Monday, August 17, 2009

More on the Adventists

SATURDAY'S EVENTS

August 15th has been and gone. The Chisinau court of appeal ruled that the Adventist event should take place somewhere other than the central square (PMAN) of the City. In other words, Metropolitan Vladimir won. Unfortunately I haven't been able to locate the Court's argumentation anywhere, so I'm not able to enlighten you on its rationale.

The Seventh Day Adventists are a law-abiding religious group that has operated in Moldova since the late 1800s. They have around 15,000 followers nationwide, and wanted to bring them together to participate in the Moldovan leg of an international effort called "Follow the Bible". This is an effort to both increase levels of bible reading and at the same time increase tolerance, brotherhood and understanding among nations. The Church has created a huge Bible that is touring the world, each book being written in a different language ("Philemon" is in Romanian)

It was impossible to meet elsewhere due to the logistics of the event, so they applied to the Mayor for a permit to use the PMAN. The Mayor, good liberal that he is, didn't see any legitimate reason to deny the use of this public facility and hence gave the Adventists their permit.

What happened on Saturday, however, was that the Adventists had their 100% legal event shunted off by the Court of Appeal to one of their churches on the outskirts of Chisinau (which of course was way too small to accomodate all of their faithful). Moldova is apparently the only country where the "Follow the Bible" project has been derailed in such a manner.

In its place in the PMAN, there was a 100% illegal (no permit) demonstration by a section of the Orthodox faithful, in which the language of hate and revulsion reigned. The Adventists were labelled a 'sect' and their demonstration was marked as an 'attempt to proselytise". Their attempted presence so close to the Cathedral on a major feast day was deemed an 'abomination'.

So instead of a legal, peaceful event intended to get people to read the bible more and to bring together different nationalities, we had an illegal, hate-fuelled protest.

RELIGIOUS AND GEOPOLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Anatol Petrencu, leader of the "European Action Movement" made a comment in his blog that the protesters were using the slogans developed by the Communist Party during the recent election campaign (e.g. "Let's defend the Fatherland"). He also comments on the closeness of the leadership of the Moldovan Orthodox Church to both the Communist Party and the Russian State. There is plenty of evidence for both of these connections, e.g. the diplomatic passport that Metropolitan Vladimir isn't supposed to have, the subjection of the Moldovan bishopric to the Moscow patriachate, and even Vladimir's own background (born in Ukraine, educated in Moscow).

Petrencu's fear is that, now that the Russians' favourite tool of influence in Moldova (the Communist Party) is in decline, they will now seek to use the Orthodox Church as their instrument for sowing instability and protecting what they perceive to be their interests in Moldova. Saturday's events may be the 'first shot' fired in this new campaign.

So how should orthodox Moldovans react to all this? As you may have picked up I am not Orthodox. But neither am I anti-orthodox - there is a great wealth of tradition and spiritual experience in this church that must be preserved. On the other hand, the Moldovan Orthodox Church does appear to have fallen under the sway of totalitarians, who are using it to suppress the God-given freedoms that we all should enjoy.

Were I a Moldovan orthodox believer, I would consider very seriously the possibility of temporarily switching my place of worship to another confession, until such time as the influence of the Communists and of the Russian State disappears. They have no business interfering in an individual's relationship with his or her God, or in the actions of the Moldovan State with respect to the religious life of its citizens.

1 comment:

  1. you can read the full decision here

    http://www.curaj.net/?p=22519

    ReplyDelete