Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church completed another visit to Chechnya
The mission was headed by Father Parfeny from the Valaam monastery, member of the synodal department of the Orthodox Church for relations with army and law enforcement authorities in Russia’s north-western region.
Father Parfeny told: “When we collected humanitarian aid for the mission, an old and already rejected phrase came to my mind which says “People and army are indivisible.” We saw old women who spent their last rubles on tooth paste and tinned stewed meat for soldiers. Then came businessmen who delivered humanitarian aid in vans. I would like to thank all these people heartily for what they did.”
The mission first visited the Chechen capital, Grozny; then they left for the tragic gorge of Vedenskoye, to the post of the 45th airborne troops regiment. It happened so that four KamAZ lorries with humanitarian aid were unguarded. It was decided to cross almost the whole of the Chechen territory unguarded. Farther Parfeny says, the mission was under the cover of prayers of all Orthodox Christians.
The mission successfully reached the terminal. Father Parfeny was surprised to see the order prevailing in the regiment. The tents with wooden floor were neat, the mission saw a TV set and many icons in each of them. The regiment also had its own chapel in honor of Saint Martyr Georgy the Victorious, it was an ordinary tent where services were held.
The head of the mission told: “A simple paper icon was standing on the lectern. I saw an oil spot spreading in the center of the icon and thin streams running from the spot. It was incredible because the temperature in the tent was below zero and nobody was anointed on that day. An officer said: “Oh, it’s again the same spot. It often appears. It means that everything will be OK.” I felt grace there. Then another officer told me that everyone is a believer on the front line.
I would never believe if someone said that soldiers from the 45th regiment committed atrocities over the peaceful Chechen population. It is highly unlikely as commanders of the regiment are very honest and respectable officers. But I saw videotaped barbarities of Chechen terrorists over Russian soldiers.”
Activity of the Orthodox Church in hot spots is almost completely coordinated by the military synodal department. This activity is focused not only on Chechnya: Father Gury from the Valaam monastery carries services to Russian peacemakers in Kosovo. Every detachment sent to Chechnya is accompanied by its own priest. Father Parfeny, who has been working with military men since 1997 says: “I don’t know what military priests must be. Any war is scary. Priests are also soldiers from the religious front line. They should also be in places were wars are waged.”
The head of the religious mission to Chechnya says that they even had to hold a service during bombardment. When the mission got back home from Chechnya, it also delivered dead bodies of the soldiers killed by the explosion of the Government House in Grozny in December 2002. The burial service was read over the killed soldiers right in the air.
Chechen terrorists have sentenced all priests coming to Russian soldiers in Chechnya to death. Another mission headed by Father Parfeny will once again go to Chechnya soon.
Pavel Vinogradov Nevskoye Vremya newspaper
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://society.pravda.ru/society/2003/8/26/80/5967_rpz.html
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