautiful, and unbelievably talented, Darya could have been one of those who create a new national ideology for Russia.”

    Vladimir Solovyev, the host of a nightly political talk show, paid tribute on behalf of his million Telegram followers: “May God lay the soul of your deceased servant Darya to rest.” Ordinary users on social networks pile in to comment on Darya’s saintly qualities, re-sharing images of the sanctified Dugina and invoking Orthodox prayers on her behalf.

    Dugina’s sanctification does not stop at the creation of new images or the recitation of prayers. Russians are responding to Dugina’s death by voicing her father’s, and the Eurasian Youth Union’s language of apocalyptic war. Margarita Simonyan explains that the murder is part of a wider battle between “good and evil.”

    Her followers respond by calling for more extreme action against the “UkroNazis” being blamed for Dugina’s death: “We need to go harder”; “Now do you all see Stalin was right?” That language is already being heard on the battlefield, where Russian soldiers have recorded themselves crying Dugina’s name as they fire missiles inscribed with the slogan, “For Dasha.”

    Dugina is not the only new saint. Across Russia, today’s war dead are being sanctified in posters erected across Russian cities, on plaques placed in schools, and on television and social media. Online, their images are conjoined to those the greatest heroes of the past: the Russian dead of World War II.

    In the death of Darya Dugina, the fascist movement in Russia has the martyr it has been crying out for. One of their own ascends to the pantheon of saintly war martyrs, serving as an object for broad admiration and emulation as the radicalized issue rallying cries in support of a cataclysmic, spiritual and imperialist war.

    Ian Garner is an expert on Russian war propaganda and the author of “Stalingrad Lives: Stories of Combat & Survival.” Twitter: @irgarner

    [End, piece today from Haaretz in Israel]

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