“I met with the deceased Pope personally more than a few times during his tenure at the Roman See and I attest his deep love for Eastern Christianity and his sincere respect of the Russian Orthodox tradition in particular.” —Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, in a letter of condolence written to His Holiness Pope Francis on the death of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (link)
“The destruction of Russia as a state that can pursue its own policies will open up the vast area of its 11 time zones to internal conflict and to outside intervention at the time when there are 15,000 and more nuclear weapons on its territory. So this is why I believe in dialogue with Russia while the war continues, an end of fighting when the prewar line is reached, and a continuing process of discussion by Europe, America and at that point Russia … while the conditions of sanctions and other pressures will be maintained until a final settlement is reached.”—Henry Kissinger, 99, in remarks today via video link to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (link)
“In seeing it the icon, our memories are awakened by the many thousands of persons who poured out their souls before it — who poured out comforting tears of joy, quiet tears of tenderness [umileniia], or bitter tears of grief; the holy icon visibly and invisibly unites us with an entire assembly of our brethren…” —from Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution by Dr. Vera Shevzov (link)
Letter #21, 2023 Monday, January 17: Kirill
The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, 76, sent a condolence message to Pope Francis, 86, following the death on December 31 of Emeritus Pope Benedict at the age of 95.
In his message (link), Kirill recalled meeting Benedict personally on a number of occasions, and spoke respectfully of him.
“I attest his deep love for Eastern Christianity and his sincere respect of the Russian Orthodox tradition in particular,” Kirill wrote.
Kirill summed up: “On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church I express to you and the flock of the Roman Catholic Church condolences over your loss. May the All-Merciful Lord, in whose vineyard the late Pontiff called himself a humble laborer on the day of his election, make his memory eternal.
Here below is the full text of Kirill’s letter of condolences.
Condolences of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill over demise of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’ has sent a message to Pope Francis with condolences on the demise of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The full text of the message is given below.
To: His Holiness Pope Francis
I was grieved to learn of the demise of your predecessor — Pope Benedict XVI.
The years-long life journey of His Holiness had been the whole epoch in the history of the Roman Catholic Church at the head of which he stood in the difficult period of many external and eternal challenges.
The incontestable authority of Benedict XVI as an outstanding theologian allowed him to bring a significant contribution to the development of inter-Christian cooperation, witness for Christ amidst the secularized world, and the defense of traditional moral values.
I met with the deceased Pope personally more than a few times during his tenure at the Roman See and I attest his deep love for Eastern Christianity and his sincere respect of the Russian Orthodox tradition in particular. During the pontificate of Benedict XVI relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church had been developing in the spirit of fraternal cooperation and pursuance of interaction for overcoming some cases of painful legacy of the past.
On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church I express to you and the flock of the Roman Catholic Church condolences over your loss. May the All-Merciful Lord, in whose vineyard the late Pontiff called himself a humble laborer on the day of his election, make his memory eternal.
With deep condolences,
Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’
A delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church was present in Rome in the days before Benedict’s funeral, and attended the funeral.
Here is an official report on that visit (link).
DECR Chairman attended the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI of Rome
DECR Communication Service, 05.01.2023.
On January 5, the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI of Rome who died on December 31, 2022, took place in Rome.
With a blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the funeral events were attended by the Chairmen of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk. The DECR Chairman was accompanied by I. A. Nikolayev, a staff member of the DECR secretariat for inter-Christian relations.
In the evening of January the 4th, Metropolitan Anthony visited the St. Peter’s Cathedral at the Vatican where the final respects were paid to the late Pontiff.
On January 5, the DECR Chairman attended the Requiem Mass presided over by Pope Francis of Rome. In conclusion of the Mass, the body of Benedict XVI was carried to the crypt of the St. Peter’s Cathedral to be buried there.
After the service, Metropolitan Anthony presented Pope Francis a message of condolences from the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In his turn, the head of the Roman Catholic Church conveyed his best wishes to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill greeting His Holiness on the approaching feast of the Nativity of Christ.
The DECR Chairman had a talk with the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Tikhon, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, and contacts with representatives of Local Orthodox Churches and hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church.
The war between Russia and Ukraine
Henry Kissinger, 99 (he was born on May 27, 1923, so he will turn 100 in May, link), the former US Secretary of State, spoke today via video link to the Davos, Switzerland meeting of the World Economic Forum.
He gave a speech in which he dropped his prior opposition to Ukraine’s membership in NATO.
“Before this war I was opposed to the membership of Ukraine in NATO because I feared it would start exactly the process we are seeing now,” he said. But now, “the idea of a neutral Ukraine in these conditions is no longer meaningful.”
Here is a report on his remarks (link).
And here is a second report on his remarks, from CNBC:
Kissinger backs Ukraine’s NATO membership, says Russia needs the opportunity to rejoin international system (link)
TUE, JAN 17, 2023
By Jenni Reid
- Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told the World Economic Forum in Davos via video link that Russia must be given the opportunity to one day rejoin the international system following any peace deal in Ukraine.
- He said that to avoid an escalation of conflict with the nuclear power, the West must continue to engage in discussions with Russia and not let it feel that there was a war against the Russian state itself.
- Kissinger, who served under presidents Nixon and Ford, also said U.S. military support of Ukraine should continue until a cease-fire line is reached or accepted in preliminary discussions.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Tuesday said Russia must be given the opportunity to one day rejoin the international system following any peace deal in Ukraine and dialogue with the country must be ongoing.
“This may seem very hollow to nations that have been under Russian pressure for much of the Cold War period,” Kissinger told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, via video link.
However, he said it was important to avoid an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West as a result of it feeling the war had become “against Russia itself.”
This, he said “may cause Russia to reevaluate its historic position, which was an amalgam of an attraction to the culture of Europe and a fear of domination by Europe.”
“The destruction of Russia as a state that can pursue its own policies will open up the vast area of its 11 time zones to internal conflict and to outside intervention at the time when there are 15,000 and more nuclear weapons on its territory.”
“So this is why I believe in dialogue with Russia while the war continues, an end of fighting when the prewar line is reached, and a continuing process of discussion by Europe, America and at that point Russia … while the conditions of sanctions and other pressures will be maintained until a final settlement is reached.”
“I believe this is the way to prevent the war from escalating,” he said.
Ukrainian membership in NATO
Kissinger was criticized by a Ukrainian politician in May when he suggested Ukraine should cede some land to Russia to achieve a peace deal.
Kissinger further said Tuesday that the U.S. should continue to provide military support and if necessary intensify that support until a cease-fire line is reached or accepted in preliminary discussions.
He also said he wanted to express admiration for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the “heroic conduct of the Ukrainian people;” and that he now believed Ukrainian membership in NATO one day would be an “appropriate outcome.”
Kissinger was secretary of state between 1973 and 1977 under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and served as national security advisor between 1969 and 1975. He was a key part of the U.S. detente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with China, and oversaw hugely controversial decisions including bombing and military operations in Cambodia.
[End, CNBS article on Kissinger’s change of mind regarding Ukraine membership in NATO]
The meaning of an icon’s veneration
Dr. Vera Shevzov is a professor of religion and director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program at Smith College.
Trained in Russian history at Yale University, where she received her bachelor’s and Ph.D., as well as at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, where she received her M.Div, she has published on a wide range of topics related to Orthodox Christianity in modern, Soviet, and post-Soviet Russia.
Supported at various stages by the American Academy of Religion, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation, her publications have engaged lived religion and religious thought and their interface with: history, liturgy, and sacred memory; notions of “the West”; revolution and visual violence; the culture of icons; and the image of Mary.
Her book, Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution (Oxford University Press), was awarded the Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History. Most recently, she co-edited a volume of essays on Mary in modern, Revolutionary, and Post-Soviet Russian culture.
She is a former co-chair of the steering committing for the Eastern Orthodox Studies unit of the American Academy of Religion, and is currently co-editor of the Journal of Orthodox Christian Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press).
This past year, she was a fellow at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University.
I thought readers might benefit from Dr. Shevzon’s understanding of the meaning and spiritual import of venerating an icon.
I myself have been able to glimpse the meaning of this Orthodox Christian experience due to an experience I had with respect to the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, which was kept for 11 years in the apartment of Pope John Paul II, before it was returned to Russia on august 28, 2004.
I was invited to enter the Pope’s library and there for a few moments stood before the icon in 2001 by John Paul’s secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz.
It was an experience that moved me deeply, one I will never forget.
This is why I keep returning time and time again to the question of the East, of Russia and Ukraine, of peace, of justice, of faith…
This is what Dr. Shevzov writes:
“The meaning of an icon’s veneration, however, was not exhausted by the anamnesis of sacred history that it evoked.
[Note: In philosophy, anamnesis, which means memory (remembering) or recollection (recollecting), is a concept in Plato’s epistemological and psychological theory that he develops in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo. The central claims are that humans possess innate knowledge, perhaps acquired before birth, and that learning consists of rediscovering (recollecting) that knowledge from within. The theory of recollection has also been called the doctrine of recollection and doctrine of reminiscence.]
“Believers also flocked to a specially revered icon as a locus of divine presence, as a possibility of immediate personal encounter with the holy that was in itself beyond history.
“This relational aspect of icon veneration — which included magnification, identification, and a sense of deference and dependence — provided for a mode of bonding within the faith community that fostered ecclesial cohesion.
“In their posture of supplication before the image, believers not only tacitly affirmed their shared convictions but also manifestly placed their hope in the same eternal power.
“Accordingly, in their liturgical act of relating to the divine through the image, which was both a focus of prayer and the point of convergence of all the stories associated with the icon, believers united their disparate selves into a body of faithful.
“Thus in the act of veneration the reciprocity of image and narrative — the relational and the anamnestic — synergistically enhanced personal and corporate Orthodox Christian experience and identity.
“This idea was eloquently expressed in 1908 by a priest from Kazan, Aleksandr Vorontsov, in a sermon he gave on the occasion of the greeting of a specially revered icon of the Mother of God.
“Speaking of the benefits of such a visitation, he said: ‘In seeing it [the icon], our memories are awakened by the many thousands of persons who poured out their souls before it — who poured out comforting tears of joy, quiet tears of tenderness [umileniia], or bitter tears of grief; the holy icon visibly and invisibly unites us with an entire assembly of our brethren — alive and deceased; our personal spiritual and bodily weakness is fortified by the universal, corporate strength of the Church.”
— from Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution by Vera Shevzov (link)