Russia: Summer Of The Patriarch/ CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION ABOUT PATRIARCH ALEXIS' STATE OF HEALTH
- 2004.07.23 Rossiiskaia gazeta:
SUMMER OF THE PATRIARCH. PATRIARCH ALEXIS II DID NOT UNDERGO SECRET HEART OPERATIONS
by Elena Yakovleva
Rossiiskaia gazeta, 24 July 2004
"Alexis II did not undergo nor require an operation of an aortal shunt." That is the official response of the Moscow patriarchate to reports appearing in one newspaper that His Holiness received an emergency operation in Germany of an aortal shunt under conditions of strictest secrecy.
Believers learned that the patriarch was sick on Sunday, 18 July. On that day, the commemoration of St. Sergius of Radonezh, His Holiness usually serves the liturgy in the Saint Sergius Holy Trinity lavra and a prayer service under the open sky. After the service and meal people usually await his Holiness to receive a blessing. There are many people since this is such a marvelous blessing and the patriarch has such love in their eyes, so it is necessary for him following the meal to pass through a human corridor.
This time the prayer service concluded with the reading of a letter from the patriarch, greeting everyone on the holiday and explaining that physicians had recommended that after his trip to Tikhvin he undergo a diagnostic and therapeutic study. Believers knew about the intense ministry of the patriarch this summer and they crossed themselves and sang for him "Many years" on the cathedral square.
That the reports of a secret operation that appeared are false a believing person could guess without expecting official confirmation on the part of the patriarchate. Illness, much more a patriarch's illness, never would be concealed from the flock because during illness believing people place their hopes in nothing more than on prayer: "Pray for one another that you may be healed." One cannot imagine even in a movie thriller a patriarch concealing his illness from the church and flock.
Here is how the director of the Communications Service of the Moscow patriarchate, Viktor Malukhin, commented on this situation for RG.
"In recent days separate Russian publications, and primarily those whose information policies with regard to the Moscow patriarchate were earlier publicly condemned by the Holy Synod as antichurch, produced in various forms fantasies and speculative commentaries with regard to the state of health of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis. Actually, in recent months there occurred a series of grand church-state occasions and events in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Tikhvin that required the personal and active participation of the primate of our church. Such a colossal workload could not but have an effect.
"Upon the recommendation of physicians, His Holiness was advised to undergo a diagnostic and therapeutic regime and to refrain for a time from his planned primatial visits to the dioceses.
"I can testify that in this case there is a temporary heart arrhythmia produced by the extremely physical workload. This is a phenomenon well known to a multitude of people. In this case an operation of an aortal shunt was not required and thus was not performed.
"Now the state of health of His Holiness has stabilized. A normal rhythm has been restored to his heart. At the present time His Holiness is taking a short-term vacation, while continuing to direct the preparations for the next session of the Holy Synod and the upcoming autumn bishops' council, as well as for the ceremonial arrival in Russia of the revered relics of the Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the nun Barbara and for the Sarov Diveevo stage of the celebration of the jubilee of St. Serafim. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 July 2004)
REPRESENTATIVES OF LEADERSHIP OF RPTsMP TRY TO EXPLAIN CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION ABOUT PATRIARCH ALEXIS' STATE OF HEALTH
Portal-credo.ru, 23 July 2004 - Representatives of the higher leadership of RPTsMP were not able to provide "Portal-credo.ru" on 22 July any definite information about the state of health of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus. According to various sources, the head of RPTsMP, after undergoing heart surgery in Germany, will undergo a regime of rehabilitative therapy at his own villa in Switzerland or at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow.
Archpriest Vladimir Divakov, chancellor of the Moscow patriarchate, told Portal's correspondent: "So far as I know, the patriarch's state of health is satisfactory. I do not have other information at my disposal."
Archbishop of Istria Arseny Epifanov, a vicar bishop of the patriarch, responded rather guardedly to a question from a Portal-credo.ru correspondent about His Holiness' condition following the surgery: "What shunt operation? There was no such operation; he wasn't cut open. Where did you get this? The patriarch was in the hospital for treatment and now he has been transferred to a rehabilitation center."
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, vice-chairman of OVTsSMP, responded to a question about how reliable is information about the aortal shunt surgery performed on Patriarch Alexis II that this information does not correspond to reality. Fr Vsevolod promised to distribute an official commentary regarding the state of health of the head of RPTsMP through the channel of the Communications Service of OVTsSMP.
Fr Vsevolod refrained from answering a question about where the primate of the church is geographically located. "That is not quite correct," he said. "A person, when he is resting or recovering, has a right to 'privacy,' so that his location is not revealed. Any person has a right to protection of his 'privacy.''" In complaining that "Portal-credo.ru" spread reports to the effect that on 21 July it was impossible to reach Fr Vsevolod Chaplin by telephone, he explained that "After all it was a holiday. You see, we had a so-called day off, or more accurately a nonattendance day. You won't be able to reach the government by phone on 7 November." (tr. by PDS)
Posted on Portal-credo.ru site, 23 July 2004