Culture

UN: Downing of MH17 Jet in Ukraine ‘May Be War Crime’

You don’t think?!! The BBC:

Wreckage of MH17, 26 Jul 14

The downing of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine may constitute a “war crime”, the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay says.

Ukraine and Western governments believe pro-Russian rebels shot down MH17, using a missile system supplied by Russia. All 298 people on board – most of them Dutch – died on 17 July.

Moscow and the rebels have blamed Ukrainian forces for the plane crash…

Rest here.

Church

Pushing the Patriarch into Putin’s Arms

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and  Vladimir Putin attend celebrations marking the 700th anniversary of St Sergius of Radonezh earlier this month

In the Catholic Herald:

Until the dramatic downing of flight MH17, Ukraine had ceased to be regularly at the forefront of the news agenda, displaced by conflicts elsewhere and by more mundane events. The return of international attention to the strife-torn country reminds us that the situation there continues to be as alarmingly tense as ever.

In the midst of so much turmoil and confusion, Ukraine’s competing Orthodox churches and its much smaller Catholic and Protestant communities continue to play a role as both symbols and factors of differing political and cultural outlooks. Their own future, too, will depend to a greater or lesser extent on the outcome of the conflict. The Moscow patriarchate continues to position itself as a close ally of the Kremlin. The Orthodox Church – which venerates the Roman emperor Constantine, who established Christianity as the religion of his empire, as “equal to the Apostles” – has always been nostalgic for the Byzantine symbiosis of Church and polity. Nobody who knows history should be surprised at this latest example of the alliance between throne and altar, whether we judge it holy or the opposite.

Nevertheless, Moscow’s Patriarch Kyrill has tried to put some distance at least between his Church and the more extreme positions of Russian nationalists. We must hope that respect for peace, truth and justice underlie his caution. But we should also remember that he knows that many members of his flock are attached to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their homeland and that by no means all are nostalgic for Kremlin rule. He certainly fears that many might defect to the rival Kiev patriarchate. The latter group, although considered uncanonical and schismatic by most Orthodox churches worldwide, has made significant inroads into Moscow’s flock in recent years.

Any acceleration in this loss would significantly undermine Moscow’s ambition to be recognised as the de facto leader of worldwide Orthodoxy. Voices have recently been heard expressing the hope that the schism would soon be healed and most of Ukraine’s Orthodox reunited under a single jurisdiction. That seems overly optimistic for now, but Kyrill will be convinced that the division must at least not be exacerbated. Hence the dove-like noises he has been making, pleading for a peaceful solution at a time when the more hawkish voices are setting the agenda in Russian society as a whole. His statement on the downed plane neither points the finger nor attempts to deflect blame, confining itself to expressing sorrow and the hope for an impartial investigation.

But however moderate Kyrill tries to appear, not everybody is impressed. The Ukrainian government was alarmed by suggestions that he might turn up in Kiev this month to celebrate the anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus’ (which both Russians and Ukrainians claim as the founding of their church) and made it clear that he would be persona non grata. The recent death of the chief hierarch of the Moscow-based church, Metropolitan Volodymyr, adds to the uncertainty. The coming election of a successor by the Moscow synod will offer an indication of whether Moscow chooses a more moderate figure – someone like Volodymyr’s locum tenens Metropolitan Onufry, often judged more conciliatory – or turns to a more confrontational candidate.

Whatever the talk of reunifying Ukraine’s splintered Orthodox majority, the reality concerning relations between Catholics and Orthodox is not so edifying. In particular, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGGC), which follows the same Byzantine rite and customs as the Orthodox but is in union with Rome, is in the firing line. The Orthodox have long seen Greek Catholics, to whom they refer by the disparaging term of “uniates”, as a papal Trojan Horse, used by the Vatican to undermine Orthodoxy. Rhetoric about the evils of “uniatism” has traditionally been turned up when the Orthodox have felt insecure and threatened. Last month it reached a paroxysm that was all the more distressing in that it came from a churchman usually seen as being of a relatively irenical disposition.

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the spokesman of the Moscow patriarchate for external affairs, is a respected theologian relatively favourable to ecumenical dialogue with western Christians. In April he claimed that “uniatism’ was and is a special project of the Catholic Church, aiming to convert the Orthodox to Catholicism”. He accused Greek Catholics, and thus implicitly the Catholic Church as a whole, of “oppressing the Orthodox clergy in all possible ways” and of launching a “crusade against Orthodoxy”.

The response from the Vatican was predictably muted: Roman ecumenists are patient men, loathe to endanger decades of painfully slow progress in reaction to what might be construed as an intemperate but uncharacteristic outburst. The head of the UGCC, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, made a mild response, pleading for the Orthodox to see him and his church as brothers and not enemies. Without over-dramatising, it is worth asking why Hilarion, who must have known that his statement would endanger hard-won improvements in ecumenical relations, chose to make it anyway.

We cannot exclude from the equation the effects of passions and fears which violent conflicts have on the judgment even of Christians. But I wonder if there is not a more calculated side to Hilarion’s statement. Nothing unites a body divided so much as a common enemy. Might Hilarion not have hoped that by re-awakening long-held fears of Catholic expansion he might encourage his co-religionists to abandon internecine strife, in order to concentrate their fire on the ancestral foe?

Rest here. Interesting stuff.

 

Church

Patriarch Kirill: Russia Poses No Military Threat

May God give that everyone realizes Russia poses no military threat and no other danger to people.

Orthodox Church News:

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said he urged global community not to perceive Russia as an aggressor.

“May God give that those, who do not understand Russia, understand it today. May God give that everyone realizes Russia poses no military threat and no other danger to people. We will find salvation in unity and love – we address this appeal of St. Sergius to the entire Russian world and beyond, to the entire human kind. And may God give that our homeland remains able to implement this legacy of the great Saint of the Russian land,” Patriarch Kirill said at a concert in Sergiyev Posad dedicated to the 700th birth anniversary of St. Sergius of Radonezh.

Historical Rus “is the most important thing we should keep and give to next generations,” the patriarch said. “And we should be like-minded in all this and guard our unity – spiritual unity and human one. Love is where dissidence ends,” he said.

“With God’s mercy we will overcome all internecine quarrelling and all disruption at the space of historical Rus,” Patriarch Kirill said. The patriarch said he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended the concert, for reflecting “the consensus, which exists in our society today.” “It is essential that the state leader is able to form common thoughts and ideas uniting people,” Patriarch Kirill said.

The Russian Patriarch offers condolences over Malaysian airliner’s crash in Ukraine here.

 

Church

Where Is The Humanity at the MH17 Crash Site?

Why were no representatives of the Church in the field praying for the dead?

In the Catholic Herald.

A piece of the plane with the sign "Malaysian airlines" lies in the grass as a group of Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine (PA)

The television coverage from Ukraine, from the crash site of the unfortunate Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, is almost too painful to watch.

It is painful to watch because it reminds us of nearly 300 innocent people who have lost their lives, and who have met painful, frightening deaths when they least expected it.

It is painful to watch, because it is the scene of a tragedy. This should not have happened. This could have been avoided. There was absolutely nothing necessary or inevitable about these deaths.

But it goes further than this. The pain caused by witnessing the crash scene on our screens is made worse by what is going on there. The ‘emergency workers’, who are trampling over the scene, do not seem to be exercising the necessary care and respect which is necessary in the presence of tragedy. The site has not been effectively cordoned off – a necessity given the danger of preserving a crime scene from contamination, but also a necessary step in ensuring respect for the dead who lie there.

The dead have been left to lie there for two days in hot whether. Why? Is this the right way to treat the dead? This lack of care can only make the grief of their relatives worse. Now we are told the bodies are on a refrigerated train, but where is it going, and who is in charge of it? Why are no civil authorities making their presence felt? This must have something to do with the fact that the Donbass region is a war zone. But what about the clergy? Where are they? Why were no representatives of the Church in the field praying for the dead? Why were the clergy not at the side of the refrigerated train? Is there no one at all who can sanctify the place with a prayer?

As for the stories of the way the site has been looted, let us hope that these are just stories. In days of yore, it was common, after battles, for local people to come out of hiding and pick over the dead for what they could take, but it was also common for members of pious societies to gather up bodies, and give them decent and Christian burial; thus it was hoped that a mother of a soldier fallen in a foreign field would at least have that consolation, that some kind person had provided her fallen son with the last offices.

The world is looking at the separatists in eastern Ukraine, and what we see is not reassuring. The camera does not lie.

Back in 1988, one of the most brutal killings took place in Belfast, that of corporals Derek Wood and David Howes, who were stripped naked and beaten to death. Nevertheless, a priest, Fr Alec Reid, was present, and did what he could to help the murdered men, and an unknown woman covered up one of the two men, saying (if memory serves) that the fallen man was some mother’s son. The horror of that scene had a few redeeming shards of humanity in it. But in eastern rebel-held Ukraine, now, what humanity have we seen?

 

Culture

EIGHTY Children Die on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

What kind of barbarians shoot down a civilian airline?! Surely this is an act of war.

Child victims: Three grandchildren, Mo Maslin, 12, (left), his brother Otis, eight, (centre) and sister Evie Maslin, 10, (right) were killed on the flight along with their grandfather Nick Morris.

The world is a sick and fallen place. The Daily Mail:

  • Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shot down over territory held by Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

  • Body parts and wreckage spread over nine-mile area, suggesting plane broke up mid-air.

  • Airlines had been advised to cease flights over the region which is ‘effectively a war-zone’.

  • The service was headed from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

  • Nine Britons and 154 Dutch have been confirmed dead, along with 28 Australians, 43 Malaysians and 12 Indonesians.

  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott extended his most profound condolences to the families of Australian victims.

  • Ukrainian interior ministry says plane was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile President Petro Poroshenko issued robust denial that his forces were involved, and calls crash an ‘act of terrorism’.

  • Ukraine’s state security chief accuses Russian military intelligence officers of involvement in crash.

  • US senator John McCain vows there will be ‘hell to pay’ if missile was fired by rebels or Russian backers.

More on of the victims here.

Mourners have laid flowers at the doorstep of the embassy to pay respect to victims

Here’s a summary of the horrific events:

flight mh17 graphic

Innocent people and children… Just imagine some one near and dear to you, one you truly love, being on that plane… It cause a feeling of total numbness.

Let us mourn with and pray for those who have lost loved ones in this despicable act… And may God Almighty avenge innocent blood lost!

 

Culture

Malaysian Passenger Plane Shot Down Over Ukraine

Ukraine air crash

With 295 souls on board. Sky News:

A passenger plane which crashed as it flew over eastern Ukraine with 295 people on board was reportedly shot down.

The Malaysia Airlines plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was travelling at an altitude of 33,000 feet (10,000 metres) when it was shot down, Russia’s Interfax reported.

An adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry told the news agency the Boeing 777 was brought down by a Buk ground-to-air missile.

All 280 passengers and 15 crew members who were on the plane are believed to have died, he added.

A spokesman for Malaysian Airlines, still reeling from the loss of flight MH370 in March, confirmed it had lost contact with flight MH17, which took off from Amsterdam at 12.15pm local time.

Just like that. Lord, have mercy.



The Daily Mail has more here.