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17400Apology to Pussy Riot cited as reason for shutting priest out of church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Jan 18, 2013

      Apology to Pussy Riot cited as reason for shutting priest out of church
      January 18, 2013 Yulia Ponomareva, Combined report

      The Rev. Dimitri Sverdlov, who had previously called for atonement for
      the "furious hatred" directed at Pussy Riot, is barred from serving for
      the next five years.

      The Rev. Dimitri Sverdlov, a priest from Moscow Region who became famous
      after offering to apologize to punk band Pussy Riot for the aggressive
      behavior of the Orthodox faithful, has been banned from performing
      church services for five years. A decree to that effect was published on
      the website of the Moscow Diocese.

      "My career in the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) ended yesterday. A
      friend phoned me today to say that the Moscow Diocese had posted a
      decree banning me from serving for five years. No condolences, please.
      I'll post more details later," wrote Sverdlov on his Facebook page.

      Sverdlov, a priest of the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in
      the village of Pavlovsk (Moscow Region), stated back in March 2012 that
      he would like to apologize to the arrested members of Pussy Riot for the
      "furious hatred" displayed by "sections of the Orthodox community,"
      following the punk band's protest in Christ the Savior Cathedral. His
      remarks caused an uproar.

      Dimitri Sverdlov's lifestyle is unlike that of other members of the ROC:
      he blogs and writes, often voicing criticism of the Church. During the
      last State Duma elections, he worked as an observer, noting violations
      at his local polling station.

      In September 2012, the diocese relieved him of his duties as rector of
      St. Peter and Paul Church and sent him to work "on the staff" of the
      Cathedral of All Saints in Domodedovo. Sverdlov did not serve in his new
      position, however.

      "For the voluntary neglect of his parish, Father Dimitri Sverdlov is
      banned from administering mass for five years and declared
      supernumerary," read the decree, which was signed by Metropolitan
      Juvenal Krutitsky and Kolomensky and published on the website of the
      Moscow Diocese.

      As explained by the press secretary of the Moscow Diocese, the Rt. Rev.
      Nikolai Balashikhinsky (Pogrebnyak), Sverdlov was punished for having
      gone on vacation without informing the hierarchy, which was a breach of
      common protocol.

      Pogrebnyak, a bishop, considers the five-year ban to be a sufficiently
      "soft" punishment, as Sverdlov has not been permanently relieved of his
      duties; the priest is only banned for a certain period, after which he
      will be able to return.

      "If he conducts himself with decorum, then in five years he will be able
      to submit a petition to return and resume his duties," said Pogrebnyak.

      On the question of whether Sverdlov's punishment was related to his
      public statements about the ROC, Pogrebnyak's answer was negative, but
      he noted that this was his personal opinion.

      "When a person opens his mouth without thinking, he will inevitably
      commit blunders. If a person, for example, jaywalks without even
      looking, sooner or later something is bound to happen to him," said

      Senior Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev commented on the decision of the Moscow
      Diocese: "When I compare the restrictions placed by the ecclesiastical
      authorities on other priests, I am perplexed by the length of the ban. I
      understand that his willful departure from the parish was a factor in
      the decision, because that is a canonical violation. But to be banned
      from serving for five years and expelled from the diocese? I can only
      cite the case, two years ago, of a group of Abkhazian monastic priests
      who announced that they were subordinate to no one and did not recognize
      the authority of any of the patriarchs, for which they received a
      one-year ban from administering their duties."//

      /The article is based on materials from RIA Novosti
      <http://ria.ru/society/20130115/918253326.html> abd NEWSru.com
      <http://www.newsru.com/religy/16jan2013/sverdlov.html>. /

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